Duct Tape Parenting: Part 1
Posted on March 5, 2013

I am currently reading a new parenting book by Vicki Hoefle called, “Duct Tape Parenting.” And no, the duct tape is not for the kids, it’s for us the parents. She literally means taping up your mouth when you have the urge to manage, to direct, to nag or to solve; taping up your ears when you hear tantrums or fights (to not provide an audience); and finally, taping your bum to a chair, to refrain yourself from rescuing a situation or problem that you normally insert yourself into.

These habits are hard to break, which is why Vicki relies on the tough stuff – Duct Tape. But seriously, she has a point. Vicki writes:

“They (your children) have you trained, and in certain situations they are in control of the way the family functions. You can be relied upon to do the same thing over and over again even though you experience no long-term change. Your kids are merely doing what they have always done, and for them, it is working perfectly. Change what you do and your children’s behavior will change.”

The problem is that we as parents have helped create this dynamic, we continue to sustain the dynamic, and we may not even be aware of what we are doing. As parents we shine our spotlight brightly on our children’s behavior, not on our own. So here is the deal: turn your spotlight on yourself, change your habit and see what happens. And when kids do for themselves they feel more capable, more self-sufficient and more of a contributor to the family.

I heard Vicki speak recently and as a parent coach, I was nodding along as though I knew it all. However as I began to listen more closely, I realized, okay she is also talking to me about my negative parenting dynamics. My big Aha moment was realizing how controlling I am in the kitchen. Making my kids breakfast, cleaning up, making lunch, cleaning up, making dinner, cleaning up. My kids frequently want to get into the kitchen and I act as though they are making my job harder. Plus I have to ask repeatedly, “What would you like for breakfast sweetheart?” The first time I ask nicely, the second time, too; by the third time I am feeling more rushed, more frustrated and now we are entering into a power-struggle. But why?

After hearing Vicki, I came home and told my children: “You guys are now in charge of getting your own breakfast when you know what you want and when you are ready to eat.” My kids loved this!!! Of course, there were a few times I needed the duct tape when I watched the honey hit the floor, but they are learning all the things they can get for themselves and they are excited to do it.

My older daughter liked this so much, she started packing her lunch, making her sandwich and feeling like she has a place in the kitchen. Now the kids are making dinner. I am finding that it is better when I am not even around. “Come and get me if you have a question,” I say as I walk out of the kitchen. Because otherwise my habits of directing them are so strong, they feel like they are not even cooking themselves. Mistakes, spills, burnt food are part of the learning process!! Hard to always remember this stuff as a parent, but hearing Vicki hit home that I need to let go in the kitchen – it is everyone’s territory, not just mine.

Figure out a strong habit you have as a parent that you feel resentful to have to do all the time. Stop doing it. Get out the duct tape. See what happens?

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Krissy's lighthearted, humorous, gentle, and especially non-judgmental nature never failed to lift our spirits. I always appreciated her many stories and her use of metaphors to simply illustrate concepts which she felt we needed to deeply understand and begin to implement. I have worked in the medical field for almost 30 years now and have met many people along the way, but Krissy Pozatek stands out as one of the most gifted and talented people I have ever met. I wholeheartedly recommend her to "everyone" because I think that anyone would be lucky to have her as their therapist! We are forever grateful to her for her brilliant insights, her amazing skill at teaching us more appropriate responses, and most importantly, for helping us to heal our family. Susan P. (Parent of adolescent boy)
Having to send a child to Wilderness and then on to Therapeutic Boarding School was one of the lowest points of our lives and yet we realize now that we were truly blessed to have met Krissy. With her vast experience, eclectic knowledge, and abiding wisdom, Krissy has guided us through darkness and deep despair into the light and an ultimately successful outcome for our family. It has been an 18- month journey so far. During this time, she helped us “stay the course” when every fiber of our being wanted to “rescue our child.


Susan - California USA
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