Stein Counseling and West Salem Schools Raise $208.00 for West Salem Boys and Girls Club

March 30, 2010

1-2-3 Magic! Workshop Raises $208.00 for West Salem Boys and Girls Club
March 2010
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West Salem School District recently hosted a FREE 1-2-3 Magic! Workshop for parents in the elementary and middle schools. Our community contributed $208.00 in the spirit of “Pay It Forward” to help others.  I am very proud of the community being willing to give back as the workshop is completely free when there is a host organization. We donate our time to these events when an organization is willing to “Pay It Forward” to a charitable organization of their choice. Click here for more information.

Help: My Teenager Says “I Hate You” – It really makes me mad!

April 29, 2009

I received this email recently from a parent of a 14 year old teenage girl.

Dear Ted:

“I really need some help. My daughter can be so sweet at times but at most other times, I think she is possessed! She gets so moody sometimes and says the most hateful things to me. I know that teenagers are moody – I remember it well, but I never treated my mom or dad with such disrespect.  I have tried everything and am to the point I don’t want to take her anywhere or give to her anymore since she can be so unappreciative.

I really want my little girl back. She gets good grades and has good friends. I don’t think she is using drugs since she signed a contract with the school. I just want some respect. Can you give me some advice”

Frustrated Mom

Teenagers can be very moody. Research shows that their frontal lobe does not develop until early 20’s which controls impulses such as these. This means they need parents guidance and for us parents/adults to always be bigger, stronger wiser, and kind (Circle of Security).

When adolescents resort to these type of tactics, it is often as a result of the parent preventing them from achieving some goal that the teenager has had. In other words, the parent has said”No” in some way, shape or form.

Teenagers then use various strategies in order to get the parents to capitulate to their desires: negotiation, whining and complaining, badgering, martyrdom, defiance, personal and verbal attacks, threats, and acts of violence/property damage.

Parents often reason with their teens and attempt to help them understand the logic behind their decision – because they are using their frontal lobe while the teenagers are using their amygdala (emotion center). This is a recipe for disaster.

While this is most likely cause by an underdeveloped brain,  it can unnerve the most stable of parents.  There is nothing more painful that to hear your child say, “I hate you.” When parents are told, “don’t take it personally” by professionals they often reply with ” how can I not take it personal – it is!” What I often advise parents in these situations is the old adage of “less is more.”  Less emotion, less talking. Also, I share with them that “anything you feed will grow, anything that you starve will wither and die.” Don’t feed the teens tactics.

Through my work with some parents, we have patched together a type of bullet proof vest that has seemed to decrease the impact of the bullet, but still may leave a mark.  Each one of the statements below is based on some of the patchwork and the “less is more” and “starve” the tactic.  If the teenager uses multiple tactics, that may be a good sign that one is not working for them. If they use the same one over and over, the tactic is likley being fed somehow. Following the use of any of these patches, leave the situation or the arguing will get worse.  Go to a cooling off spot for yourself.

Here is the list – avoid sarcasm:

“That is too bad.”

“Sorry to hear that.”

“Regardless,  what I said stands.”

“That does not change anything.”

“I see that we are not going to be able to talk through this. Conversation is over.”

“I am going to take a time out for myself before I say something hurtful back.”

Of course, saying nothing is another option.

Hang in there…as my friend Dr Bill Whelan at the Mary Ainsworth Institute says, “Always be Bigger, Stronger, Wiser, and Kind.”

‘How to react to OPC (other people’s children) when they throw public tantrums’

March 27, 2009

I was contacted by an old friend following my blog regarding managing children’s behavior in public. He asked me about how others should react to others peoples children when they are throwing a tantrum. Admittedly, I laughed at first but that was rather intrigued. I decided that this would be a good topic for a brief blog addressing this very issue.  At first, I thought how would I address this issue. I know I am guilty even as the parent of looking at other parents and thinking “wow! They’re having a very difficult time with the child.” I’ve even thought about stepping in and offering help, however; I do not think the help would  be well received. After careful consideration and consulting with my colleagues. We did some research and found the best solution to offer parents of tantruming children is to suggest the following:


Help! My Toddlers Don’t Listen to Me in Public -Everyone is Watching!

March 23, 2009


Recently, a question was posted to my facebook account  from a friend whose toddlers gain the upper hand while out in public. This is a very common occurrence and one of the most difficult for parents to navigate — that is– parenting on stage in front of a live audience!

Here’s the question verbatim (names have been replaced). “Lately my kids and I have been doing great. They have been listening to me and I have been really keying into their emotions, really listening to what they are saying and what they are asking for. They have responded well to this approach.

