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Tia Slightham: How to parent smarter, not harder

This interview is part of How To Get Kids To Listen: Leading International Parenting Experts Reveal Their Best Secrets For Getting Kids To Cooperate, an ebook containing a collection of interviews I did with parenting experts from around the world.

I asked each expert one simple question: What is your best strategy for getting kids to listen and cooperate? and then listened as they shared their best parenting tips and advice.

How To Get Kids To Listen is available for free download here

In this interview with Tia Slightham, best-selling author, and founder of “Tia Slightham - Parenting Solutions”, we talk about how to use Golden Time to proactively fill your children’s needs for power and attention.

I love this technique, as it is a simple way to increase the quality of the time you already spend with your children…a way to parent smarter, not harder.

Tags: Tia Slightham

Also in this interview:

About Tia Slightham

Tia is a parenting coach, teacher, business owner, best-selling author and most importantly a MOM. She is the founder of “Tia Slightham - Parenting Solutions” and her coaching program, The Parenting with Purpose Method, where she works with parents to teach them positive ways to decrease the daily struggles we all encounter as parents.

Tia has a Masters degree in Early Childhood Ed., certified in Positive Discipline and has worked with kids and families for over 17 years. She will work alongside you to tailor a plan to solve all your parenting struggles.

Work with Tia to transform your parenting and learn more at her website,

You can also download Tia’s free “Golden Time” guide here.

How to encourage listening and cooperation without force or threats

How you can make small changes in the way you do things but get big improvements in your child’s behavior. Also, how, by identifying and meeting your child’s needs proactively, you can stop many behavioral problems before they happen.

Sue Meintjes: What is your favorite technique or strategy for increasing cooperation and getting kids to listen?

Tia Slightham: There’s so many things we already do, and we really want to think about small little changes and tools adding up to those really big results that we’re looking for. And ultimately the place that we’re working to help parents get to and achieve is a place where we really encourage listening and cooperation without force.

Trying to force our kids to cooperate, with yelling and timeouts and empty threats, often ends up backfiring, and we don’t really get the results we want. But when we start using tools, for example, like “Golden Time”, that I’m going to share with you, we start to see that we meet our children’s needs proactively.

And that helps to encourage without force. And so, we really want to get to that place, where we’re bonded and connected with our kids. Kids are going to do much better when they feel better. And that’s where we really want to implement these positive tools. So, we’re going to talk about “Golden Time” today.

Sue Meintjes: It’s like yesterday, my kids didn’t listen to me, and I was getting stressed because we had to leave for school and I had to go to work and just, like, they didn’t listen. So, I ended up crying in my son’s bedroom.

Tia Slightham: And you felt like you didn’t have the tools to really get him to school on time without the battle. And that can feel very frustrating for parents, for sure.

How to use Golden Time to proactively fill your children’s need for attention and power

How you can proactively ensure your child feels that they are getting enough attention and control in their life and prevent your child from feeling they need to act out or fight to fill these important emotional needs.

Sue Meintjes: So, what are the type of tools parents can use?

Tia Slightham: “Golden Time” is one of our most important tools that we use in our family, and also in the thousands of clients that I’ve worked with. Because what we need to do proactively in advance is make sure that our children’s entire roadmap for their needs is met in advance.

And part of that roadmap includes their power and attention buckets, which are really important emotional needs that our kids have. And Golden Time is one of those things that help fill those buckets.

If we fill our kids’ buckets first, they don’t have to fight to fill them. So, our kids who don’t want to get ready in the morning, if their emotional needs buckets are on low, by not getting ready, by not listening, by pushing those boundaries, you end up reminding, and nagging, or yelling, or getting frustrated with them.

And our kids learn. “Ooh, amazing. When I don’t get ready and I don’t listen, I actually get attention and power.” Although it’s negative, our kids are going to take whatever they can get. And so, what we want to do is we really want to start filling those buckets in advance, ahead of this, to help our kids do better and feel better.

And really with Golden Time, it’s super simple. It really takes 10 minutes a day. That’s it.

How to parent smarter, not harder: the five ingredients of Golden Time

The five steps to increase the value of the time you are already spending with your child, to get them to listen better and cooperate more.

Tia Slightham: Our job is to “parent smarter, not harder.” And once you have the skills, it all gets so much easier. You don’t have to second guess or doubt yourself.

