Archive for the ‘Rudolf Dreikurs’ category

Toilet training is similar to driver training

June 18, 2012
training a teen driver is about positive parenting. driver training is like potty training. The teen is in control like the toddler is in control.

Spend the first decade building a relationship based on mutual respect so the teen years will be easier.

In reply to a listener inquiry [proving I respond to reader queries. Bring them on!] here’s my take on potty training. It should really be called “parent training.” I failed and felt frustrated by the lack of control.Ah ha! That’s the lesson. They are in charge, not us.My first three kids potty trained by around age 3. Nowadays kids who speak in paragraphs keep parents scooping their poop until age 4. Ugh!

My fourth child decided to use the toilet by 19 months. Why? Because I had learned how to motivate a toddler through encouragement, to avoid power struggles and convince her it was her idea. She sensed I didn’t care too much about potty training. I knew how to share power with her.

Here are some guidelines.Toilet training is about establishing a positive parenting relationship between toddler and parent. Toilet training can be easy when parents let kids take the lead

1. The more emotion a parent shows around potty training, the more power the child can seize and use to manipulate parents. We all need power. Rudolph Dreikurs in “Children, the Challenge” calls urine and tears “water power.” Tears and pee are effective ways to get what you want, get revenge and demonstrate power.

2. Parents need to learn to share power. I hated this fact because I wanted all the power. I wanted them to do it my way. It’s a great way to fuel rebellion, and set the stage for sour teen years.

3. Parents are not in control. Toilet training is the initiation of independence. Parents can learn how to shine the light on the path without forcing them; to finesse a child to believe that toilet training is her idea.

To parents of older children, tweens and teens, do these guidelines sound familiar?

Let’s apply the principles of toilet training to driver training.

1. Mom wants to guide a teen to drive safely because Mom cannot force Junior to drive safely when Mom is not in the car.

2. A suave Dad will accept criticism about his driving from Junior and let Junior believe that  safe driving is his idea and he is a near expert on it.

3. By adolescence, parents have been forced to accept that we are not in control of a young person’s behavior. Teens must learn to show good judgement when they are 60 miles away, going 60 miles an hour.

Toilet training is a primer for the rest of childhood. Force will backfire. The toddler will prove SHE is in control of bladder and bowels. So back off. As an overachiever who succeeded by trying too hard, backing off did not come naturally. I bought a lot more diapers for the first three kids and more pretty panties for the fourth.

Some parents resort to bribery. Beware if bribery is your main method of behavior control because it will backfire. Some experts say to save bribery for the “big guns.” Toilet training could be considered a “big gun.” Potty training is about attitude, about using the first 10 to 12 years to set up a positive relationship based on mutual respect so the teen years will be smooth.

What worked for you when potty training? What did you learn about parenting through toilet training?

The long-term benefits of family meetings

February 20, 2012
Here Ian is shovelling snow, an excellent activity for a 20-something who lives at home. Adults who live at home can be expected to pitch in. Use family meetings to stay in contact, set expectations and encourage each other. Mutual respect is key to discipline for teens, tweens, school age and toddlers

Ian shovels snow -- when we had some last winter -- during a long visit. Family meetings are key to setting expectations and open communication with "kids" of all ages.

My son Ian, 27, left, has no health insurance. We’ve had several discussions about the merits of health insurance.

During his last visit home, he said calmly, “Mom, I don’t want to talk about health insurance any more. I have decided to pay later instead of paying before.”

I listened. I didn’t like it. I heeded his boundary, set respectfully. I was grateful that he told me, instead of calling his girlfriend and complaining, “My mother won’t get off my case about health insurance! I can’t wait to leave.”

I credit our tradition of family meetings for Ian’s ability to respectfully communicate his feelings to me.

When I ask parents to list the attributes they want their children to develop, the list usually looks like this. Happy. Have good friends. Good social skills. Have a good job. Good relationship with me. Confident, capable. Don’t abuse substances. Find work they enjoy. Good self-esteem. Live independently and not in my basement.

I guarantee that family meetings will provide the foundation for every one of those attributes. Family meetings are the most effective discipline method  for toddlers, school-age, tweens, teens and young adults.

Notice I didn’t say “speediest” or “easiest.” Discipline means to teach. Family  meetings teach children the skills, attitudes and attributes we want them to absorb and use for life.

Read the attached notes from a first Family meeting held by a single parent and her two daughters, ages 13 and 10. Their agenda is on the second page. They held the meeting at 8:30 am on a Sunday morning, the time the 13-year-old agreed to in advance.

Here’s what worked about their first family meeting.

  • Mom asked what time they wanted to hold the family meeting, and then followed through even though the 13-year-old was lying on the couch during the meeting. (Teens can’t been seen as too cooperative.)
  • Mom posted the agenda in advance, which gave the kids time to post items, such as “Star Wars symposium outfit for Johanna.”
  • Johanna also posted, “Spend more activities together.”
  • Mom didn’t overload the agenda with problems and demands. She started small.
  • Mom followed the format. Someone took notes to keep for posterity, (humor later on), and to record their agreements. They had a snack and family fun.

Two big wins: Johanna posted two items; the 13-year-old showed up. It’s easier to set up the habit of family meetings when kids are 3 to 12 years old.

Kids will want to come to the meetings when they have a turn to run the meetings, there’s a snack, and family fun. Fun is like a magnet for kids, and long-term family glue.

You can do it. Family meetings reap huge rewards forever. They are worth the time and effort. See my tip sheet on how to get started and read about them in my book “Raising Able.”