How to STOP School Morning Battles

One of the most common problems parents come to me with is School Morning Battles.  It’s also one of the easiest problems to fix.  

1.  Write out a list of everything that needs to be done every school morning:  make bed, get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth, etc.
2.  Put it on the wall for everyone to see and make sure the kids follow through.   

That’s it.  Oh yeah, there is one final detail that sort of makes it all work:  INCENTIVE.

Incentive can be anything from watching TV before school to playing video games after school.

Too many privileges are treated as rights.  My kids could never have watched TV, gone on computer or anything like that if their bed wasn’t made, their dirty laundry wasn’t in the hamper, etc.  They never questioned the rules as never knew any different.

But if you are setting a new set of rules, it’s going to take a bit of time.  The challenge for you is to not cave in and turn on the TV in the morning before the list is completed, or to not nag, even be willing to let them go to school in their pj’s if necessary.

My son was running late one morning so I grabbed his uniform and said, “Let’s go”.  You’ve never seen a kid change so fast while wearing a seatbelt.  We were all laughing hysterically by the time we got to school and he was never late again.

Trust that this advice is sound which makes it easier to follow through.  It’s when you start to question yourself that you get into trouble.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with expecting kids to get ready for school on time to earn privileges.  

Have fair expectations and follow through.  Don’t expect a 7 year old to wash your car at 7:30 in the morning but he’s quite capable of putting on the clothes you laid out for him, eating his breakfast and brushing his teeth.  It’s amazing how quickly kids can move when they have incentive. 

Funny Story:  My then teenage son was laying around the house like a slug all day.  I suggested he get out and do some yard work.  He said, “I’m so tired Mom.  I honestly don’t even think my legs could hold me up at this point.”  Five minutes later he gets a call from a friend to go out and he sprang up off the couch and out the door quicker than I could blink.  Yup … incentive is amazing fuel.  

Happy Parenting,


More reading on incentives:  Chores & Money Management

Stop Praising Your Kids for Everything // Parenting

Praise is great when earned otherwise it’s insincere and meaningless.  Kids not only pick up on this but they lose respect for your opinion because of it.

Insincere praising not only makes you less trustworthy, it waters down your genuine compliments.

I’ve worked with delinquent teens whom (is that the right place to use “whom”?) people were sidestepping around and complimenting constantly trying to get the best out of them.  And of course they only got the worst.

My approach was to say it like it was.  If they sucked at math, I told them they sucked at math.  If they were bullies, I’d tell them we needed to work on their nasty side.  I didn’t tell them they could be a math wizard or that they were really sweet people trapped inside a bully.  How dumb is that?!

BUT, what I did do was enjoy their company.  I always found a way to have fun with them.  Let’s say you’re a rotten teen who everyone hates but is complimenting for no reason.  Then along comes this woman who is 100% honest with you and actually enjoys your company.  Wouldn’t that do more for your self-esteem than being lied to?  I respected them enough to tell them the truth.

Not only did their self-esteem improve, but they became nicer and their grades improved.

So don’t praise the un-praisable.  Instead, praise:

  • their smile
  • their acts of kindness
  • their attempts at anything difficult
  • their thoughtfulness
  • their humour

These are all praisable all the time.  I praised my kids constantly, but always honestly.

Here’s a great example of inappropriate praising.  When my son was little we used to have play dates with a neighbour and her son.  This little guy was so aggressive and mean but if another kid ever hit him back he’d scream like a maniac.  Well, my son didn’t cry OR hit back so was the perfect target.  One night I noticed bruises on his back and asked where he got them from and he told me that boy had punched him.  I was horrified and told the mom the next day.  She didn’t look shocked like I expected but just apologized.  I then kept an eye on the boys and every time that kid would go to punch my son I’d run over and pick my son up.  His mom would say he didn’t mean it but she asked him to say sorry anyway.  He’d smirk and say, “Sorry” in a very unconvincing way then the mom would go on and on about what a good boy he was.  60 seconds later he’d go for my son again having learned nothing.

Why on earth was she praising him for saying “sorry” between beatings???  He knew he wasn’t a good boy, I knew he wasn’t a good boy, the whole neighbourhood knew he was a bully.  He became the school bully and was expelled from high school for beating up other kids.  I used to wonder if she was still telling him what a good boy he was.

Now if he’d been dealt with and been made accountable for being mean instead of praised for it, he could have turned out nice.