The 5 ingredients for Golden Time to be effective and successful are:

  1. Name It (It must have a name so your child knows when they’re getting their time and filling those buckets)

  2. Twice a Day (10 minutes)

  3. Child’s Choice (let them pick something they enjoy doing - this gives them more power!)

  4. Unplugged (put those phones away and focus on your child)

  5. One on one

My son named it “Golden Time” when he was four and we’ve called it that ever since. Our clients have named it bazillions of other things. You can pick the name, but one of the key ingredients is that it has a name, so we want to make sure that you name it.

It works best if you can do it twice a day for 10 minutes.

Do something your child loves. Give them the choice to choose something they love.

Unplug. I want you to unplug and put your phone away. Role model that you are going to actively listen to them and connect with them and really make sure that you’re focused on that one-on-one time with them.

I’m going to tell you, after the first day you’re going to see changes. Your kids are going to love it if you set it up properly. But in one week, with consistency, you’re going to see a major return in terms of better listening and cooperation.

And so really making sure that you include those five ingredients and giving it a name is where your kids start to say, “Oh. We’re doing Golden Time now. This is my time. This is where my mom or dad focuses on me. I don’t have to fight for attention because I’m already getting what I need.”

That allows you then, as busy parents, to move on with your day, go to work, do the things you need to do, without the guilt. You’ve bonded, you’ve connected, your kids are happy, and so are you.

How to manage multiple children wanting your attention at the same time

How you can implement Golden Time when you have more than one child demanding your attention, and one technique Tia uses with her clients to set your child’s expectations and proactively set the stage for success.

Sue Meintjes: Sounds really good. And I think that is something that’s definitely missing in my parenting. I’ve got two children, and they are very much “If I do something with the one, the other one wants to do it too”. So, do you have any tips for getting around multiple children wanting to spend all the time together with you?

Tia Slightham: That’s a very common thing. I’ve had clients with seven kids before, and so it’s really about time management, and proactively setting the stage for success.

Our kids really are born with two predetermined jobs. They need to please you, but they also need to know what your boundaries are.

So, we don’t just all of a sudden say, “I’m doing Golden Time with one child. You go over there.” No, that won’t work. We really need to set our boundaries, set our expectations.

When is each child going to have it? We use an accountability calendar with my clients that help show each child which parent is doing it in the morning, which parent is doing it at night.

Your bedtime “Golden Time” is easy. It’s just tucking your kid in. You just need to name it. Do your books, do your stories, have that special bonding time. Don’t create more work for yourself. Make it more bang for your buck by labeling it.

So set that stage in advance. Let your kids know that we’re going to be doing this really cool thing called “Golden Time” so we can spend more time together. Say “Because I know I’m busy, I want to spend time with you.”

How to get the most value out of the Golden Time you spend with your children

How to get more value out of the time you spend with your kids, and a simple way to help your child feel more in control.

Tia Slightham: Sit down and make some lists with your kids about what they enjoy doing. Then you have an easy access list when it’s time for them to choose something that they enjoy.

And then talk about when you’re going to do that in your day. Maybe you have a calendar that shows them. Set a timer that shows them, when the timer goes off, it’s your siblings turn, and when the timer goes off, you are finished until your next “Golden Time”. So set those boundaries, use age-appropriate tools.

We have lots of tips and strategies to help parents be successful in this as well as a free guide that we can offer for parents to download if it’s something that would be helpful.

How to “keep it simple” and reduce the amount of parenting work you need to do

Why you don’t have to overcomplicate your “Golden Time”, and how you can minimize your parenting work by getting better results with the same time you spend with your children.

Sue Meintjes: I think parents, when they think about “Golden Time”, want to complicate it. They want to take the kids outside of the house. But it sounds like it should be really simple, like making bedtime routine into “Golden Time”. So, is that one of the keys to making it work, to keep it simple?

Tia Slightham: Yeah, exactly. So, we’re not going to make more work for ourselves. We’re trying to actually minimize our work. And so, your “Golden Time” list, your kids might put that they enjoy going to the park, or they enjoy baking a cake. But, most likely, you won’t be able to bake a cake or go to the park before school.

