Archive for the ‘Bullying’ category

Bully-free parenting

December 5, 2011
my child is the bully, anti-bullying, positive parenting, positive discipline, hitting, spanking, yelling, parenting about, teens, toddlers,preschoolers, teenagers, tweens, elementary age, "alfred adler" , natural and logical consequences, encouragement, family meetings,
Many bullies are made at home

As the young mother of three children born in 3.5 years, I thought “discipline” meant “punishment.” Through parenting workshops, I learned that “discipline” means “to teach.” Parents are teaching every minute of every day by our example, and how we manage others. To manage people means to get other people to do what we want.

My question to you today is How do you manage your children? Do you yell, spank, praise, reward and punish? Or, are you their friend and set few limits?

Children feel unsafe in both extremes. The greatest challenge for parents is to manage our emotions because children try our patience. When they don’t do what we want, when they make bad decisions and put their safety at risk, we feel anxious, worried and frustrated that they don’t listen to us. Therefore we are justified in punishing them.

The problem with punishment is that it often breeds resentment, rebellion and revenge, and ironically, NOT the behavior change we wish to see.

Tots to teens need limits set with respect, love and logic. Children need to experience the results of their decisions. My favorite line is “Give them enough rope to burn but not enough to hang” so they can learn to choose well and find out life’s rules.

Here are some examples of how tots to teens can learn from their decisions.

a. A 10-year-old spent his allowance on candy on Saturday and asks Dad on Sunday, “Can you buy me this video game?” “Son, I bet you can save up your allowance for a few weeks and buy that game.”

b. A 3-year-old refuses to eat his favorite vegetable at dinner and has a tantrum because his parents won’t give him dessert. “You’d really like some dessert. You know the rule in our family. People who eat their vegetables get dessert.”

c. A 15-year-old doesn’t clean the bathroom as promised by Friday at 7 pm. Mom explains in a kind and firm voice, “When the bathroom is cleaned, I’ll give you the ride.”

d. A 7-year-old forgets her mittens on a cold day and her hands get chapped.

e. A 12-year-old chooses not to pick up his room. It becomes difficult to walk in the room and it l from dirty clothes. He has trouble finding clean clothes to wear to school and doesn’t care.

In the first three examples, can you see how the parent explains the logic behind the decisions and in the last two, the parent can allow the youngsters to experience the results of their choices without intervening. The first three are “logical consequences” because they require parental action. The last two are “natural consequences” because the outcome happens without parental action. These are the most powerful and respectful ways for children to mature that sustain a positive parent-child connection.

Here are some bullying responses to the same scenarios, that teach children those who are bigger, meaner, verbally or physically abusive, louder and stronger will win. Verbal abuse can be as devastating as physical abuse.

a. “You’re never going to learn to manage your money.”

b. “Go to your room, you’re being a bad boy. I’m going to spank you if you don’t stop crying.”

c. “What do you think I am? The maid and the driver? You’re lazy and self-centered. All I ask is that you clean the lousy bathroom once a week. I’m going to take away your video games for a week.”

d. “How many times did I tell you to bring your mittens? You’re going to catch cold and die of pneumonia. What will your teacher think if you go to school without mittens? You always make me look bad. I want to be proud of you.”

e. “You must clean your room today or else you’ll be grounded for a month. I’m sick and tired of you disrespecting the house your father and I work so hard to get. You’re going to amount to nothing if you don’t learn some respect. What will your friends and teachers think when you go to school with the same dirty T-shirt day after day?”

In the last two, parents can allow youngsters to live with the consequences of their decisions. This shows mutual respect. Parents model problem solving and behavior management without punishment, reward and praise.

Parents can teach children to choose wisely by being kind and firm, saying as little as possible and using natural and logical consequences that are related, reasonable and respectful (thanks to Jane Nelsen for the Three Rs of natural and logical consequences).


Bully-proof parenting — for life.

March 7, 2011

The trouble with positive parenting is it takes longer than the quick-and-dirty methods of reward and punishment, manipulating, bribery and praise. These are mild to extreme forms of bullying a child into doing what we want.

And do we really want to raise automatons who will work for money and avoid punishment? Or do we want to learn how to motivate children from the inside out?

More patience, finesse and planning are required to use family meetings, encouragement, family dinner and chores, and natural and logical consequences to allow toddlers, school-age, tweens and teenagers to learn to make good decisions.

Parenting is THE most difficult, challenging and rewarding task most of us will do in our lifetime, with the longest lasting consequences. It requires time and more patience than I ever thought I’d have. Parents are establishing the foundation for a person,  and a relationship with that person, for life.

