Parent Coaching Blog

Sep
22

The Rule of Thumb When Making Rules…

                              

Children as young as three can think things through using the statements… “If … Then…”  This is called the age of reason where they can judge what might happen next if they choose certain behaviors.  This means at this early age, we can already guide our children to take on the job of regulating their behavior.  Having clear rules and expectations helps us help them make good choices.  Here is summary of how you might start to incorporate your rules and expectations into your family life.

 

LET CHILDREN KNOW WHAT IS EXPECTED

  First, State the positive expectations…. 

When designing your house rules, make sure to consistently state the positive things you want or expect.    Here are a few examples of what you might expect.  Only choose three (at the most) that work for your family and make sure they are general.

   Be Nice   Be Helpful    Be Honest   Be Gentle   Be in Control

 Then, Get specific. Start to think about what each positive expectation covers, and make sure your children understand that each broad expectation has specific parts to it. Children under 7 need to see these specifics visually in order to understand them, so showing them pictures of good choices is a great idea.

Being  Nice = being nice with your body, your words, and your actions

Being  Helpful = helping your family and friends, your home, and yourself (by doing your best)

Being in Control= controlling your body and actions, your words, and your emotions

Finally, Be on the lookout for good choices.  Tell them you noticed when they made a good choice, and reinforce the behavior with your attention to it.  For example state, “I noticed how you were in control of your body when we waited in line at the store. You probably wanted to touch the candybars but you didn’t and that was a good choice.” 

 

LET CHILDREN KNOW WHAT IS NOT ALLOWED

 “Zero in” on Zero Tolerance Behaviors

No Fussing      No Fighting      No Hurting     No Whining    No Lying

Choose a few  items from this list or your own ideas that make sense in your home.  These should be broad enough to cover a lot of ground. Again, visually showing children under age 7 examples of these negative behaviors is a good idea so that we can help them better understand what we are talking about.  For example:

No Fussing means no whining, no screaming, and no wailing

 

GIVE YOUR CHILD TOOLS TO HELP THEM REGULATE BEHAVIOR

Give them a chance to rewind  and do it over again without the bad choices. Parent may have to give them examples of how they could have done things differently like: Say that again in a nice way, Show me how to play nice with your sister, Say nothing instead of saying something nasty.

 Allow  them a chance to take a break.  When they are unable to rewind on the spot and give you an alternative to the bad choice, allow them a chance to take a break away from the group and return on their own when they are ready to be nice. This break is not a negative consequence but just a chance to regroup.  They may take it a multitude of different ways and whatever works to get them to regroup is an okay choice for a break.  The goal is the regrouping not the actual break.  So help your child decide what is going to work and use it.

Remind them that… Nice gets nice and Nasty gets nothing

Come up with a list of the things that are important to your child and take these things away for a designated time period if they do not get their behavior on track after rewinding or taking a break:  tv, computers, favorite toys, snacks, dessert for the day.  Make sure what you take away is something meaningful,  so that they weigh the consequences of their actions.  If you tell them they will lose something, then you HAVE to be willing to follow through.  

 

If we set them up with these boundaries and tools, the child should begin to regulate their behavior without us doing it for them.

Having rules and  system for how they work will give the child the boundaries and expectations they need to feel secure and safe.

Having Tools and a system for how they work will give the child the chance to be in charge of their behavior.

 

The child gets the chance to succeed on his own!  

 

The child gets the chance to stay  and play.

 

The child gets the chance to have special things later in his day.

 

Thumbs up to parents who use rules and boundaries to help their child bloom and grow! 

                            

Sep
10

Don’t be a such a sucker….

What child doesn’t love a trip to the bank?  It’s one of the many errands on Mom’s list of places to go that kids simply don’t mind attending.  Why is this? SUCKERS!!!

Here’s what happened the other day: 

 I was in the drive-through line at our bank…

It was one of the final days of summer, and so I had a car full of kids.  There were big kids and little kids and everyone knew what their prize would be if they stayed quiet while I tried to hear the teller’s directions over the speaker. The teller asked, “Do you have children in the car and are they allowed to have a sucker.”  These questions were her typical questions.  She was so kind to ask them, and I responded, “I have four children in the car, and yes, they are allowed to have a sucker, thank you so much.” 

      However, the teller went beyond her call of duty with her next question… With one quick question she opened up a can of worms instead of that yummy jar of dum dum suckers.   She said, “And what flavors do they want?”  My children’s eyes lit up because not only did they get a sucker, but they got to choose the flavor! Holy Moly! Life is good!

