Frequently Asked Questions

Please note that these questions refer to parents only. However, the answers can be applied to anyone who deals with children such as grandparents, teachers, camp counselors, social workers, therapists and pediatricians.

Group of Kids

Q: What age is STEP appropriate for?

Aviva: Systematic Training for Effective Parenting (STEP) is appropriate for any age - from a 4 month old objecting to being put down for a nap to a 17 year old at a party where alcohol is being served. STEP skills show parents how to handle any challenge in a positive, constructive way. STEP even works with adults.

"The program not only helped me deal with my grandchildren, but even more - helped me relate better to my very accomplished 40 year old daughter (for which I am extremely grateful)."
-L. N.

"My children are 10 and 16 and we really talk to each other now and share how we are solving our own difficulties. There's more celebration and less struggle (and it works on your boss too!)."
-Katherine McKenna

Q: Can I get the same information from Supernanny on TV?

Q: Is this class any different from other parenting workshops?

Aviva: I put these two questions together because the answers are similar. There is a whole range of parenting approaches from effective to ineffective to ones that are downright abusive.

The methods used on Supernanny fall somewhere in middle of the continuum. A nanny helping her host family work out a routine and a schedule can be very beneficial. STEP teaches the importance of that kind of structure for children as well.

Where Supernanny and most parenting workshops fail is in the discipline aspect of raising children. They tend to use the reward and punishment model (ie. "I'll give you a sticker, toy or Lexus if you are good/ I'll take away that sticker, toy or Lexus if you're bad").

The reward and punishment model of discipline involves "surveillance" by the parent who metes out the rewards and punishments as warranted. When the parent is not watching, the child may not feel the need to follow his or her rules.

The most abusive parenting classes are also based on the reward/punishment model. What makes these programs abusive as well as ineffective is that one of the punishments that they recommend is spanking. Spanking teaches violence and engenders a lack of trust in the very people that the child needs to depend on for love and emotional support.

STEP does not base discipline on rewards and punishments. Instead, Encouragement replaces rewards and Logical Consequences replace punishments. Encouragement and Logical Consequences are STEP skills that help the child become self-motivated and self-disciplined. That way the child tends to do the right thing even when no one is watching.

Q: Does this method work with children with special needs?

Aviva: STEP is often effective for children with special needs. It is especially crucial when an aspect of the child's disability looks like misbehavior. For example, most parents would not yell at a child with a visual impairment who dropped a plate because she could not see it clearly. However, when a child with ADHD drops a dish, it's often hard not to show anger. And yet, the child with ADHD may not have been able to stop himself from dropping the plate either.

Further, it is sometimes hard to distinguish between malicious, intentional misbehavior and a behavior that cannot be helped in any child. With STEP, the intent of the child's behavior (innocent or deliberate) does not matter. STEP helps parents learn how to find the most patient, respectful, nurturing way to deal with challenging behavior regardless of the motivation.

Please note that in addition to having patient parents, children with special needs will require other interventions.

"Unbelievably effective! Even works with my child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder."
-Joyce F.

Q: What if I am the only person in my child's life who is using STEP? My daughter's teacher, my spouse and my father-in-law are not on board.

Aviva: It would be ideal if everyone in your child's life used the STEP method with her. In fact, I was once asked, "What if everyone used STEP?" I thought about it for a while and came to the conclusion that we would have world peace!

Until we achieve world peace, I think your question is "No one else in my daughter's life uses STEP. Can she handle that inconsistency?"

Yes. Even before you started to use STEP, your daughter had probably figured out that each person in her life has a somewhat unique style of discipline. She was already able to deal with that inconsistency.

Now that you are learning STEP, she is so fortunate that at least one significant person in her life is not judging her, criticizing her or punishing her. Also, as you learn to encourage and empathize with your daughter, she will realize that you are a safe person to confide in (even at age 14). Often, by the way, other members of a household will start to use the STEP skills (sometimes without even realizing it) as they see how calmly and successfully you are able to defuse your daughter's misbehavior. Enjoy her!

Q: Why is the price for the classes and the recordings so low?

Aviva: It is precisely because this method helps families so much that I want to continue to keep this information as affordable as possible.

There are two reasons why I think it is so important for parents to learn the STEP approach.

  1. Many of today's parents have a difficult time giving limits to their children. Kids may not act like it, but deep down, they desperately want to know that we care enough to guide them. I believe that the prevalence of defiant behavior along with a sense of entitlement that many children are exhibiting today is a result of permissive, indulgent parenting.
  2. Wherever I turn - at the library, the airport, the store, the park - I encounter scenes of parents and children arguing with a disturbing level of anger. Thankfully, I see both loving and benign scenes too, but the percentage of miserable interchanges seems to be rising.

I cannot handle seeing families suffering needlessly. Knowing that STEP would give the parents described above the kind of close, positive relationships with their children that they always expected compels me to wish that I could give this information away.

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