Can Time-Outs Hurt Our Kids?

Taken from my weekly segment on Star 105.7 with Tommy and Brook

time outs logo

All month we’ve been talking about how to have happy kids and help them overcome anxiety, this week we’re going to continue that by helping our kids have a sense of significance and value. We want our kids to know that they are an important part of not only our family but also their community and world. All of us want to feel like we belong and our kids are no different, especially when they are growing up and looking for their place.

A key to our children’s security is showing them that they have value. Today I want to talk about a way that we might be DE-valuing our children without even realizing it.


We all know that there are times our children need a minute or sixty to process and consider their actions, but how we give them a time out could make all the difference. We have to be careful that when we give a child a time-out we are not telling them, “I am angry with you, I reject you, and you’ve lost the invitation to be in my presence,” which inadvertently says to them, “You are no longer valuable to me.”

Much of this will depend on our tone and the circumstances.

We may need to consider if they really need a time out or if we’re just overwhelmed and maybe we need a time-out. Sometimes, if we are honest about it, we are the ones that need a break from all the questions and commentary that our little ones can drown us in. So, we want to look at each situation and ask ourselves if it’s a punishable offense or just a frustration. Our reaction could be telling our child that they are not valuable or significant and that they don’t matter to us right now.

Of course we know that is not the truth, we love our children and want them to rest securely in that love. Our kids need to know that our love for them is unconditional; proximity, contact and closeness speak volumes to our children about how much they matter to us and the world around them. When we want them near us it tells them that they are significant. When we hastily send them away from us it could be telling them that they are not valued.

Yes, there will be times when one of both of us needs a time-out, but be careful not to crush their spirit in the process. Let time outs be a discipline for actions but not a rejection of them personally. Sending them away from us out of frustration will send the wrong signal. We don’t want our kids feeling like we don’t like them or that our love for them is conditional based on how good they “perform.” We will have to discipline our children, but we don’t have to de-value them in the process.

Can time-outs hurt our kids? I believe it all depends on whether we leave our kids feeling rejected by us (which is not good) or remorseful for their actions (which is good and beneficial). Of course this is another age-and-stage topic and there is no magic formula for how to handle each situation. Time-outs can be helpful and give a child some time to collect their thoughts, reflect on their actions or just calm themselves down. Follow your heart and instincts, they seem to know how to do this better than the emotions at the moment.

How do you handle these Real Mom (and Dad) moments?

If you’re not in the West Michigan area you can listen live on iHeart Radio anywhere in the world!

Check out Tommy and Brook’s page online at West Michigan STAR: Tommy and Brook

Their Facebook page: Tommy and Brook

And their Twitter: @TommyAndBrook

What Do Our Kids Want From Us?


Obviously an endless supply of Sourpatch kids candy, DS games, new bikes and a new iPhone would be top on their list, but apparently our kids want a few other things from us too. I’ve been talking with Tommy and Brook on Star 105.7 for the last several weeks about survey results of what else our kids want from us. You can listen to my segments on my Star 105.7 page or read about them here:

  • Come into my bedroom at night, tuck me in. Come say goodnight. Another good idea is to talk about what they are thankful for from the day. Studies have proven that on common quality of happy people is: gratitude!
  • During dinner, talk about what you could do together on the weekend. Kids love to have something to look forward to! Unless your weekend plans are to clean out the garage, then be nice and skip this one.
  • Let them play outside, A LOT. Summer’s coming Momma, send them out that screen door!
  • Tell them stories about when you were little. Keep in mind ‘little’ let’s not talk about those college years!
  • This one might surprise you, but when kids were asked to look back and tell what they remembered and loved most about their moms…one of the things is that they were thankful that she disciplined them. The reason is that they said: it made them feel like she cared. “She took the time to teach me how to be a good person.”
    I should emphasize discipline- not just punishment. There’s a big difference, discipline is about disciple-ing not just grounding them with no guidance for their future.
  • Give them room to grow.  The older they get, the more we need to step back so they can do things on their own. I think we really start to see this in junior high. They are going through crazy growth and hormonal changes and we are going to need to adjust how we parent them. Instead of doing it all for them, it’s time to start guiding them and being more hands off.
  • To continue the idea of giving them room to grow, one of the biggest ways we help our kids is by teaching them to make decisions. When they’re little, we help them recognize when they’ve made a good versus a poor choice. The older they get we coach them along the path of decision making and help them with three ideas:

