Archive for the ‘related, respectful and reasonable’ 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).

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.

Mirror mirror on the wall

June 9, 2011
Parents are about the only people responsible for their child's behavior. Their children mirror back their parenting style. The most effective way to solve a discipline problem for a toddler, preschooler, school age, child, tween or teen or teenager is to change the parents behavior. My book Raising Able will give many great ideas on how to solve common discipline problems, which usually stem from the parents.
When our three little children reflected our poor parenting skills, it was motivation to learn positive parenting skills. I found out that I WAS THE PROBLEM .

Do you have a problem child? A difficult discipline problem? A toddler, child, tween or teenager who regularly challenges, aggravates and frustrates you?

I can relate. I had three children in 3.5 years and I yelled at, sometimes hit and often punished them and STILL didn’t get the results I wanted.

Then I found out about parenting support groups and joined one. And then another one. I kept going until I began to lead of parenting groups. We teach what we most need to learn. I learned I was the problem — not my kids! I had to learn different ways to respond to them. It took time, attention and effort — that were worth the investment. Workshops are also fun!

Experts agree.  The most effective way to change a child’s behavior is to change the parent. See this article: http://www.washington.edu/news/archive/uweek/18654

If you have problems with your child’s behavior, then you — mom, dad, whoever is raising the child — must learn to be consistent, show mutual respect and to act, not yak about setting kind and firm limits. Take time to invest in your family’s future with family dinner, family meetings and family chores. Learn how to deal with morning and bedtime routines, homework, sibling rivalry, tantrums, mealtime, power struggles and more.

The best way to improve your child’s behavior is to improve yours. You can read a book — I have one for sale. You can take a course. A
4-week parenting skills course starts tonight — Thursday, June 9, 2011 at Roudenbush Community Center in Westford, Mass. from 7-9 pm. It could change your life . Come tonight for the introduction, no charge, no obligation. If you like it, sign up. Hope to see you there.

If you can’t come, contact me for phone coaching or at your home in the Boston area. Parenting is THE most important — and difficult — task most of us will do in our lifetimes. You can learn to manage your child’s behavior by changing how YOU set limits, follow through, and establish a democratic family where parents and children have rights.

Firm friendly follow-through

March 21, 2011
Kids having fun in the snow, playing, learning natural and logical consequences, how to make good decisions, going 60 miles away, 60 miles an hour. Parenting: about. How to parent, Teenagers, tweens, toddlers, school age, how to parent, parenting teenagers, setting boundaries. related, respectful, reasonable, "Dr. JAne Nelsen, Ph.D. " "Dr. Alfred Adler" "Dr. Rudolf Driekurs" Learning to make good decisions is really important. Parent/child relationship, "tough love" starts early. playing in snow is fun.

Teach kids NOT to skate on thin ice!

On Saturday a scout leader at the Polar Bear Derby (rescheduled from January) told me that he had repeatedly warned his son and the other kids to stay away from the half-melted pond.

Alas, his child got wet.

“I had to take him home for dry clothes and bring him back,” the scout leader said, shaking his head with disappointment.

How wonderful to know Dad will bail out Junior no matter what.  

Or is it wonderful?

Kids who never experience the related outcome of their decisions do not learn to take responsibility for their actions.

Junior learned:

  1. He doesn’t have to listen to Dad — even when his safety is at hand;
  2. Dad will bail him out and he still gets to participate , despite his poor choice.
  3. He can continue to make bad decisions because good ol’ Dad will bail him out.

I’m interested in the big picture and what precedent Dad set. Tough Love is a group of parents of young adults who have realized they constantly enable their child to make bad decisions. The parents must learn  to say No, I won’t bail you out again from the poor choices you made, which often involve substance abuse and addiction.

It’s hard for parents to say “NO” or to deny Junior the Polar Bear Derby.

Dad could have let Junior experience being wet and cold. Junior could have asked to be taken home or gone inside the lodge to warm up.

Ideally, Dad could teach Junior to listen at home, BEFORE the Polar Bear Derby. It takes time, patience and consistency to teach children to listen and make good decisions. Investing the time, patience and consistency in making small decisions may someday save your child’s life.

The goal is for children to become teens who will make good decisions when they become teenagers and they’re 60 miles away, going 60 miles an hour.

