Model, Practice, and Be Consistent – Interview with Bob Sornson, PhD

Model, Practice, and Be Consistent – Interview with Bob Sornson, PhD

What is your advice for young parents?

The first thought for young parents is to get in gear and start to learn. There’s so much to learn about keeping yourself healthy and happy, as well as creating an environment that is calm, purposeful, and loving amongst all family members.

As parents, our first responsibility is to create homes in which our kids feel safe and connected to their families.

Secondly, I would advise parents to develop high-value family routines that support the development of sense of safety and security while teaching kids the values and behaviors we want in our homes.

How do parents accomplish these patterns and ensure the creation of a nurturing environment for their children?

Be that calm, assertive parent. This is the parent who is able to set a few basic rules and do so with a strong, calm demeanor. But unless parents develop patterns that help them maintain this calm assertive demeanor, they will inevitably fall into traps of giving in or parenting with anger.

So be proactive and design the family patterns that you desire. Whether it’s a morning routine, family meals, or bedtime, decide what you would like that time of day to be like, then carefully, calmly, respectfully build that pattern until it becomes an automatic part of every day. It doesn’t happen by accident. Start with a few basic patterns and build from there.

Do you think reactive versus proactive parenting has anything to do with parents losing their composure and limiting their family’s positive growth and happiness?

Absolutely! Kids naturally will test your limits. If you don’t learn skills that help you stay calm and empathetic, and set up patterns and routines for your family, your kids will push you into setting limits with anger, or into letting them behave badly. When parents are in a reactive mode, they often act out of character and are wildly ineffective. Effective parents plan ahead, learn the skills that help them stay calm and respectful, and establish family patterns that make life work better for everybody in the family.

What are some of these high-value routines?

Research shows that setting a few consistent routines for your family will enhance your children’s success in school and in life.

  • Morning routine
  • Afterschool
  • Family meals
  • Homework, study time, learning time
  • Chores for the family
  • Limits on digital entertainment
  • Bedtime

How do you know if your family routines are high-value?

You know you have a good routine when it has become one of your favorite times of the day. You can start with just one routine. Explain the plan, then model it and practice it. Be consistent, but tweak it when needed. Once you have established your first really successful family routine, then start to focus on developing the second and build up from there.

Imagine a family that, due to lack of established positive routines, experiences chaos, yelling, and anger at the end-of- day. In this family, children forget to brush their teeth, spend too much time in front of video games or television, and don’t get around to reading time before bed.

Compare that to a family that has established a positive bedtime routine. As 7:30 or 8 o’clock rolls around, parents give the kids a prompt: “It’s 7:30 and almost time for bed. I’ll be reading a story at 8! Go on and get ready for bed.” In this scenario, parents stay in a calm, loving state of mind, build a clear expectation for this family routine, love this time of day, and end the day feeling connected to their children.

This doesn’t happen by accident—it only happens for a parent who thinks about what they would like their bedtime routine to be like and then gradually and carefully makes it that way. This takes time and work. This scenario can work in any type of routine that you choose—you just need to take the time, design, and plan for it ahead of time. And be prepared to be flexible and make the necessary changes that will make it fit into your entire family and be good for everyone!

Dr. Sornson recommends that parents figure out for themselves what brings their state of mind to that calm, strong place that allows them to implement these positive changes in their family life. So, take care of yourself first. Maybe you want to get up 20 minutes earlier than everyone else and enjoy a few moments of quiet time and have a cup of coffee. Or take time to meditate or exercise, whatever you think you should do to get yourself to a place where you are that calm assertive parent.

Email us at info@thinkvirtues.com to learn more!


A prolific author, speaker, and trainer, Dr. Sornson is the founder of Early Learning Foundation. He trains educators and parents on every aspect of early childhood development, and has written many best-selling books for children, parents, and educators.

Our focus today is to glean practical advice about how we can intentionally create an optimal environment for our families’ success in life.

We feel incredibly fortunate to have this rare opportunity to speak with Dr. Sornson. He is one of those unique gems who has developed and taught research-proven methods that dramatically improve our children’s performance both in and outside of school. Dr. Sornson’s advice is both meaningful and authentic.

To learn more about Dr. Sornson and his work visit: earlylearningfoundation.com

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