How to Handle a Bad Report Card


The exam results are in!

Your child brings home a bad report card. Your first instinct may be to punish him in order to make him raise his marks. However, will that really solve the problem? We know from research in the workplace, that punishment never solves motivation or performance problems, so why would it work for children?  What can do you do to encourage him instead?  It’s good to keep in mind that a report card is only one “view” of your child. It’s a picture to report to parents what the child is like in school. However, he is a multifaceted learner with strengths and room for improvement in all areas of his life, just as anybody is.  Think of your child’s performance like a three legged stool.  All three legs are required for the stool to function and all perspectives can give an accurate assessment of the child as a learner.

One leg of the stool is from the teacher who is gives an academic skills report. This report should include information on how the child is doing learning subject matter in the four cores of math, language arts, science, social studies, and options. Schools like to report on character and other things that are not academic, but they only see the child participating in an institutional setting with many peers. The teacher does not see the child at home, or “outside of school” social situations.

The other leg is the parent who also gives a report card on two of the most important learning’s: life skills and people skills. The parent can present the report card to the child at any given time. Life skills include chores, money management, organization skills, problem-solving, initiative, responsibilities, health and wellbeing maintenance, and volunteer commitment.  In other words – all the skills that parents witness at home. People skills include sharing, sibling conflict resolution, attitude, listening, assertiveness, and politeness, emotional intelligence at home and out in social situations. Most people with academic and technical brilliance lose their jobs not because of inefficiency in that area, but because of lack of people and life skills.  These are the some of the most important skills to develop.  These skills can be learned and practiced by all children.  Not all children can get an “A” in math, but all children can learn to be polite and organized.

The final leg of the three legged stool is the child. He can self-evaluate and give himself a report card on all three components – Academic skills, life skills and people skills.  This is the most important evaluation and parents and teachers can ask how they can support growth and success for the child in all these areas.

Finally, the parent, teacher and child should discuss where the strengths are and room-for-improvement and come to an agreement on how to go about setting improvement in place.

Education is a journey, and is not a race. The letter or number grade does not indicate learning or self- awareness.  In fact, when children only chase a grade, they can be more prone to cheating and learn nothing.  We learn the best when we fail or make mistakes which over insight and reflection, give us ideas for change. When children make mistakes, ask them “what did you learn from this?”  The ability to self-evaluate, and find motivation to start again is the real learning and the upmost key to success. The Winklevoss twins learned more about life and resilience in their court battle with Facebook, than all those academic years at Harvard.

Parents, de-emphasize the numbers. As a society, we tend to treasure what we measure, but learning can’t be denigrated to a number.  Most of what we do in life that really counts; love, help, volunteering, life learning, and kindness can’t be evaluated by a number, but can be observed, noticed and appreciated.

No one is perfect and we all have room for improvement. Your job as parents is to figure out with your child, how can you pick him up, dust him off and support him moving forward?

Judy Arnall is a non-punitive parenting and education expert.

Learn more about Multiple Intelligences – Every Child is Gifted!


Liberals favour appealing Section 43 – the spanking law

It’s about time!

Liberals in favour of repealing section 43

Best Parenting Tips from the Trenches


By Judy Arnall, BA, CCFE-Certified Canadian Family Life Educator


Sleep cures all:  Half of all discipline issues could be prevented if parents could secure a full eight hours of sleep in a 24 hour day. Make sleep a priority.  The meals, laundry, and clutter will always be there, but a rested, contented parent is the biggest asset for patience, calmness and joy in parenting.


I’m not the mom:  When your children are out in public with you and misbehaving badly, pretend that you are the Aunt taking the kids for the day.  Say loudly, “Just wait until your Mother hears about this!” and go about your usual routine.


Bad days:  In the midst of chaos, centre yourself first, before you calm down any screaming, or crying children. Make sure everyone is safe. Lie in the middle of the living room floor, put on your ipod, close your eyes and deep breathe.  Get calm and centered.  Then get up and decide what everyone needs in order to turn the day around: food, nap, walk, outing, or hugs.


Your relationship, not obedience, is where it’s at:  Rather than focus on your child’s obedience as a gauge of how well you parent, focus on the quality of your relationship.  Is your child still communicating with you, sharing feelings, opinions and values?  If so, you are a success.