As they get older we want our kids to ask themselves these three things when it comes to decision making:

  1. Why do I want to do this?
    You want your children to understand what motivates their decisions.
    Is it peer pressure? Is it selfish?
  2. What are my options?
    When they’re little we can help them by narrowing choices and as they grow we help them see the choices they have.
  3. What are the consequences or benefits?
    Do they really want the outcome of this decision?
    Kids tend to make impulsive, immediate gratification decisions (Don’t we all?!)
    And often when we ask our older kids why they did something wrong, they’re response (if being honest) is that they just didn’t stop to think about the consequences.


Ok, so that was a lot to take in, I think you deserve a good cup of coffee and some dark chocolate!

Point your kids in the right direction— when they’re old they won’t be lost.
Proverbs 22:6

If you’re not in the West Michigan area you can listen live on iHeart Radio anywhere in the world!

Check out Tommy and Brook’s page online at West Michigan STAR: Tommy and Brook

Their Facebook page: Tommy and Brook

And their Twitter: @TommyAndBrook

Moms, What You Are Doing Matters

Taken from my segment on Star 105.7 in West Michigan with Tommy and Brook

Last week as I spoke to a MOPS group I looked at the tired eyes of those moms who feel buried in laundry and overcome with planning dinners and driving to practices and doing homework (on the way to school because the night before they said “no, mom I don’t have ny homework”), and I just want so badly for them to grasp how important their roles are in their child’s life.

I have 4 kids, three are grown and we adopted our youngest and she’s 8 yrs old.

I remember with (as I fondly refer to them) ‘my first batch of kids’ how I felt like the house keeper, room service and chauffer. I was a taller, blonder, unshowered Benson that lived in the suburbs in a house with so little heat that we put up a blanket in the stairway to keep ourselves warm all day. I didn’t feel like my role mattered except to keep the kids from killing each other and putting a few groceries in their busy little bodies.

Fast forward a couple decades and my oldest is married and second son is engaged. This past weekend we helped our son and his new wife move. Watching my grown sons interact and seeing how they treat their wife and fiancé ….it made me so thankful and I realized even more how much moms matter. Thankfully, I also thought about how little all the mistakes I made along the way, mattered. We’re real moms, we’re not perfect but being there for our kids, taking care of all the mundane tasks that we must do…it really matters.

I just want to tell moms (and dads)…that what you’re doing…this sometimes exhausting and seemingly thankless job…it matters. You are nurturing and raising the next generation.

No matter the age, whether your kids are picking up everything they see and putting it in their mouths or sassing back with the same lips a few years later, your role in their life matters.

If they are biological, adopted, foster or step children, you matter. You make a difference.

It wasn’t until we adopted Lauren that I came to understand the depth and power of attachment in a child’s life. It was a rocky first year with a little girl that spent her first 26 months in an orphange, and the several years since have been a learning experience. Even though she’s strongly attached, there is still a glimpse of that “survival” tendency in her that keeps me on my toes.

So when I saw this on the wall of her school, my heart melted.

feb 2013Yup, it matters.

Give yourself a break Moms, you’re not expected to be a perfect mom. Be a REAL mom.

If you missed this segment, listen here: Real Moms: What you are doing matters!

You can listen to my ‘Real Moms of West Michigan’ segments on Star 105.7 with Tommy and Brook every Tuesday morning around 7:05 AM. If you are not in the West Michigan area you can listen on iHeart radio

Christmas Gift Ideas

Taken from my “Real Moms of West Michigan” segment with Tommy and Brook on Star 105.7

I know that you are so organized and probably have all your shopping done, right? OH wait this is the REAL moms segment…and if they are anything like me…they are still a few minutes away from having it all wrapped and under the tree!

My tip to get ready for Christmas is: personalized gifts!

It’s the perfect time to order those personalized gifts for Christmas.

