The Art of Positive Discipline

I had a whiny little girl in my office the other day. It was clear to me the mother had gotten used to all that irritating behavior. Not that she liked it. Just put up with it. You could see she was unhappy and stressed. I stopped my conversation with her and turned to her daughter. “Laura,” I said, “You’re going to have to stop whining because I can’t hear your mommy.” That only worked for about three minutes. So [drumroll, please] in came the consequence. Use Natural Consequences I told her, “I know you really want to leave. However, I need to speak to mommy. And I will speak to mommy. But if I can’t hear her or she can’t hear me, I’ll have to stop and wait for you to quiet down before we can continue. So your noise will make the whole visit take that much longer.” Well, folks, you could hear a pin drop. That child just turned into an angel in front of my eyes! Her mom beamed, I’ll tell you. And by the way, she was only four. She understood. Clear as a bell. Clever Way To Explain Time Out Some time later, she–quietly–started kicking the chair. I chose not to address her again because that would have paid entirely too much attention to her misbehavior. As she was sitting right next to her mom, I said to the mother: “Now that is a good illustration of when to use time out. You put her in that corner right there for four minutes. Get a big portable kitchen timer and set it.” The...

Parenting: 11 Rules of Positive Discipline

For children to want to listen, they must feel loved. Discipline without love is worthless. For children to grow up to love themselves, they must learn responsibility. Both love and discipline are necessary for healthy, happy children. Rule #1 – See The World Through His Eyes One thing they do which backfires is to minimize what is important to their child. If being in the in-crowd is important and she wasn’t asked to a party, that hurts. If he wasn’t chosen for the team, that hurts. Don’t ever act like it’s not and they should get over it. That would be the same as telling you, “Oh, your boss fired you today? Well, it’s not important! Get over it!” Each person is entitled to see the world through his or her own eyes. Rule #2 – Give Constructive Criticism with Plenty of Praise Let’s ask the following question: How necessary is constructive criticism? To answer it, imagine you are helping a child with math. What will work better, pointing out how he got the idea right in two or three places, or saying over and over, “that’s wrong, that’s wrong”? The truth is, he does need to be told when he does it wrong, just so he doesn’t accidentally think it is right. But you know from experience that he will become demoralized if everything seems to be wrong. SOMETHING’s got to be right! John Gottman, the eminent researcher, found that people need 5 positives for every negative. So, yes, you sometimes can’t avoid constructive criticism, but make sure there’s 5 constructive praises for every one of them. What...

Teaching Your Child Kindness

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION from the Florida Jewish News They played on the floor, the contented toddlers, surrounded by crushed candy wrappers, smashed candy pieces and other telltale signs of a party. One little one toddled over towards Menachem, and engrossed in his own efforts to get the little piece out of the container, dropped the whole container. Menachem, who had recently turned two, was involved in munching his own sweets, but he saw the action, and without missing a beat—or a bite—reached over, picked up the fallen candy container, and handed it to the other toddler before the recipient could cry. From the sidelines, I watched, astonished. Most kids would keep the fallen goodies. Most kids would truly believe it was theirs, and most parents would excuse the miscreant. “After all,” they would reason with perfect logic, “he’s only a baby.” But will that kid learn to share? Will he learn “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is not mine”? At what point will he learn that? Will his parents make the same excuses for him at ten? At fifteen? And the most important question: Where do they see their own role in the teaching process? Is the child supposed to somehow, by osmosis, pick up the concepts of civilized society all by himself or do they see themselves as involved in making it happen? Menachem already knows the answer. He couldn’t explain it to you, but what he did is called “kindness.” A two-year old who does what he did so automatically has already been inoculated against being mean, selfish, cold, or criminal 45 years from now....

8 Secrets For Getting Your Defiant Child To Cooperate

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION from the Florida Jewish News “She stands there and sasses me,” the poor young mother cried. “She won’t go to time out. What can I do?” Time out is an effective way to turn behavior in school-age children around, but it must be part of a comprehensive program of positive discipline. Here are secrets that you would not have realized are absolutely necessary to get your child on your side.  Secret #1 -Time Out Is Painful. It Is A Partial Rejection Of The Child. It Can Therefore Only Be Instituted Successfully When You Are Connected to Your Child In a negative environment, the child is simply going to tune out the purveyor of that negativity. Can you blame her? No one wants a steady dose of unpleasant interaction. Either the child will tune out, leave, or sass. Those are the three sure signs that the environment has been negative.   The antidote is to build on a foundation constructed with a strong connection with your child. The relationship with your child, if it’s good, has the resilience to overcome little bouts of negative experiences such as routine punishments and scoldings. Take the time to listen to your child. That is the single most important building block of a good relationship. After all, is it quite fair for you to expect him to listen to you when you don’t listen to him? The theory that children don’t like to talk to their parents is nonsense. I raised four and there were no such obstacles between us. Right now, it may be he won’t tell you anything but...