Lisa Bunnage, Parenting Coach


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How to Help your Kids be More Popular

There are lots of different qualities that can make kids more popular.  They can be really confident, fun, great at sports, or just have that undefinable character that draws people to them, i.e., charisma.  Not much we can do about charisma  as that seems to be something you’re just born with, but we can help them with the other attributes.

The best you can do for your kids is to build up their confidence/self-esteem.  Do you enjoy being around them?  Do you play games with them, chat with them, have fun with them?  If so, they are way more likely to know how to be fun and social which attracts friends.

Don’t pretend to enjoy their company, find things you can do together which you both enjoy.  Having others truly enjoy their company builds them up, even if it’s just us old parents, lol.

For more on this:

Lisa Bunnage, Parenting Coach

The War on Parenting Styles: Old vs. New


There are plenty of parenting styles out there but there are 2 basic types:

Old Style (Leadership)

  • Strict Discipline with no apologies.
  • Generation gap splitting the children and parents in 2 distinct groups.
  • No guilt whatsoever
  • Letting kids be kids

New Style (no Leadership)

  • Minimal, inconsistent Discipline.
  • Plenty of guilt.
  • Friendship based.
  • Little or no room for kids to just be kids.

I don’t like everything about either style but if I had to choose, I’d go with the old one as leadership is the most important component of parenting and one that’s sorely missed these days.

Kids want, crave and thrive on leadership. If they don’t have it, they demand it in various ways:

  • tantrums
  • bullying
  • cheekiness
  • defiance
  • rudeness
  • anxiety disorders
  • self-harming
  • self-entitlement
  • drug abuse
  • sexual promiscuity
  • etc.

Leadership makes children feel safe, loved and calm.

I recommend a modernized Old Style. Lots of leadership mixed with fun and friendship. The generation gap is gone. We don’t want to sit back and watch them play, we want to get in and have fun with them.

Love your kids enough to discipline them. Kids instinctively equate love with discipline. Discipline is about accountability and lessons learned. Here’s my favourite example of this:

  • If a boy hits his little sister, you don’t take away his TV privileges, you get him to make her bed for a week. You can withhold TV until the bed is made but it’s important to make the punishment fit the crime whenever possible. He was mean so now you’re teaching him how to be nice. Mind you, if she teases him about making her bed, it’s flipped and she’s now making his bed for a week. Fair is fair.

Here’s another example:

  • Girl is caught stealing money from her mom’s purse. She is then taken to a soup kitchen to serve meals to the homeless and donate the money she stole. I know I know, doing charity work shouldn’t be used as a punishment, but remember it’s not about punishment, it’s more about learning something, becoming a better person.

I don’t remember doing much disciplining with my kids, nor do they. I always said, “How your life goes is up to you. It can be easy and fun … or ugly … your choice.” They understood that if they had to go without TV for a week, it was their choice, they didn’t blame me for that. I saved myself a ton of work throughout the years by setting that in place when they were really little.

You don’t need to correct children/teens who are self-disciplining. Just sit back and enjoy. Other than all the grocery shopping, taxiing around, continually buying clothes they outgrow, holding their heads while they throw up with the latest flu, etc. Okay, so there’s some work involved, but all that emotional turmoil is minimal.

NOTE: The March Parenting Programs (Toddler or Child/Tween)
commence Monday, March 7, 2016. Sign up by noon on the 7th to get started.

(I was recently asked why I don’t have a Teenage Program.  I had one a couple of years ago but teenagers can be pretty complicated so I feel at the present time I can serve parents best by doing private coaching with them in regard to their teenagers.)  

Which parenting style do you use?

You comments/emails are always welcome, I answer everything.

Lisa Bunnage, Parenting Coach
BratBusters Parenting
Vancouver, BC


Same results … just quicker

4 weekWe’re into the 2nd round of my “8 Week Parenting Programs” and I’ve learned a few things.  Mainly that you are anxious to get results as quickly as possible.  So, as per your requests, I’ve decided to condense the program.  Therefore, it’s now 4 weeks instead of 8 weeks.  This will ensure you don’t lose momentum and get results even faster.

The program is exactly the same, just compacted into 4 weeks instead of 8.  The only thing I see changing is that I’ll be getting more questions each week for the videos.  That’s fine with me as I loooooove answering questions as we go along.  Most are ones I hear a lot but some are really out there and fun to deal with.

It’s been a great program and the results you are reporting are fantastic.  Credit is due to you who put in all the time and effort to get a great set of rules set up and running effectively.

New name:  “4 Week Parenting Programs“.

Questions and comments always welcome,