Put on your own oxygen mask, first!

You are quite overwhelmed at work, recently. You find yourself working late and rushing into your evening. You get home, stressed and disconnected – throwing yourself into night-time routines. Your 5-year old becomes very disruptive at the table and hits his brother on the way to the bath – he runs away when you try to intervene. You might think, at first glance, that a Time Out and a Reward/Consequence Chart may be in order.

Self Care - not an option. MasterParenting.com

Let’s talk about another option because your child is a sponge to your energy – good or bad. Taking a deep breath, going to your child and saying, calmly, that he needs to take a couple of deeps breaths to regulate his emotions and remind him that this family uses gentle hands. Then, tomorrow, you get home earlier, connect and regulate with your spouse and your children before you start dinner.

“In the event of pressure loss in the cabin, oxygen masks will deploy from the ceiling above you… please safely secure your own mask before attempting to assist others…”

You can’t be expected to effectively help others if you don’t, first, help yourself. Stop “fixing” your child’s misbehavior and take care of yourself, first. Then, some of that misbehavior may miraculously fall away. 

Too Much Screen Time

Screen time is a huge problem, in most families. Hours a day in front of the television isn’t uncommon.  How you police your children about screen time? How do you get them to stop watching SO MUCH television, mindlessly surfing? How do you motivate them to watch less? This article is to help you create strategies for less screen time. 

  • Let’s first talk about what NOT to do. Stop harping about the television. Just think about what happens when you urge your child to eat more or eat more of that one thing. What happens? They stall and won’t. So what does work? When you notice that they DID eat the vegetable.
  • So, now what to do: 
  • Make a New Rule (the New Rule is that you have to do three things off your chore list to get 1/2 hour of Screen Time, for instance). Now that you have created a rule, how do you get them to take seriously?
  • You notice when they do the three chores without any whining or they turn the screen off right away when the 1/2 hour is up. You restate the rule at odd times (not when the TV is on or when they are doing the chores – but at more neutral times). You descriptively praise any step in the right direction. Descriptive Praise means that you notice and mention EXACTLY what they are doing right, even if it is only a LITTLE right. Like, that they repeated the rule to you. Or, that they stopped whining about not getting any TV before the chores are done. 

Turn off the TV with a new rule, Master Parenting

In conclusion, Screen Time has to be limited and earned. When they EARN television privileges, they are much more responsible and cooperative. How long should it take them to get used to the new rule and become more responsible? This takes weeks – not much more than that. Good luck! 


From CNN: Are we SPANKING the gray matter out of our kids?

Spanking the gray matter out of our kids

Master Parenting, Spanking the Grey Matter our of our Kid's Brains

By Sarah Kovac, of CNN

“The more you physically punish your children for their lack of self-control, the less they have,” Sarah Kovac says.

How to discipline the next generation is a hotly debated topic. In 2012, a national survey showed more than half of women and three-quarters of men in the United States believe a child sometimes needs a “good hard spanking.”

Science tells a different story. Researchers say physical punishment actually alters the brain — not only in an “I’m traumatized” kind of way but also in an “I literally have less gray matter in my brain” kind of way.

“Exposing children to HCP (harsh corporal punishment) may have detrimental effects on trajectories of brain development,” one 2009 study concluded.

Harsh corporal punishment in the study was defined as at least one spanking a month for more than three years, frequently done with objects such as a belt or paddle. Researchers found children who were regularly spanked had less gray matter in certain areas of the prefrontal cortex that have been linked to depression, addiction and other mental health disorders, the study authors say.

The researchers also found “significant correlations” between the amount of gray matter in these brain regions and the children’s performance on an IQ test.

Several other studies support these findings. A 2010 study published in Pediatrics found that frequent — more than twice in the previous month — spanking when a child was 3 was linked to an increased risk for higher levels of child aggression when the child was 5.

Another, from the Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma, found that corporal punishment doled out from the mother was independently related to a decrease in cognitive ability relative to other children. Corporal punishment had the largest effect on children 5 to 9.

Behind all this science-speak is the sobering fact that corporal punishment is damaging to children. That gray matter we’ve been spanking out of them? It’s the key to the brain’s ability to learn self-control.