And look how many of us do it — by being too strict or too lenient, and through manipulation that is unrelated to what’s going on.

If you constantly use time-out, withholding electronic/gaming time, financial incentives, and grounding, you are using your power, size and strength to quickly manipulate your child/teen into behaving as you want him to. This will bankrupt your relationship in the long run and demonstrate to your child that bullying works.

When I learned positive parenting skills, I was sceptical that encouragement, family meetings and natural and logical consequences would get my kids to do what I wanted.

Those strategies didn’t always get the kids to do what I wanted.

However, they provided the oil to make our family machine hum with positive energy, love, humor, teamwork and patience. It laid the groundwork to nurture their self-confidence, self-esteem and develop independent people who make good decisions and with whom I have a good relationship with now that they’re in their 20s. Giving up reward and punishment and praise changed our relationship for life.

Our relationship is not perfect. I was not the perfect parent. If such things exist, please contact me!

Meanwhile, go to my free tip sheets on encouragement and family meetings. Buy my book , read it. Get your spouse to read it and start using the techniques. Learn and use the Three Rs of natural and logical consequences from Jane Nelsen, Ph.D. — Related, Respectful and Reasonable.

This is bully preventing, non-violent parenting. It takes time and planning. You can do it.

Encouragement is the fuel that powers children, tweens & teens

February 10, 2011

“A misbehaving child is a discouraged child,” and “A child needs encouragement like a plant needs water,” according to Rudolf Dreikurs, MD, an Austrian physician and child-whisperer.

When yelling, punishment and bullying my children failed, I started to read Dreikurs’ book, “Children, the Challenge,” published in 1960 with Vicki Soltz, RN.

It took months, even years, for me to experience how encouragement led to improved behavior and a more positive mother-child relationship.

Encouragement is preventative maintenance that is different from praise. Encouragement is like an apple; praise is like candy.

Apples — good for you, not too sweet, versatile, store well, natural, un-processed.

Candy — not so good for you, so sweet you can get a headache, a treat, gets stale, processed and usually laden with high fructose corn syrup and artificial preservatives and colorings.

A little praise every once in a while is okay. Daily overdoses of praise will give a child a headache, set up unrealistic expectations and teach her to perform for parents.

“Molly, I’m so proud of you for getting an A on that test!” Oh yeah, here’s another problem with praise. It can only be given after success. Encouragement is so potent that it can be given after failure.

“Alicia, You must be disappointed you didn’t make the travel soccer team. Do you want to sign up for a soccer camp or try another sport? You can also play town soccer.”

“Brian, these lemon squares are good. It doesn’t matter that you combined the topping and the crust. It’s hard to hurt homemade food. Can I have another one?”

“Alexa, you put away half of that mess you left in the family room. Good start. Do you need some help with the rest?”

Can you see that encouragement is specific and focused on the deed, not the doer. Praise is general and high-energy. Encouragement is low-key.

Some of my coaching clients report that their children cannot tolerate praise. They feel uncomfortable and mis-behave within 10 minutes after a sticky-sweet praise-ful overkill: “I’m so proud of you for finishing your homework before dinner.” Children and especially teens, don’t like to be seen as too good.

Children with ADD and ADHD can especially benefit from regular doses of encouragement, especially because encouragement acknowledges effort. Children with ADD/ADHD can also suffer from low self-esteem as a side-effect of their disorder.

Encouragement is a solid sustainable way to nurture a child’s self-esteem and promote the behavior you want to see in a youngster. It takes time and effort to learn and use. See my tip sheet on it.

I’ll be giving two workshops on Encouragement and ADD/ADHD Youngsters next week. Tuesday Feb. 15 at Roudenbush Community Center in Westford, Mass. and Thursday, Feb. 17 in Concord-Carlisle Adult Education. Both start at 7 pm and are in the Boston, Mass. area.

The how and why of encouragement is worth reviewing regularly and practicing daily. Hope to see you at a workshop.

By the way, “thank you” is a powerful form of encouragement. Just witnessing children is encouragement. Encouragement is just as potent when used on adults and in the workplace. It’s very versatile.

Parenting is all about relationship

February 7, 2011
Relationship, parenting about, teens, tweens, kids, children, preschoolers, toddlers, positive discipline make a huge difference in parenting. The way to have a happy relationship on vacation and at home is by mutual respect, family meetings, encouragement, and natural and logicla consequences.

It's had to capture the beauty of St. John Virgin Islands. This is our group hiking up Ram's Head.