Stop punishing your children:  Respect never includes punishment in a love relationship, no matter what the ages of the people involved.  And parenting is a love relationship.  Instead of looking at issues of discipline as behavior to be corrected, look at it as conflicts to be resolved.


ABC’s of loving parenting:  “A” is for Acknowledging the feelings of your child. Feelings have no limits.  They are as real and normal as skin.  “B” is for Behavior communication.  What is your child trying to tell you?  Look at their needs and feelings that drive the behavior.  “C” is for Calming down.  Get yourself calm, then get your child calm, then mutually problem-solve the issue.

Build your parent-child relationship first, and their resume second: Unconditional love is support, encouragement and help in discovering who your child is and what they are capable of.  When you love them unconditionally, they learn to love themselves, unconditionally and will grow into the wonderful people they are meant to be.


Peace in the world begins in the home:  The family is the training ground for all future relationships in love, work, politics, religion and friendship.  If we treat our babies with love, safety and respect, as we would want to be treated, we will raise the next generation equipped to change the world a child at a time.


Separate your anger from your discipline:  When we are angry, we lose our self-control and issue punishments that we have no intention of carrying out when we are calm.  Because the purpose of discipline is to teach self-control  of behavior and self-regulation of emotions in our children, we need to demonstrate the same in ourselves. When we are calm, we make much better decisions and most always can focus on solving the problem with clarity of thinking. We don’t have to hurt children to teach them. In fact, they learn much better when not under stress.


It takes a village, to cherish a parent, to nurture a child: Parents are the very first relationship builders.  We can’t control our children, but we have tremendous influence.  Parents need support, encouragement and practical help, not judgment.  Hug, smile at, high five, give an A-OK, a kind word, encouragement, or give a pat on the back, to a parent you know who needs support.  Sometimes they don’t need a problem-solver ; sometimes they just need a listening ear, and re-assurance that they are an awesome parent.


Hugs; The best discipline tool ever!  The child that needs our attention the most, is usually the one that “deserves” it the least.  If you ever are in the position of not knowing what to do in any parenting situation, (as most parents routinely are) then default to a hug.  If learning follows, you will be coming from a place of acceptance and caring and the message will stick much more with your child.


Use your kindest words at home with those you love the most: Too often, we are the nicest, politest, kindest people to strangers.  The store clerk, the plumber and the teacher all get our best behaviour, when we should be giving it to those we love – our family.


Expressions of all feelings is absolutely necessary for health: Feelings are as common to our body as our big toe. The most respectful way to express feelings is to talk about them. Saying “I feel…” can be very therapeutic for children trying to sort out their feelings.

We need to help our children deal with their frustrations, not to help your children avoid them: Our job as parents is to help our children sort out their unhappy feelings, by acknowledging that they exist and validating them.  It doesn’t mean that we agree with them or understand them.  It just means that we accept them.


Time-outs are for parents, time-in is for the child: Parents need to take a minute to get themselves calmed-down.  They teach children how time-out works, not by forcing the child into time-out, but by taking a time-out themselves.  My fear is that we are raising an entire generation adverse to taking a time-out, because they have only experienced it as a punishment.  Time-out is a wonderful life skill.  Let’s demonstrate that by our actions. Giving a child time-in means to stay with him in a calming environment to help him gain self-control again.  It’s not meant to be isolating and may include items to help him calm-down in his learning style.


Children learn better by discovery than by being told: There are many lessons in parenting that parents cannot teach.  Life will teach them if we let it unfold.


Instead of punishment, problem-solve the issue: It’s not you against me.  Instead, it’s both of us working together against the problem. With two or more brains working in synergy, we can come up with solutions acceptable to both of us.


Modeling is discipline taught 24 hours a day, 365 days a year: In fact, if we provided no other interference in our children’s actions, other than modeling correct behavior, within the context of  building a great relationship with our children, we would raise responsible, caring, respectful citizens.


We underestimate our children’s ability to solve problems: Even a baby knows how to alleviate hunger.  In childhood, negotiation is treated as an 11 letter swear word, yet, it is very needed in every love relationship. Often, our child’s first experience of negotiation is when their employer gives them training courses as adults. It’s a life skill that needs practice in a safe environment, such as the home, and with safe  people such as parents, who will ensure safe consequences, while children are still young.