“The more gray matter you have in the decision-making, thought-processing part of your brain (the prefrontal cortex), the better your ability to evaluate rewards and consequences,” write the authors of a 2011 study that appeared in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience.

The sad irony is that the more you physically punish your kids for their lack of self-control, the less they have. They learn how to be controlled by external forces (parents, teachers, bosses), but when the boss isn’t looking, then what?

Elizabeth Gershoff, an associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin, has been studying corporal punishment for 15 years, and is known as the leading researcher on spanking in the United States today. Over the years, Gershoff has done a systematic review of the hundreds of studies on the effects of corporal punishment.

“There’s no study that I’ve ever done that’s found a positive consequence of spanking,” Gershoff said. “Most of us will stop what we’re doing if somebody hits us, but that doesn’t mean we’ve learned why somebody hit us, or what we should be doing instead, which is the real motive behind discipline.”

Initially it was believed that spanking, at the very least, was associated with immediate compliance in children, and that parental warmth would buffer any harmful effects.

But the finding that spanking produced compliance “was overly influenced by one study,” Gershoff said; it turns out spanking “doesn’t make your kids better behaved. You think it does. … It doesn’t.”

What is spanking associated with? Aggression. Delinquency. Mental health problems. And something called “hostile attribution bias,” which causes children, essentially, to expect people to be mean to them.

This bias makes the world feel especially hostile. In turn, children are on edge and ready to be hostile back. Over time, across cultures and ethnicities, the findings are consistent: Spanking is doing real, measurable damage to the brains of our children.

And yet in 19 states, Gershoff notes, it is still legal for schools to paddle children.

For those thinking, “I was spanked, and I turned out fine,” or, “I spank my kids and they’re great!” consider that you don’t know who you would be or how your children would behave in a world without spanking.

It could be that your children are thriving not because you spank, but in spite of it.


Too Much Candy for Halloween – what is a parent to do?

This is one of those situations that you should probably discuss BEFORE they go Trick Or Treating – as to take the candy away, now, you’re going to end up the Bad Guy!

But, all is not lost, and there is a teachable moment, left.

  • You can let them eat one piece of candy after every meal until it is gone.
  • The New Rule Is – can be created anytime that is neutral (Example: choose 4 pieces and donate the rest).
  • You can bribe the kids with MONEY – most dentists buy back the candy after Halloween to send to the Troops.
  • You can eat the best candy, tonight, while they are all asleep – and then donating the rest to Operation Gratitude.

Candy Buy Back Halloween

Do what you like, but certainly don’t let your children eat all that candy! Their behavior will not be pretty, they will not be getting quality nutrition and all those empty calories — eeeesh!

Need more help? I am here to help, offer hope, and help your family life move toward a better life with new boundaries and more cooperation. Fill out the contact form or book a coaching session.


Can’t Calm Down? Try this, Mama!

Your brain gets flooded with hot anger when your preteen screams “No!” and slams her door. You see red when your three-year old spits at you and screams “I hate you!”  How can you be so angry when you love your child so completely and deeply? (if you want to know how the brain works when it is angry, read this). The question is, how do you, as the parent, calm down when you are about to have a 2-year old’s temper tantrum?

How can you ask your children to exhibit self-control, when you can’t? How can you teach them to recognize their emotions and move through them, if you grab your child, spank your child, or scream at them when they act impulsively? Better yet, what if you are upset at your son hitting his brother and not using his words? What example does it give if you grab him roughly and scream at him?

Let’s get this out of the way: spanking isn’t a good option. It just doesn’t fit into today’s parenting strategies and it simply doesn’t help a child become their best self. Spanking sometimes even makes behavior worse (because the child feels misunderstood, wants to get revenge, or becomes even more flooded with their own feelings that they aren’t able to deal with). Most parents that I coach feel very guilty after spanking, like there was probably a better way to handle the moment. And….they feel very disconnected from their child after that kind of a blow up and recovery is awkward. Even if parents just “lose it,” and yell, parents hate their words and actions, in the heat of anger.

Here is a short list of ideas for YOU to calm yourself down, before you ask your child to calm themselves and work through their feelings.  Need more help? I am here to help, offer hope, and help your family life move to a calmer way of being.

