Parenting 101 Carl A. Moss MS LMHC Psychotherapist.
Table of Contents:
• Outline Goals
• Three Styles of Parenting
• How can we Change our Children
• Consequence not Punishment
• Boundary Setting
• A misbehaving child is still a worthwhile child
• Act “As If”
• Beware of questions you ask
• Dinner Time
• Have Fun!
• Helpful Hints
• Job List
• Gentle Reminders List
Goals of this Meeting
Each skill presented here will build on your previously learned skills and strengths. The more you participate tonight, the more you will gain. By the time I meet parents in my office, they are usually feeling helpless and desperate. Sometimes a child is presented to me as having problems when it becomes apparent that the problem is in fact in the parenting style. This session is aimed at opening communication between you and your children with an atmosphere of respect learn how to clearly identify the problem, and to set some firm boundaries. Your family will benefit only as much as you apply this information. If we are successful, you will feel better about yourself as parents and worry less about your children.
Three Styles of Parenting
Authoritarian parents exert strict control with rigid rules and regulations. What their children want is rarely considered. The children obey out of fear of punishment and with resentment. This style is not conducive to respect and the children usually respond with doing just enough to get away with, they will make up stories, apply blame and tell lies.
Permissive parents basically allow their children to do whatever they want. Some hate to see their children unhappy. Others want their children to have all the advantages they themselves never had. These parents often feel out of control and defeated. They will over emote with the children out of frustration. The children often develop an “entitled” attitude with a lack of gratitude.
(Note: I have often seen a mixed parenting style of one parent being authoritarian and the other permissive. This induces over compensation behavior by the parents and confused game playing by the children).
• Mutual Respect
This, I believe is the key to effective parenting. For children to learn respect and responsibility, they must be treated with respect and given responsibility for appropriate aspects of their lives. Children’s feelings, opinions needs and desires have to be heard. This does not imply equal decision-making power. But often simply listening to a child’s feelings and desires – validating them – is enough. Mutual respect combines kindness, firmness, nurturing and boundary setting.
How can We Change our Children?
Family systems theory describes the family as so interdependent that altering any part of the system can result in the entire system changing. Accordingly, the most effective way to elicit different, more appropriate behaviors from your child is to act differently yourselves. Example: Yelling at Charles for forgetting his homework doesn’t help him remember it the next time, but making his afternoon play activities contingent on his remembering might.
Discipline = Teaching
Consequence not Punishment
For children, a sense of belonging can result from feeling like an active participant in the family and a valued contributor to the household. Have your children make up the rules and consequences for their behavior.
Raise and Reward your children when appropriate. Help build their self-esteem by reward and praise only when earned. Children who are discouraged often don’t feel as they belong will seek the most valuable commodity > our time. For some children negative attention is better than no attention. Note it is still attention. Other discouraged children will try to obtain power, with questions like “why” and “in a minute”. These children can be stubborn and will often end up with a parent in an “adult temper tantrum”. Other children will appear lazy and not bother because they can’t achieve the lofty standards their parents set for them. Be careful of structuring the child’s free time. Id soccer- band- homework, they need time just to PLAY.
1-2-3 Magic. (Thomas W. Phelan)
First we will discuss two types of behaviors we wish to address in our children.
The “stop behaviors” are the things we want our children o stop “Victoria, stop hitting Lori”. These are addressed with counting.
As the children get older, we can replace the counting with:
2) Consequence – if request is not met
3) Implementation of consequence
Harry, please put your toad away now.
Harry, if you do not put your toad away now – you will be in time-out for 12 minutes
Harry, you did not put your toad away now you are in time-out.
(Note: When Harry comes out of time-out, he must still put his toad away).
Remember, Time-out is one (1) minute for each year of the child and one (1) for the room. Example: a 7 year old child = 8 minutes of time-out.
The “Start behaviors” encourage positive behaviors with:
A. Rewards (your time)
B. Charts (get child involved)
C. Shaping (getting close)
D. Relax (Don’t over analyze – let some mistakes go)
A. Rewards – children often tell me the most rewarding event in their life is an event that involves a parent. Go for a bike ride, go to the park and fly a kite.
B. Charts – Younger children love charts. Give them gold stars to put on charts for accomplishing certain tasks. Reward them if they get, say 7 out of 10 stars for the week.
C. Shaping – Most of us don’t want to sit around waiting for our children to randomly exhibit a desired behavior so we can then reinforce it. Instead, we can “shape” a child’s behavior. Begin by reinforcing behavior even if it is only somewhat close to the desired behavior, and then gradually reinforce only those behaviors that are closer to the desired behavior.
D. Relax – children are in development (aren’t we all?!) They are going to make mistakes. Let some mistakes go, this will encourage a safe environment for them to be honest with you.
E. Model – Children are like sponges, they learn so much from us. If you want them to read books, make sure they see you reading books!
A misbehaving child is still a Worthwhile Child.
It is important to separate the behavior from the child. It is ok to find a behavior unacceptable; it does not affect their self-worth. Instead of calling Hagrid a lazy slob, you could tell him how disappointed you were that he didn’t mow the lawn when asked.
Act “As If”
Treat your child “as if” he or she were responsible. This will go a long way toward encouraging the child to behave in accordance with that expectation. Don’t do for a child what they can do for themselves. But remember not to let your expectations exceed your child’s capacities. Encourage them to make their own rules and decisions. (See insert) Logical and realistic consequences are most effective over the long term. Children will know in advance what will happen if they choose to act responsibly. They will also learn that they have control over their own lives, mistakes also become their responsibility.
Remember: refuse to argue with people over 2 ½ years old. Their language skills are too well developed and you will lose.
Beware of Questions you Ask
“Why did you do that” When was the last time you got an honest constructive answer? Try to make a statement with a request. I.e.: “Jared, you wrote on the wall; please clean it off now”. Ownership of the problem and solution is on the child. Even the difference between “Will you please be quiet?” and “Please be quiet” can elicit quite different responses in a child.
Dinner time can be family time. Try to set a time at least once a week to sit down together for dinner. If your child has behavior problems at dinner time, limits will need to be set. Addressing these issues during dinner will take the pleasure away and increase tension with the family.
“When conflict level in a family is high the enjoyment level is low. It’s hard to have fun in an atmosphere of tension and resentment, where interaction is a power struggle. It is important to increase pleasure while decreasing conflict.
• One parent at a time; whoever starts the consequence should finish it.
• Be consistent – particularly if you have an anxious or insecure child. Children find security in routine.
• Keep promises – Don’t tell your children you will do something unless you are sure you can commit.
• Voice control- don’t yell, at some point, the children will begin yelling back. If the children see the parents argue- let them also see you resolve the problem. Remember, how you deal with adversity is how your children are going to deal with adversity.
There also is one word that parents don’t know about. Sure they use this word but hide it among other words. It is a well kept secret because you only have to use this word all by itself. It is very effective if used correctly. All children understand this word, I think we – as parents perhaps don’t. That word is…no.
Despite all our challenges that we face – as parents- the most powerful tool we need, we already have inside of us…and that is LOVE.
Rather than threaten, you can establish realistic and actual consequences and make it (hopefully) more comfortable for children to choose the more responsible activity. The choice is still the child’s to make. The idea is to make them aware of the consequences of their choices. If children do not know what to expect if they did not complete a task, they do not really make a choice. The goal is to help children see themselves as responsible for and in control of themselves.
Discipline needs to be consistent yet low keyed and as a matter-of-fact as possible. It also needs to be tolerable to you as the parent. There is no one positive consequence or negative consequence that is meaningful and relevant to all children. The consequence needs to fit the situation and be such that the parent and the child can follow with them.
One way to find realistic and meaningful consequences is to ask your children to help with the consequences.
In the home:
GENTLE REMINDERS FOR RAISING UN-BRATTY KIDS
1. Don’t over protect or “bail your child out”. Let them experience the consequences of inappropriate behavior.
2. Don’t keep changing the rules. Be consistent and persistent- it pays off in the end.
3. Always separate the do-er from the deed, and your child from their inappropriate behavior. From this day forward, never even hint that your love for them is tied up into what they do or don’t do!
4. Encourage independence. On a regular basis, do not do for your child what your child is capable of doing for themselves. Don’t rob your child of the chance to grow up into a responsible adult.
5. Avoid pitying or feeling sorry for your child. No matter what their special needs may be. Pity is a dangerous, ego-squashing emotion, as is the use of “guilt trips”.
6. Be who you are – the Parent! Limit- setting is your “calling”. Your child needs to know “where the fence is” i.e.: the parameters of appropriate behavior. Pals and playmates they can find elsewhere!
7. Recognize who owns the problem – whose needs and purposes are not being met, are being thwarted or frustrated. Avoid making your child’s problems your own. Don’t rob them of the opportunity to engage in the process of problem solving, encourage the child’s efforts and lend assistance when asked.
8. Talk less – act more! Parents sometimes over-parent, over-direct, over-manage, over-explain, coax, threaten, bribe, promise, cajole. Small wonder that children develop “parent deafness”.
9. Refuse to either fight or give in – it “legitimizes” your child’s inappropriate, miscreant behavior. If your child is an arguer, use the “broken record” approach – acknowledge their unhappiness with you at the moment by reflecting the feelings behind their words, then simply repeat your expectation without explanation. Most especially with children over eight years of age, do not answer “shy” questions. They are not asking for information, but “keeping the pot boiling”. Simply ask them to re-phrase the question.