Children crave teaching, direction and advice: Like adults, they want to know how to do the right thing, but not be forced to do it.


The biggest technological advances in the past twenty years have been in communications, yet, our biggest hurdle in our relationships have been in interpersonal communications: Amid cell phones, internet, computers, video games, GPS, ipods, Blackberries and DVDs, there is one thing that every parent can provide their children that no advancement of technology will replace.  Human non-sexual touch…hugs, pats, snuggles, and love.


Judy Arnall, BA, DTM, CCFE, currently teaches parenting at The University of Calgary, Continuing Education, and has taught for Chinook Learning, Families Matter, and Alberta Health Services for the past 13 years. Judy is the author of the International bestseller, Discipline Without Distress: 135 Tools for raising caring, responsible children without time-out, spanking, punishment or bribery and the newly released Parenting With Patience: Turn frustration into connection with 3 easy steps.  WWW.PROFESSIONALPARENTING.CA 403-714-6766, Join our list for monthly notifications of free parenting webinars 



Sibling Rivalry Remedies


“Your kids fight?” people ask incredulously, when I am presenting a parenting workshop. “Of course!” I answer. “Every person in a love relationship fights.” I prefer to say that every relationship has conflict. It’s normal and inevitable to disagree. However, the determining factor in the quality of the relationship is how the fights get resolved.

Global TV Watch how to handle sibling fighting

Conflict happens between spouses, partners, relatives, friends, neighbours, co-workers, group members, governments, countries and everyone else. Why would the sibling relationship be different? You know it’s going to happen. But like many things in parenting, it’s better to know what you are dealing with and have some planned strategies to try.

First, know that there are basically 4 types of sibling conflicts. Each conflict type is driven by an underlying feeling, because most all relationship fights are generally about feelings, and not so much about the presenting issues. So the best way to deal with sibling fights is to deal head on with the feelings, rather than the issue. Here are the reasons kids fight, and what the child’s underlying feelings are:


The underlying feeling is, you guessed it! Boredom! What better way for your child to have some fun, than to bug someone who he knows is going to give him a great reaction?
Unhelpful parent strategy: Ignoring the fight. Punishing the child.

Helpful parent strategy: Give your child a new, interesting activity that is work, fun or something to do with you or someone else. Casually separating the children also helps, but don’t make it an enforced time out.


Your child is feeling left out, unloved, or un-noticed. Your child is silently screaming: “Notice me, whether negatively or positively, just notice me!”

Unhelpful parent strategy: Giving negative attention in the form of a punishment, time-out, or time spent playing judge and jury.

Helpful parent strategy: Avoid punishments. Ignore the fighting, but give more individual time and attention later when the fighting has subsided. Schedule a date night or time alone with just that child. Acknowledge pleasant sibling interactions when they occur.


Your child is feeling victimized, angry, frustration, or injustice.

Unhelpful parent strategy: Playing judge by directing who the perpetrator and victim was, and how restitution should be made, according to how you see things. Taking away fought over toys or privileges. Punishing both children regardless of the issue.

Helpful parent strategy: Avoid punishments. Accept and acknowledge each child’s feelings and point of view and try to help them express it to the other child. Help them come to solutions, that both children will agree to. Help them generate the ideas, rather than you do it for them. In addition, give each child input in family rule formation. Teach problem solving skills and then coach them through the process. Teach anger management strategies and self-calming techniques later when everyone has calmed down and the issues are resolved.


Your child may be feeling accumulated hatred and resentments toward their sibling, and may also be feeling jealousy, unworthiness, unloved, victimized, unvalued, or discarded.

Unhelpful parenting strategies: Group punishments, taking away toys or privileges, comparisons, and labelling. Being a judge without hearing or seeing the whole story.

Helpful parent strategies: Notice generous, loving, caring, behaviour and point it out to the children in specific language. Avoid labels and comparisons. Love each child best. Encourage accomplishments and efforts of each child. Avoid punishments of any kind to anybody. Accept and acknowledge all feelings of each child, even if you don’t agree with them. Give a lot of individual attention and time to each child.