  • Picture frames, mouse pads, mugs, water bottles.
  • Calendars…make a personalized calendar for the Grandparents filled with last years pics of the kids.
  • Personalized gifts for teachers…now is a great time to order them!
  • Personalized throw blankets for Grandmas.
  • For the kids you could get: personalized sleeping bags, duffle bags, toys, water bottles, an apron for Mommy’s little helper in the kitchen.

You can pick some great personalized gifts (including the ones shown) here at Lillian Vernon:

Free Shipping on $40+ at with promo code 58ECO211 until 11/30/12. Shop for personalized Holiday Gifts & Décor, kids toys, kitchen, office organization and more - personalization is always FREE. - 125 x 125

Affliliate link

And to help you organize all of your gift giving this year I found you a great app!

It’s called Santa’s Bag…

It helps you track everyone on your Christmas List, allow you to budget individually, set gift ideas, and then track when gifts are purchased, if they’ve been wrapped, and how close you are to meeting budget. It’s really an amazing app.

And one other thing you can do right now is start your homemade vanilla with Tommy and Brook’s recipe. I made this a couple years ago and it it amazing! The longer the shelf life the better it is, grab the vanilla beans and vodka and get gifting!

Homemade Vanilla

What is your favorite ‘prepare ahead of time’ kind of gift?


You can listen to my ‘Real Moms of West Michigan’ segments on Star 105.7 with Tommy and Brook every Tuesday morning around 7:05 AM. If you are not in the West Michigan area you can listen on iHeart radio

If you missed this segment, you can listen by clicking on the Star 105.7 tab.

Could MY Child Be the Bully?

Signs That Indicate Your Child is A Bully from my segment on Star 105.7 with Tommy and Brook.

No parent wants to believe that their child who they raised to the best of their ability could possibly bully or physically hurt another person, but it happens.

It does not indicate that you are a bad mom or that it is a bad home situation, your child could just be poorly responding to conflicts that are happening at school.

I want to emphasize though that all children can show signs of bullying and not actually BE a bully or a danger to others.   Most of the time- the name calling and sticks and stones ARE just a normal part of growing up.

But, there are certain characteristics that can be seen in many children and teens who bully others.
Here are a few signs to watch for:

•If your child has a bad temper and seems to fly off the handle easily then they are likely also blowing up at school. Tempers can easily flare and lead to violence if someone doesn’t know how to deal with anger or frustration.

•A child or teen who bullies often sees violence in a positive light. They may think that fighting and violence is somehow “cool” and will talk about it like it’s no big deal.

• If your child often tries to dominate those around him/her (younger siblings, neighbors etc) then there is a chance that they are showing that same dominance at school.

•A child who is constantly getting into trouble and doesn’t seem to follow rules is likely to bully others and even become violent. If your child gets into trouble regularly for things like skipping class, fighting or disrespecting his teachers then bullying is a huge possibility.

• Anti-social behavior, while this sign may not indicate bullying, it is a warning sign that we shouldn’t ignore because it could lead to violent behavior on themselves or others.

I know it’s hard to imagine that OUR kids could be the ones bullying other children, but Moms, we have to keep our eyes open and pay attention ….and if you have noticed any of these signs and suspect that your child may be a bully, it’s time to sit down with your child and talk to them.

Find out if they are angry and why. Sometimes just talking to your child and giving them the chance to express themselves makes all the difference in the world.

Sometimes using word pictures to encourage compassion. Ask them, “how would you feel if…kids laughed when you read out loud in class?” Talk about specific situations in which you think your child might feel bullied in.

If talking to your child doesn’t seem to be making an impact and you continue to see the signs of bullying, it’s time to bring in some outside help. Talk to a school counselor or a therapist. There is no shame in helping our children navigate these difficult years.

Real moms know that our kids are the most valuable gift we’ve been given, let’s make sure we do all that we can for them!
I do the ‘Real Moms of West Michigan’ segments on Star 105.7 with Tommy and Brook every Tuesday morning around 7:05 AM. If you are not in the West Michigan area you can listen on iHeart radio

If you missed this segment, you can listen by clicking on the Star 105.7 tab.

Tips On Dealing with Tantrums

This is taken from my segment on Star 105.7 in West Michigan with Tommy and Brook.

