A local parenting author I've been following came out with a book recently giving very tactical advice on dealing with everyday situations and what kind of language can be most effective and respectful. I finally got a chance to read it and really enjoyed it: Now Say This: The Right Words to Solve Every Parenting Dilemma by Heather Turgeon and Julie Wright.
It read like a combination of RIE-inspired philosophy applied to daily situations. Half the scripts/examples sounded just like the best preschool teachers and directors I've seen in action and heard "in the field." Going through this book gave me a really good mindset for how to generate my own ways of saying the main ideas. I also found the ALP approach (Attune, Limit Set, Problem Solve) to be applicable to so many situations (in parenting and outside it).
I highly recommend this book to any parent. Probably in the top 5 parenting books I've ever read.
My notes on the biggest takeaways and example scripts are below. The book is filled with so many more details and example scripts and conversations.
Discipline / teaching
3 step ALP approach
Child is capable and on same team as you
Misbehavior as sign child is working on developmental skill
1 3 steps for communicating in difficult moments
Empathy and high expectations and limits
Responsiveness plus expectations
3 steps and words for win win
ALP: Attune, limit set, problem solve
Your child is capable and built for good
Already has sense for right and wrong
Bad behavior is tip of iceberg
Acknowledge that directly with words
Big emotions are like storms
Calm and steady navigator
Natural consequences, enticement, and engagement better than bribing or punishing
Become aware of other’s perspective and show u understand their feeling
I get it. That sounds hard. Tell me more.
Squat down to eye level
Ask and listen
I can see that didn’t feel good. Tell me more about what’s going on.
I hear you
I get it
Pause before reacting
Use your body language
Get below child’s level
Say what you see
Paraphrase what you heard kid say. Good waiter technique of repeating what heard.
Agree and align. Yeah, I wish we could do x too, that would be really fun.
Use iceberg analogy. See what’s beneath the behavior. I know it’s been a long day and you’re getting tired. I can tell you’re upset but I don’t know why.
Pausing to be curious.
Landing and complaining about our kids. Don’t do it in front of kids. Instead if he’s shy: he’s thoughtful and always watching, thinks before he leaps which I appreciate.
Model attuning with partner.
Phones are for big people because they have their work
Hitting brother not okay
Use gentle hands with the dog
State realities like balloon that floated away and can’t get back
You like to touch my hair don’t you? It’s not ok to pull hair because it hurts.
The rule in our family is that you do have to wear your helmet to keep you safe.
Beyond just “because I said so.” Add explanation why.
Instead of “no.” Don’t end the conversation. Explain why. Stop or freeze more helpful.
Don’t be afraid of the reaction.
Strong willed child needs more oomph in the limit setting.
Creating an optimist. End on positive note.
Head scratching bumbling parent. Hmm, what should we do here? As if you don’t have all the answers.
Use humor or propose absurd option. Use space craft to exit the park. Hold box while we change diaper. Sing song while brushing teeth.
Use a follow through choice. Parent escape hatch. Kid can come to table himself or you will help her body to the table.
Can pick any helmet you want in our price range.
Hmm what should we do if we miss each other during the day? I know, I think I’ll write a note to you. Will you do the same at school?
Calm down instead of time out. Stay together and give physical contact. Take child to another room. Whoa that was too rough. You’re showing me you need a break. Come sit with me to take a breather. Do you need a snack or if it’s time to call it a day?
Repair and circle back. Remember what happened yesterday? I forgot to take a breath and lost my patience. I should’ve done x. Mom and I used loud voices at each other. Even grown ups sometimes forget to listen and speak calmly. We need to work on that. I’m sorry I got frustrated and grabbed that toy; next time I will let you do it yourself. Is there anything I could do differently or better next time?
2 proactive tools
All ideas welcome
Include young kids too
Brainstorm ideas for the future. Visualize and diagram them. Take notes.
Weekly or monthly
Tell kids need to check with other parent when new stuff comes up
Don’t criticize partner in front of kids. Do it later in private.
Show affection to partner in front of kids. Say I love you. Hug and kiss at hello and good bye.
Why and how to fight in front of kids
Model ALP in front of kids
Repair with kids after fight. Mom and I have different ideas about x and we are trying to figure out a solution. We had big feelings and our voices got loud. Finally we did figure out how to hear each other.
Tools for kids
Prep for new situations. Can you remind me what we do in a restaurant? I see you sitting together; is that going to work?
Everyone do your last thing. We are heading out in 3 minutes. 3 minute heads up!
Bag of tricks
Bring bag of toys and novel things and markers anytime u think child will need them. Books, stickers, magnetic toys.
I put the schedule for the week up. Everyone take a look.
I have the bath running. Everyone lay out your clothes and pack your bags for tomorrow.