However, today at the library they would not leave when I told them it was time to go. Child 1 was pretty much smiling and laughing at the request. After a few warnings I put their movies back on the shelf and carried the kids out of the library. It was a horrible scene, everyone was looking. I got Child 1 in her car seat and she calmed down just fine. Child 2 on the other hand needed a lot more consoling, which I did lovingly. Finally, they were both in their car seats and we were on our way. When we were driving I told them that they did not get the movies because they did not listen to me, and when I asked them why they did not listen, they did not answer.

Do you have any input on how I should have handled them at the library? I did not feel good about picking them up and carrying them out, but I did not want to negotiate with two four year olds at the library.

Thank you so much,

Mother of four year old twins


Setting limits in public is often trying for most parents. As if setting limits was not challenging enough, now parents are forced to do it on stage with an audience. First things first. As my friend Dr. Bill Whelan would say parenting means “Always being bigger, stronger, wiser, and kind.” What you don’t do in these situations is as important as what you do.  Parents often feel very intimidated in public, thinking that the audience is saying, “What kind of parent are you if you can’t control your children” or “I can’t believe you just did that – look what an awful parent you are, denying your children something they would enjoy.”  Regardless of the location, children need to be able to depend on their parents to support their exploration – even when that support means prohibiting them from some goal due to a misbehavior or act of disrespect on their part. At the toddler age, it can seem as if they are like a  “big kid”, however;  they are still learning rules and testing boundaries. That means they may gleefully flaunt a parent’s directives and push the limits parents impose from time to time. Despite their seeming maturity,  toddlers are still ruled by their emotions and wanting what they want right now, and can turn on a dime from a happy-go-lucky kid to a pouting, defiant bug eyed monster. Let’s talk a minute about time-outs.

Understand what a time-out is — and isn’t.

Time out is not about punishment – it is about interrupting and helping your child cope with common frustrations and modifying their behavior. While your child is in a time-out, he/she is on his own for a suggested one minute per year of their life.  Therefore, resist the urge to  check on him every few minutes or try to encourage him into drying his tears. Although at times it may require all of your effort, if you find yourself having a difficult time managing your emotions – take a time-out yourself.  Quiet time alone allows your toddler to switch gears and calm down if he/she’s gotten worked up. And, it gives you the chance to step back and not get into a power-struggle with your child. The goal of a time-out is to manage and modify an escalating situation in an calm and kind manner, and to teach your toddler to behave and manage their emotions without regressing to your child’s age, the way yelling or hitting does. Following time out, you may elect repair – which is important. Repair comes after the time-out.  See Make Use of the Time-In below.

Using the time-out.

When a time out is necessary, impose a time-out swiftly — as immediately after the problem as possible.  Use a timer to track the minutes your child is in time out. Stick to the time – no cheating as much as any parent might like to leave them in the room all day and catch a break. Once you’ve set a time, stick to it.

Location of the Time-Out.

Location of the time-out may vary from family to family and place to place. There is always a room, something like her room, or symbolic place (Super Nanny promotes the idea of naughty mats, naughty chairs, and naughty stairs).  When you’re home, it is good to make use of one location if at all possible. This way, the child learns exactly where they need to go when you say “time out.” When you are out in public, however; this prevents parents from utilizing discipline and limit setting when they feel helpless. After working with parents and professionals for many years, ideas have been flowing for time and location. For example, there are always corners in stores, bathrooms, going to the car, sitting right where you are  quietly, or using a grocery cart for younger children. If you are a parent who is  concerned about her child playing up to the audience, then the car as a timeout location will be great for your child. Some people ask why they should have to go through all this hassle?  Remember, your job is to teach and train, and their job is to learn.  A parent’s job is to help children grow into responsible pro-social adults.  Remember to use some common sense and keep in mind their safety at all times.

Make Use of the Time-In.

Time-in may be a novel idea to parents who have not heard of this before.  Toddlers misbehavior (demanding, frustration, whining, withdrawn, out of control) means the child often “does not know what to do with how they are feeling and needs the parent to be calm, take charge, be kind, stay with the child until the child and parent understand this feeling seems too much for the child alone, and help them return to what they are doing with a new option. Invariably, this helps the child trust that the parent-child relationship will almost always set things right” (Dr. Bill Whelan; Personal communication).  This document explains the use of Time-In provided by

Help! My 21 month old toddler is hitting me – what can I do?