DON’T Let Children Solve Their Own Problems

Picture the scene: Several 5 year olds are playing in the park. One of them thinks a toy/ball/whatever of his/hers has been unfairly taken by another. He/she starts to hit/attack the would-be thief. The parents are clustered at the edge of the play area, talking and laughing. The noise level from the group of children elevates and one parent looks around at the children screaming at each other. Her eyebrow goes up and she remarks that the kids are going at each other. Another parent, puffed up with his brand of wisdom says, “Let the kids work it out.” If that isn’t the most god-awful stupid parenting advice, none beats it. So, I decided that this parent, we’ll call him Jim, needs to learn a lesson. He needs to be the victim of his own “wisdom.” Let’s go back to last night: It’s 3 A.M. and Jim and his wife are sleeping. The doorbell rings. The police are at the door and they walk in right past him. They ignore his requests for information and proceed to search his house. He is pretty upset, frightened, and confused at this point. Next, they arrest him. He gets to the police station where his plea, “I want to speak to a lawyer,” is met with, “No, sir. You have to work it out.” Not the same situation? Wrong! It most certainly IS the same situation: Two people who don’t have a clue how to resolve a difficulty are left helpless, with no assistance, no advice, no TOOLS. One is 5 and needs adult guidance and one is 50 and needs legal...

How Do You Discipline a 20-Year Old?

Your child is not, technically, a child any more; he or she is 20, over age in a couple of states; past the age of consent in others. But he needs discipline; boy, does he. What do you do? There are two answers to this. One is: You better do it; it’s never too late. And the other is that you actually have a few things going for you that you didn’t earlier. So if the first answer is that you better do it, the real question is how? You certainly can’t yell, fight, threaten, or “lose it” or you may as well throw in the towel. How to do it? — With the least display of emotion, the most neutral tone, you take away what you can, such as the car keys and money. You don’t do his laundry any more or cook his meals. No explanation, no discussion, no threats, nothing. Now pay attention to the strategy here: If you don’t go lecturing and threatening, you just take it away, then he’ll have to come after you asking what’s going on. See? And your reply? — Very cool. Something like, “I’m really sorry. You know I wanted to lend you the car. I got a tickle out of thinking how you’d matured and you were responsible and all. And then you went out with that Rob, after you assured me you wouldn’t, and, I just don’t feel secure and safe lending you the car. Believe me, I’m more disappointed than you are.” When you don’t deliver the message with anger, he has nothing to fight about. When...

Fear of Discipline Backfires!

Do you have a wild child? Then this article may be for you. Do you just blow up when you can’t take it any more? Then this article is definitely for you. Abuse victims, when they become parents, are handicapped in two ways. One, they have no clue how to give good discipline because they never saw it done. A parent who knows how does not resort to abuse. Or, I should say, a parent who knows how deep in his/her bones, not just intellectually, does not need to resort to abuse. So if you were beaten, humiliated, yelled at, ignored, neglected, abandoned, criticized, or any of the hundred other ways of being abused, you never saw positive discipline in action. So you just don’t know what it looks like. Now, suppose you take a parenting course. Here’s handicap #2. Even when you learn–intellectually–what it is, many parents who have been abused have a gut-level abhorence of anything that remotely looks like violence. Any form of discipline that is perfectly “kosher” may look to an abuse victim like something harsh, mean, and hateful. And those parents just can’t seem to put it into action. That’s when the leniency paves the way for the very abuse they don’t ever want to be guity of doing: Because they have failed to discipline their child, the child, of course, gets out of hand, eventually. That’s what normal children do, if unstopped. So then, these sweet, lovely parents who couldn’t bring themselves to discipline their child lash out at them angrily. And they actually feel justified! “I’ve had enough!” They exclaim. Well, that’s...

Those Kids Must Be Doing SOMETHING Right

The saddest family walked into my room not long ago. The tension in the air was so great, I could hardly breathe. The parents smiled and were quite pleasant as they addressed me and their children, so what was I picking up? The daughter, a teen, had a glum expression and sat with her arms crossed. She, clearly, was unhappy. But was she just a manipulative person who was cross when she didn’t get her way? That seemed to be her parents’ thought as they argued and negotiated their way through the first 20 minutes of our session. Now, in truth, if these parents had been operating from the rest of this website, they would have gotten gold stars. They were not abusive. They were not putting the children down. They had good rules. They stuck to the rules (more or less). They tried to not let the kids walk all over them. Was it their fault that the children needed so much control? How To Create Low Self Esteem Without Abusing Your Child The answer is: Yes. Yes, it is their fault. The object of controlling a child is to foster self-control. The object of discipline is to foster self-discipline. If parenting is not accomplishing that then all the rules, all the consequences, are for naught. You will only foster rebellion. Or resentment, or just plain pain. This child was in pain. And the worst of it was that with all the rules and all the consequences and all the arguments, negotiations, and deals, she was totally convinced that whatever was wrong was wrong with her. Even when...
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