Plan the day before
Filling the tank
Toddlers 11-12 hours
School age 10-11 hours
Mini versions of meals
Screen free reading day
Clear out excess toys
Order immediately and take child for walk while waiting
State expectations. Sit on butt. Stay on seat. Inside voice.
When food comes out, we put away toys and drawing materials and we eat and talk.
When food comes, all electronics get put away into bag.
Never see or use electronics at table
Share one high and one low for each person
Put ice cubes in cup and hold with hand while kid tries to spoon cubes out. Can do this one handed and u eat with other hand.
Child led play
Follow instead of leading or solving problems
Hard not to get bored
Wait watch and tell kid u want to see what they’re into
Stay more quiet and observant
Tools for adults
Print version of tools online on book website
Attune to self
What is she really telling me with her behavior
I can steer this ship through calm and stormy waters
Visualize big feelings as waves
Imagine waves rolling under you
Take a few seconds before saying words
Ask for a few min break
Put a cap or exit on conversation
Repair when lose temper
I’m feeling myself getting frustrated. I need a few min before I can answer any questions
Go to bed at same time nightly. No phone for 60 min before bed.
Clear and calm mind with mindfulness
Just observe child
Walking and listening meditation. Notice all sounds.
Water feeling meditation
Morning meditation upon waking
Take off filters and look around you for real details. Change routes you take home.
Kid mindfulness exercises
Put stuffed animal on belly and watch it rise up and down.
Tense one part of body then another down the body.
3 difficult feelings and tantrums
Talk to kids even when they’re upset
I hear you. You weren’t ready to x.
Normal for them to hold it together at school and unleash at home
Let feelings be feelings
Don’t placate or cave
I’m going to help move your body somewhere safe and quiet
Lead with empathy
Let child know you understand
Get on floor
Tell me more
Hmm you had a big feeling about that
I see how upset you are. I’m here to talk when you’re ready to make a choice.
Use body language
Open and curious
Don’t ignore our punish
Don’t show impatience
I’m going to give you some space but i have some ideas and I’m here to talk when you’re ready
Hug or rub back
Say what you see. Sportscast.
Paraphrase or good waiter
Tell me more
Use iceberg analogy
Put notebook and marker in front of room of upset kid and draw or write something for them and let them write or draw back
I’m going to kindly move you
Don’t teach or explain rule while child is flooded
Limit set or state reality
My keys are only for me to use
We will have to bake another time because we don’t have brown sugar.
Make a direct neutral statement
Clear and factual
Don’t use harsh tone or ask mocking question
Say what u do want or what child can do. We only put butts on chair. My glasses are only for me to wear so I can see. At the store we only pick up food on our grocery list.
It’s hard for me to hear your words when you’re using that kind of tone of voice. It’s distracting from what ur trying to tell me.
We close the door after good night so it’s quiet and u can sleep.
What are you saying with your eyes? You don’t like what I just said?
Can you give me that information in a different way? It’s easier for me to help if I can understand.
I see your eyes. Are you telling me you want some space?
It’s hard to work with you when you use that voice. Tell me in a direct way what u want not what you don’t want.
Reasonable versus rigid
Own your change of mind when you make it
You know what, I hear what you’re saying and have changed my mind
Let’s put that on our shopping list for next time
Could we talk about that idea in the car? Saturday might be a good day for that.
Propose; here’s what u can do
Draw picture of food u want on calendar for later that week
Give plastic knife instead of butcher knife
Take photo with u of each other to look at while apart
Employ the bumbling parent
Use humor or say something unexpected
Move your body. Change the scene.
Snuggle or wrestle
Hug pillow or animal
Toss kid on bed
Sit on kid
Walk, skip, or dance
Dance out feelings
How many times can we run around block
Turn upside down or teach head stand
Take a walk while waiting for food
Use a follow through choice
You can hit off button or I will do it for u
I’m going to gently pick u up and put u in
Something like this happened to me
Share about your day or past
Repair and circle back
Remember that today is a looking day not a buying day. We can put that on the list for next time.
Scripts and conversations for various scenarios
Exploring feelings without solving or teaching
4 hitting, pushing, biting, and other physical behaviors
Trying to get attention
Scolding escalates tension
Attend to person who was hurt first
Show empathy to one who was hurt
I saw his foot kick you. Are you ok?
You got frustrated huh?
Say what you see and don’t see. Sports cast. You look upset.
Investigative reporter technique even if kind of saw what happened. Hmm, I didn’t see what happened. What happened here? You’re crying and you look frustrated; can someone fill me in?
Attune to your child or the hitter. Iceberg analogy; what’s under the behavior. You’re trying to tell your friend something but you’re using your hands.
We absolutely do not hit because it hurts other people
Matter of fact tone
Check in with one who is hurt
Let’s check in and see if your friend needs an ice pack
Since you have so much energy, let’s see if you can do a race to the tree
You’re showing me you need to change seats for now
I’m going to keep everyone safe
Check in instead of asking to say sorry. Just finding out if other is ok, not about punishment or blame.
