Lately I’ve been sneaking in some columns on parenting. I’ve also mentioned how much of the stuff I used to teach in classes was applicable with adults as well. Just sayin’ That in mind, here are some more ideas to ponder.
I appreciated that Susan Dever (Coast Unified’s former school psychologist) was “Positive Parenting.” I believe in that approach to everything in life, especially when raising children. This time of year with the excitement and expectation of Christmas, the over stimulation involved with the holidays, sugar overload, it may prove to be one of the greatest gifts you can give your loved one.
Effective discipline depends entirely on how YOU present it. First and foremost, remain calm. I know, truly, I know how hard that can be at times. Being conscious of your calmness in easier situations will help build your centeredness when the time comes for more challenging times.
A neutral tone with someone lets them know you are standing your ground but you will not escalate things by feeding into the drama.
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Be consistent. If you have certain rules — cookies are for after dinner, one-hour limit on TV — then stick with it. Do not make empty threats! They will not believe you nor respect your guidance if you don’t follow through! A few bends in the rules at the holiday times with the caveat, “Only because it’s Christmas, you can have blah, blah, blah.” My kids loved having banana splits for dinner once in a while. Keep it fun.
Be proactive: praise good behaviors, give gentle reminders (pay particular attention to your tone of voice. Smile when you say it.), provide options and allow for input on how to solve a problem. How about modeling: Please and Thank You are really, good to demonstrate, almost exaggerate them in fact, to make it really noticeable.
One of the things we get mixed up on a lot while trying to be nice is asking, not telling. “Are you ready for bed?” will almost inevitably warrant the “No” response. Be more directive with “Time for bed! Do you want to put your p.j.'s on before or after you brush your teeth?”
Do you remember being lectured as a kid about something? Do you remember what was ever said? But, I’ll bet you remember how it made you feel. Keep it short. I’ve spoken before about setting up consequences for specific behaviors and even in simpler situations, some things are obvious. “Put your coat on now so we won’t be late for school.” Depending on the age, don’t give too many orders at once or they may feel overwhelmed. As adults, we often forget what the capacity is of a five- or even 12-year-old is. Let them accomplish something and thank them or praise, as is called for.
I believe I mentioned it before, remember to put your attention on the behavior, not the child. Use “I” phrases such as “I really appreciate it when you keep your hands in your pockets when we’re in the store, just using your eyes.” This is also a good way to set them up for good behavior ahead of time.
Remember, the holidays are a special time of the year with special behavioral issues that may go along with it. Remember, be extra patient, stay calm, be clear and concise, and keep the love in your heart whether it’s toward your kids, your spouse or the overworked cashier at the store!