How you deal with sibling rivalry determines how the children treat each other. If you punish them, they will punish each other. If your approach is to work on “solving the problem in a mutually respectful way”, they will also take the same approach. And remember, you do not have to maintain equality at all times. Just commit yourself to giving only what each child needs. One child will bound to get more, because they need more, but the important point is that each child feels secure knowing that when he needs something, it will be given to him. In “Between Parent and Child”, Dr. Haim Ginott states: “We do not love all our children the same way, and there is no need to pretend that we do. We love each child uniquely, and we do not have to labour so hard to cover it up. The more vigilant we are to prevent apparent discrimination, the more alert each child becomes, in detecting instances of seeming inequality. Unwillingly, we find ourselves defensive against the child’s universal battle cry, ‘no fair!’” Celebrate your children’s fights! What a great opportunity to teach relationship skills and conflict resolution skills that they are bound to need later in life.

Judy Arnall is a professional international award-winning Parenting Speaker, and Trainer, Mom of five children, and author of the best-selling, “Discipline Without Distress: 135 tools for raising caring, responsible children without time-out, spanking, punishment or bribery” She specializes in “Non-punitive parenting” (403) 714-6766

Worried about Summer Learning Loss? Isn’t Minecraft Educational?

by Judy Arnall

Your ten-year old daughter is wasting another beautiful summer day inside the house, playing Minecraft. You fear that her brain is becoming atrophied for lack of academic stimulation. You worry about education company warnings that children can lose a month of their school year learning during the summer. Will summer fun and a “break from formal learning” cause kids to fall behind academically in the Fall? Is there another way to keep up with academic learning other than by text books and lectures? Could video games support education? Hey, isn’t Minecraft educational? Yes, of course it is! Any type of toy or game is educational, in that it teaches children knowledge, life skills and the competencies outlined by Alberta Education in the new curriculum redesign.

Often, parents are critically conscious of the time spent on computer games, and assume that video games and toys are a frivolous waste of time. They think that if the game doesn’t directly teach math or language skills, time is wasted. However, indirect teaching of communication and math skills may be the best feature of gaming, along with enjoyment of plot, graphics, music and gameplay. A game can develop academic learning and competencies, even though not marketed as an “educational game”.

As a parent of five gamers (both genders), I learned early that my children hated the “educational games” that have primitive graphics, poor logic, clumsy interface, are non-multiplayer and just plain lame. “Educational games” seem to be marketed to parents that aim for functional use of time, rather than fun. When my kids immersed themselves in games like World of Warcraft, Nox, Spore, Gizmos and Gadgets, Age of Empires, Graal, Runescape and League of Legends, they learned not only reading, writing and math skills, but also knowledge of social studies, mythology, history and science. They learned valuable social skills such as cooperation and conflict resolution with other players in the same game, and with buddies outside the game playing with them in the same room. They learned personal skills, such as resilience during adversity, perseverance and commitment to continue and finish for the team despite discouragement. They learned how to deal with problems, team members and competitors under time pressure. They learned how to win gracefully, and how to face losing with dignity and without throwing a keyboard across the room.

Indirectly, games and toys teach some academic concepts in a way that is compelling to children, aided by the focus that is essential for game success. Parents who don’t play the game may not realise how their children have learned these competencies. Here is a brief overview of how toys and games teach children within the framework of the new curriculum redesign by Alberta Education.
Of course, children still need exercise, fresh air, and breaks from screens, which are also great life skills, but if your daughter chooses to spend her quiet time playing Minecraft, relax! She is counteracting summer learning loss in a fun, educational and engaging way.
*Competencies retrieved from Ministerial Order on Student Learning (#001/2013), Alberta Education and adapted for this article. Retrieved from on April 29, 2014
Judy Arnall, BA, DTM, CCFE is a professional certified parenting and teacher conference speaker, and trainer, mom of five children, and author of the best-selling book, Discipline Without Distress: 135 tools for raising caring, responsible children without time-out, spanking, punishment or bribery and the new DVD, Plugged-In Parenting: Connecting with the digital generation for health, safety and love as well as the new book, To University from Unschooling, to be published Fall 2014,, 403-714-6766 Sign up for notifications of free monthly parenting webinars. Copyright permission granted for “reproduction without permission” of this article in whole or part, if the above credit is included in its entirety. Sections may be deleted for space constraints.


