The “Don’t” Time of the Summer

By Carol Dores


It’s that time of summer.  I can hear myself…..


“Don’t hit your brother!”

“Don’t put your wet towel on the floor.”

“Don’t play another videogame.”

“Don’t swim after eating lunch.”

“Don’t throw sand.”


And on and on.


Most of us are a bit tired of this point.  The children are getting on each other’s nerves, and on ours.  The weather is too warm.  There isn’t enough to keep everyone busy.

Our brains do not process the “don’t” messages well.  What we tend to hear from these “don’t” statements is:


“put wet towel on floor”





Shifting the “don’ts” to “do’s” will increase the chances of success. Summer is a great time to practice this.


“Be gentle with your brother.”

“Hang your towel on the rack.”

“Let’s play a game.”

“Let’s set a timer for 30 minutes after lunch.”

“How about building a sand castle?”


Our brains are more likely to hear the “do’s”:



“set a timer”



Using “do’s” is setting our children up for success, and therefore, setting us up for success as well.


Dealing With Big Emotions

By Carol Dores

I remember about this point in the summer break from school yelling more and more.  Boredom had begun to set in, and the kids got on each other’s nerves.  They were fighting more, and I was yelling more.

Want to try to deal with big emotions differently?

When we are having big emotions, we are physically coming from our reptilian brain stem, where the fight, flight or freeze response comes from.  We do not physically have access to the rational upper part of our brain.  So the reason that we feel so emotional and out of control is because we are.

What can we do to calm down?

If possible, walk away until we are calm and able to think clearly.  Slow deep breathing also can help – I like to imagine I’m smelling chocolate chip cookies baking when breathing in, and that 100 birthday candles are on a cake when breathing out slowly.  Finding what works for you is important.

When calm, think about what is happening to your body when you start to move towards big negative emotions.  Do your fists or teeth clench?  Face get warm or red?  Breathing increase?  Recognizing these early warning signs can help prevent full blown rage.

If you are able to stay calm, sharing what is upsetting can help.  For example, if the children are fighting over a toy, “I feel angry that there is fighting over a toy.  I wish you could find a way to work together.”

When we are able to begin dealing with our big emotions, we are teaching our children by example. This is how they learn best.  Looking back at how often you lost it a week or two ago, and celebrating progress is important.  It’s about moving forward and making progress.



Lazy days of summer

By Carol Dores

As the temperatures warm up to true summer weather, laziness sets in all around.  Piles of books and magazines are around the house, waiting to be enjoyed.  Cold salads are often dinner.  Breakfast is sometimes dinner too.  Ah, the lazy days of summer are here!

With children living at home, there are many great ways to enjoy the lazy days of summer.  Here are some ideas to help your family work together start their own list.

  • Talk about wanting to enjoy the lazy days of summer as a family. What are each of your hopes and dreams.  See what kind of a list you can develop.
  • Figure out what must get done each day or week, and then work together to figure out who will do which part.
  • Agree on how little electronics you can live with, so you can all be present and truly with each other when together.
  • Make a list of meals that are easy for lazy summer days. Figure out which ones the children can take care of.  Then relax, and let it flow.  It’s okay to have cereal, milk and fruit for dinner, or an occasional ice cream for breakfast!
  • Make a trip to the library every few weeks. Check out books for arts and crafts, music or science projects, depending on what your children like to do.
  • Pull out the good old-fashioned board games, and have game nights.
  • Plan a scavenger hunt.
  • Look up local field trips you’ve always wanted to take. Local libraries often have free passes available. Local beaches, ferry rides, and nature museums are a place.
  • Have pajama, popcorn, movie marathon days.
  • Have water balloon tosses, or run through sprinklers together. Play in the mud and get dirty.  Be a kid again with your child.

Being able to let go and be present with our children during the lazy days of summer is truly a gift that everyone will remember.  Working together to make the plans will bring everyone closer.

Laughter and love filled warm lazy days….ahhhhh.

Appreciating teachers!

By Carol Dores

We each probably can remember at least one teacher that made a difference in our life, or our children’s lives. I’ve asked our sons, and they have vivid memories of who that was, and what they did to have such an impact in their life.

I had the honor of facilitating two Positive Discipline in the Classroom workshops last week, each for two days, 13 hours. These teachers and educators came because they wanted to, during their summer vacation. Many paid their own way, and some traveled from other states and countries.

What did they have in common, and what did they learn?

  • They each care deeply about their students.
  • They wanted to be more effective in their work.
  • They were willing to try different tools and strategies, even though some were uncomfortable.
  • They want to improve classroom management.
  • They began to get comfortable with students having more of a voice in how things are in the classroom.
  • They realized that punishment does not impact long term behavior, and that having a mutual respectful way of solving problems can be more effective.
  • Walking in a student’s shoes to feel the impact of their behavior as a teacher or staff member is powerful.
  • Building a connection and relationship with each student is critical.
  • Students have to feel safe, calm and connected in order to be able to be ready to learn.
  • They learned new things that they are committed to try when they go back to school in the Fall.

They are each individuals, starting with their own styles. Their students are fortunate that they want to continue to grow and learn new ways of working in a school.

Thank you to all of the teachers and educators who are helping our children learn social-emotional life lessons!


Helping to prevent unhealthy experimentation

By Carol Dores

I remember getting a phone call from the high school saying one of our sons was giving alcohol to other students.  My heart fell.  At the time, I worked for the largest alcohol company in the world, and we had parties all of the time.  We had alcohol everywhere.  I spent the day going through my house, and putting all of the alcohol in locked camp trunks.

Whether my son did this or not, I realized that I was creating a potential problem.

I have learned a lot since then.  The earlier a child drinks alcohol, the more likely they are to be an alcoholic.

Many children begin their experimentation with what they find in their own houses or friends’ houses.  This includes pills of all kinds.  When one of our sons was in middle school, there were “pill parties” down the street.  Everyone would grab whatever they could find – prescription and other – and bring them.   It would all get dumped in to a bowl, and each child would take a handful.  They are also selling their Adderall and Concerta.

Often, people take painkillers like Oxycodone or Vicodin for a real injury.  These can be highly addictive, and some people enjoy the high from them.  They are incredibly expensive, so when they become unaffordable, snorting heroin is a cheap alternative.

As summer begins, kids are going to be looking for excitement.  Please lock up your alcohol and pills.  It may prevent your child or their friends from having major problems down the road.  Helping them find alternatives – rock climbing, exploring caves, and bike trail riding can give them a healthy adrenaline rush.

Fortunately, both of our sons are now healthy adults living on their own.  We have all survived these years.