Fulfill the intention. Wonder aloud about other ways of accomplishing what hitter wanted. You didn’t want to get in your car seat; Let me find you something fun to hold while I buckle you in.
What could you say instead of hitting? I want a turn with that? How could you let them know with your words you wanted a swing next?
You were angry. What could you do with your anger instead of hitting? Could you say with clear words this is making me mad and listen to my words?
Demonstrate gentle touch. I touch your arm gently. I move your hand to touch my arm gently.
Solve the dilemma. Let’s do a dance. Let’s get a snack. I’m going to sit and play with you; seems like you need some help. Sing how feeling loudly. Work with play doh.
Take your child to calm down
Brainstorm solutions during family meeting
I noticed we have a lot on calendar this week. Let’s make sure we have one afternoon of free time where we can just relax and do whatever comes up
Natural consequences instead of punishments. Leaving park or giving up toy that’s misused. You’re showing me you need a break from the park. We’ll try again tomorrow. I’m taking the broom now because you’re not being safe with it.
Use ALP on yourself.
Scripts and conversations
5 listening, following directions, and engaging cooperation
Offensive versus attuned moves
Wow, lots of heat over x. Tell me what’s going on
Threatening and bribing
Pleading, negotiating, and caving
Do not overtalk
Prepare, give heads up
You chose to sit together but I know u can sometimes have a lot of energy. Do you think this can work for u?
Just a heads up that we are going to the bathtub in 5 minutes.
We’re going to leave soon, so please do your last thing.
We’re heading to the market. Can you guys remind me what we do there?
Attune, sports cast
I see you’re working hard on x
Say what you see
I’m giving you information right now but it’s hard to tell if you can hear me
Use iceberg analogy
Look at underneath behavior
You had a long day at school. You know how to take your shoes off yourself. Let me squeeze these feet for a second.
Limit set, state family rules and what u do want
It’s too much splashing for his pool
I am not ok with you talking to me this way
Tool on book website to create own
We are safe with each other’s bodies
We speak kindly to one another
At table we speak to each other. Toys and devices parked.
We ask to be excused before we get up
Everyone helps set table and clean up after
We help each other.
Review agreements during family meetings
Say what child can do
Hold my hand through the store
Park toys in living room
Use an inside voice in here
Looks like you’re trying to say I need space
Kneel down and give clear info
Not sure of what to say? Just buy yourself some time
I’m not sure. Let me think for a few minutes.
I’m figuring out what to do. Let me get back to you on that.
I hear your point. Let me think about that.
Inform or entice in place of bribes
When you’ve put your toys away, we will go to the park
When u turn off x, we will work on a puzzle
Believe your child is capable and will follow through
Sing kid’s name
Put pants on your head
Did someone push the off button on Hanna because not putting on clothes or getting out the door. If I just had the instruction manual I could...
Ask why whining
I can tell you’re having a hard time. When you say that in a regular voice, I’ll be ready to listen.
You sound frustrated. Can you say that in your regular voice so I can help u better?
Say what u want, not what u don’t want
I’m hearing a lot of what you don’t like. What’s your idea of what u do want?
Know when to be flexible
Sometimes it’s my decision, sometimes it’s your decision, sometimes we decide together
Some things non-negotiable like brushing teeth or dressing right
Use firm confident voice with strong willed child
I’ll help you enforce this limit as long as you need
Spread the help each other mentality
Not about blame or individual responsibility
Ask kids to help you
Help them too
Chores and responsibilities
Kids like to be needed
Have kids ask you daily what can I do to help
Assume toddlers can help
Set up environment for success
Put their things in their reach
Do tasks together
Hoteling: pretend like ur making all rooms look neat like hotel
We are all going to find 10 things out of place and put them away and meet in kitchen when done
Treat family as a team
Avoid scolding about spills. Empathize and help.
Stay positive. Don’t criticize or correct as much.
Visual charts instead of nagging
Before and after school charts, bedtime routine charts, Saturday chore charts
Just nod or point to chart instead of nagging
Tools on website
Problem solve, natural consequences. Let’s press pause and race to see who gets shoes on first. Can we pretend we’re waiters and clear the table for dessert?
Propose here’s what u can do
Let’s put a work in progress sticky note on that tower
I’m going to put out two outfits side by side. Don’t look until they’re ready. And then you get to choose.
Use humbling parent
Hmmm what do u think we could do here
I see you’re doing x but we have to leave. Do you think we will have time to finish that?
Find common ground or creative solutions
Use natural consequences instead of punishments
You’re showing me you can’t be in the bath together now
It looks like it’s hard for you to stop bouncing the ball in the house so I’m going to take it away until we get to the park
I can see how using the iPad before practice isn’t working since you’re having a hard time turning it off and sticking to the plan. I’m going to take it away for now.
