Archive for the ‘Jane Nelsen’ category

The anti-drug abuse: Family connection

February 13, 2012
Drug abuse is the biggest fears for parents who want to do the best for teens, tweens, adolescents, teenagers and young people. Good parenting is all about connection and setting up a positive parent-child relationship from early childhood on. Drug addition for teens and tweens and teenagers is one of the most dreaded outcomes of childhood. Discipline doesn't always work nor does punishment. Family dinner, family meetings, encouragement, mutual respect and cause and effect are the best ways for children to learn to mature and develop good judgment.

The cause of death for Whitney Houston is unknown. Drug abuse and addiction were among her demons, a tragic by-product of success and fame.

Did Whitney Houston feel like anyone loved her for being HER? Would they still love her if she was penniless and unknown? Who could she turn to for unconditional love, when she felt alone, scared and inadequate?

Drug abuse and suicide ranked high on my list of fears for my children. Kids with depression sometimes self-medicate with drug and alcohol abuse. Some carry the burden of depression alone, weighed down in shame, loneliness and lack of connection to an adult.

The best defense against drug/alcohol abuse is a good offense: Prevention. This takes time and attention over decades. YES decades. Parenting is not for the weak or faint-hearted. We hold a vision for what we want our kids to become for a long time. We must follow up with diligence and vigilance.

The actions to stay connected to kids are simple, and you probably already know them. They bear repeating because parenting is about repetition, day after day.

  • TIME. Do you spend time regularly with your kids, one-on-one and as a family? Having fun together will connect your family forever. Fun can be as simple as playing Candyland, ping-pong or Wii followed by a dish of ice cream from your freezer. Or a candy bar. Simple, cheap, readily available fun.
  • LOVE. This means accepting your children as they are. For example, my daughter Kristen is an art major. “Mom, you’re a good art parent because you don’t ask I’m going to get a real major to make money,” she says. I accept her vision for her life, even if I disagree.
  • LIMITS. We are the guard rails on our kids’ bridge of life. The guard rails have to be reasonable, related and respectful (Three Rs-Jane Nelsen, Ph.D.). If a child acts up in a restaurant, instead of “No video games for a week!” (totally unrelated), offer a quiet warning, “Your actions are showing you might not be able to stay in the restaurant. It’s up to you. We can leave now if that’s what you need.” The second might “punish” parents who have to open a can of soup at home. Do it anyway because such a response is respectful, related and reasonable. The kids will either straighten up or choose to behave better next time.

Parents can regularly dispense time, love and limits like a good habit. Family meetings, family dinner, family chores and the language of encouragement provide structure to connect positively with your children.

Studies show that regular family meals and family connection are the best prevention to drug/alcohol abuse and to promote good judgment. Use the first decade to establish a strong connection and maintain it through adolescence, even under protest.

If you have tweens and teens, you can set up structures to spend time together. Start with a family meeting and ask them how and when they want to spend time together as a family and one-on-one. Make sure kids have a turn at conducting the family meeting. See my

Everything starts at home

August 1, 2011
kids on vacation, related, reasonable, respectful, discipline, children and discipline, how to teach kids discipline, disciplining tweens teens and family. kids on vacation, how to have fun on vacation

The young man in the front in the khaki shorts and his parents behind are enjoying a whale watch. Notice what's in his hand, ready for transmission. Like many kids his age, he has a constant electronic companion. He can be commended for knowing how to sit quietly, a good skill to have when on a boat, in a car, airplane or at church.

Parents quickly show their family management skills on vacation, when there’s an audience, new situations and the pressure to have fun because it’s vacation.

Good parenting starts at home when there’s no audience, familiar surroundings and nowhere special to go. That’s called choosing a good time for “training,” an old-fashioned word to teach the child about the rules of the world.

Here are some of the rules of the world:

  1. You can’t always have your way.
  2. If you behave recklessly, you can get hurt, hurt others, or even die.
  3. Sometimes you need to be able to sit down, be quiet and wait.
  4. Life is easier when you can get along with other people.
  5. When you’re tired, rest. When you’re hungry, eat.

When I started coaching one of my clients, call her Jenn, with six children in a blended family, she couldn’t take her gang out in public. When she started practicing positive discipline on a consistent basis at home, things changed. She learned a few simple habits.