Date Night: Stoking the Hearth of the Home

In the movie, Date Night, the characters played by Steve Carell and Tina Fey, are in a long term relationship that they try to spice up by going out to dinner once a week on a date night.  The trouble is that their date night is, monotonously predictable: they go to the same restaurant and order the same food on the same night.  They start to notice the sameness when they become a little too clichéd even for their own taste by talking about the variation of the chicken quality instead of their feelings, week by week.  One night, they do something different – they dress up, pick a new restaurant and go to dinner in the city for a change.  What happens next is hilarious and they end up with an incredible evening tale – probably one that no couple would wish for – but the end result was that they had a renewed sense of each other as the people they loved – not just roles such as parents, children, siblings, etc, although those roles were strengthened as well.

No matter how long they have been together, couples need sparks, creativity and fun in their relationship.  As the years pass, they need it even more.  For centuries, organized religion has discovered that people need continuous affirmation of their faith in the form of weekly rituals such as church attendance.  Relationships need the same kind of tendering and care.  Regular meetings are required in order to talk, have fun, and spend time together. We know that friendships survive on shared interests, yet, as soon as we partner up with our very best friend, we tend to settle into domestic boredom and let the shared interests slide. Every relationship has peaks and valleys – moments where love is overwhelming and moments when you seriously wonder why you are still with him or her. Couples need to remind themselves the qualities that they saw in each other at the beginning of the relationship, and what they still love about each other.  This is even more critical when mortgages, pets, children, jobs, laundry, broken appliances, normal conflicts and elderly caretaking occur alongside the couple relationship.  These are normal stresses, but they can be overwhelming in a relationship without some nurturing buffers such as date night and time together.

Research shows that the first five years of a relationship are the most difficult because of career building demands, money woes, and especially the parenting of babies and toddlers.  The lack of sleep, child tantrums, worry, and differing parenting styles, can tear down the closeness and caring of even the most loving of couples as we tend to take our parenting frustrations out on each other, rather than the children.  This can be toxic to relationships.  We need frequent reminders to be kind and caring to each other, in the good times and especially in the challenging times.  As kids get older and easier to parent, relationships naturally improve, but take a dip again in the teen years.  This coincides with menopause, career peaking, travel, and mid-life crisis issues.  We may start to look around the buffet table, even though we are on a diet!  The parenting of teens can be challenging and adds to the stress.  Couples need to put more work into their relationship at this stage, similar to the first five years.  Research shows that after the teen stage, relationships improve and enrich. There’s a no-brainer, because parenting is so much “done”.

We started our own date night when we have three children under three and felt we were losing the essence of “us” in the dreary day to day details of domestic life.  We made a point of hiring a standing sitter to come every Tuesday evening.  Some days we were so tired, we blearily welcomed in our sitter, grabbed our pillows and headed to the parked car in the driveway for a blissful, uninterrupted nap.  People would question the cost of a standing sitter but we considered it a financial investment. Research shows that divorce is the single most disastrous event that devastates couples’ finances and wealth, and in light of that, we felt that hiring a weekly sitter made sound financial sense.  Not only did we fund her college education, the kids actually enjoyed the sitter coming, since we didn’t have any grandparents or relatives to take over. She was fun, responsible and became an extended family member.  The kids loved the new video games she brought each week.

It was hard when the young babies and toddlers were going through separation anxiety.  Although we are both attachment parents, their crying seemed to bother me more than my partner.  I would like to say the decision was easy, but like many grey areas in life, sometimes I felt that I couldn’t leave the kids and so I discussed with my husband some ways to stay at home and not leave them, and he was sensitive to my needs. Other times, I realized his needs had to come first and we absolutely needed some time alone for the sake of our relationship or we might not make it through another week.  We would desperately say goodbye to the kids as gently as we could and walk out the door. Like any relationship, we had to see whose needs were paramount at that moment, and meet them. That’s real life and the eighth principle of attachment parenting. The kids usually had settled in with the sitter, when we phoned ten minutes later, and most often, we had a great evening, a heartfelt talk and the kids were okay.  We felt that a strong parenting partnership was the greater good for all concerned in the long run.  As is many parenting decisions, when and how to leave the children is a decision that each couple must make and decide when is best for them.