Use follow through choice
Be gentle and calm
Do you want to hold my hand or should I carry you
It’s time to go. Do you want to get in the car or should I help u
It’s not the buying day. You can put the toy on the shelf or I can do it for you.
Use calm down instead of time out
I’m moving you outside so you can find a calm space
Come here and let me tell you something
Don’t reprimand in public
Bumbling parent. We gotta do it, so what can our plan be?
Face the mirror and do it together on selves and each other
Brush teeth before stories and songs
When your teeth are all brushed, we will be ready for stories
Puppets as helpers for tricky moments
Was very empathic
Comical problem solving
Puppet takes turn first
Dentist office appointment role poay
Brainstorm separate from the moment about tricky moments
Narrate instead of saying good job
6 sibling relationships
Scaffold instead of leave alone
Attune to both kids and help them attune to each other
Let them be mad af and love each other too
You’re so furious with him and sometimes you want him to just go away
Decide if should intervene or not
Do you guys need some help? Can you give me some information?
Sportscaster, good waiter
Try to paraphrase for them and confirm understanding to let them come up with solution themselves
Whoa what’s happening here? Can U help me understand?
Think out loud
Show equal empathy even to the perpetrator
Help kids attune to each other
Check in with him and see if he needs an ice pack
I can see she’s having some feelings about this. What do you think is going on?
Can you tell her what you’re thinking about right now?
Prompt kids to set limits to each other
Tell them what to say. You’re teasing me and that’s not ok. It hurts my feelings.
Teach kids to say what they do want
I’m not ok with that game. This is too rough. Your body is too close to me. I need space.
I was working with that and I’m not done.
Can I have a turn after you?
I know you guys know this tone. Just need some help following through. So hmm we don’t name call so I think what you’re trying to say is.
What’s your plan?
What’s your idea?
Can you come up with a plan? I bet you guys will figure out what to do next. I’m here if you need help.
Redirect with hey look over there. It’s smoothie making time. Move bodies.
Checking in instead of saying sorry.
Reframe no fair. Each of us is a different person with different needs.
Compare in a helpful way
Jack is still learning how to x
Do u remember when you were learning x and it was so frustrating?
Welcoming differences. Teach how people are different
Prepare old sibling for new one
Tell stories of raising older one from baby and make them a book
Read story books about arrival of new baby
Take to prenatal visits to see heartbeat
Talk to new baby together
Explain plan for hospital
Pack toy together for baby
Put baby down when greeting older kid to have arms open for older one
Ask for help from older with baby like giving diapers
Play alone with older for 30 min daily
7 screen time
First start with ourselves
Bring family together around them
Ask, watch, and play. Understand what kid likes about it. Ask questions about it. Play game yourself.
Avoid busy quick edits
Don’t use devices to distract or soothe
Set child screen limits at family meetings
Limits for family. Devices off while eat at home or out.
No background TV
Put away devices in specific parking place
Narrate what you’re doing on your device
Put phone out of sight whenever possible
Family screen rules
Weekdays screen free except for homework
Eating is special family time and screen free anywhere
Screens go to bed before we do. None in bedroom. All off an hour before bedtime.
We have a list of shows and games ok to watch. If want to add to that list, parent needs to approve.
Tough transition to turn off screen
This isn’t a show we watch because it doesn’t have any information / is too fast and overwhelming for our minds / the characters call each other names
Only 1 hour of TV per day to leave room in minds for playing and running
Discuss critically what watching or playing
Is this show too intense? It’s feeling really intense to me. How did you feel when you got to that level? Do you see how game tricking your mind into thinking you have to keep playing?
8 bedtime and sleep
Don’t use bed as negative consequence
Warm positive climate around sleep
Balanced days lead to better sleep
Limit play dates once per week
One sport at a time
Limit weekday screen time
Practice mindfulness exercises
Wind down time hour before bedtime routine
Be home an hour before bed
Turn down lights and draw curtains
Bedtime routine consistent nightly
Same time nightly
Early bedtime nightly
Anyone know what our next step is here?
Let’s do our teeth so we have lots of time for reading
The clock is telling us it’s time for our bath
Position sleep as welcome treat. Is your pillow cozy? Let’s all go to bed early and fill up on sleep.
Make end of routine enticing like reading next chapter of book they like
Shadow puppet show with flashlight
Back rub chain where each person picks tickles or massage and then front person goes to back in a min
Talk about highs and lows of day
Sticker chart pitfalls
Totally dark bedroom
Cool (65-68 degrees)
Quiet, white noise
Peaceful. Toys put away.
Print pre-bed list and Parents only give reminders about time and “check your list”
Connected: needs acknowledged and we are nearby
Family agreement creator tool
Visual chore chart tools
Happy sleeper book