NOW AVAILABLE: Parenting the Challenging Child


After more than three decades of helping professionals work with some of the most challenging children, the LSCI Institute now adapts its brain-based, trauma-informed, kid-centered approach to the unique needs of parents and caregivers. Parenting the Challenging Child: The 4-Step Way to Turn Problem Situations Into Learning Opportunities provides readers with:

* Specific skills for building more positive relationships with kids
* Proven strategies for de-escalating stressful situations
* A reliable 4-step framework for turning common problem situations into lasting learning opportunities

After reading this solution-focused book, you will be equipped with new skills to identify and change six problematic patterns of behavior in young people. Even more importantly, you will learn about yourself and how simple changes in the way you interact with your loved ones during a problem situation can significantly improve your relationship and their future behaviors.


What Difference Does Quality Time Make?


The importance of positive relationships in a young person’s life can never be overstated.  Through warm, supportive, and trusting relationships with adults—from parents and caregivers to teachers and coaches—kids gain the inner strength they need to overcome problems and to bounce back from life’s challenges.  What’s more, caring, consistent relationships offer the structure and support kids need to make lasting changes in their behavior.  When a child perceives that the adults in his life are truly invested in his well-being and interested in his experiences, he is more willing to talk about what is going on in his life and more likely to be open to adult feedback.

The good news when it comes to nurturing positive relationships with young people, is that the most meaningful connections adults make with kids are usually based on the simplest of gestures.  A proud smile, a word of reassurance, a bit of your undivided attention, a thoughtful response, an opportunity to practice a new skill, a hug just when it is needed most; all of these supportive behaviors are at once free and priceless.  Each of them communicates to a young person that they have worth and value.  Every kindness builds the relationship between the adult and child.

If building positive relationships between adults and kids is so fundamentally simple, why do so many young people feel alienated, isolated and alone?

Please check out the full post here, on Psychology Today.


Check out Signe’s newest book, Parenting the Challenging Child, due out on or about March 1.  Pre-order today!

Don’t Rush Childhood


Childhood is precious.  Don’t rush it.


How to Be Angry Used in Homeschooling Program


There’s nothing that an idealistic, trying-to-change-the-world-one-child-at-a-time, do-gooder like me values more than hearing that their work is truly making a difference for others.  Yesterday, Vanessa Reinelt, a homeschooling mom of two and teacher of 4 other children, sent me this music-to-my-ears feedback:


We have been working through your “How to Be Angry” curriculum and already are seeing huge benefits. Our children (ages 10-13) are already identifying their anger and striving to express their anger assertively!  I have looked at many programs and resources trying to find an appropriate one to teach the kids about emotional and social health. None can compare to the depth and quality that yours provides.  I How to Be Angryfinalcoverabsolutely love the format you use. Teaching the 4 types of Anger Expression and with the healthiest (Assertiveness) as the last module.  I genuinely believe if we teach children about expressing…emotions in healthy ways, the human race will stand a chance in reaching the next millennium.

Thanks again for your time Ms. Whitson. You are truly a credit to your profession. Thank you for your amazing book. Your work is making the world a better place.


Thank YOU, Vanessa, for prioritizing the social and emotional health of kids!


If you’ve used How to Be Angry, Friendship & Other Weapons, The Angry Smile, or 8 Keys to End Bullying with students, please let me know how the experience has been for you!

E-mail Contracts for Kids


A friend of mine from graduate school and I were just lamenting over the fact that our daughters are asking to have e-mail accounts.  Well, actually, we were marveling at how time has flown and that our kids are at this age already.  Ok, truthfully, we were feeling sorry for ourselves about how old we must be to have tween-age kids, but I digress…

She and I are both concerned about setting guidelines for our girls as they take big steps into the world of technology social media.  Here are the sets of guidelines she and I each pieced together from our own wisdom and bits of advice on the web.  I like hers better…she liked mine…together, perhaps we have a whole parent’s brain.  You can feel free to pick and choose from either.  Hopefully, you can find the suggestions helpful:


1. Always be kind, and do not ever use email to say ugly, nasty, or mean things about ANYONE. Not only is that not behavior not acceptable, but email can always be forwarded to someone & hurt their feelings.

2. If you don’t recognize an address in your inbox, or someone sends you a weird email, don’t touch the email & come get me or Daddy.

3. No opening attachments or clicking on links without approval.

4. Daddy and I can and will access your emails at any time. You must give us your password(s) if you change them.

5. The only computers you are allowed to access your email from is mine or Daddy’s (and Grandma’s). If you access Gmail from school, you would have to be responsible enough to “SIGN OUT” so that the next person can’t access your email. Many grown-ups can’t even remember to do this, so I’m not going to ask you to. So, no accessing emails from school until I believe you’re responsible enough to do this.

