Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Parents Impact Change

Nothing can change until the parents change.

All behaviors are learned whether it is your child's behavior or parenting sytle. From the basic concept of Behaviorism a behavior is more likely to re-occur when it is reinforced or followed by something desirable.

The research clearly points to behavioral intervention as the best practices for a number of behavioral diagnosis. If we are to teach our children about being responsible for themselves and their actions we must begin with this concept as a staple in addressing a range of challenges from daily issues to more destructive behaviors.

When we behave as a parent who is able to nurture and yet still set limits we instill a sens of safety and self-trust in our children. Children want and need limits. When rules are set and expectations are clear to children they will also be clear about the result for following or breaking a rule or expectation. The key here is following through with reinforcing what they are doing correctly to ensure it happens again and to avoid the power struggles around something not being done.

This is the most simplistic version of this 'tip' around increasing the behaviors you want to see vs the behaviors you don't want to see.

Happy Parenting!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Minimize power struggles by using EMPATHY

This is a long one, but a quick read with information that can change your interactions with your children, your partners and pretty much anyone you potentially face a conflict with.

What stops you your tracks? Knowing someone understands where you are coming from? The moment someone acknowledges or recognizes our emotions we tend to relax, breathe and begin to open up.

Empathy is a key skill whether it's in parenting, partnering or other relationships. Empathy is the key to de-escalating your child when they are angry, frustrated, overwhelmed, sad, disappointed, etc. This works not only in helping to de-escalate your child's behavior and to prevent further escalation, but also serves two other functions. One of which is to teach your children to identify and verbalize what they are feeling rather than acting them out. The second function serves to keep you in the parent role avoiding power struggles and helping to keep you objective in a situation where your buttons are being pushed.

Here is an EXAMPLE:
You've just told your daughter that she cannot go to the movies with her friends because she chose not to finish her responsibilities for the day. She begins crying, yelling ans saying what an unfair parent you are, that she doesn't love you and any other button of yours she can pushto get you to feel what she is feeling.

How would you normally respond? How would you feel? Could you follow through with what you say?

Without addressing her statements or responding to her attempts to push your buttons or to engage you in a power struggle, you FIRST check in with yourself.
How are you feeling? Chances are whatever your primary emotion is, your child is feeling that same emotion multiplied by ten.

SECOND, what emotion is your child showing? After checking in then you simply say it out loud.
"Wow, I can tell you're really mad (or name the emotion)."
"I can see how frustrating this is for you."
"You're really disappointed about this."

Any variation that simply reflects what is going on.

You may have to cointually repeat the empathy statement until they have begun to calm and are in a place to talk about what is going on.

They aren't reacting to be rude or disrespectful. They are processing externally or behaviorally and they have not yet learned the skills to express and manage their emotions. Using empathy will help them learn more appropriate ways to express themselves.

This technique is also useful with toddlers and younger children and will teach them the feelings identification skill. "I know this is frustrating, it's not OK to throw toys. Let's try again."

  1. Your children will feel heard.
  2. There will be fewer behavioral challenges.
  3. The duration of tanturms or the like will shorten.
  4. Your child will feel more confident in speaking openly about their feelings.