Interview with Amy McCready of Positive Parenting Solutions

February 25th, 2010 by | Print

Before we get into today’s interview, let’s discuss a likely solopreneur scenario.

When you started your business, you decided wisely to save some money and take advantage of tax breaks by setting up shop at home. Why pay for rent or mortgage only to lease a separate office space? You’ve always dreamed of trading in your monkey suit for jammies and ditching the demands of a boss for making your own decisions.

However, a home office isn’t a demand-free zone. Even though you lock your office door and hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign, you are perplexed how to handle children whom randomly knock with perceived emergencies during your work hours.

I believe in setting up boundaries – healthy boundaries. And I believe in win-win solutions. If you set up boundaries that meet your business needs, but not those of your children, you’re creating a perpetual problem.

To help with this conundrum, I decided it was best to contact a pro. Today’s interview is with Amy McCready, a certified Positive Discipline Parent Educator, and founder of Positive Parenting Solutions. In addition to imbuing valuable advice on the Today Show and MSNBC, Amy is a speaker, parenting coach and trainer. Plus, Amy offers sound online parenting courses on the Positive Parenting Solutions site.

TSG:       Amy, thanks for taking time today to chat with us. What inspired your passion for helping parents establish positive relationships with their children? 

AM:       The inspiration for Positive Parenting Solutions was based partly on my own needs and from talking with so many parents who didn’t feel successful in their most important job.  While they loved their kids more than anything in the world, many didn’t feel adequately prepared to handle the challenges of parenting and disciplining. 

Parenting books have been around forever, but in my experience, most are long on theory and short on the details – “what do I do first…then what’s next”, etc.  My goal was to provide parents with a training curriculum that would teach them a step-by-step process for implementing “tools” (strategies) which would correct misbehavior and empower kids to be capable, responsible and respectful. 

TSG:       What exactly is a certified Positive Discipline Parent Educator? What did you need to do to earn this certification?

AM:       I spent the early part of my career developing and delivering training programs for Fortune 500 companies.  Following the birth of my second child, I studied the principles of Adlerian Psychology in various classes and settings as well as mentoring with a child therapist.  I combined my experience developing training programs, my Adlerian Psychology knowledge, the practical experience from my mentor and what I applied with my own family and developed The Breakthrough Course. After experiencing the life changing results for me personally, I was on a mission to share this information with as many families as possible!

Becoming a trained Positive Discipline instructor was one component in the process of developing the course.  The content in Positive Parenting Solutions Online is based on the principles of Adlerian Psychology and Positive Discipline and years of working with families and seeing the results in action.

TSG:       I grew up third of seven in an era when “shut up and do as I tell you” was the norm. Fortunately, my parents did a better job than that. What positive changes have you seen in parenting in the last twenty years? Have there been any negative parenting trends during this time?

AM:       Parenting has changed in so many ways over the past couple of generations – with positive and negative outcomes.  One of the more significant changes is that the “do it because I said so” approach just doesn’t cut it anymore and this and can be very frustrating for parents. “What’s with today’s kids?”  “Why don’t they listen?” 

It’s not that kids are any different today – they have the same genetic make up.  The reason the “do it because I said so” approach doesn’t work with today’s kids is a reflection of an overall shift in society from an authoritarian, do-as-I-say model to one of personal empowerment.  We see it in the workplace.  The have-the-report-on-my-desk-by-5:00-or-else style of management is long gone. Instead strong leaders encourage and empower their employees to have input into decision-making. The same is true in personal relationships.  Today, wives don’t blindly “obey” the rules set forth by their husbands; instead most couples view marriage and parenting as a partnership.  Mom won’t submit to a “because I said so” request from Dad, so why should children feel good about blindly obeying a “because I said so” directive from parents?

In the big scheme of things – this is a positive change.  Who can argue with treating each other with more respect and greater empowerment?  But, parents are frustrated.  Giving “the look” or saying “because I said so” doesn’t work and they’re at a complete loss for what to do instead.   Should they use Time Out?  Counting 1-2-3?  Most parents have already tried those strategies and realize that they do more to invite power struggles than tame them. Unfortunately, in the absence of effective discipline strategies, parents resort to the “repeat, remind, repeat, remind, EXPLODE, feel guilty and start the same thing over again tomorrow” cycle.

The good news is that most parents understand that children deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.  The bad news is most parents haven’t been trained in how to hold kids accountable for behavior without resorting to nagging, reminding or yelling.  Positive Parenting Solutions empowers parents with the skills to do just that.

TSG:       Do you believe that it is not only appropriate, but necessary and beneficial for work-at-home parents to set up boundaries with their children during work hours?

AM:       Yes, work-at-home parents have to establish boundaries, but they also need to understand what is developmentally appropriate for a child.  I’ve worked with parents who expect their toddlers to entertain themselves while the parents work at home. This isn’t realistic and leads to frustration for everyone.  Work-at-home parents need to schedule dedicated “work time” during their day and arrange appropriate childcare during that time.

Establishing well-defined routines helps the child know what to expect.  Example:  “I spend a 10-15 minutes playing with mom/dad before the sitter arrives.  I have lunch with mom/dad.  I spend 10-15 minutes playing with mom/dad at the end of the work day before dinner.” 

