Archive for the ‘use action’ category

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.

Slow down, you move too fast

June 13, 2011
bath time is an excellent time for children to unwind so bedtime is not a discipline problem. Water soothes children and gets them ready for bed. Parenting is about taking time and spending time and love to get children to do what we want- also known as cooperation and discipline. Positive discipline is easy when you know how to do it.
Tubby time for sisters. I’m a great believer in a nightly bath as therapy to get ready for sleep.

Watching children play together, catching them being good, witnessing their daily activities without criticism, rushing or interfering is one of the most important things you can do for your family.

It’s time well invested in the parent-child relationship. I learned how to watch quietly when Ian, my third child, was very difficult and I didn’t like him very much. My assignment was to “rebuild the relationship.” I had to practice seeing his positive attributes.

It took at least three months of forcing myself to change my attitude towards Ian, then 2 years old, was very demanding, controlling, loud, powerful and a trouble-maker with his older brother and sister, to start to see his beauty, charm and persistence.

Last week at a parenting workshop when I described how to just watch children in action, the mother of four children ages 4 to 15 had an “aha” moment.

“When I just watch my 7 and 4 year olds take a bath, and I’m not cleaning the bathroom, dealing with the 15-year-old in the hall, making phone calls or doing a dozen other things at the same time, they go to bed without a fuss, without coming out and asking for another drink of water.”

This is why parenting workshops are so effective. They give parents an opportunity to  step back from the hectic, emotional and consuming job of taking care of children, and see the big picture.

A smooth bedtime routine benefits everyone — parents, children and the family environment. After 7 or 8 pm, little children do not have the emotional or physical capacity to be awake. However, we must satisfy their emotional needs and wind them down for bed by using a soothing bath where we are not distracted.

Just watch. Wait. Enjoy the moment — they will be grown up sooner than you will ever believe.

When Ian turned 13, he decided to build a skateboard ramp in the driveway with the help of his friends. I continued my routine of watching quietly — and it was very interesting to see his crew in action. They taught me when the hour is late (after 2 pm) and the problem great,  quit and go swimming. Ian and his buddies finished that skateboard ramp, which impressed me and gave them a great deal of confidence and competence.

Watching was sheer delight. Remember to slow down, watch and don’t miss their growing up.

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.

If you can train a dog, you can train a child

January 13, 2011

The worst thing about taking care of two extra dogs is the puppy, Lily.  When I remember she’s a puppy, I take time for training. It’s the same for children, toddlers, preschoolers, tweens, and teens. Adjust my expectations for their age and take time for training.

Lily had the annoying habit of rushing through an open door. The other two dogs followed her exuberance and created chaos every time the front door opened. UGH!

I took the time to train Lily.

1. I had a plan. Before I opened the door, I told her to “hold it” and used a hand signal. Dogs understand the idea, Act, don’t Yak. [Source: Dr. Sam Goldstein.]

2. When she tried to rush out the door, I used a firm voice, said “Hold it!” or “No!” quickly closed the door and brought her back to wait beside the door. This took a few repetitions. I praised her when she did it right.

3.  I followed the door routine for several days,.  Sometimes she or I forgot and I repeated step two. Lily showed her intelligence by learning quickly. I showed my intelligence by being consistent.

As you can see in “after” Lily has gained some self-control and listens to me, which carries over to other areas and establishes me as Alpha.

Training also benefits children and teenagers.

1. Anticipate difficult situations and craft a positive parenting plan. For older children, use a family meeting to talk about the problem and solutions. For younger children, act, don’t yak, before getting angry. Following this one step can eliminate about 90 percent of all conflicts with younger children.

2. When the youngster forgets the training, remind him/her and use a related-respectful-reasonable [Source: Dr. Jane Nelsen]  consequence in the moment. When the child does it right, use encouragement, not praise.

3. For best results, all adults at home consistently enforce the new training. It’s good to have an adult Alpha at home.

This week, pick one behavior issue in your home and take time for training. The younger the child, and the more consistent you are, the sooner they will learn.

Be prepared with a plan and Act don’t Yak.

Holiday happiness

November 18, 2010
Family time is thanksgiving. Discipline, etiquette, holiday manners, children's behavior, stress, holiday stress, fun, parenting: about. parenting education, families, holiday expectations
We had 27 people for this Thanksgiving celebration from ages 2 to 85. The ping pong table was set up in the garage to give the four teenage boys somewhere to go, “something” to do.

