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The Response-Able Parenting Newsletter 30
August 18, 2004


Welcome! This is a free newsletter on becoming a Response-Able parent, raising Response-Able children.



My mission is to strengthen families and improve parent communication skills (including my own), by helping parents learn practical, useable verbal strategies for raising responsible, caring, confident children.





1. Quote [back to top]


"If we take care to honor the roots of a tree, then the trunk and the branches will take care of themselves."

----Marianne Williamson


2. Bumper Sticker [back to top]


Spotted in Dearborn, MI, on a red Honda:

Get out of my way.
My kid has to pee.


3. Bumper Sticker Revisited[back to top]


In the last issue of the Response-Able Parenting Newsletter, I published a bumper
sticker I didn't understand and asked for reader comments. I received 36 replies stating many possible interpretations. Here again is the bumper sticker along with my favorite
subscriber response:

Happiness is having a large loving family in another city.

Sandy writes:

I guess that the owner of the "large loving family in another city" is not a parent, but a young adult who is happy to have a large, loving family but enjoys independently living a distance from them. This is how I felt when I first left home to go to college and when I started my first full-time job after college. I loved my family, but it was exciting to be out on my own.

Thanks, Sandy, and all the rest of you who created time to send me a response. I
appreciate it.


4. Spirit Whisperer Contemplation [back to top]


What parenting results are you emotionally demanding today? Can you work toward a
parenting goal without preoccupation with the results? Move toward that goal without concern for a specific result, and you add peace to your life.


5. Definition [back to top]


PUDDLE: A small body of water that draws other small bodies wearing dry shoes into it.


Subscriber comments, ideas, and concerns are valued. Email your

comment to


5. Article: "Toilet Teaching: The True/False Quiz" [back to top]


by Thomas Haller and Chick Moorman

For many parents, potty training, or toilet teaching (as it is now termed), is a challenging
and sometimes frustrating parental responsibility. It is not uncommon at this point in
their parenting life for parents to find their minds filled with questions.

They are ready for their child to be out of diapers, but they wonder: Is their child ready? Is this the right time? Are these the right steps? Are they using the right words? Do they know enough and are they skilled enough to help their child move through this developmental stage easily?

Are you wondering how you are doing in the area of toilet teaching? If so, see how you're
faring in toilet teaching your child with this quick true/false quiz. (The answers and explanations can be found at the end of the quiz.)

1. Asking your child frequently if he or she has to go potty is an effective toilet teaching technique. True or False

2. Using incentives such as treats or toys is an effective way to help your child learn toileting habits. True or False

3. Establishing a toileting routine leads to successful toileting habits for children. True or False

4. If your child is not toilet-trained by age three, the task of teaching him or her will
become more difficult. True or False

5. Giving your child information about how, when, and why to use the potty will help him or her learn to use the toilet appropriately. True or False

6. Telling your child that you will take away a favorite toy or game will help him or her learn to go potty. True or False

7. It is important to praise your child when he or she successfully uses the potty. True or False

8. Keeping toilet teaching fun can help make the experience more enjoyable for both parent and child. True or False


1. False - Children don't always know what the sensation of having to go to the bathroom feels like. So asking them if they have to go potty will most likely get a response of no regardless of whether or not the child has to go. Instead, say, "Let's take an opportunity to go to the potty." Let your child know that this is something he or
she needs to do to help the body learn what needing to go potty feels like. Give your child the opportunity to make several attempts throughout the day.

2. False - External motivators like toys, treats, or special opportunities don't help children identify the sensation of having to go to the bathroom. You want your child to go to the bathroom because he or she can feel the physical sensation and has the desire within to use the toilet. If a child is motivated to use the toilet to gain a toy or treat, he or she will focus on the outside treat rather than the inside feeling. In addition, you are conditioning your child to expect something from you every time he or she uses the toilet.

3. True - The body of a child seeks routine. All new behaviors are easier to learn using a routine. Take your child to the bathroom on a regular schedule. Do it when he or she wakes up in the morning and after a nap. Do it after meals and before leaving the house. Follow that schedule consistently, and your child will soon become accustomed to the routine.

