Monday, November 17, 2014

The Calendar

I often meet with parents of children who are going through a rebellious or defiant stage and we try to brainstorm ideas together to help curb the negative behaviors both at home and at school.  It all starts with a partnership between school and home and agreeing that we will work together to help the child be successful.  Often we discuss techniques from Love and Logic, giving choices, natural consequences, avoiding power struggles, etc.  But one question I often hear from parents is "What do I do when my child just says 'NO'!"  This is when I bring out "The Calendar" from my bag of tricks.  I tell the parents to get a large calendar that can be posted at a spot clearly visible to the child in the house.  Every time the child's says "No" the parent simply walks over to the calendar and writes a big NO on that date.  Please clean your room. "No".  It goes on the calendar.  Please do your homework. "No". It goes on the calendar.  No argument, no power struggle, just simply write it on the calendar.  Here comes the follow up.  When the child next asks for something, perhaps a sleepover, a movie night, or a favorite restaurant, the parent goes to the calendar and looks for any No's.  If there are any, then the parent says, "Oh, I want to help you, but there is a big NO on the calendar, so I have to say no this time."  It may take one or two times (and a few tantrums) for this to work, but when it does it can be very powerful.  Once the child sees that you will stick with it, the next time a "No" is uttered and the parent walks toward the calendar, there is often a quick turn about to keep from another NO going on the calendar.

Now I've heard several testimonials from families that this technique works.  The most dramatic example of a child who's behavior was changed by "The Calendar" was a stubborn little boy who had been pampered a little too much early on by his doting parents.  This might have been because he was adopted and they had waited so long for a child or maybe they just had so much love in their hearts they wanted to see him happy at all times.  The result was that NO became one of his favorite words.  The Calendar technique turned that child's behavior around along with some consistent, firm, but loving parenting.  That stubborn child was me and the brilliant idea of  "The Calendar" came from my mother.  I recently mourned the passing of my mother, but it makes me smile a little to think of how she made such a positive impact on my life and how she is still impacting others even after she is gone. Each time I share that story with parents and they come back to tell me how well it worked with their strong-willed child, I think "Way to go Mom!".

Educational Twitter Account @jon_wennstrom


"When your mother asks, 'Do you want a piece of advice?' it's a mere formality. It doesn't matter if you answer yes or no. You're going to get it anyway." - Erma Bombeck

"The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found." - Calvin Trillin

"Clarity and focus doesn't always come from God or inspirational quotes. Usually, it takes your mother to slap the reality back into you." - Shannon L. Adler


  1. Classic, Jon! I'll be thanking your Mom for years to come...because that approach is GOLD.