Archive for the ‘natural and logical consequences’ category

Homework hassles, headaches and happiness

February 18, 2013

Homework is the source of great angst between parents and children. Take the example of John, 8, and Mom (names changed to protect the real people).

John, 8, is highly intelligent with many behavioral issues and learning disabilities. “When he wants to, John can do his homework in a snap,” says Mom. “When he’s at school, under supervision, he can do it in a snap.”

Well, then, what happens at home? We parents get snared in the complex web of parent-child emotions, power sharing, and time management.

Here are suggestions to give your children the opportunity to learn responsibility through trial and error, free parents from this onerous task, and free up time and energy for positive parent-child time.

Q: Whose problem is homework?

A: The child is responsible for homework. The hare-brained schools that assign homework to children younger than third grade assign parents homework, setting up the bad habit of making homework a parent’s problem.

Unfortunately, until your child is in third grade, parents must share the responsibility. From third grade and up, schools have excellent structures in place for miscreants and parents can step back.

Q: How do parents encourage children to do homework?

A: Put “homework” on a family meeting agenda. At a quiet, neutral time when everyone is in the problem-solving mode, say, “Let’s talk about homework. When is the best time for you to do homework? Where would you like to do homework? What role do you want mom/dad to take in homework? I will expect you to ask for help if needed.”

You get the idea. Talk about it. LISTEN to their suggestions. Decide on a plan. Implement the plan for at least a week, to show you respect them, take them seriously and expect them to take on homework as their problem. Expect three weeks to learn the new habit.

At the family meeting, say, “I’m going to let you [kids] take on this responsibility. I will support you however you need it. Let’s follow your suggestions for this week and we’ll meet again to talk about how things are going.”

You are now promoted to “consultant,” not a parent, homework cop or nag.

Q: How to follow through?

A: You must allow time for children to learn new habits, for them to realize that you are serious, not just “trying” something new.

YOU MUST BE PREPARED to allow them to fail. To ignore their decisions that might cause them to miss a homework assignment. 

Schools have built-in structures for students who do not complete homework assignments. Allow your child to make decisions about when and where to do homework, or not, and allow him/her to feel the cause and effect of his/her decisions.

Q: How can I allow my child to fail to turn in homework?

A: Perhaps you’re reading this blog in desperation, exhausted from struggling with homework every day. Let it go. Think of the valuable lessons you have learned through mistakes and failure. Do not deny your child this opportunity to learn cause and effect.

Keep reading, unless you want to continue to go crazy by forcing kids to do homework on your terms.

Q: How do I motivate my children to do homework, without nagging?

A: Daniel Pink, author of “Drive: the surprising truth behind what motivates us,” says humans are motivated by three things: Mastery, autonomy and purpose. Notice what’s not in the top three: money, recess, good grades, or pleasing parents. Money, according to Pink, is the lowest form of motivation.

Mastery means to feel good about doing something. Autonomy translates to freedom. Purpose means that there’s a reason to do something, which could be to avoid punishment. True motivation comes from within. It’s your job to nurture it through mastery, autonomy and purpose.

Q: What will other parents and teachers think and feel about me?

A: Most other parents will be jealous that you’re no longer going crazy over homework every day, and that you can use the time and energy to connect with your child in a positive way. Teachers will understand, especially if you privately mention your new stance. Ask him/her for support for a few weeks until your child learns the new habit of taking responsibility and choosing when and where to do homework.

Teachers and parents can recognize school projects completed by parents, not children. Your kids’ efforts will be more realistic and rough around the edges. They can feel the mastery, autonomy and purpose from doing projects independently.

Q: Am I totally absolved from my kids’ homework?

A: No. You are a consultant. You will ask questions, provide encouragement, and guide them to make good decisions. If your child does not complete a homework assignment and gets punished at school, do not inflict additional punishment at home. Let him/her handle school, where experts know what children are capable of.

I like to share with parents a list of famous high school dropouts. School isn’t for everyone. There are alternatives, like the General Equivalency Diploma, home schooling, charter schools and community college for older teens. Academic success is a child’s choice, not a parents’ demand. Unless you want them to work for your praise.

Remember that childhood is a process of letting go, of transferring power and responsibility from your side of the seesaw, when you do everything, to the child’s side of the seesaw, when they take over responsibility and power for their lives. Homework is an excellent example of a safe place they can experiment with power, success, failure, mastery, autonomy and purpose. They can take on this responsibility.