We’ve all either seen it or experienced it first hand. The child in the grocery store that does not get what they want and the sirens go off. First let me say that even though this might be terribly embarrassing, just know that every other mom in the store understands, she’s been there, she’s not judging you, frankly she’s just thanking God that it’s not her at the moment!

The first thing to remember moms is to:

  • Keep Calm

You can either fuel this fire or put water on it by de-escalating the situation.


One of the best ways to do this is:

  • A time out

Take the child into another room. If you’re in public go to the restroom.

Sometimes the change of location is like a reset button.

If you’re at home, put them in their bed or crib.

Check out this post on Time-Outs too.


  • Never give in

Don’t give them that thing that they want just because you want the tantrum to stop.

You may feel like you’ve taken care of the situation because the child calms down when you give in, but all you’ve done is create the opportunity for this to happen over and over again.

Don’t reward bad behavior, and tell them that you won’t.
“I reward good behavior, not bad.”

I would also encourage you to refer to their behavior as bad or good, not them as a person.
For instance, don’t tell them THEY are bad/good kids, but instead say that their behavior is bad, naughty etc. 

And some basic good parenting is pay attention to what triggers the tantrums.

My kids were always more prone to meltdowns if they were hungry or over-tired, so pay attention to that too. That is probably NOT a good time to go to the grocery store.

And carry snacks with you at all times!

Moms, tantrums are a normal part of raising our kids, don’t beat yourself up if you’ve been blessed with a strong willed child…recognize that ultimately that’s a great quality…you just might have some challenges as you channel that energy and teach them what’s rewardable behavior and what’s not.


I do the ‘Real Moms of West Michigan’ segments on Star 105.7 with Tommy and Brook every Tuesday morning around 7:05 AM. If you are not in the West Michigan area you can listen on iHeart radio

If you missed this segment, you can listen by clicking on the Star 105.7 tab.

Simple Tip to Build Our Child’s Self Esteem

Taken from the Real Moms of West Michigan segment on Star 105.7 with Tommy and Brook!

Today I have an easy way to build your child’s self esteem.

Ok moms, I want you to imagine yourself walking into work or your child’s school and the first person you see says something like: “Wow, that’s what you’re wearing today?”
Wouldn’t you be devastated??

Well, sadly we do that to our kids sometime. Ok, maybe not YOU , but I do that sometime. You do realize that all these tips are actually centered on me and the ways I’ve blown it as a mom.

Or think about the greeter at the grocery store…how would you feel if they just kind of looked the other way like- Oh it’s YOU again. Which mine probably does because I’m there so much. I really need to work harder at making a more detailed list.

The point is…are we doing that to our kids? Think about how we respond when they walk in a room.

If we want to help our child feel loved; it’s time to light up when they walk in!
A simple smile and some positive words can change your child’s day. I know it sure would change mine.

Instead of: “those pants are way too short” or “come here let me fix your hair.”

Let’s let our kids know how important they are to us!

Build their worthiness.

This is such a simple way to let them know that they are valuable.

Moms, pay attention and light up when those kids walk in the room and let your face reflect how much you love them!

And then deal with the green shirt/red sweatpants combo.

Next week I’m going to give you some tips on dealing with tantrums!

I do the ‘Real Moms of West Michigan’ segments on Star 105.7 with Tommy and Brook every Tuesday morning around 7:05 AM. If you are not in the West Michigan area you can listen on iHeart radio

If you missed this segment, you can listen by clicking on the Star 105.7 tab.

Getting Our Kids To Listen To Us

From the “Real Moms of West Michigan” segment on Star 105.7 with Tommy and Brook…

Do you feel like your kids don’t listen to you?

You tell your kids to pick up their stuff or turn off the tv and instead of responding they look right through you and you feel like the teacher on Charlie Brown. Waa, waaa, waa.

It might be how you’re saying it.

You might be doing what so many of us do and that is to give your request in the form of a question.

Will you pick up your toys? Now ok?

Stop picking on your brother, ok?

When we add the word “ok” to the end of a request, our child assumes they have the option of not doing it.

What we do, without even realizing it, is relinquish our authority and drag out the process of getting our child to do what we are asking them. Then we continue to ask until we are frustrated and ready to boycott motherhood althogether.