  • Act, don’t yak (Dr. Sam Goldstein) — which means take action before you get mad.
  • Let kids work things out as much as possible so they can learn to get along with each other.
  • Allow natural consequences to happen — such as you have to swim in your shorts if you forget your swimsuit.
  • Make logical consequences for misbehavior related, reasonable and respectful (Dr. Jane Nelsen’s 3 Rs) That means if they won’t put away their iPhone during the whale watch like you agreed upon in advance at the family meeting, it will be taken away for a week. It doesn’t mean that if you won’t clean up your room, your iPhone will be taken away for a week.

Can you see how the first is related, respectful and reasonable and the second is not?

Kids feel safe with boundaries. When Jenn goes out in public with her gang now she immediately sets boundaries before the kids push for them. Good parenting is about constantly and consistently setting boundaries. It requires self-discipline!

Kids like regular food and rest, which can be compromised by vacation. They and you won’t be at your best when you push too hard and do too much. Kids are easily pleased. It’s adults who feel guilty and restless when they can’t provide trips to Disney, Hawaii and Aspen. Kids can be thrilled to spend an afternoon fishing at the local pond with Dad or Mom showing them how to bait the line, sit still, enjoy the great outdoors and be with each other.

I swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth

July 25, 2011
The truth can be hidden behind a veil. Kids and lying is a touchy subject. Getting kids, tweens and teens to tell the truth is really hard. What to do when you kid lies is a very complex problem. You have to start by nipping lying in the bud. You don't want to be suspicious of your child and constantly accusing him or her of lying. children and lying is a problem. telling the truth can be modeled. Parents and families can use "honesty is the best policy."

The truth is sometimes hidden behind a veil. Pull back the veil gently to get at the truth and teach your children to tell the truth.

“We always knew we were in trouble when Mom or Dad called us into the office,” said my son Noah, now 27. Our 4 kids got summoned behind closed doors for serious offenses: lying, stealing, violating safe driving agreements and other character issues.
We, the parents, had to manage our emotions. If called to the office, we had time to gather evidence, quell the anger and disappointment and follow the three Rs of natural and logical consequences [Thanks to Jane Nelsen Ph.D.]. So the consequence is not a masqueraded punishment, it must be reasonable, related and respectful.
The second objective was to preserve the parent-child relationship. We had to ask, “How must s/he feel in order for them to do what we want?” Answer: kids must not feel resentful, rebellious or revengeful — the fallout after punishment.
Does this make sense? Let’s use those concepts to deal with lying. Follow these 7 steps when you suspect your child has lied.
  1. Manage your emotions! After you calm down, take them somewhere private. Do not force a confession. Say, “It looks to me like you might not have told the truth.” Describe the situation and listen to them. If they don’t deny it, keep going.
  2. State your feelings. “When you lie,”I feel disappointed. I feel like I can’t trust you, and trust is really important. I feel upset and sad. This hurts our relationship, and our relationship is the most important thing to me. I tell the truth to people I care about.” This step will have the most impact on your children, tweens and teens and get them to stop lying.
  3. Ask open-ended questions: “Do you like me to tell you the truth? How does it feel to you when someone lies to you?”
  4. Make statements/tell stories. “When I was caught lying to my parents about XYZ, this happened, and I really learned my lesson that honesty is the best policy.”
  5. Encourage them.” I know you can tell the truth, even when it hurts.”
  6. Don’t say: “You can do better.” This is very discouraging. describe the behavior you want, and encourage it.
  7. Model telling the truth — even when it hurts or is inconvenient. If parents lie, kids will too. Act, don’t Yak.

At some point, most children will lie to parents. It might be save face, avoid disappointment or punishment. Parents don’t have to punish every bad act.

A coaching client with six kids said in front of her older kids, ages 7 to 12, “Oh no! $100 is missing from my purse. That money was for Christmas presents. Has anyone seen it? I really need that money.” One of the kids quickly “found” it without incident or punishment. She was relieved because stealing was a problem that undermined family trust.

Put “telling the truth” on the family meeting agenda and talk more about it. Don’t flip out when your tot, child, tween or teenager lies to you. It could be out of self-protection or fear. You can deal with it calmly, kindly and firmly.