See more in my book, “Raising Able: How chores empower families”  [available on Amazon in print and Kindle] on family meetings and encouragement, the most potent ways to foster everything you want your child to do and become in life, and establish a positive lifelong connection.

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Raising Able Workshops this week

January 21, 2012

Come and get it — get a dose of positive parenting this week by Raising Able at these locations.

Act Don’t Yak – how to cut the yelling in half. Monday, Jan. 23, 7-9 pm at Roudenbush Community Center. $25. Call to register 978-692-5511 or go online.

“Do I have to?” How chores teach the priceless gift of self-discipline. Wednesday, Jan. 25, FREE at the Pollard Middle School 200 Harris Avenue, Needham. 7-9 p.m. Sponsored by the Needham Women’s Club.

Act Don’t Yak — how to cut the yelling in half. Thursday, Jan. 26, Harvard, Mass. Community Education, 7-9 pm. Email jcavanaugh@psharvard.org to register. $25.

Hope to see you at some of these workshops this week. Repetition helps when learning new habits. Bring a spouse or friend, ready to laugh as you learn.

5 positive parenting resolutions for 2012

January 2, 2012
Act Don't Yak from "Dr. Sam Goldstein" is a fundamental principle for happy families. If you have a behavior problem with your toddler, preschooler, school age, tween , teen, teenager or adolescent, acting not yakking is a positive parenting resolution for 2012. You can do it. start with baby steps.
Act Don’t Yak is an easy-to-follow 2012 resolution.

NOTE: Join us at a Positive Parenting Seminar, “Act Don’t Yak” on Monday Jan. 9, 2012, 7-9 pm in Littleton. Click here for info.

“It’s so hard to make new habits,” parents say in my parenting seminars and private practice. It’s true — ANY new habit is challenging to establish and maintain.

Think of a habit as a groove on a record — yes, an old-fashioned LP. When you are stuck in a groove, the record keeps getting deeper as it replays itself. Parents sound like a broken record when they threaten, punish, praise, reward and spank. These negative parenting practices do NOT develop long-term good decision making, and they erode a parent-child relationship.

Take the lead from your kids and start with small steps. Rotate practicing one of the habits each week for three months. Write them out on index cards or 8 x 11 sheets as in the photo at left, and post them on your bathroom mirror as a reminder. They are deceptive simple, extremely effective and will bring results for tots-to-teens.

1. Have regular family meetings to connect, communicate, share the load of housework, empower children, and practice mutual respect. Set the goal of having them weekly, every-other-week or monthly. They create the foundation for everything you want your family and child to be.

2. Act don’t yak [Dr. Sam Goldstein]. This one habit can transform your family communication from horrendous to harmonious. Stop threatening, yelling and repeating. Say it ONCE and then take action. This applies to kids of all ages. Otherwise kids tune parents out and become mother-dear and father-deaf.

3. Be kind, firm and consistent. No one is perfect in this department. However, you can learn new language. “I’m sorry Brittany. I know you’d like to me to give you money to buy that XYZ. Remember at the family meeting we agreed that you would use your allowance to buy such things? I’m sure you can save up for it.”

4. Learn the art of encouragement, also known as constructive praise. GIVE UP using “I’m so proud of you,” which creates external motivation and can only be used after success. Start saying, “Well done! How do you feel about it?” “Look at what you did. Tell me about it.” Encouragement can be given after failure. Ask, “What did you learn?” “What would you differently next time?” Give them courage to try again and cultivate intrinsitic motivation.

5. Use natural and logical consequences that follow the three Rs-   Related, Reasonable and Respectful [Dr. Jane Nelsen]. Otherwise your kids will resort to the negative three Rs– Resentment, Rebellion and Revenge. These get uglier and more dangerous as children mature into teens and have more freedom.

See free tip sheets on encouragement, natural and logical consequences and family meetings, or order the book for reinforcement.

These positive parenting practices are built on a foundation of mutual respect — where everyone has rights and responsibilities and is treated with dignity. Mistakes are looked upon as opportunities to grow and learn NOT as reasons to punish. Accomplishments, pride and new skills belong to a young person — NOT to parents.

You can do it. Start small. Encourage yourself by noticing progress. Any progress is improvement. Comments always welcomed.

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).

Help! My child is the bully!