We felt a critical aspect of parenting is giving the kids a role model for respectful relationships and a blueprint for keeping love, passion and companionship alive in long term, monogamous relationships, whether that followed a traditional husband –wife marriage or domestic partnership between consenting, loving adults, whatever gender. We try to hash out conflicts in front of the kids as well as resolve and make up too. We also need to show them that parents are humans too.

In addition to date night, we also have private time on our own.  We have Mom’s night out (mommy goes to the movies or book club with her friends) and Dad’s day out (dad goes out to play volleyball with his friends).  People need to care for themselves in order to care for others.

We also have kid date night (although I can’t call it that anymore with the teens around) where one of us or both will take each kid out one-on-one for some special time. They get to pick what we will do.  We mark off their birth date on the calendar each month and then everyone knows that is the date to keep clear.  For example, my son was born on September 4th so every 4th of the month is his day. In the early days, with my partner working out of town, I would get a sitter to stay with the other kids.  It’s amazing the difference in our parent-child communication because of that and how much it cuts down on sibling fighting.


Twenty four years later, we are still going strong.  With five children, some of who are teens and adults, we no longer need sitters.  Spontaneity is back.  We can suggest a movie to each other, and be out the door in five minutes, just like we did BC (before children).  We even put some friendly daring into the mix – once we parked in the expectant parent’s parking spot at the movie theatre and then ordered the seniors rate movie tickets to get in!  Don’t tell the kids!

The “Date Night” Rules

Together, choose an evening of the week for date night, but make it consistently the same day of the week or it gets left by the wayside. If you have children, hire a standing sitter to come each week at the same time. Try to get a sitter who drives and pay the sitter well. If finances are a problem, join a babysitting co-op and trade tokens. If separation anxiety is a problem, plan date nights at home when the children are asleep. Each partner takes a turn planning the date, executing, driving, and paying. The other partner is the guest.  Then, the next week, switch roles.  It’s more fun to keep plans a secret until you are both in the car or it’s the time of the date.  Surprise is part of the fun! The planner should hire the sitter and feed the kids before you go out. Look your best, even for home dates.  The only information the guest needs to know is what to wear and if they should eat before going out. Try to plan an evening without friends, so that intimate subjects can be addressed if need be. Some subjects are difficult to bring up, but with time and space, it’s better to broach the subjects and give it air time, than to bury it.  Couples who bury critical conversations end up with nothing to talk about in the later years and drift apart.  Be tolerant and enjoy the evening as much as possible knowing that your partner put a lot of effort into making it special for you, even if they didn’t quite nail it that week.

For more ideas that are continually updated, visit our blog, Date Night YYC.  Even though the ideas are for Calgary and area, they are easily transferable to any city.  If you have young children, check out the blog for information on how to start a Baby Sitting Co-op.

Date Night-Out Ideas

  • Live Theatres (High schools and smaller      troupes have cheap or no cost nights)
  • Concerts (Check out university and      community bands)
  • Parks and reserves offer boating rentals
  • Go out for a coffee or a beer at the      local pub
  • Movie in the park
  • Picnics everywhere
  • Dinner crawl – go to several restaurants      for appetizer, salad, main and dessert.
  • Pub hopping downtown
  • Zoo, Museum, Library or Science Centre
  • Wine tasting events
  • Couple massage
  • Pottery painting
  • Classes
  • Friends’ house party
  • Go out for breakfast or meet for lunch
  •  “Lovers      or couples” trade show
  • Comedy theatre, Pecha Kucha, MoMondays
  • Bike ride, either cycle or motorcycle
  • Drive-in or movie-in-the-park
  • Pick up take-out and watch the planes land at the airport
  • Go-carting or laser tag
  • Shakespeare or other plays  “in      the park”
  • Fitness: gym date, bowling, rock      climbing, yoga, roller skating, golf, hiking, or simply running
  • Lecture (Check out libraries,      universities and bookstores)
  • Volunteer together such as canvassing,      working at the food bank and places where you can talk and have fun
  • Window shop
  • Ride the City trains – bring a snack and      have a train picnic