6. NEVER click the “remember me” or “remember this password?” if you do access your email from another computer (against my rules). This will allow that computer to ALWAYS remember your password without the person sitting there to even think about it.

7. Never send to anyone in an email the following: your real address, phone number, any passwords, our cell phone numbers, your birthday/date, social security number or any other identifying information–not even to someone you know. This will cause you BIG, BIG problems or put you in DANGER from people who want to harm children.

8. Don’t use “Reply all.” Many grown-ups don’t even understand how to use this properly.

9. If someone emails you telling you you won something: you didn’t. Come get one of us.

10. Don’t go into the “Spam” folder – that’s not a place for children, and I’m trusting you enough to follow this rule (and the others). If you think an email you want may have mistakenly found its way in there, ask one of us to look in there for you.

11. You are not allowed to use Google+ without our permission. That is something you can earn with good behavior and when you’re a little older.





We believe our family values include kindness, honesty, and compassion for others.  Our use of technology must reflect these values.  Therefore, we recognize that having an email address, texting, using a YouTube account, and any other uses of technology must follow these rules:


  1.  Communication (sending e-mails, commenting on videos, sending texts, etc) is for the purpose of friendship and exchange of ideas or information.  It is never for spreading gossip, making rude comments, using bad language, or giving out personal information to people we don’t know.


  1. Technology can never be used for the purposes of humiliating, embarrassing, getting revenge upon, or hurting others in any way.


  1. Sending or uploading photos and videos with any personally identifying images or information are not permitted unless specially approved by Mommy or Daddy.


  1. Mommy and Daddy must always have access to the passwords and content for all of your technology accounts.


  1. Mommy and Daddy reserve the right to insist that particular sites and friends who behave in violation of our values be banned or blocked.


  1. No emails, texts, YouTube comments, etc after 9:00pm (school year) and 9:30pm (summer).


If these rules are not followed, the following will occur:

First violation:  All technology privileges ended for 7 days.

Second violation:  All technology privileges ended for 14 days.

Third violation:  All technology privileges ended indefinitely.


While we understand that anyone can make a mistake, we believe that living according to our values is critically important.



_________________________________        _________________________________

Child                                                                                      Parent




For more information and suggestions for teaching kids about ethical uses of technology and social media, please check out my post on Psychology Today, Teaching Netiquette to Kids.

The LSCI Institute offers Training for Parents, Foster Parents & Caregivers


Trainings from the Parents Division of the LSCI Institute help parents and caregivers learn specific skills for building positive relationships with kids, prevent and de-escalate conflicts, and utilize consistent, verbal strategies for crisis intervention. The LSCI Skills for Parents trainings:

  • Provide parents with specific skills for building positive relationships with kids
  • Encourage the use of preventative and non-physical crisis de-escalation strategies
  • Provide a framework for verbal crisis intervention that is consistent from situation to situation

Part 1: Conflict Prevention & De-Escalation
The Conflict Prevention & De-Escalation course presents foundational LSCI concepts such as the Conflict Cycle™, effective listening, crisis de-escalation, and “Timeline” skills through engaging activities and discussions that are relevant and accessible to parents and caregivers. Part 1 can be taught as a 1-day course or as a series of hour-long workshops.

Part 2: Managing Challenging Behaviors
The Managing Challenging Behaviors program identifies the six most common, chronic self-defeating patterns of behavior in kids and provides parents with a consistent 4-step process that helps families effectively address and modify each one. Part 2 of the curriculum is designed as an 8-session program, with one session dedicated to each of the six self-defeating patterns, along with an Introduction and Conclusion session.

FIND OUT what participants are saying about LSCI Skills for Parents trainings:

FOR MORE INFORMATION & TO SCHEDULE an LSCI Skills for Parents course, please click on the LSCI Training page or email me at

For All of the Role Models…


Self-Reliance: The Gift that Keeps on Giving


A Story from a Breast Cancer Fighter


I have this most wonderful, inspiring, wise, strong, witty, brave, glowing light of a friend who has been battling Stage 4 breast cancer for the past two years.  Throughout her journey with this awful disease, she constantly uplifts all who are trying to be there to support her–she’s just that awesome–with her courage, her sense of humor, and her writing. 

Last week, she shared with her friends this reflection on her battle with cancer.  As always happens when I read her writing, I laughed a little and cried a lot and wished I could express myself in the same poignant, wise ways.  I also came away with the sense that her thoughts should really be shared with as many people as possible.  So, for the Mamas, sisters, girl friends, husbands, Dads, kids, and whoever else would read this and be inspired, Fran agreed that I could share her experiences with you.  It is an honor for me to do so:


Cancer is such an odd companion.  While I hate my disease, I have grown to embrace the journey.  My friends and family are a constant in my life.  Their support, help and love keep my feet moving forward one step at a time.  It is the occasional stranger that gives me pause to reflect on the true goodness in our lives.  Allow me to tell you about one of my strangers.