Will the young person who is 60 miles away, going 60 miles an hour:

  • Be driving the speed limit?
  • Wearing a seatbelt?
  • Be with friends you know and like?
  • Sober and focused on driving?
  • Have told you the truth about where they are and what they’re doing?
  • Made good choices around sexuality?

Start now to teach good decision-making by giving children enough rope to burn but not enough to hang. Let them experience small repercussions, like being cold and wet during the Polar Bear Derby, forgetting homework or mittens, not being able to find their sporting equipment because they didn’t put it away.

It will pay off in the long run.

The benefits of a plan, structure and habits

February 14, 2011

Max, 7,  is on an IEP – special ed plan – at school and takes Ritalin. He is the epitome of a difficult child.

Since receiving coaching from me, Max’s mother reports, “We no longer have to use therapeutic holds.” We have worked together to provide a plan, structure and habits that give Max and his siblings clear expectations and related, reasonable and respectful measures when they make bad choices.

The Raising Able approach aligns with advice offered by Edward Hallowell, Ph.D. in his many outstanding books on ADD. Hallowell offers these suggestions on how to set up systems for children with ADD. Many of his suggestions come from the Raising Able playbook.

1. Make a plan, set up structures and develop habits [p. 65, “Delivered from Distraction” by Hallowell]. Start with family meetings and involve the children, tweens and teens with setting up the plan, structure and habits.

I am not a fan of charts, rewards, punishment and praise because they are difficult to maintain and set up outside  motivation. The goal is for youngsters start make better decisions and be self-motivated, versus being motivated by money and rewards. The former is harder, takes longer and lasts longer.

2. Provide immediate and related consequences. For example, when a child misbehaves at a restaurant, instead of threatening, “No Nintendo for a week unless you stop now,” say, “Either stop that now or we leave now.” Then follow through, without anger. Act, don’t yak [Sam Goldstein]. Prior to coaching, Max’s mother couldn’t take her family out in public.

Use family meetings to set up related, respectful and reasonable outcomes [Jane Nelsen, Ph.D.]. Consequences based on punishment and reward are doomed to fail.

3.  Exercise. [page 219 “Delivered from Distraction.”] Regular exercise for people of all ages has myriad mental and physical benefits. Families can have fun while exercising.

Our family fun ranged from the simple — playing SPUD in the yard after a family meeting to day-long excursions canoeing, skiing and going to the beach. The great outdoors provides a plethora of fun free activities. An additional bonus to exercising together is family bonding.

As you, can see, plans, structures and habits will benefit typical families and those where ADD is a factor. Learn more at two workshops this week I’m offering on Tuesday, Feb. 15 at Roudenbush Community Center in Westford, Mass and Thursday, Feb. 17 at Concord-Carlisle Community Education. Both start at 7 pm.

All God’s Mothers Got A Place in the Choir

January 18, 2011

Thanks to Amy Chua’s new memoir “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” we have a new archetype of motherhood — Asian Tiger Parenting. Like the Raising Able approach, Tiger Mothers assume the child is resilient and can handle failure and take responsibility. Tiger mothers’ goal is for their children to compete and win, no matter what the cost. Is that childhood?

What Tiger Parents lacks is mutual respect. A Korean friend raised with a  Tiger mother was forced to practice piano three hours a day. My friend is an excellent pianist, when she plays. In order to gain her freedom, my friend secretly plotted an elaborate escape when she was 21 years old. Mother and daughter had limited contact for years afterwards.

This is not the relationship I want with my children and adult children. It completely lacks in mutual respect for the child’s wishes.

Parenting is like a balancing act where power is shared. Parents are the guides, offering boundaries, encouragement and advice. Children are the high wire artists. They practice for hours while parents spot from below, ready to catch them and help them back up.

There are advantages and disadvantages to every parenting style. There is no perfect mother or father or perfect childhood. Let the Tiger mothers growl. I hope their children rebel and run away. Sadly, some crack under the pressure to perform, achieve and win. They succumb to depression and suicide.

Let the “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” play out her 15 minutes of fame.

“All God’s mothers got a place in the choir. Some sing low, some sing higher. Some sing out loud on the telephone wire. And some just clap their hands or paws or anything they got now.”

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.