Date Night-In Ideas


  • Snuggle in bed with a movie and a picnic      of wine, bread and cheese
  • Dinner and movie at home with a theme      such as French night – have crepes and watch “La Chocolat”
  • Board or card game night
  • Dance
  • Bake cookies
  • Play video games
  • Read together in the bathtub, with      candles, salts and wine
  • Grab a pillow and blanket and sleep in      the car with the baby monitor on
  • Pick up books from the library and have a      read-in around the fireplace
  • Sit around the fire-pit outside and make      marshmallows or hot dogs
  • Relax in the hot tub
  • Be a kid again and use the trampoline (or      just lie on it and watch the stars), swing set, or swimming pool.
  • Turn off all the lights and sit in the      dark and watch the animal world outside.
  • Bring out photo albums or watch photos      and videos on the big screen at home


Date Night-No Sitter-Available Ideas


  • Car rides and walks (kids will either      fall asleep or be entertained by the DVD player you bring).
  • Go to places like Ikea, McDonalds, Airports      and children’s hospitals.  Grab a      coffee and a bench and utilize the play places to keep your kids      entertained where you can talk but keep an eye on the children.
  • Go to Chapters or other book stores and      plunk the kids in the Kids section with an assortment of books.  Grab the in-house coffee and find a      nearby seat.
  • Set the alarm early and have coffee on      the porch and watch the sun come up together.
  • Take the kids to the playground and have      a picnic for you two.
  • If your kids are school-aged, book two      tables at a restaurant at least 10 yards apart.  Sit your kids at one table, and you and      your partner at another.  Monitor      them from afar. Pretend you are the Aunt and Uncle so you don’t worry      about their behavior.  Works even      better with teens.


Happy dating!

Judy Arnall is a conference speaker, family communications trainer, and bestselling author of “Discipline Without Distress: 135 tools for raising caring, responsible children without time-out, spanking, punishment or bribery.” She is co-founder of Attachment Parenting Canada and Her date night blog is at



How to discipline toddler hitting, biting, throwing and tantrums

Discipline Without Distress is now an International Bestseller!

International Bestseller – Discipline Without Distress

Discipline Without Distress: 135 tools for raising caring, responsible children without time-out, spanking, punishment or bribery

Discipline that you and your child will feel good about!

Now an International Bestseller!

At last, a positive discipline book that is chock-full of practical tips, strategies, skills, and ideas for parents of babies through teenagers, and tells you EXACTLY what to do “in the moment” for every type of behavior, from whining to web surfing.

Parents and children today face very different challenges from those faced by the previous generation. Today’s children play not only in the sandbox down the street, but also in the World Wide Web, which is too big and complex for parents to control and supervise. As young as age four, your children can contact the world, and the world can contact them. A strong bond between you and your child is critical in order for your child to regard you as their trusted advisor. Traditional discipline methods, no longer work with today’s children and they destroy your ability to influence your increasingly vulnerable children who need you as their lifeline! You need new discipline tools!

Help your child gain:

• Strong communication skills for school, career, and relationship success.
• Healthy self-esteem, confidence, and greater emotional intelligence.
• Assertiveness, empathy, problem solving, and anger-management skills.
• A respectful, loving connection with you!

You will gain:

• An end to resentment, frustration, anger, tears, and defiance in your parent-child relationship.
• Tools to respectfully handle most modern challenging parenting situations, including biting, hitting, tantrums, bedtimes, picky eating, chores, homework, sibling wars, smoking, “attitude,” and video/computer games.
• Help for controlling your anger “in the moment” during those trying times.
• A loving, respectful, teaching and fun connection with your child!

“Offers a wealth of ideas and suggestions for raising children without the use of punishment of any kind.” Linda Adams, President and CEO of Gordon Training International

Available at:
Professional Parenting
Barnes and Noble

Parent Time-Out

How to Take a Parent Time-Out with Small
Children Underfoot

One of the very best parenting tools is the Parent Time-Out. When parents are feeling
upset, angry, or frustrated over a parenting issue, or over their children’s behaviour, it
can help to diffuse the situation if the parent removes themselves to get calm and
centered, rather then force the isolation of their child into a Child Time-Out. After the
parent is calm, they are in a much better frame of mind to deal with the issue at hand
and they’ve avoided saying and doing things they might regret later. Sometimes, with
young children, this is easier said than done!

Many parents object to the parent time out because they complain that their toddlers and preschool children just follow them around the house, screaming, whining and crying.

How True!