Dana Stellar is a former Northwestern Lehigh student that went on to graduate from Lehigh University in 2010.  In addition to her many accomplishments, Dana was a cross country team member for Northwestern and Lehigh University.   Her Mom and biggest fan (sorry Dad) was Debbie Stellar.  Debbie Stellar was a tireless volunteer for her children’s athletic teams and a lifetime member of the Seaside Park Yacht Club.  Tragically, Debbie lost her courageous four year battle to ovarian cancer in March, 2010. 

To honor her mother, Dana organized the Steps4Stellar 5K Walk/Run.  The Walk was held at Cedar Beach in Allentown, PA to help raise funds for families who are battling cancer.  A scholarship fund was established in Debbie’s name.  The fund was designed to help student athletes whose family suffers from cancer by fulfilling their dream of a college education. 

Two weeks ago, I received an email that my three little athletes were selected to receive one of the scholarships.  Through our local youth organization, Northwestern Youth Athletic Association (NYAA), my children have played a variety of sports.  Hayden plays football, basketball, lacrosse and baseball.  Tess plays field hockey, basketball and softball.  Wyatt plays basketball and baseball.

Last Sunday at a NYAA football game, in the pouring rain, Dana, a friend, and her father waited patiently for me to complete my volunteer duties and walk off the field.  We were meeting, in person, for the first time.   As our eyes meet, we connected and realized…. I reminded her of her mother – volunteering for her children’s athletic team.  Dana was my hope for the future – what I want my children to be.  Our tears were stopped and replaced by laughter with the appearance of a 5 foot, 10 year old, covered in mud (somewhere hidden under there was Hayden) eating a cupcake.  Then, she presented me with the scholarship funds for my kids.   To say I was overwhelmed is an understatement.

According to family and friends, Debbie Stellar considered her job of being “Mom” as the most rewarding.  Sharing her battle, I understand the focus on hopes, dreams and the future, especially for our children.  It is best summed up by this quote:

She has achieved success who has lived well; laughed often and loved much;… who has filled her niche and accomplished her task; … who has always looked for the best in others and given the best she had; whose life was an inspiration.

Debbie Stellar was an inspiration.  We only have to look as far as Dana to realize she accomplished great things in her lifetime.

October ushers in Breast Cancer Awareness.  Fran Ledeboer  was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer on June 4, 2010. Nearly half the women diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer in June, 2010 are now dead (SEER database). Cancer is an insidious disease; crafty, adaptable and uncaring. If you love a woman, please remind her that prevention is our best weapon. Please get a mammogram, ultrasound, MRI or clinical breast exam, if not for yourself, for the ones that you love. Remind all women in your life to do the same. Adversity breeds resilience and hope. Hope does matter.

I Wish I Could Have a Do-Over! 5 Strategies for Parenting with a More Level Head


Not long ago, my daughter, her best friend and I had a full day’s worth of activity and adventure, enjoying carnival games at a local festival, eating bags of salty popcorn, running through icy cold fountains when the day’s heat became too intense and following it all up with a late afternoon movie. It was Girl Time at its best!

Which is why I was totally blown away when, after dropping off her friend, my daughter’s answer to my innocent inquiry of, “So, what should we do for dinner?” was met with a raging, “Nothing! Can we just go home already? I think we’ve bonded enough for one day.”

“Was that a car that just rear-ended me?” I thought momentarily. “Can words cause whiplash?” I wondered. My white knuckles clutched the steering wheel with primitive force and I’m pretty sure the woman in the lane next to me witnessed steam coming out of my ears.

“Seriously?” I started out calmly. Unfortunately, I only began that way. Quick as a flash, angry words of hurt and indignation rang forth from my mouth. I promised to never take my daughter anywhere… ever… again. I threatened to cancel our “bonding plans” for next weekend’s end-of-school-year trip. I lied and told her that I had had a miserable day, too. In short, I mirrored the emotions my daughter had just unleashed on me and fueled the out-of-the-blue conflict with ten additional gallons of gasoline. When my rant was over, I looked at her in the rearview mirror and I knew I had blown it.

For the rest of this not-so-Mom-of-the-Year-moment–including my thoughts on how I would approach this situation if I could have a Do-Over–please check out my full article in the HuffingtonPost:


Please also check out the tab on LSCI Skills for Parents training, for more information on de-escalating conflicts with kids and improving parent-child relationships.

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