My life changed drastically when I had three children in three-and-a-half years. Their needs overtook everything. I started on the steep path of learning how to set limits and establish a relationship with them — for life.

It has been the biggest challenge of my life  — that started out badly. I bullied them with  my superior size,  strength and anger. Yes, anger. Parenting brings out extreme emotions — from unconditional love to frustration and despair. The challenge is how to manage our own emotions and to learn positive ways to influence kids’ and teenagers’ behavior.

I’ve just returned from a week in St. John Virgin Islands [WOW!] with my husband and 13  fellow Sierra Club members. Our happiness depended on mutual respect and a sense of humor. From the start, the leader encouraged us to give her feedback about how the trip was going.  We had a great time hiking, kayaking, snorkeling, eating, and sharing our common love of nature. Mutual respect, communication, laughter and common interests made the week a smashing success.

Are the lines of communication open in your home? What activities and passions do your family share? Do you set aside time to regularly cook, eat, meet, play and work together? Do you know your priorities?

Is your relationship with your kids, tweens and teens based on 

  1. mutual respect, encouragement and open communication or 

  3. manipulation, bribery, praise, punishment and reward?

 If you influence your children’s behavior by number 2, vacations and daily life may be rife with strife. Your children may be focused on revenge, rebellion and resentment.

 It takes time, energy and attention to learn positive parenting skills. It’s much faster to manipulate, bribe, praise, punish and reward kids, and create a relationship doomed to fail.

Start this week with a family meeting (see free tip sheet and my book, Raising Able), which brings together every aspect of positive parenting and setting up a healthy relationship with your children for life — a critical investment.

Act, don’t Yak

January 26, 2011

Matthew, 4, started to bang on a stainless steel trash can while his 18 month old brother was sleeping. Mom says, “Matt, stop it.”

Matt continues to bang the trash can. Mom says again, “Matt, please stop it, now.”

Matt continues to bang the trash can. Mom says, “Matt, if you bang on the trash can, you’re going to wake the baby.”

Matt continues to bang the trash can. Mom offers an incentive. “I’ll give you a star if you quit banging the trash can.”

Matt continues to bang the trash can, smiling. Mom yells, “Stop banging that trash can now! You cannot play on the computer today, young man.”

Matt bangs the can again. “You’re on time-out, mister!” Mom drags Matt upstairs to his room, where he uses his “water power” to get even and has an “accident.”  Tears are another form of water power.

Mom feels hopeless and defeated.

Mom could have evaded the whole scenario at the first bang on the can by putting the trash can out of Matt’s reach. Immediately, without words. Then she could say, “Let’s read a book together and have some quiet time.”

The power struggle is defused. Mom and Matt feel better. Matt receives positive attention at a neutral time. They develop a positive relationship and avoid power struggles.

Mom can consider a long-term solution and replace the trash can or keep it out of his reach. We dog-proofed our trash can because the dog does not understand words. She has little self-control when something smells really good in the trash. Matt enjoyed the power and attention of banging the trash can and like the dog, had little self-control. 

“But I feel like moving the can or buying a new trash can is like giving in to Matt,” Mom said. The only winners and losers in power struggles are the participants. What is the cost to their relationship to carry on?

To avoid a power struggle, Act, Don’t Yak, coined by Dr. Sam Goldstein.  Children under age 5 can be managed by following three guidelines.

  1. Take action and use fewer words — before getting angry. Action prevents and eliminates conflict.
  2. Be kind and firm when setting limits. Healthy boundaries make children feel safe. Being kind and firm makes everyone feel better.
  3. Temper expectations.  A young child needs practice to master self-control. They are able to reason at age 7. Follow numbers one and two to help them develop self-control and reasoning.

Staying out of power struggles means parents don’t have to bully children into making better behavior choices. Parents feel bad when they resort to bullying behavior — intimidation, and using size and strength. Bully proof your family through positive parenting.

Shovel snow together and shovel away danger

January 24, 2011
There's an inverse relationship between bullying and a teens, tweens or child's relationshp to parents and adults. Children, kids, tweens, and teens are more susceptible to being bullies or being bullied when they have a weakened tie to parents. Chores are an excellent modality for parents to connect with children and teens and tweens and give them structure. Chores, like shovelling snow, teach self discipline, teamwork and nurtures self esteem. This shot was taken after Boston, Mass. got 41 inches of snow for the season in January. In Massachusetts, that's a lot of snow.
The family that shovels snow together is connected — insurance against many youth maladies.

My son Ian and I spent a few hours clearing snow from the driveway and moving wood from the woodpile to outside the back door. I multitasked: I got the chores done; got exercise; and connected with my son.