10. To modify attention- seeking behavior, use “delayed responses”, “planned ignoring”, and “benign neglect”. We do not reward inappropriate behavior with undue attention or service. If you have an inveterate “button-pusher”, count hippopotamuses! When facing a child-rearing challenge, count hippopotamuses under your breath (at least five) before you say or do anything. It may sound like a dumb thing to do, especially if the problem is serious, but there is something therapeutic about counting hippopotamuses that one doesn’t get from “counting to ten”. Your child is “pushing your buttons” because he/she is looking for an immediate, instantaneous, knee-jerk reaction. Counting hippopotamuses also plays down the situation and buys you that extra moment of sanity in a chaotic situation.
11. Temper tantrums need an audience. Refuse to be one! Walk away from them. The tantrum will either stop or follow you wherever you go, with a body attached! Do not reward inappropriate behavior with undue attention or service. Instead “catch them being good” and reward that with your attention and service. Look for opportunities to say, “Hey, you handled that well!” even if it just improves the way they answer you. Notice any effort, improvement or desire to be a contributing member of the family. Positively reinforce positive behavior.
12. Do not try to talk or reason with an upset, angry child. Save your saliva! Do not assume the responsibility for your child’s anger. No one can “make us angry” – it is something one chooses to be. We choose what we notice and we choose how we wish to respond – an option most children do not have. This ability to choose and to delay our response is what makes us adults and children unemancipated minors. Your “cool” is your most important parenting tool! Lose it and you are operating on your child’s turf!
13. Put your emphasis on controlling the situation, not the child. Remember the “golden rule of parenting” – “who earns the gold makes the rules”. Until they pay for the toilet flushes and decided between a fixed or variable mortgage, they are under your care, custody and control.
14. When disciplining your child, remember – the more you take away, the less you have to work with! Deprivation of cherished items is effective if not over- used, as is isolation.
15. Yelling, screaming, threatening, slapping and hitting are not only primitive ways of raising children, they simply do not work over the long haul. They are counter-productive and self-contradicting ways of teaching our children how to behave appropriately. If you have to keep yelling, screaming or hitting for the same behavior, obviously you are not having much effect on the behavior.
16. No one can “fix” your child! Send them where you will, spend money you don’t even have. Your child will change when and after your parenting style changes. Kids are reactive as adults. We can be pro-active if we so choose, your child is reacting to, and playing off your parenting styles and techniques. Change them and your child has to change whether they want to or not!
17. Punishment is something we do to our children. Discipline is something we do for our children.
18. Parents are people too! You have rights - among them is the right to a safe, secure environment…a little peace of mind…some time for yourself…so be good to yourself!
19. Stay Fluffy! The best form of mental health is the ability to laugh at ourselves and with others. As parents, we have a tendency to “awful-ize” about our children. We feel guilty when they are less than angelic. Give yourself permission to be imperfect to make mistakes. So-called “perfect parents” usually raise horrendous children!
20. You do not need your child’s vote to be their parent! Quit running for office! You are already “elected for life”.
21. Forget your romanticist, idyllic, picture-postcard view of what the nuclear family “ought” to be. What you’re going through right now is what you signed up for when you became a parent – by whatever means! The Huxtables, the Brady Bunch and Ozzie and Harriet’s neat little domestic scene is TV entertainment. It is entertaining because it is so unreal!
That Sabotage Practical Parenting
1. Parents should have and must always get what they want when they want it (such as instant obedience) without needing to win their children’s cooperation and good will.
FACT: Parents who are considerate, friendly and patient with their children usually are far more successful than parents who demand instant results.
2. Children must be perfect, should never make mistakes, should never get in mean moods, and should always be good, mannerly and thoroughly capable.
FACT: No one is perfect. Parents and children alike are fallible persons, who often make mistakes in judgment and behavior.
3. Criticizing, nagging, scolding, lecturing and becoming hostile toward children will change the children for the better and make them learn to cooperate.
FACT: Such control methods seldom really work, often backfire and result in the long run in children ending up even less willing to cooperate with and please their parents.
4. Children are born uncooperative, with a built-in determination to defy and rebel against parental authority.
FACT: Children appear to learn what they live., For the most part, their behavior reflect back the treatment given them by their parents Example: Sassy children have sassy parents; impatient parents produce impatient children; cooperative, kindly parents rear cooperative, kindly children.
5. Children are to blame for their parents’ feeling of anxiety, frustration and anger.
Nobody makes anybody feel any way. We blame others, including children, when we refuse to accept our own personal responsibilities, when we do not want to take the time, make the effort and take steps necessary to achieve our wishes.