November 28, 2011
setting limits for kids who are out of control. Discipline is about relating their behavior to children's and teen's decisions. Good parenting and positive parenting are about being kind firm and consistent. Parents can encourage accountability to children by using this book. Schools can encourage misbehaving kids who are discipline problems by reading the book "Schools where everyone belongs" by Stan Davis and Julia Davis. School bullies can learn to change their behavior when principals use this book. Bullying can be ended at schools by "Schools where everyone belongs."
This book has ideas for educators and parents for children who are regularly  in trouble at school.

Perhaps you saw it over Thanksgiving — a child running wild with no limits set by parents. Perhaps it was your kid who was out of control and you feel guilty, ashamed and don’t know where to turn.

Positive parenting can be learned. It’s all about how we set a limit and let children make their own decisions. I really like the approach in”Schools Where Everyone Belongs,” by Stan Davis, with his daughter Julia Davis, who write about how to eliminate bullying behavior at schools. They emphasize the power of encouragement, guiding children to write and reflect on how their behavior impacts others, the importance of adults keeping a positive and neutral tone, and how to come up with a plan for adults and children.

For example, when a kid is sent to the office and avoids taking responsibility for his/her behavior, the adult in charge asks, “What did you do?” and “What was wrong with that?” Kids don’t always own up to their behavior. If kids are reluctant to acknowledge what they did in the “reflection room,”  the adult can say, “Are you saying you’re not ready to do this today? You can do it in detention tomorrow instead.”

This approach is so much more effective and respectful than pronouncing, “I’m giving you another detention tomorrow!” which will come across as punishment, and can lead to resentment, rebellion and revenge. And you still haven’t achieved your goal of guiding the child to make better decisions.

Parents can learn from this constructive approach to better manage our emotions [usually anger and frustration] and to empower children to make choices and live with the outcome.

Maybe your child is the bully. This book will give you great ideas on how to handle him/her at home, what questions to ask to encourage reflection, and what you can say and do. Bullies are usually regular visitors to the school principal, so buy this book and give it to your kids’ school principal.

Back-to-school 2: Empowerment through responsibility

September 12, 2011
First day of school polish and shine. How to get kids to succeed in school is complex and starts with chores in massachusetts and boston. Children who have chores learn self-discipline. Children with chores know how to manage time and succeed in school. Homework is a child's problem and responsibility. It allows them to learn how to manage their time and duties. Don't take it on as your problem. Allow natural and logical consequences to happen. Children can learn from failure. Encourage them. Use family meetings.  "Alfred Adler" would approve.
Ah, the polish of the first day of school.

One day in the supermarket, Eric’s mother asked me, “How’s Noah’s diorama coming?” My truthful answer was, “I have no idea.” Noah and Eric were in fifth grade. Noah’s diorama was his homework, not mine.

By third grade, most typical kids can handle their own homework. The more parents can step back and allow children to take responsibility and experience success AND failure, the more children learn about time management.

I’m the ultimate free-range parent and could have probably been a tad bit more involved. But I can’t argue with success. My “kids,” now 23 to 30 years old, can manage jobs, school, time and money. They live independently and call home, but rarely for money. We have a good adult-to-adult relationship.
It started at home, with family meetings, family dinner, family chores and encouragement. Doing a few simple regular chores at home gives kids an introduction to self-discipline — which is doing things whether we feel like it or not.
Kids will never complete chores and homework up to our high standards. Do you anyone who has lived up to his/her full potential?
Our job is to encourage children, tweens and teens to take baby steps towards taking on the responsibility for their lives — including homework.
Use a family meeting to talk about homework and the morning routine. Set out the expectation that typical kids age 9 and up can manage their school responsibilities with your help as needed. Give every school-age student their own alarm clock [or two if more noise is needed] so they can rouse themselves in the morning.
Here’s the kicker. Allow them to fail. Yes. I repeat, allow failure. Think about how many times you have learned from success, and how much failure it took to get to that success. You had to develop the courage [the root of encouragement] to try again until you succeeded.
Schools have systems in place to deal with students who don’t complete homework. Allowing children, tweens and teens to experience the consequences at school of failing to do homework. Small stumbles at school. even failing a high school course, will never show up on their resume. Yet failure teaches children how to take responsibility and do what they’re supposed to do without nagging, begging, bribery, threats or punishment, which will make them a star on the job.
Letting them handle schoolwork will build mutual respect and enhance the parent-child connection because you trust and encourage them, eliminate nagging, and only interfere when they show they need help.

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.