It’s that time of year when families will be convening together in closed spaces and everyone wants children to behave well.

Did you know that recess is one of THE BEST cures for classroom misbehavior? Take a cue and take your children outside to play touch football, take a walk to the park, or play basketball in the driveway. Make sure it’s for at least an hour. Spend time with them. This is an investment in a happy holiday.
After exercise, they will be in a better frame of body and spirit to live up to reasonable expectations of behavior.
Parents, start now by holding family meetings and talk about manners — ask, “What will it look like on Thanksgiving to have good etiquette?” Hear their suggestions and encourage them  to practice during family dinner at home.  Compliment them when they say, “Please pass the salt,” use a napkin instead of their pants. Teach them to say, “This is delicious,” and “No thank you,” to foods they don’t like.
Manners are basically consideration of other people. Yelling out, “That’s disgusting,” or announcing, “Mikey doesn’t eat onions,” or “Can you cook some special pasta for Megan – that’s all she’ll eat,” fall under “lack of consideration” for others.
Manners start at home and by parents modeling good manners at family dinners and constantly reinforcing them. My four “children” are now in their 20s, and even as teens, they despised peers who chewed with their mouths open, made rude comments about food, slurped, didn’t use napkins, and stood up to reach for the salt instead of saying, “Please pass the salt.”
Manners are a lifetime gift you can give to your children — in small doses. If you’re just starting now for next week, you’re a bit late. Take baby steps.
On the big day, be willing to give one warning to younger children then take action by removing them from the situation. Use the outdoors or your car if needed. If they have a meltdown or are out-of-control, consider leaving the family gathering. It might just be too much for them. Go home and have canned beans and carrot sticks. It could be a memorable teaching moment.
Ideally, take time for training BEFORE the big day so children feel confident about the expectations and have boundaries established around reasonable behavior. “Training” includes giving one warning, taking action and possibly allowing the child to go hungry to remind them that sitting at a table is a privilege and certain behavior is expected.
Going hungry for a few hours will show the child you mean business. It takes three days to die of thirst and three days to die of starvation. Missing one meal could serve as a powerful teacher, if you’re willing — or desperate.
Remember to involve them in cooking, setting up for the meal and cleanup. It’s a wonderful time for teamwork and family togetherness.
Happy Thanksgiving!  Above all, have fun!

Moms deserve downtime, too

August 4, 2010

I’m on vacation with my husband and four-20-somethings and I want to have some down time and relax. To avoid filling the role of family servant, I had a family meeting when we arrived.  I forgot to send out an email in advance asking about who will cook what, when. Last year, my oldest daughter coordinated all of it and I did my part.

As always, the Double E – encouragement & expectation – plays a role, as does my behavior.  I had to learn to step back. My husband has developed the tradition of hosting Thanksgiving dinner for “his”  relatives. I’ve taken on the role of his assistant and chief bottle washer, instead of my normal role of chief cook. It has given me practice of being a man on Thanksgiving — to do my small role, a big part of which is cleanup, and then leave the area. Relax. Watch football [not!]. Take a walk or a canoe ride. Play bridge or Scrabble or Banannagrams. At first it was odd to be relieved of the responsibility. Now it’s glorious to NOT be in charge of THE MEAL of the year. It’s kinda fun to watch him plan and coordinate it.

Same with summer vacation. I have to put on the reins and STOP myself from running the show.  Some women do not cook during vacation [or the rest of the year]. The family goes out. They get takeout. People buy prepared food. Not cooking requires a passivity that doesn’t come naturally to me.

Mothers, I’m here to tell you that passivity can be learned. Someone who is hungry will take initiative. Dirty dishes in the sink are NOT my responsibility! They can pile up. We can use paper plates. I can learn to kick back. I can encourage and expect others to prepare dinner, buy food, and make plans.

I can enjoy my vacation, too and do what I feel like. It’s kind of like my attitude towards our family dog. I am not the dog owner. I’m the dog’s stepmother. I do what looks good, feels good and what I feel like in the moment. I have absolutely no responsibility for the dog. It’s glorious! I’ve learned to be passive, to let go, to learn that complaining about profuse dog hair does no good.

The question is, and it’s a good question to ask when parents have a conflict with offspring: “Whose problem is it?” All that dog hair is MY problem. Hunger is MY problem at dinner. I can rustle up a few nuts and wait and see what appears, produced by someone else. It’s glorious. I’m off to read my novel, because dinner is not my problem.