March 18, 2009

Recently, an old friend posted a question on face book wondering what she could do  when her 21-month-old toddler has hit her. She was looking to join the “mothers of  toddlers to slap their parents group”, however; to her dismay there was none.

Two-year-olds  tend to be territorial. Everything is “it’s mine.” Typically, aggressive behavior may be a sign of an assertive child because more passive children often cry.  At this stage, they are  absorbing an incredible amount of information and realize that they can act upon the world to make things happen. They are beginning to experiment with cause and effect. Toddlers are typically beginning to interact with the environment to solve problems.  It is impossible to prevent children of the stage from hitting. Some children just don’t do it while others do. Parents often become alarmed and confused at this viewing these moments “acts of aggression”   and may be fearful that their  will be an aggressive person. While it is more likely that the child may be realizing  “I AM ME”   and you are witnessing the signs of booming individuality and  self-consciousness.  At the same time,  they are learning that they can’t do as they please. It is the parents job to begin teaching them about socialization, communicating in enforcing boundaries,   healthy expressions of emotion,limits, and the rules that govern  these expressions of independence.

The first thing to realize is that  toddlers don’t have the cognitive or language skills to express their emotions in meaningful and adult like manner.   They often experience strong feelings of frustration and inadequacy because  their cognitive abilities exceed their ability to express what they want to express. In other words, they often understand what is going on around them and what is being said, however; feel helpless to interact in a meaningful manner. Toddlers  also don’t realize that people have feelings. What I mean by this is they often play harshly with inanimate objects, such as toys, furniture and other items.   They do not view human beings or other live objects being any different than an inanimate object.  They don’t yet realize that people have feelings unlike inanimate objects.  Therefore approach people much as they would an object. That is another reason why children are so harsh on pets because they don’t realize that they are living animals.

Let’s get back to the question of what to do.   Parenting in 25 words or less described as my friend Bill Whelen, PhD.  Ph.D.from the Mary Ainsworth attachment Institute is “always be bigger stronger wiser and kind.”    This needs to be approached using this mindset. The parent ought to firmly state  on their level while making eye contact “it hurts mommy when you hit. There is no hitting!”  and then walk away. Do not continue to stand there and allow your child to hit you again or use any more words than described above.  one of the mistakes that parents often make us to believe that children are little adults and a good calm explanation of why what they did was wrong will just help them solve a problem and it will go away  never to return.

It is also important to recognize what was happening just prior to their hitting. Was this because they were frustrated about something or that they were prevented from achieving some goal and they needed some help that they do not receive? These are important questions that will also lead to how your address your child after being firm with them. This is where then understanding in helping a child explore their emotion world can be helpful.  Such as, ” I know you feel frustrated when you….”  this step is very important as research indicates that children who are able to be aware of their emotional worlds tend to be more successful later in life, academically, peer relations, and   engage in healthy coping behavior as adolescents and adults.

Lastly, keep in mind it will take many times for the child to learn us at that age. After the age of two, you may begin to introduce the concept of time out.  Professionals do not recommend using the concept of a timeout prior to that age.  There are many great resources  In self-help for child management after the age of two.  Feel free to check out some of the  resources at we have under parenting  on our website.

Teens and Unhealthy Self Esteem

November 26, 2008

Major Tasks of Development

One of the major tasks of adolescence is for the teenager to re-evaluate themselves. There are three main areas of evaluation:appearance, performance, and status. Teens conduct on a daily basis a self-evaluation of their functioning in these three areas. This self-evaluation helps create their self concept.

Causes and Effects of Unhealthy Self Esteem

While there are many factors that may contribute to unhealthy self esteem there are several that
clearly impact self-esteem: abuse, perceived parental rejection, and ‘stinking’ thinking.
The effects of unhealthy self-esteem are the teens attitude toward his/her world and the ability to cope
with challenges. They will tend to believe they cannot influence their world and are victims of life circumstances.

Symptoms of Unhealthy Self Esteem

Some symptoms of unhealthy low self esteem are:

  • pessimistic outlook on life
  • lack of confidence
  • extreme sensitivity to criticism
  • view of others as competition
  • defensiveness in behavior and conversation
  • attitude of chip on shoulder
  • constant anger
  • inability to accept compliments
  • pattern of self-defeating behaviors

Some other symptoms of unhealthy high self esteem:

  • overinflated ego
  • unrealistic appraisal of ability to complete a task
  • overly optimistic look of life that denies reality
  • lacks empathy for others
  • defensive
  • puts others on the defense chronically
  • does not use their past as a learning experience
  • life is a one way street
  • takes the path of least resistance as a way of life
  • refuses to be held accountable
  • blames others frequently

A poor self image is not formed overnight and takes time to nurture and develop a positive self image. Help is available

Homework Hassles: Parenting Children 2 to 12

August 28, 2008

Homework Hassles
August 2008
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School is right around the corner and brings with it some new challenges that you were able to take a vacation from during the summer – specifically, homework hassles! 1-2-3 Magic! offers various techniques for handling these hassles; routine, natural consequences, assignment sheets, the PNP method, rough checkout and charting for homework. I am going to revisit routine and the PNP method.