Calm Down, Mama, Amanda Deverich, Master Parenting


Magic Bullet for Children: Rewards and Consequences

The title to this post is actually the old Bait and Switch. Sorry! I believe, thoroughly and completely, that if you do Descriptive Praise, Reflective Listening, Preparing for Success, and Never Ask Twice techniques consistently and predictably, that you’ll rarely have to use Rewards and Consequences. But, because you are here, I will give you what you searched for: Rewards & Consequences, that work.

Rewards & Consequences

When you do use Rewards, make sure that you are getting something good, in return:

  • When the homework is done, you get 30 minutes of Screen Time
  • When the dog is fed, you get to go to Johnny’s
  • When you have had 30 minutes of quiet time, you get to play a board game
  • When you have set the table, without being asked, for 7 days in a row, you’ll get your allowance

When you do use Consequences, make sure that your child knew exactly what the consequence was, up front. Don’t claw something back that you have been giving freely:

  • Don’t take away the bedtime book because she didn’t get out of the bath, cooperatively
  • Don’t take away the Screen Time she earned because she is kicking her sister
  • At a neutral time, state the rule, make her tell you the rule in her own words, and practice this many times
  • When she does mess up and earns a consequence, resist the temptation to say, “I told you so,” get angry, or use too many words. Just follow through.

Following through is the most difficult part of giving Consequences to children. We’re angry. We’re frustrated. We cannot believe that we are here, again. But, the calmer you deliver the Consequence, the more that your child will learn. How, you ask? Because, if you are angry when you deliver the Consequence, your child can be angry back, and even blame you. But, if your child receives her just and fairly-given consequence, she did it to herself. The Magic Bullet is using Rewards and Consequences as a LAST resort, calmly and matter of factly, even with a “DARN! You lost your screen time and I know how much you wanted to watch that show!” Good luck with Descriptive Praise, Reflective Listening, Preparing for Success, and Never Ask Twice. Ready for a coaching session? Book one, here.


Need help feeling Grateful? Here are some tips!

An attitude of gratitude has many physical and mental healthy benefits including less anxiety, less depression and higher long-term satisfaction with life. There is no shortage of expression or encouragement to experience gratitude, especially during the holidays. We have a holiday called Thanksgiving that helps us feel thankful and Christmas helps us count our blessings, too. Bumper stickers, magnets, t-shirts and trending Facebook posts exalt gratitude for one thing or another. However, in a comparative land of overflowing plenty, we can become too busy , too stimulated and often too full to have the capacity to experience gratitude. If you are feeling the many messages are platitudes and you are seeking a way to get back in touch with that feeling of gratitude, here are five fresh ideas:

  • Go Extreme. Skip a meal (if you medically can). Go without your cell phone for a day (be grateful we can afford such amazing technology!) Take a cold shower to get in touch with your love of indoor plumbing and heating.

3 peas on a plate


  • Be Mindful. Consciously note the people and things that you have in your life that bring you comfort, joy, or ease. Consciously notice small gifts in the day–such as a parking space, a kind word from a stranger, or a lucky find.
  • Start a Streak. Challenge yourself to note each day the things that you are thankful for. Get a streak of thankfulness going. Keep a tally mark for each item. Count your blessings at the end of the week.
  • Connect With Nature. Get outside. Observe animals, plants, and even insects. Look up at the skies, take in the stars or clouds, breathe deep and purposefully consider how you are part of this creation. Busy lives disconnect us from our heartfelt human experience.
  • Read. Read inspirational quotes, poems, biographies or blogs. Reading to be inspired can lead to a deeper experience of existence and gratefulness for the gifts you have.

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Amanda DeverichAbout Amanda DeverichLMFT, NCC Marriage & Family Therapist and Professional Counselor 757-903-2406

Amanda draws upon formal counseling theory and education, on the job training and personal life experience.  She is skilled in structural family therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and Christian counseling. After earning her graduate degree from The College of William & Mary, she sought out the London-based creator of the parenting program, Noël Janis-Norton, to be personally trained by her. She used the Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting methods in her own home for over 15 years – and parent after parent that she has worked with say the methods changed their lives. These methods WORK!