“Controlling the Environment” can help alleviate confusion for the child – if possible, locate your home office away from the main family space, put a stop sign on the door to indicate that the “office is closed now ” 

Give your child opportunities to “communicate with you during the day” – other than coming into your office.  She can draw a picture and quietly slip it under the door.  With the sitter’s help, she can create a list of the Top 3 things she wants to do with mom/dad during the after-work playtime.

TSG:       As you mentioned earlier, often out of frustration, a parent can quickly transition from speaking to screaming when a child just doesn’t seem to respect the importance of a home work space. What are some basics a solopreneur can consider to keep the conversation calm and constructive?

AM:       After defining the “work day routine” – practice it!  This is especially important for young children.  Role play “work time” and the designated “play/interact” times during the day. 

Let your child know that if she comes to your office during your work time (and it’s not a true emergency!) then, you will IGNORE her request.  That may sound harsh at first – but every time you stop what you’re doing and say, “Please honey – daddy’s working now.  I’ll play with you later” – it gives her a “hit” of attention and guarantees the behavior will continue.

Instead, ignore the request.  By ignoring the behavior, you are removing the PAYOFF and as a result,  it’s less likely to happen again. (Depending on the child’s age, it’s important to practice this part in the role play so she knows what to expect.)

TSG:       We all have the same 24 hours in a day to set priorities for our time. When I work with solopreneurs, I often find they only talk in terms of allocating time to specific work tasks and goals. I work with them to include time for personal goals in their list instead of leaving them up to whatever time is leftover. Having a healthy relationship with your children can help or hinder your success. What is an appropriate amount of time to prioritize for your kids? How does that time allotment transition from tots to teens?

AM:       Kids have a hard-wired need for POSITIVE attention – plain and simple.  If parents don’t PROACTIVELY fill the attention basket with POSITIVE attention, the child will get his attention one way or another –and it will usually be with negative attention seeking behaviors like whining, clinging, acting helpless and constant interruptions.  Eventually, the attention-seeking behaviors shift to power-seeking behaviors like tantrums, not listening, backtalk, etc

The best strategy to avoid the negative attention and power seeking behaviors is to commit to spending 10 – 15 minutes 2X per day with each child.  That is 10 minutes of uninterrupted time with ONE parent and ONE child in which he has your complete and undivided attention and doing something the child likes to do. If he likes to play with Legos – you build Legos for 10 minutes.  If she likes to play UNO or backgammon – that’s what you do.  It’s 10 minutes of undivided time when they don’t have to compete with anyone (siblings, your spouse) or anything (your Blackberry, work, etc.) for your attention.

By INVESTING time in proactively filling their attention baskets – you get that time back 10-fold in good behavior.  When their “baskets” are full, they don’t have to demand your attention.  Parents have a choice – we can put the time in on the front end with Mind, Body & Soul Time or we can spend a lot more time than that battling whining, tantrums, and constant interruptions during the day. 

TSG:       Are there “universal truths” in positive parenting or do you alter your approach to account for the cultural diversity we have here in the US?

AM:       There are certain universal truths that apply to all people in all cultures.  All humans have a hard-wired need for positive attention and positive power.  If the need for attention and power is not met, kids will resort to negative behaviors to get it.  If parents proactively fill the attention basket in positive ways and give kids opportunities to exercise power in positive ways – kids don’t have the “need” to misbehave.

Beliefs about appropriate discipline strategies certainly differ based on culture, religious beliefs and personal experience.  Positive Parenting Solutions does not advocate spanking or other punishments that are emotionally or physically hurtful to a child.  However, perspectives can differ on that based on cultural diversity.  Our goal is to give parents 25 other tools they can use FIRST before resorting to physical or hurtful punishment. 

TSG:       I love the fact that you provide parents with a “Tool Box” of strategies. Each child and every home environment creates a unique formula for frustration. By providing a variety of tools, you give parents the option to deal with each situation appropriately. What are some of the tools that a parent gets from your online courses?

AM:       Just as young children learn to walk one step at time, parents need to learn new solutions one step at a time. The Positive Parenting Solutions program is laid out in “take action” steps called “Tools”. Parents start by learning and implementing Tool #1. And make no mistake — they’ll see concrete results after implementing Tool #1. Then, when they’re ready, move forward to implement Tool #2. Each tool in Positive Parenting Solutions builds on the previous one, with visible results every step of the way.

Mind, Body & Soul Time and the “how to’s” of implementing it are covered in the first session.  (Which parents can access for free!)  In Session 3, parents discover the 5 R’s of fair and effective consequences.  They experience why “When-Then” is consistently described as a “magic bullet” for diffusing power struggles.  Session 5 is all about sibling rivalry, fighting and competition and parents learn the tools to empower kids to work out their own fights without parents getting involved.  With over 25 tools in The Tool Box, we empower parents with concrete strategies to correct misbehavior without nagging, reminding and yelling! 

Amy, thank you again for your time today and important insight.

Success in business takes investment – investment in time, equipment, marketing. How much time do you invest in your ability to create a healthy relationship with your children and setting healthy boundaries for your home based business?

Invest in helpful “tools” today. Positive Parenting Solutions gifts you a 14-day free pass to check out Session 1’s seven online videos, interactive learning modules and more. For more information and to get started today, click on the link below.

Positive Parenting Solutions
Amy McCready, Founder
Free 14-Day Course Access
Free Live Webinars 
Blog Articles

All the Best,

Doug Dolan
The Solopreneur’s Guide


Leave a Reply

Security Code: