Posted tagged ‘discipline’

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.”

“You better not shout!” How to maintain family peace during the jolly season.

December 8, 2011

Who’s being naughty and nice at your house?

Join a positive parenting session on Monday, Dec. 12, 7-9 pm to remind you how to maintain goodwill during this season of celebration.

Touch base with positive parenting principles and share with other parents.Make the two hour informal workshop a holiday gift to your family. Remember what fun it is to ride the one horse open sleigh of positive parenting.

7-9 pm  Monday, Dec. 12.  RSVP to susan.tordella@gmail.com and admission is $15, 2 for $20 (bring a spouse or friend). Bring payment.

$20 at the door, 2 for $25 Drop-ins and babes in arms welcome. 

Mark your calendar for the January Positive Parenting Forum — Monday, Jan. 9, 7-9 pm, same place, at Exit 31, Route 495 near IBM in Littleton, Mass.

DIRECTIONS

NOTE: It’s CRITICAL to enter the old Mill building through the correct door.

From Rt. 110 in either direction, go to the intersection of Rt. 119 and turn north to I-495.  The building is the first building on the left after the turn. 

From locations South, take I-495 North to Exit 31 at Rt. 119. At the end of the ramp turn left.   The mill building is on the right hand side.

From Boston, take Rt. 2 West, then take I-495 North to Exit 31/Rt. 119. Take ramp right and left at the stop sign.   Mill building is on the right.  

From Boston, take Rt. 2 West to the Concord Rotary, then take Rt. 2A/119 West.  Follow it to Rt. 110 in Littleton center.  The Mill Building is just after the intersection on the left.  This route is shorter from Boston but may be a little slower.

From locations North, take I-495South to Exit 31/Rt. 119. At the end of the ramp, go right onto Rt. 119, over the freeway. The Mill building will be on the right.  

Parking:  The most convenient parking is the lot closest to the intersection of Rt. 119 and Rt. 110 at the sign for Cloak and Dagger.  Go to the back of the parking lot and take the steps up to the loading dock.  Enter the red door on your right with a sign on it that says “Creating Life Studio.”  Take the stairs to the top floor to the studio.

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.

Is my child deaf?

October 3, 2011
These boys are under water and can't hear their parents. They have become mother deaf. "My kids won't listen" is a common complaint of parents. Part of discipline and disciplining is to teach children how to listen. This means you must ACT not YAK . The more you yak, the less they listen. If you do not follow througn in a kind, firm friendly and immediate manner, you will train your child NOT to listen. This is a parental problem.
These boys really can’t hear what their parents are saying.

“My child doesn’t listen” is the most common complaint I’m hearing during my fall parenting skills workshops. One parent described it brilliantly when she said, “It’s like I’m not even here. I’m invisible.”

The good news is that this situation can be changed. You can restore your child’s hearing abilities.
The bad news? Mom and Dad have trained the child to be parent-deaf. As with many discipline issues, the problem is the parent. Trust me, I’ve been the guilty party a hundred times and had to change MY behavior. Then the kids change.  As you know, we cannot change them. We can only change ourselves.

Here’s the roadmap on how to eliminate parent-deafness.
1. Start with awareness and determine what is most important. Notice I didn’t say, “Choose your battles.” This sets the stage for power struggles. They are ugly, trust me, I’ve been in enough of them.
2. When you say something to your child, get his attention. Look him in the eye. Say it once. Do not repeat it. Make sure what you are saying is worth following up on. If he doesn’t respond, ask, “Did you hear what I said?”
If he says “What?” to everything you say, he might have the “what disease.” Then you need a pretend vaccination against it. Give it to him, right in the arm, with humor. Say “I’m vaccinating you against the ‘what disease.'” From then on, whenever he says “What?” say, “I think you heard me.” or “What do you think I said?” or ask, “Do the vaccination wear off? Do you need a booster?” Then grab him close, laughing, and give him another what-disease shot in the arm.
3. If your child has heard you and chooses not to respond, you must ACT not YAK. (Thanks to Dr. Sam Goldstein for the brilliant Act Don’t Yak.) Do not repeat what you said unless you want to continue to train her to ignore what you say.
Can you see how it is imperative to follow through immediately by acting? Make sure you are kind, firm and immediate. You will have to get up, interrupt what you’re doing and prove you mean business.
Here are some examples.
1. “Pick up your toys.” If you have kids under 24 years old, get used to picking up. The younger they are, the more you will have to act by picking up with them. Endless picking up is a fact of raising kids. It is not fair. Get rid of some toys or rotate bags of toys to the attic. Yakking, “Clean up your room” is like saying to you, “Go clean up K-Mart.” Where do you start?
2. “Go brush your teeth and get ready for bed.” Most normal children will ignore this. You must ACT and do it with them. Establish a bedtime routine where you are with them every step of the way, which also insures they will stay in bed.
3. “Get ready for school!” You can only take preventative action on this one by preparing a plan. Talk about the morning routine at a family meeting. Read my free e-book “Are you ready yet?” After educating them on how to take responsibility in the morning for getting ready on time, have an ACTion plan. Have your little diva choose her clothes the night before. Be ready  to go out to the car with her clothes in a bag if she is not ready at the agreed upon time. She will inevitably choose the coldest wettest day of the year to test your resolve.
Parenting is not for the faint-hearted. Parent-deafness can be deadly. Start with awareness and begin the new training today. Allow three weeks to three months to develop a new habit. You can do it.

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.

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.

Happy Turkey Day

November 25, 2010
FAmily time is pizza time. Family dinner is every night of the week not just Thanksgiving. It's where you learn etiquette and manners and connect to your family, and feel like you belong. It is the best anti-drug, anti-smoking, anti-alcoohol strategy. Family time will keep your child out of trouble. Teens, tweens, and teenagers need family time. Making homemade Pizza is a great way to spend time together.

Ian creating one of his specialities -- home-made pizza. I think it is better than Thanksgiving dinner.The view of our kitchen yesterday afternoon. Chaos! Fun! Delicious!

 
 YAY Thanksgiving! Yay family time! What a great excuse to get together and spend time with each other.
 
Not everyone’s holiday is as happy today. There is a story in today’s Boston Globe about the cancellation of the annual Maynard-Clinton Thanksgiving Day Game in Massachusetts. School officials cancelled the game after four of the squad’s 16 players were caught drunk over the previous weekend.
 
People are disappointed and some think the consequence is too harsh. I disagree. How will these young men learn that their decisions have repercussions? That what they do has an impact on others.
 
The incident is a wake-up call for the players’ parents. How do these young men get the alcohol? Where is the parental supervision? I can only guess that some parents are really angry over the decision and think their teen has been treated unfairly.
 
By behaving irresponsibly, the young men let their team, school and community down. Hopefully, they will learn from this experience and it will benefit them. When young people never feel the impact of their choices, their behavior escalates. The school’s decision is related, respectful and reasonable [thanks to Jane Nelsen, Ph.D. for those three Rs of natural and logical consequences.]
When punishment is used, youngsters can respond with rebellion, resentment and revenge. When the consequence is fair — I’m sure those players knew the rules — young people learn to accept the responsibility for their behavior.
 
The way to learn to make better decisions is to feel the pain from bad decisions. If we don’t feel pain, we don’t learn. These young men have gotten enough rope to burn, but not enough to hang. I volunteer in prison where men are serving long sentences for making disastrous, even fatal choices. They have much time to contemplate their mistakes on this special day.
 
Enjoy your holiday today.
 
Here is our family working together to get thankgiving dinner all ready. We cooked for a few hours together in preparation. I love cooking with my family, It's a great way to teach children to cook and to spend quality family time. Parenting is all about spending time together and teaching children what you know about life. Discipline becomes not as urgent when you spent quality time with children, tweens and teens, even if they say "leave me alone."

The view of our kitchen yesterday afternoon. Chaos! Fun! Delicious!