Successful family vacations start at home

July 5, 2011

family Vacation is a wonderful time to spend together. It brings out how you are parenting. Have you taken time to set respectful boundaries? Do you know how to communicate, motivate and manage them? This boy is having fun on a boogie board. The family is used to doing things together. Family Vacations can be stressful if the family is poorly managed“Vacation” can be a misnomer for parents because we bring our work with us. Changing the environment can be a distraction and add stress, especially if there’s an audience of family and/or friends. And the pressure is on to have fun.

Having a great vacation starts at home with a positive family management system. Family vacations will be smoother when families practice the basics.

1. Have regular family meetings. Before a vacation, we used family meetings to set expectations, share suggestions on what to do and where to go, and how to manage logistics. We often started vacations with a family meeting to set boundaries — like no swimming alone; to plan activities; and to figure out how to contribute so Mom and Dad are not the valets and cooks for the week.

2. Let kids work it out. Start the practice of encouraging children/tweens/teens to work out their problems by saying, “I know you can work it out.” Or say, “You sound really angry about X. Put it on the family meeting agenda. We’ll talk about it later.” (When emotions have cooled.) Your  children/step-children/cousins/friends can work out most problems. It’s good for them to work it out. They may find out that fighting hurts. In the long run, they will be closer and you will be calmer. There will be less fighting, not more.

3. Set kind firm and consistent boundaries. Kids like routine, regularity and fairness. Parents must constantly set boundaries at home and on vacation. Doing it nicely with their input makes a big difference. Once you have set the boundaries, act don’t yak [Dr. Sam Goldstein]. This one guideline will eliminate at least half of all parental yelling and frustration. Use natural and logical consequences that are reasonable, related and respectful [3 Rs from Jane Nelsen, Ph.D., Positive Discipline].

4. Give positive attention at neutral times. Don’t make them misbehave or aggravate their siblings in order to get your undivided attention. Just witnessing them is extremely important.

5. Practice the art of encouragement and building a positive relationship based on seeing what they do well. Saying “thank you” and appreciating small things go a long way to connect with your child — the best investment you can make.

Successful vacations have three components: anticipation, the actual vacation, and looking back on the vacation. Time spent on holiday is only one-third of a great vacation. Start now by having a family meeting and following the five guidelines so you can incorporate positive parenting at home every day and bring it on vacation, when you’ll need it.

Taking care of something else is good for the soul

April 25, 2011
Taking care of pets is an excellent chore for children. Children and pets teach self-discipline because pets need daily care. Taking care of pets teaches children responsibility because it must be done every day, whether they feel like it or not. Here, my husband and teenage daughter are washing the dog. They're also learning teamwork here. The water is SO COLD when they rinse her off.
Gonzo the dog gets a good cleaning from a father-daughter team.

Gardening can be good for the soul according to research reported by the Boston Globe today. Scientists figured out that digging in the dirt, planting seeds, weeding and even watering a jade plant is good for young and old patients in a hospital.

I think the patients feel better because they’re doing something worthwhile. Most people in hospitals are receiving treatment. They’re passive. They don’t do anything for anyone else. Gardening gets them out of that rut.
Gardening provides a plethora of regular chores, as does pet care. A human being must keep plants and pets alive or else they will die. Call it chores, jobs, work, gardening or pet care. Call it anything you like. Just set up a system for your children — starting as early as age 2 — to contribute to the greater good of the family.
Have a family meeting. Make a list of everything you do around the house and have them do the same. Compare the two lists of very different lengths! Ask the youngsters what they would like to do around the house to get some of the chores off your list and onto theirs.
Get someone to take notes. Record the jobs the children volunteer for, and post it on the refrigerator. Make sure you ask them by what time and date they will complete the jobs. Then parents must follow through with as few words and NO nagging. Point to the job that needs doing. Leave notes — “This toilet stinks.” Ask questions. Take action or don’t act.
For example, if a child neglects to set the table after one request, put the meal down on the table, sit down and wait for the utensils and plates to appear. If a child neglects to feed the dog after a question, “Did you feed Gonzo today?” Say without sarcasm, “Gonzo must be awfully hungry today.” And leave it at that.
Act, don’t yak (source: Dr. Sam Goldstein). These three words are useful in many areas of parenting.  Get off your duff and take action. Restrain or remove. Parents have the responsibility to teach accountability. It’s not easy. It takes time, patience and follow through using the magic of kindness and firmness.