But thankfully, just by changing a few words we can take our authority back.

Moms, the key is to be clear with our requests.

Please pick up your toys now.


Turn off the TV and come to dinner.

Be specific and straight forward. Close that opportunity for debate, stay in charge mom!

It’s an simple fix to a frustrating problem. I hope it helps!


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I do the ‘Real Moms of West Michigan’ segments on Star 105.7 with Tommy and Brook every Tuesday morning around 7:05 AM. If you are not in the West Michigan area you can listen on iHeart radio

Are You Trying To Be Super Mom?

From the “Real Moms of West Michigan” segment on Star 105.7 with Tommy and Brook…

Are you trying to be super mom?

The truth is, we desperately want to be super moms don’t we?! We want to save the day and create world peace while we’re at it. But that’s just not reality. The truth is that motherhood is taxing to say the least and all of us feel it. I think that we confuse being a super mom with being a perfect mom.

I’m here to tell ya, there’s not one woman out there who is doing this mom thing perfectly.
Read that again because it’s a whole lotta truth.

Not one.

I don’t care if you see women that seem to have it all together, they don’t, being a mom means that we have children and children are unpredictable and messy.

I often say things that I regret and do things that I wish I hadn’t done and by the end of the day I feel guilty that I wasn’t the perfect mom that day.

Moms, I want to encourage you to give yourself a break. It’s never too late to take a deep breath and emotionally start your day over. Whether it’s breakfast or bedtime, forgive yourself and start again.

The bottom line is that no mom is perfect but we are ALL super moms, and sometimes we just need to give ourselves a break.


Click on the Star 105.7 tab to listen to this segment.

I do the ‘Real Moms of West Michigan’ segments on Star 105.7 with Tommy and Brook every Tuesday morning around 7:05 AM. If you are not in the West Michigan area you can listen on iHeart radio

I Prefer Nice People

I like nice people. They’re easy to get along with; they don’t stomp on your feelings by calling you a bad mom. They don’t eat your sandwich at the office or talk to your coworkers behind your back. They don’t tell you that you look nice on Sunday morning and then inform everyone in your Bible study that you dress like their Grandma.

Nice people are nice.

But then there are those others in life, there’s one in every office, family and small group. They are not nice. They hurt out feelings on a regular basis and make life miserable every five minutes they are around us. They get under our skin with condescending remarks about everything from the project we’re working on to the style of our hair. We don’t like them; we want them to go away. We wish they would move to Bangladesh or on really bad days we’d like them to be stuck in the woods with a pack of angry wolves like in the movie “Grey.” THAT would be awful for them, almost as awful as having to watch the movie, which was 2 hours past terrible. I’m a huge Liam Neeson fan and I still hated the movie.

Sadly, I have to inform you that we won’t have a life filled with nice people. The mean ones are out there and scouting new ways to make us want to curl up with a blanket and a gallon of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream while watching reruns of The New Adventures of Old Christine. Which never should have been cancelled but that’s another post.

The moral of this is that mean people are not going away so we may have to put on our big girl pants (unless you are a man, and in which case, please do not do this) and deal with it. You can’t wait for them to be nice to you; it’s not going to happen. Stop blaming them for your bad moods and hang nails. If you need to address a situation, do it. Be all Sally Field in Norma Rae and start a fire, but if your in laws or the lady in the choir are keeping you awake at night, it might be time to stop giving them that much power in your life. Let go of what you can’t control and don’t let their smallness make you small too. You’re better than that! You drive a (insert brand of car, and it really doesn’t matter what it is because cars don’t make us better people, but this is a rant so go with it)!

I can get 100 sweet comments on Facebook, but it’s the one negative one that spins in my mind like a gerbil on a wheel. Over and over until the squeaking makes you scream at your kids because they forgot to empty the dishwasher.

If we’re going to be happy and successful in this life we have to stop letting mean people take away our joy. They do not define us…unless we let them. The choice is ours. When we find our worth and value as a person, from the God who created us, we will not be so quick to forfeit our peace.

Dare to make today different. Dare to believe that you are loved and cherished by God and that He is right there with you. Don’t let feelings dictate your day.

C’mon girls (and guys), we got this!

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