Build This Kind of Family Culture and You Will Be Thanking Yourself for Years to Come

Build This Kind of Family Culture and You Will Be Thanking Yourself for Years to Come

All great organizations need two key elements: strategy and culture.

Strategy is the game plan: your goals and what you plan to do to achieve them.

Culture is the way you do things and who you are in the doing.

Culture is often thought by leadership experts to be the more important of the two in terms of success.

Your family is one of the greatest organizations you will ever be a part of, yet how many of us actually intentionally build a meaningful family culture?

The good news is we can intentionally build a family culture that teaches our kids arguably the most important thing in life:

Human connection.

Do your kids feel worthy?

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The Truth about Motivating Your Kids

The Truth about Motivating Your Kids

Reward me and I’ll work harder.

Isn’t that what most of us have been taught about motivation?

From the office, to the playing field, to homes everywhere, it’s common knowledge that trophies, sticker charts and cold hard cash will enhance performance.

But is that really the case?

According to author Daniel Pink, in his book Drive, science tells a different story.

A number of experiments performed over the last 60 years have revealed that rewards actually have a negative effect on performance.

Scientists Harry Harlow, and later Edward Deci, found that when you introduce a reward, the focus shifts from performing a task for the joy of the activity itself to doing it more for the reward.

Rewards work like a shot of caffeine. You do get an instant increase in performance. But not only does the effect soon wear off, it’s also then difficult to find the same motivation you had before the reward was given.

Case in point: Allowance for chores

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How Child Development Works – Competence Builds Competence

How Child Development Works – Competence Builds Competence

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have talked about their children’s most rewarding and most challenging developmental periods. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants. ***

Raising a child is like building a sturdy staircase. At the top of the staircase is a door marked ‘adulthood.’ Each stair is like a platform of competence, a set of skills gained in each stage.  Done reasonably well, each step positions us for the next, more advanced step. Competence today prepares our kids for competence tomorrow. As we build the staircase, important parenting steps include:

  • letting our kids know they are loved and are worthy of love from day one
  • teaching our kids kind-but-firm limits
  • giving our kids consistent support academically, emotionally, and socially
  • stepping back as kids learn skills so they can internalize them and become independent
  • keeping a low-stress home environment so we don’t derail kids’ healthy development

Instead of borrowing worries from the future, research shows that if we focus on navigating the current stage well, competence will follow. Success breeds success. Competence builds competence.

Infancy: Secure attachment is key

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How Happiness Really Works for Parents and Kids

Why has happiness alluded so many people? It’s because we think we know what will lead to happiness, but psychological scientists show we are often off base. If we’re off base much of the time, are we leading our kids down the right path? We all want our kids to be happy, so let’s make sure we know the right way to go about it.

Most of us believe positive events, wealth, fame, and beauty will lead to lasting happiness. We get messages to this effect everyday in the media. However, these things affect a shockingly small percentage of our actual level of happiness.

According to happiness researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky, in her book The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want, the truth is that money does bring some happiness, but it’s only a little bit for a short time, not a lot of happiness for a long time. One study showed that the richest Americans are only slightly happier than blue collar workers.

This fleeting happiness is due to a concept called hedonic habituation, which basically means that we get used to change quickly, and what once felt novel quickly becomes the norm. You can probably think of a time you felt thrilled initially and then quickly got used to it, i.e. moving to a new house, getting a promotion, a pay raise, or a makeover. It feels great at first, and then after a relatively short time you adapt. In a classic study in the 1970’s tracking lottery winners, less than a year after receiving their windfall, most winners felt no happier than the average Joe.

Research also shows that life circumstances; rich or poor, married or single, beautiful or ordinary, actually have little bearing on our level of happiness. Scientists estimate that a shockingly low 10% of our happiness is derived from these sorts of circumstances.

Happiness is like a pie

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Welcome to the Equipped Family Blog

Welcome and thanks for checking out the Equipped blog. I started this blog to explore and share the latest scientific research in parenting and child development to help equip both parents and kids with effective psychological tools to flourish in the world.

My name is Debbie Steinberg Kuntz and I’m a mom of two boys, ages 12 and 9, wife of 17 years, and a licensed marriage and family therapist with a private practice just outside of Seattle. I am fortunate to work with many highly intelligent families who work at local tech giants like Microsoft and They usually don’t have time to sift through all the psychological research or sign up for parenting classes. That’s where I come in.

I am fascinated with the idea of how to raise kids who are well-equipped for the world and how to be a thriving family. I hope to share my passion for the many powerful ideas coming out of a relatively new field of psychology called positive psychology.

The focus of traditional psychology has been to reduce symptoms and help people become more ‘normal.’ The focus of positive psychology is rather to help people go beyond the status quo and flourish, to go from good (or not-so-good) to great. One of my goals over time is to synthesize the research, along with feedback from parents like you, and create a cohesive parenting strategy chunked down into manageable steps that any parent can follow.

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