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Parent Education with Sheri Glucoft Wong

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Children’s Day School hosted parent educator, licensed clinical social worker and family therapist Sheri Glucoft Wong in October. Sheri’s wisdom on communicating with children and building strong ties between teachers and parents is well known in the Bay Area. We were fortunate to have Sheri meet with both our teachers and our parents. Here are some of the tools that Sheri shared with us.

Stay on your spot. Sheri spoke to both groups about the importance of staying on your spot. Every young child arrives at school in the morning buckled into a car seat. While getting your child out the door in the morning can be a struggle, getting them to buckle up is usually not – why? Sheri says that it is because you as a parent are on your spot with this issue and know that there is no choice involved; it is a have-to job. Her advice is for parents to figure out where their spot is and stay on it; parents need to be Macy’s (fixed price) and NOT the flea market, where you can bargain. If children think they can negotiate with you or think that you are conflicted, they will take advantage of that to either sidetrack the conversation or take the option they like the best. Give a clear message! When the child responds, “You are being mean,” you can say, “We will talk about that later but right now you need to do [whatever you are asking the child to do].” Don’t give your child practice as a budding litigator. Sheri notes that expectations are usually very clear at school and less clear at home. Parents can learn from teachers. Ask your child what happens at school when someone misbehaves. Children can almost always tell you, while if you ask them what happens at home, they have more trouble explaining what will happen.

When … then. Parents often say “IF you do this, then you can to that”. Sheri suggests reframing this conversation to “WHEN you show me that you can do this, then you can do that.” She is also a big fan of boring kids. Make bedtime as boring as possible so that it is not the evening entertainment at your house. For example, read, brush teeth, say good night and that is that. She says that telling your child that this is the way it works is often enough to get them to comply.  

“Oh.” One of the communication techniques Sheri shared is “Oh.” When your child begins to share a story about something that happened, respond “Oh.” Saying something so neutral and open-ended will encourage the child to share more. Do not get over involved in the social and emotional lives of your children. They need you to be a separate voice and your role will change over time from manager to CEO to (if you are lucky) member of the advisory board. If you have a child who is loath to share, try this: When he/she gets into the car talk about your day. Pretty soon the child will start to talk about his or her day.

Strengthen your child’s disappointment muscle. Building your child’s disappointment muscle is important. As Sheri says, “You don’t need to sign up, pay extra and car pool for this; there is plenty of disappointment to be had at home!” She notes that the world will not cater to our children so we need to provide them the opportunity to experience disappointment and to flex that muscle. Remember that disappointment is a feeling and not an event. Teach your child to say “Oh well” when something didn’t turn out as they had hoped.

Parent teacher conferences are next week. Sheri suggests that parents can learn a lot from their child’s teacher about how their child presents in the world. Children can be very different when a parent is not around and your child’s teacher is a great source of information about this.

Our tech team filmed Sheri’s talk to the CDS parent community and you can see excerpts from the talk at (password is cds2014). I’m also including Sheri’s talking points for parents below. Special appreciation to Margaret Piskitel for bringing Sheri to campus and to all of the CDS parents who attended her talk. These are great ideas and tips for fostering healthy relationships and communication with our children.



  • Stay on your spot.

  • Lead with empathy.

  • Watch out for confusion.

  • Be mindful of inadvertent messages.

  • Let kids develop their "disappointment muscle."

  • "Oh."

  • Make honesty safe.

  • No nagging; take it on or let it go (for now).

  • Clarify requests and requirements.

  • Help kids "make it right."

  • Value resilience; demonstrate confidence in your kids.

  • Anything can be said kindly.

  • Appreciate your best and theirs; call it into play.