Welcome to Day 15! You are halfway through the “30 Days to Parenting Success” mini-course. 

Before you get into today’s lesson, how did you do practicing offering choices in limits? Here are some possible answers: 

a.     “You can change into play clothes and play in the sand box or keep your nice clothes on and play inside. You decide.”

b.    “I know you don’t like getting your hair washed. Would you like a wash cloth to cover your eyes or would you rather tip your head way back?”

c.     “Will you work on your book report before dinner or after?”

d.    (Pause between each question.) “What are you interested in doing? What kind of jobs appeal to you? What is your class schedule? How will you balance school and work?” 

“Choices Within Limits” was the last tool in the Cooperation Toolset you are learning in the “30 Days to Parenting Success” mini-course. Now you are ready to move to the last group of tools in the Prevention Toolbox, the Independence Toolset. 

Here’s where we are in the Universal Blueprint® Problem-Solving System / PASRR Formula:

Prevent Problems from starting or worsening, with the …

       Prevention Toolbox: Independence Toolset 

The Independence Toolset has 23 practical tools. The most basic skill all parents need to know and use is to teach children skills, then allow enough freedom for the child to practice the skill safely. This is how children become independent and responsible. 

Joan had three children, ages 10, 15, and 18. She readily admitted she liked babying her youngest, even still calling him “my baby.” She said she liked doing things for him and didn’t want him to grow up. She knew this probably wasn’t good, but was afraid to let go. 

After she learned the Independence Toolset in the T.I.P.S. class her assignment was to teach her child one new skill that week. She decided to teach him how to make his own lunch, which he had been asking to do for a while. He was thrilled! He asked her how to do laundry, even how to iron his own shirts. 

Each time, Joan had to deal with her own fears of letting go. Yet each time, she was happy and felt rewarded by seeing how capable, independent, confident and happy her son was to learn these skills. She realized that teaching her son to be independent didn’t mean he didn’t need her anymore; he just needed her in different ways. 

“Teaching Skills” is somewhat self-explanatory when we think about teaching tasks like cleaning a room, skills like getting dressed or behaviors like being polite. Here are ten tips for teaching children tasks, skills and behaviors, although parents do not always have to use all ten ideas each time: 

1.    Plan Ahead.

2.    Explain the value of the skill.

3.    Break the task into smaller steps.

4.    Let children watch.

5.    Let children try.

6.    Let children do things their way, within quality guidelines.

7.    Offer choices.

8.    Work together.

9.    Make it fun and “child-friendly.”

  • Offer encouragement at every step.

“Teaching Skills” is one of the most important core tools to use in the PASRR Effective Response Formula (Lesson 5). Here are a few more helpful tips and tools for fostering independence and responsibility: 

  1. Give a quick tip like, “Sometimes it’s helpful if…” rather than taking over.
  2. Let children be responsible for their mistakes. Ask, “What did you learn?” in a curious tone-of voice.
  3. Let children do things by themselves, instead of doing things for them.
  4. Notice the difficulty, instead of saying, “That’s easy!” If you say that and they can’t do it, they feel incompetent of doing something easy.
  5. Ask their opinion. This encourages them to think for themselves. Their ideas may be quite good!
  6. Wait before answering questions. Ask “What do you think” first. If they are asking the question, they’ve already thought about the answer — and their answers may surprise you or offer insights to what and how they think.
  7. Show children how to use outside resources, such as libraries or experts.
  8. Respect children’s privacy and personal space. Establish “need to know” issues.
  9. Let children dream, even if their dreams seem unrealistic. Ask questions like, “how would you do that?” and “What do you like about that?”
  10. Nudge, but don’t push. Nudging is a firm and gentle encouragement to take the next step. Pushing is an unrealistic pressured expectation to reach the final goal all at once — and can lead to power struggles or the child giving up. 

If you want to learn more details about how to use these tools, get the session from the Lunch & Learn audio series called, “Serve Up Some Wings So Children Can Leave The Nest.” 

Another resource I’d recommend answers one of the most common questions parents have about fostering independence and responsibility: allowances and chores. Read the article on Allowances for tips on when to pay your children for doing chores, and when to avoid it. You can also get an audio on “Kids and Money” as a bonus with the Teleseminar Album series

Lastly, to tie this in with where we are heading next, into the “problem” areas, jave you noticed that all the definitions of effective discipline refer to teaching children a lesson? Not in a punitive way, but in a way that teaches them what is appropriate behavior? The “Don’t Say Don’t” tool you already learned is one way to do this, and the tool for today’s lesson is another — and it’s the fourth five-star tool (starstarstarstarstar). 

To prevent misbehavior, especially unintentional misbehavior that results from a lack of skills, you want to use a tool I simply call, “Teach Skills.” Skill-building is an important tool for fostering responsibility and independence. When used regularly, it can prevent most types of misbehavior, which prevents many situations from ever reaching the point of discipline! 


  1. Use any of these 20 tips to teach your child one new skill today that you are currently doing for your child. 
  2. Feel free to go to the General Discussion area of the Forum to share how it’s going for you to practice teaching skills. 
  3. Remember to go to the Progress Journal area of the Forum whenever you get the “Go to the Progress Journal Forum” reminder lesson, to post answers to the 3 questions that make you eligible for the Grand Prize — a complimentary seat in the “The Secrets of Preventing & Stopping Misbehavior: Practical T.I.P.S. For Frazzled Parents” class, my on-line Advanced Support Training Program. (T.I.P.S. stands for: Tools for Improving Parenting Success.)


Here is a list of the recommended resources in this lesson:


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