Week 1: Do nothing. Say nothing.

Yes, it’s what it sounds like. I can’t tell them what to do, I can’t tell them what not to do, or do anything for them. I can’t repeat or remind or prompt or nag or punish or otherwise interfere in their lives! I drive the car when they ask me to, and I’m there just in case anyone does anything physically dangerous.

The goal is for me to learn all the ways I’ve been unknowingly interfering with their independence, and to step back and observe what they can already do, what they can figure out how to do, what they truly need our help with, and just generally what happens when nobody is there to dictate.

We explained it all before hand, “Girls, as you know, mommy and daddy took a parenting class, and we found out we’ve been making some terrible mistakes. We are so sorry. So now we are going to start to fix these mistakes. Here’s what’s going to happen: for the next seven days, we are not allowed to ….” And we laid it all out for them … apologetically ….

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10 Comments on “Week 1: Do nothing. Say nothing.”


  1. […] handing the whole thing over to them? Are they ready for that? Am I ready for that? What about that first week when they all stayed up late watching TV just because they could? Will they do that every night? […]

  2. Susan Says:

    Just discovered your blog. I’d love to do this, but my husband thinks it’s a load of ****. How do I convince him it’s not just handing over the reins to our children, but that the “do nothing, say nothing” week is really the start of a new way of life?

    • flockmother Says:

      Susan, thanks for writing. This is a very common situation. You may not be able to talk him into it. But if your intention to follow through is strong, he will see the results, even if he doesn’t participate. I know people talk about how parents need to be on the same page, but it’s just not always possible. If you change your behavior it will make a difference no matter what. I wrote a post related to this issue. Perhaps it will help: https://flockmother.wordpress.com/2009/09/09/husbands-are-people-too/

      • Tamara Thompson Says:

        New to the parenting course. How would you handle this if you cannot miss work? Just started a new job. No time to take off. The kids 8 and 6 have way different start times and are at different schools. To top it off both take me fiction for ADHD and depression. I cannot allow then to not take the medication suddenly. They will become sick. Trying yo figure this out.
        Please help. Oh, btw single mom here. Just moved to new area for the new job.

      • flockmother Says:

        You might have to take some time to think this through. Are you willing to call in sick? Ask a friend or neighbor to help? Only you know the answer. How else might you step back out of your children’s way so you can learn the most about them during this week? Taking medication, like feeding the pet, may not be an area you can experiment much with. It’s ok, there are plenty of other ways to stop interfering in your kids’ lives. (This is a belated reply. Perhaps you’ve already figured this part out?)

  3. revchrista Says:

    I don’t know if you are still reading/writing on this blog, but we are in day two of DNSN per Vicki. It is hard. I am writing an email right now to our son’s teacher to explain that he might be dirty, hungry, or exhausted. We don’t however have the luxury of being able to miss work. Our solution is just to bring him out the door when we have to go to work, and his state at that moment is his state for the day. I would love others’ suggestions or comments about that one.

    • flockmother Says:

      What if you were sick? Could you miss work then? I wouldn’t normally advocate for lying to your boss or colleagues, but this can be such a life changer … LIFE changer … that it’s totally worth one or two white lies to go whole hog with DNSN … explaining what’s actually going on, I’ve learned, is much, much harder.

      • flockmother Says:

        Let me elaborate … when I took that week to demonstrate that it was completely up to my kids to choose school, or not, it shifted the culture of our family forever. My oldest is now in college. The decision whether or not to go to school has been solely in her hands for almost 10 years. She owns her own education. OWNS it. I cannot overstate the power of DNSN week.

      • revchrista Says:

        I could. In fact, my son has a different vacation than I do, next week. Hmmm…worth thinking about. I sent your blog post to his teacher, to explain a little what we are trying to do. It is really helpful to read someone’s experience. Thanks for making the time to write it down.

  4. flockmother Says:

    So glad it’s helpful. If you use some vacation to go 100% on DNSN, you won’t regret it.


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