But go ahead and add that to the list and make them feel seen, heard, and understood. And maybe you have a weekend “Golden Time” list where those are longer activities that you do go out of the house and go for a walk, or a bike ride to the park, and bake together.

Maybe you have shorter “Golden Time” lists for the day.

In the morning, when you’re trying to start your day, the idea is to do “Golden Time” early on so that we get that cooperation to get ready for school. If your son feels like his emotional needs’ buckets are filling up and he’s feeling like his needs have been met, he doesn’t need to fight back on those morning routines.

And so, we want to do it first thing if we can. Just do something simple. My boys used to like to pretend shave with my husband. They would get their pretend razors, their pretend shaving cream. And they would just shave together in the bathroom.

They would help me make smoothies for the day. They loved to use the blender.

If they enjoy it, it’s “Golden Time”. Make sure you label it and let them know. It doesn’t have to be overthought. You don’t have to complicate things.

What to do if your partner is not onboard with trying new parenting techniques or strategies

Why it is not a showstopper if your partner doesn’t want to change the way they parent, and how you can still get the benefits from trying new parenting approaches even if your partner is not interested in changing.

Sue Meintjes: And then does your partner need to be on board? Does he or she need to do “Golden Time” too, or is okay if only one parent does it?

Tia Slightham: I always say to parents when they’re like, “My partner’s not on board. I have to do this alone.” Or “My kids go to their father’s house on the weekend and they’re at my house during the week, and is this going to work if we’re not consistent?”

So, consistency is the key in everything we do, but we’re not going to control our kids and we’re not going to control our partners.

If people are not on board, that’s okay. That’s their choice. But what I say is: if one parent makes changes, and one parent does “Golden Time”, and all the other learning and tools, you’re going to have results.

But if both parents say, “Oh, okay, we’re not going to do it then because we’re both not on the same page,” well then you have zero results.

What I suggest is that it doesn’t have to be a perfect rotation of parent one in the morning and parent two at night.

If you can do that, great. You get a great rotation out of it. If you can’t, and you have a similar situation to what mine was like as my kids were growing up, two boys, two years apart. My husband was never home in the evening for bedtime.

He was only home for about an hour in the morning, from six to seven in the morning, and they saw him for an hour, and they didn’t see him again till the next day. So, a lot of my kids’ “Golden Times” during the week were with me. But on the weekend, he would spend some extra time and re-bond and kindle their connection.

And so, there’s no right or wrong way to do it. The idea is just do it in whatever fashion works for you and your family.

What NOT to do when you start doing “Golden Time” with your kids

One important mistake parents often make when they implement “Golden Time”, and how you can avoid making this mistake.

Sue Meintjes: I’m excited to try it today. So, is there anything else that parents need to know about Golden Time?

Tia Slightham: Just to set it up in advance, to be consistent with it, and to not use it as a threat or punishment. You know, “If you don’t get ready for school, then there’s no “Golden Time”,” “If you’re not ready for bed, then I’m not tucking you in, no “Golden Time”.”

If we take “Golden Time” away, our kids are going to feel worse once again, and they’re going to do worse.

We want our kids to feel better, to do better. “Golden Time” is the way that you do that.

If parents implement this and they’re seeing success and they want to learn more, then definitely don’t hesitate to reach out. There’s so much we can do as parents to make our days really easy and enjoyable.

Sue Meintjes: So, the key to Golden Time is to fill your kids’ emotional buckets, so that they don’t end up with power struggles with you.

Tia Slightham: We’re proactively filling emotional needs buckets to help our kids avoid having to fight to fill those up.

Action steps

Here are my action steps that I got from this interview. I hope you’ll find these useful as well:

  • Identify a time that you are already spending with your child daily, then give it a name (like Golden Time) and tell your child that it is now their special time with you

  • Create a calendar with your kids, where you schedule their Golden Time, so that they know you see them as important

  • Sit with your kids and make a list of things that they want to do with you during Golden Time

  • Download Tia’s free “Golden Time” guide here.

This interview is part of How To Get Kids To Listen: Leading International Parenting Experts Reveal Their Best Secrets For Getting Kids To Cooperate, an ebook containing a collection of interviews I did with parenting experts from around the world.

I asked each expert one simple question: What is your best strategy for getting kids to listen and cooperate? and then listened as they shared their best parenting tips and advice.

How To Get Kids To Listen is available for free download here