4. False - Young children learn different skills in different orders and at different speeds. There is no one best time to learn to use the toilet. Be patient with your child, and allow your child the time he or she needs. Much better that your child learn to use the toilet on his or her own schedule than on yours. Don't rush because you're tired of changing diapers. Your patience here will help your child relax and learn to
understand his or her own body.

5. True - Read to your child about using the potty and giving up diapers. Your local library has many children's books about using the potty. Use this material to build interest and a natural curiosity about one of the body's basic functions.

6. False - It's possible that your son or daughter could learn to use the toilet out of fear
of punishment or being shamed for not doing what you want. But is this really how you want to help your child learn this important new skill? Instead of threatening to take away a favorite toy, tell your child that you will continue to help him or her grow and learn regardless of how long it takes. Your job is to give your child the time he or she needs, using encouragement and support. Threatening is not helpful here.

7. True - Yes, praise your child for successfully using the potty. But be mindful of
what type of praise you use. Refrain from using evaluative praise such as, "Good girl," "You did great," or "That's fantastic!" Evaluative praise puts the emphasis on the evaluation rather than on the behavior. Instead, use descriptive praise, which describes what was done and keeps the focus squarely on the behavior. "You filled the potty with your poop like a big girl" and "You made your tinkle go into the potty like a four-year-old" are examples of descriptive praise. This type of praise teaches what behavior is desired rather than evaluates the behavior. Allow your praise to teach by regularly using descriptive praise.

8. True - Keep the learning fun. Put targets in the water for boys to aim at. Read books and play music while your child sits on the potty. Clap and sing when your son or daughter is successful. Dad and son can stand side by side and go potty together. Make a game out of never passing up an opportunity to go potty. Keep this learning experience free from stress and worry by allowing it to be fun.

Toilet teaching doesn't have to be filled with anxiety and strife. Following the suggestions above can result in a positive and successful toilet-teaching experience for both parent and child. Enjoy the process.

Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller are the authors of "Couple Talk: How to Talk Your Way to a Great Relationship" (available from Personal Power Press at (toll-free)
877-360-1477). They have also coauthored the soon-to-be-released "The Ten Commitments: Parenting with Purpose."


7. Article Reprints [back to top]


We have many articles like the one above that are available for reprint by your school, PTA, church, or other organization. To check out the complete list of articles, go to There is no charge for reprinting these articles, but we do ask that you use our byline at the top and publish our trailer at the end of each article you reprint. The approved trailer is:


Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller are the authors of "Couple Talk: How to Talk Your Way to a Great Relationship" (available from Personal Power Press at (toll-free)
877-360-1477). They have also coauthored the soon-to-be-released "The Ten Commitments: Parenting with Purpose."


7. Parent Talk Tip: "I was only joking." [back to top]


"I was only joking around."
"I didn't really mean it."
"I was just teasing."

"If a joke is not a joke, it's not a joke," a friend recently reminded me. He's right.

A good rule of thumb around this area of Parent Talk is, If you don't mean it, don't say it. Calling children names, making fun of them, and teasing have no place in loving families. The parent's job is to love, nourish, and support the child, not be cute and clever with put-downs disguised as humor.

Humorous put-downs are seldom funny to the recipient. More often, youngsters take them seriously and come to believe major portions of them. Eliminate teasing and joking at the child's expense, and use Parent Talk that reflects your main job of providing a haven where love and support predominate.


Multiple copies of "Parent Talk: How to Talk to Your Child in Language That Builds Self-Esteem and Encourages Responsibility" can be obtained at discount prices by calling (toll-free) 877-360-1477 or emailing


9. Parent Talk Trainers' Corner[back to top]


Over 200 people have been trained as facilitators in the Parent Talk System.
Representing 15 states and five countries, this cadre is made up of knowledgeable parenting facilitators who have much to offer their attendees. In an effort to tap into this wide knowledge base and share their insights with all of you, we are beginning the Parent Talk Trainers' Corner. Each month I will send one of your email questions to the trainers for their consideration and response. We will then choose several responses and print them in the next newsletter. The fist question and responses follow.

