January 13, 2011
I noticed one of my girlfriends was having a difficult time disciplining her son. She asked my opinion about her approach. Cautiously and somewhat fearfully, I shared my opinion. What I noticed was that she was fairly effective in most parts f her discipline, but that she was failing in one particularly important aspect of it. She was not getting her son's attention before giving instructions.
She gave the instructions clearly but since her son was delayed in hearing her, he was missing the important parts of her directives. Her son’s disobedience caused her to punish him immediately. This cycle continued because neither one of them knew that he was missing the beginning part of her instructions.
After she and I talked and I shared my point of view, she started employing little attention grabbing techniques like flicking the lights, counting, or simply moving up close to her child to get his attention. Once she has his attention, she gives her instructions and now he is a much better listener.
Failures may be due to one very small factor in an approach. It’s amazing how a small changes can have a huge impact on the outcome.
Steps to lessen disobedience.
1 Getting the child’s attention before giving instructions.
2 Give clear and detailed instructions. Demonstrate what you want the child to do if this is the first time the child will perform the task.
3 Give the child a specific amount of time to listen. Setting a timer or using a buzzer is helpful to a child.
4 Give positive affirmations for successes.
5 Punishment is a last resort for me. Only after a child has been properly trained should you punish disobedience.
February 08, 2011
My life-long friend Chere had children several years before me. Being able to watch her parenting skills provided me with a plethora of knowledge to use on my own children.
When her son Zachary was eight, I recall his rebellious nature started to kick in. At first she struggled with his his behavior, but thru trial and error she eventually figured out how to tame it. It was all about choices. When she gave her son options, it made him feel more independent and less controlled. His whole attitude changed and in general he was more agreeable. Thinking back to my years of teaching high school students, I recall the same effect from giving my students choices. Students were empowered when they had some say in the outcome.
There are so many other benefits to giving our kids choices. It gives them practice in decision making, it can help nurture their creativity and it teaches them some level of independence.
February 22, 2011
What should we "force" upon a child?
As you are all aware, every child can be a little stubborn. How do we set boundaries for what children should be forced to do?
My youngest daughter rejected many food choices during her toddler years. The thing most befuddling was that she did the opposite of what most children do. She ate ALL her vegetables, fish, meat and fruit and rejected most foods which other kids crave like pizza, pasta, peanut butter and most processed foods. (Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining)But, should I have forced her to eat what she didn’t like or want because that is what I made or what someone offered her?
My oldest daughter had a different problem. She never wanted to play outside. To force exercise, I signed her up for gymnastics, ballet and tumbling. But, should I have forced her to play outside?
My simple answer is, as a parent, we need to learn how to pick our battles. Instead of forcing action, watch and study patterns in your child’s "choosing" behavior. In my situation, because of these observations, I decided to get my daughters tested for allergies. My youngest daughter tested positive for allergies to wheat, milk, soy, corn, peanuts and cinnamon. This explained her staunch food preferences. Likewise, my oldest daughter had allergies related to grass and trees. It now made sense why she preferred being indoors. Now I am not saying there won’t be times that it is necessary to draw a firm line in the sand across which your child should not dare cross, but in the little instances like dinner or playing outside, it is important to pick your battles wisely, acutely observe your child’s actions and be a little laid back when it comes to "forcing" behavior.
Remember, if it isn’t a matter of life and death, then it doesn’t necessarily need to be treated like one.