Mom and Child Nose to Nose Routine is Critical
As many parents can attest, the worst mistake is to ask a child is if she or he has homework. This simple question often provokes hostility in the child towards the parent and results in frequent arguments. Homework should be a daily routine – done at the same time and the same place as much as possible. Don’t let your child do homework with the TV on as it competes for the child’s attention. Music is fine and can be helpful. Music can help block out household noises and distractions so the child can focus on the assignment.

rachel at table with playdough The PNP Method
This method is one of my favorites. Most parents believe it is there job to correct and point out the mistakes their children make when the child brings the parent an assignment. Of course, it is our job to teach, but how many of you really enjoy when your boss points out the one flaw and overlooks the 10 things you did right. That’s what this method is about “Positive – Negative –  Positive.”
The rule for parents is; whenever a child brings any piece of schoolwork to you, the first thing said must be something positive – some type of praise (remembering to show you the work, their effort, or how well they did overall). After saying something about the child’s effort, you may then make a negative comment (if absolutely necessary). Finally, conclude the conversation with something positive again. This type of response will help your child continue to come back to you again and again. Kids will never want to bring you anything if you follow your natural parent inclinations and shoot from the hip with criticism.

mom holding daughter Other methods
There are other methods that are helpful as well. As experts in our field, our staff often recommend the least intrusive and the most simple to implement – one that leaves the parent feeling good about parenting and proud of their child and the child feeling proud of themselves. The other methods are discussed in the book below and can be discussed in our 1-2-3 Magic Parenting Workshop.

1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12 (123 Magic)

by Thomas W. Phelan by Parentmagic, Inc.

List Price: $14.95
Our Price: $8.42

Buy Now

Adolescence: Changes in Development

July 25, 2008

Programs Teens
Parenting Teens: Weathering the Storm
Changes In Thinking
July 2008 Year
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This edition of the Stein Counseling E-Newsletter will focus on adolescent development and what every parent needs to know about their blooming young adults.

mother and teen Three Types of Teenagers

Teenager development can be categorized into three types: Early Developers, Late Developers and Troubled Development.

frustrated teen Early Developers
Research into early developers suggest these type of adolescents do well during the elementary school years and are basically cooperative youth prior to adolescence. Longitudinal research indicates these adolescents turn out to be responsible members of society as adults regardless of the level of rebelliousness present during adolescence. Their resiliency is large part due to healthy pregnancy and prenatal care, love and nurturing during the first three years of life, and during the second and third year the parents were kind but firm and loving regarding discipline. These parents set limits on their child’s inappropriate behavior consistently.

sadgirl2 Late Developers
Late developers are often described as by parents as “independent, strong willed, and stubborn” as infants and toddlers. Longitudinal research suggests that by age 11, these youth continue their independence, however; have partnerships with others to reach common goals. They do well in adolescence and their adult life.

troubled teen Troubled Development

Troubled teens tend to act in ways that are destructive to themselves and others. As children, parents report these youth to be difficult to sooth, aggressive, bossy, irritable and very difficult to parent. As teenagers, the often have a great deal of rage and have tend to make decisions based on instant gratification rather than working towards long term goals. They don’t trust adults and and often have problems with authority. They may be abusing drugs or alcohol, damage property, skipping school, failing grades, sexually acting out, extreme acts of disrespect, violence or threats of violence and may runaway or threaten suicide. They key here is a pattern of this behavior rather than moments or episodes of behavior. The most cooperative teenagers will often have instant gratification moments and strong emotional upsets. Click here to read about our adolescent services or click here about our services that support and help parents with these issues.

Upcoming Events
1-2-3 Magic! Child Management September 23, 2008 and October 21, 2008

Parenting with Love and Limits (based on the book “Parenting Your Out of Control Teenager”) September 22, 2008

Tender Parenting: Getting Past the Guilt; September 10, 2008

Closing Headline
Thanks for taking the time to read this information. We are grateful to be a service to the community and try to “give away” as much education as possible to help make our community stronger and our future brighter.
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