Here are some tips to Mentally Time-Out when you can’t physically time yourself out:

Throw a CD on the stereo and dance hard!
Use an IPOD or MP3 player filled with your favorite songs to distract you.
Have earplugs everywhere. In the car, kitchen, purse, and bathroom. They take the edge off a child’s screaming that can damage your ears.
Lock yourself in the bathroom. Tell the children that you love them, and Mommy/Daddy is feeling angry, and needs to take a time-out for herself or himself. Turn on the fan or shower so you can’t hear the children, and breathe slowly. Visualize yourself in a calm place.
Do the Hokey-Pokey, and shake it out! Smile and make a funny noise and you will all be laughing.
Phone a friend to have a brief conversation. Tell her how you feel. Call from the closet or a bathroom if you have to.
Distract yourself with a magazine.
Drop everything, dress your children and yourself for the weather, and put them in the stroller. Go for a brief walk outside. Exercise, fresh air, peace and quiet! Children will be distracted by the sights and sounds and you can think out your anger in peace.
Put a children’s DVD or Mom’s movie on the player. It will either distract you or your child, and will give both of you time to calm down.
If you are in the car, pull over to a parking lot or some other safe place. Get out of the car, leave the children in there, and walk around the car 20 times. Cry, deep breathe, vent or stomp. Get back in the car when you have calmed down.
Imagine a soundproof, gentle, clear shell around yourself to protect you from screaming children.
Sit on the porch, find a closet, basement, or somewhere you can be alone. Make sure the children are in a safe place.
Tell your child that you both need a group hug. It can be very hard to hug someone that you feel angry with, but the touch is soothing and helps to heal the anger. It works well for some people.
Use “Self-Talk” Say over and over to yourself, “My child is not trying to bug me right now. She is only coping with her strong feelings in the only way she knows how. “But me first.”
Remember the phrase: “Get myself calm, Get my child calm, and then solve the problem.”

What skills do you use to calm down in situations other then parenting? Use some of those strategies if you can. Just as the oxygen masks in airplanes are meant to be used on adults first, so they can be in a position to help the children, you must take care of your needs first when you are angry. The bonus gift is that you are truly modeling for your child, how to take a calming time-out when situations become
overwhelming. Modeling by example, instead of forcing them in time-out, is the best way for children to learn self-calming tools.


Judy Arnall is a professional international award-winning Parenting Speaker, and
Trainer, Mom of five children, and author of the best-selling, “Discipline Without
Distress: 135 tools for raising caring, responsible children without time-out,
spanking, punishment or bribery” and a new DVD called “Plugged-In Parenting:
Connecting with the Digital Generation for Health, Safety and Love.” (403) 714-6766
Copyright permission granted for “reproduction without permission” of this article in whole or part, if the above credit is included in its entirety.

Hate Homework? Here is an OPT OUT OF HOMEWORK Letter to School

For parents and children who dislike the impact of homework on their family time.  Here is a template of a letter to send to school before the first parent-teacher interviews.  It’s meant as a starting place for discussion of homework and schoolwork boundaries.

Fall 20__

Dear Teacher

Thank you for teaching our child this year.  We as a family strive to live a balanced life that includes a variety of activities. Those activities include volunteering in the community, family social time, rituals and celebrations, part-time jobs, music and art lessons, sports, fellowship clubs, church and much-needed downtime.  We value those activities as much as learning academic subjects in school.

In order to make time for these activities; we need to establish boundaries that provide a fair division between school instructional time and homework that encroaches upon outside-school time.  Therefore, our family homework policy is as follows:

_________(Your Family Name Here) Family Homework Policy:

The school assignments that are not given adequate instructional class time to complete in school hours, will not be completed at home.

We expect our children to give their best effort and concentration in the ___ hours of instructional class time that the government legislates and the school provides in order for our children to complete the required credits and marks. They can also use any school spares they have to complete school work between the hours of 9:00am and 3:30pm. I expect the school to provide adequate time and instruction in class for the student to complete the government requirements of the entire course.

We expect that our children will not be socially penalized within the classroom for our implementation of the Family Homework Policy, and will not be academically penalized in terms of marks for work that can’t be completed within the allotted school time. The current available research supports our belief that supplemental homework is not required for adequate mastery of the subject matter.  We appreciate that you respect our decision on how to spend our time at home as much as we respect your decisions regarding your time/curriculum management at school.

Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.


Your Name