Dear Chick,

My problem lately is my 18-month-old. He started walking when he was 10 months old, so he has been very active for a long time. He is strong and agile without the common sense to go with it. He is strong and very stubborn. He is also the most loving little guy, very sensitive and cuddly.

I find myself having what seems like entire days of yelling at him for one thing or another. I feel terrible about it. Example: He wants so badly to eat dinner at the table in a big chair instead of in his high chair. If he is allowed in the chair with a booster, he tries to stand on the chair, climb on the table, and rock back and forth, putting himself in danger. We end up telling him to "Sit down!" all through dinner. When we get really
mad, he thinks it's funny.

Do you have any resources in Parent Talk for preverbal children? I feel like I need to start over on my parenting skills, but I am not sure what resources to use.

Puzzled Mom

Trainers' responses:

Dear Puzzled Mom,

The most hopeful element I see is that you're aware — puzzled, but aware! "Touchpoints The Essential Reference, Your Child's Emotional and Behavioral Development," by T. Berry Brazelton, M.D., is an incredible resource for developmental stages. Brazelton offers some of the "tips" you're asking for as well as an understanding of what your son may be saying to you in his "preverbal" way. As we learn to "listen" differently, we also learn to communicate differently, teach differently, and love differently — a win-win for both you and your son!

Blessings on your journey,

Denise Ambrosie
Albuquerque, NM

Dear Puzzled Mom,

Instead of labeling your son "very stubborn," look at the positive trait of the behavior. Replace "stubborn" with "persistent," "determined," or "self-confident." Your words will change your thoughts, and you will think of him and see him in a more positive light.

Consider using the red light/green light strategy as laid out in the Parent Talk book. When he starts to climb on the table, say, "Son, that's climbing. We don't do that in this family because it isn't safe (red light). What we do here in this family is sit safely in the chair while we eat (green light)." If he sits down, give him appreciation. If he persists in climbing, put him in his high chair, saying calmly, "I see you decided to sit in your high chair this time." Next time, you may try the booster chair again. He won't be happy about it, but if you give yourself permission to let him be unhappy without getting unhappy yourself, he will eventually learn from the experience.

Best Regards,

Marilyn Suttle
Novi, MI


The next facilitator training in the Parent Talk System is set for February 3-5, 2005, in Grand Rapids, MI. Send for your detailed brochure at Include your mailing address.

Bring a Facilitator Training in the Parent Talk System to your city.

Can you find ten or more people who would be interested in becoming trainers of the Parent Talk System? If so, we will come to your town to train them.

Send for our Organizer's Packet on how to organize a training in your area. Email us at and tell us you want the Facilitator's Packet. Include your mailing



10. Book Report [back to top]


Coming Attraction!

"The Ten Commitments: Parenting with Purpose" is coming! This new book by Chick
Moorman and Thomas Haller celebrates parenting by teaching parents how to put Spirit
Whisperer concepts into their parenting style. Currently in production, "The Ten
Commitments" helps and inspires parents to commit, or recommit, to their families and to the important role they play in the lives of their children. The book provides a wealth of ideas and techniques that can empower every parent.

A major premise of "The Ten Commitments" is that parenting needs to be done on purpose, with intentionality. By this, we mean parenting happens with forethought, vision, and mission. Such parenting entails developing goals, values, and a parenting plan of action. It includes the belief that parenting is too important to leave to chance.

More information is coming soon. Watch this space.


11. Merger


I am happy to announce that my friend and colleague Thomas Haller and I have decided to merge our talents. Having already worked closely together on the "Couple Talk" book and more recently on "The Ten Commitments," we have found it rewarding and stimulating to write and present together. We will collaborate on all three newsletters (this one, the Response-Able Educator Newsletter, and the Couple Talk Newsletter) as well as on future articles. We also have many more book ideas on the back burner. The synergistic nature of teamwork will help both of us reach our goals of helping parents and teachers raise responsible, caring, confident children.


12. Managing Your Subscription [back to top]


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To find out more about workshops, seminars, and keynote addresses presented by Chick Moorman contact him at toll free, 877/360-1477 or email


Copyright 2004 Chick Moorman Seminars, all rights reserved. Share this with your circle.


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