Chores provide opportunities for children, tweens and teens to work on a family team, even if the team is two people — mother and son. Relying on children, tweens and teens to contribute to the common good teaches young people:
  • * they are valued and have something to contribute;
  • * self-discipline;
  • * self-esteem;
  • * skills;
  • * a work ethic: and
  • * sometimes they have to do something they just don’t feel like.
One of the benefits to doing chores is the connection created between  kids and adults. This attachment can prevent a child from many dangers, including becoming a bully or from getting bullied according to “Hold onto your Kids: Why parents need to matter more than peers” by Gordon Neufeld, Ph.D. and Dr. Gabor Mate.
The book  gives examples of how children, tweens and teens who are attached to their parents are better off in myriad ways. They are less likely to become bullies or victims. They are more healthy emotionally.
One thing I found most interesting is that when a tween or teens is considered “Cool” they are cut off from their emotions –a precarious way to live. It’s more healthy to admit futility by breaking down into tears. There is much in life that can’t be changed. Crying in futility is healthy and normal. Sometimes I use this therapy myself.
Neufeld described a story in which he was interviewed on TV with parents who had lost a child to suicide after being bullied, and with a mother and her daughter who came home from school every day for three months in tears about bullying. 
Afterward, the host  of the show asked Neufeld if the girl was at risk of suicide. Quite the opposite. Her tears over the futility of the situation were healthy. She was alive. The others had perished without a word to their parents, who didn’t know anything was awry. She had an emotional lifeline to her mother.
Take the time and effort to use family meals, chores and family meetings to stay connected to your children, tweens and teens. Not only will you have a clean driveway at the end of the day and your kids will know how to cook and clean, you’ll have a resilient skilled young person who is connected to you —  insurance against many maladies.

Use the crate when dogs and kids make bad choices

January 17, 2011
This is Lily in her crate, which she likes because she is contained. She gets a break. The crate is like a playpen -- it's safe place to go where you can play and not get into trouble. You can lie down take a nap and no one will bother you. You know what is expected of you. It can be a relief to go in there because it limits your choices. It's safe. Dog Crates and baby playpens are useful when TRaining Dogs and children to behave and to learn discipline. Toddlers, preschoolers, school-age, tweens, and teens can benefit from the "playpen" of their rooms. They can feel safe and contained. Sometimes they need to be restrained and have some time to think about their behavior. Sometimes parents need a break.

Lily goes to her crate voluntarily. It's like a playpen for a toddler or a teen's room. It's her space, a place no one can bother her, and she's safe. A crate is a wonderful place for a puppy.

I believe in using containment when training dogs and children. When Lily the puppy chews on a plant, I crate her with a chew toy. When a toddler puts a fork in an outlet, he goes into the playpen.  “Act, don’t Yak!”  [Dr. Sam Goldstein]  Dogs and children of all ages respond to action. They tune out lectures.

Dogs and tots-to-teens can benefit from containment in a crate, playpen or bedroom. They feel safe in their space. It provides contemplation time for parents and young people.

Even though I shepherded four teenagers through adolescence, I never grounded them as punishment. I did shorten their leash when they made poor choices. I didn’t let them use my car except to get to work.  I said, “You can have your friends over here while I am home” or “You can stay home with us tonight and watch ‘Lassie’ ” or another G-rated movie.

The trouble with grounding and using violent punishment to train a dog or child —  like yelling, berating, belittling and hitting  — is that it breeds revenge, resentment and rebellion. It shows children and dogs that bullying works to get others to do what you want. I used to think children had to feel pain and be punished to learn. I was wrong. They have to feel consequences to learn, but they don’t have to be violent.

Positive discipline always looks for the three Rs — related-respectful-reasonable  [Jane Nelsen Ph.D.] — in a natural or logical consequence. It works for dogs and humans. When Lily doesn’t come when she’s called, she gets put on the leash because she has demonstrated she can’t be trusted.

When young people show they can’t be trusted, their leash gets shortened. They must stay closer to home, in their room or playpen, where they can re-group and feel contained.

Dogs and kids both respond to encouragement, kindness, firmness and consistency. Children and dogs both want to please. When parents bully, children and dogs become bitter and mean. Then they feel hurt and want to hurt back their parents. They can become bullies and/or victims.

When Lily makes a good decision, I shower her with “good dog!” and lots of petting. Tots-to-teens respond to encouragement, too. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a good reminder to work on non-violent parenting skills. Parents, dogs and children can be trained in non-violent discipline.