       What I want to know is :  When did things change?   When did we move from offering a special treat to appeasing our children’s every want and desire?  This shift (I fear) is what is creating havoc in many of our homes.  This question of “what do you want?” changes the road ahead in our families as it puts the child in the driver’s seat.  I think the question stems from our need to avoid having our children suffer. 

Maybe parents are thinking these things…

“My children have a mind of their own, and why would I want them to have to suffer through eating a sucker they don’t like.”

“Wouldn’t it be tortuous to expect them to sit quietly while I speak to the teller, and then give them a black raspberry sucker when they really wanted a watermelon one?” 

“What a horrible mother I would be if I didn’t give them what they wanted! Shouldn’t  I give them what they deserve?   Which is …. Which is…”

Well, I guess that is the million dollar question.  

What do our children deserve?

 Do children deserve special treats or are special treats an added bonus to their expected behavior?

This may sound radical, but I say:  children don’t deserve anything for making good choices while you wait at the bank or when they act as they are expected to act. 

     Now, if the teller is nice enough to offer you a sucker, then you may have one, but the deal is: You get what you get and you don’t have a fit.  If you don’t like the flavor you have received, then you kindly pass it on to your brother, and ask if he would like to swap flavors.  If no one wants to swap, you keep the sucker to share with your poor mother who has driven you all over town, or you simply throw it away when you get home.   

 Is this logical or am I crazy?  

Crazy is:  dooming our children to a life filled with constant pleasure and no suffering.  This is because eventually life will deal them a “Yucky Sucker”, and they won’t know how to suffer gracefully because they’ve never had to do this before. 

Back to our bank story:   I kindly responded, “We are okay with whatever flavor we get,” (as my children cringed and groaned at me in the back seats).  Then the teller said, “Thank you for being so easy going. I just had a mom drive back through the line because the sucker I gave her wasn’t her child’s favorite, and she didn’t want to hear him cry about it all the way home.”

YIKES!    Are you kidding me? Is this what we’ve resorted to…? 

 Are these the Life Rules for children in 2012

1.  Get a treat for doing nothing out of the ordinary. 

2.  Cry as hard as you can when you don’t like the treat. 

3.  Then your mother will beg for another free treat so that she doesn’t have to listen to you suffer.   

Here are  my final thoughts…

  1. When  it comes to freebies like suckers at the bank,  there is no fussing… You get what you get and you don’t have a fit.  If children are allowed to throw a fit and get what they want, their parents are supporting negative behaviors.
  2. If you do throw a fit, then you will get nothing.   Mom or dad will not contrive the perfect scenario to make your wishes come true.  They will not coddle you until you calm down over your “horrible experience”.  Although this will be a challenge for parents,  they will simply say, “Let me know when you are ready to join us or if you change your mind about your treat.” 
  3. Then mom and dad will tune you out and not react to your fit so that you learn to regulate your emotions on your own.

Ahhhh isn’t life with children so sweet?

Sep
5

A Pin-prick of Progress

            When parents ask me to step in as they try to make a change in their child’s behavior, I often say that things will probably get worse before they get better.   In other words, you might see your child’s behavior escalate as they try to wriggle out of your new set of boundaries.  Your child may test you to your last drop of energy so that they can ensure you really mean what you say.  

        When you are trying to make a change in your child’s behavior, your days can be dark and dismal, and it can be difficult to find the light at the end of the tunnel.  You might wonder if these horribly explosive behaviors will follow your child into their teenage years and end up wrecking your family.  These frustrations may make you want to quit before you even begin to make a difference, but I say, “Hang on and zone into the smallest moments of growth”.

       It is essential in the midst of this kind of turmoil for parents to identify the smallest, pin prick of light or growth when they see it in their child’s behavior. 

     If all day they have tested you, but for one short second, you witness an act of kindness you have to nab the moment and call it like you see it… “I noticed  when I asked you to get your coat on, you listened on the first time.” “I noticed you allowed your little brother to sit beside you while you played with your trains.”  “I noticed that earlier today, you didn’t cry when it was time to leave the park.” In the midst of a crazy day it can be so easy to overlook these small moments of success because they are out numbered by bad choices and because frankly, the bad choices are usually noisier and more apt to catch your attention.        

        So force yourself to be on the lookout for these shining moments (even if they seem to be the smallest deed or action).  I believe that the more you see and recognize their good choices, the more these positive behaviors will repeat themselves. 

        Eventually you might have trouble finding a bad choice in your child’s day because the good choices will shine so brightly.  Wouldn’t that be a wonderful problem to have?