Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Parenting 101: Time for Change

As I mentioned yesterday in the first post in this series, hubs and I were at the end of our rope with LO's recent behavior. It was time for a change.

A BIG change.

((Let me apologize now for this L-O-N-G post. I didn't expect it to be quite so lengthy, but hopefully it'll be a quick and easy read for those of you who decide to forge ahead.))

Let me set the scene for you. LO's preschool teacher sends home a class newsletter each Friday. Included in the newsletter each week is a special section for the principal to share some insights for parents. About two weeks ago, I noticed in the principal's section, she had shared a quote from Dr. Kevin Leman's book entitled, Have a New Kid... by Friday.

I thought to myself: A new kid? By Friday?!

Yes, please!


A few short moments later, I found myself on Amazon purchasing said book. Really, what did I have to lose? Things couldn't get any worse, and maybe this $13 book would be the answer to our problems.


When the book arrived (2-day shipping for free... Thank you, Amazon Prime!), I immediately opened it up and started reading through it at lightening speed. If nothing else, this book is a quick and easy read, which really, it should be considering it was written specifically for parents who don't have the time to read for leisure because they're too busy dealing with their frustrating, havoc-wreaking, disobeying children! The book is comprised of short chapters, one for each of the 5 weekdays, Monday through Friday. I want to share with you my take on the gist of each chapter as well as my thoughts/concerns about implementing the strategies on our unsuspecting 3 1/2 year old (NOTE: This is where the post becomes quite lengthy!).

Monday
Notable quotes:
  1. "Children are masters at manipulation. Don't think they're not manipulating you."
  2. "Kids do what they do because they've gotten away with it!"
  3. "Your child's behavior has everything to do with you."
  4. "If you want your child to take you seriously, say your words once. Only once. If you say it more than once, you're implying, 'I think you're so stupid that you're not going to get it the first time, so let me tell you again.'"
New strategy:
  1. Say it once.
  2. Turn your back.
  3. Walk away.
My thoughts:
  1. Say it once? Come on, people. What do you take me for? Do you know how many times I have to ask LO to stop trying to push her brother down before she actually listens? At least 62 times. And that's only when combined with either (a) the threat of taking one of her toys away from her or (b) some kind of physical interaction (i.e. moving her brother away from her) or (c) BOTH! And sure, it makes sense that by telling her something over and over again, it sends the message that we don't think she's capable of "getting it" the first time, but her behavior tells us we're not far off-base!
  2. Yes, I fully realize she's manipulating us. I have no doubt of this. She is her father's daughter. I've heard stories of hubs' childhood that make me shudder in fear. I think this particular truth is one I'll keep reminding myself of as we institute changes recommended in this book (so I won't feel like the world's worst parent).
  3. I have no doubt that LO thinks she can do (or not do) anything and say (or not say) anything simply because we've never truly disciplined her in a way that translated as discipline in her little 3 1/2-year-old brain. We have our work cut out for us.


Tuesday
Notable quotes:
  1. "The top 3 long-term concerns of parents have to do with a new kind of ABCs: Attitude, Behavior and Character."
  2. "The key to changing your child is changing your attitude."
  3. "If the doctor says, 'You responded to your medication,' that's good. If the doctor says, 'You reacted to your medication,' that's bad."
New strategy:
  1. Let reality be the teacher. Don't rescue your kids from the consequences of failed responsibility.
  2. Learn to respond rather than react. Don't let your emotions get the better of you and don't speak or act without thinking first.
  3. B doesn't happen until A is completed. If you've asked your child to do something and it's not done, you don't go on to the next event -- no matter what that event is.
My thoughts:
  1. I couldn't agree more that our interest lies in the long-term goals of parenting -- raising children with the attitude, behavior and character we believe will aid in them developing into contributing members of society.
  2. Wow. How tall are these strategies to measure up to, specifically to respond rather than react? I'm sorry, but have you had to fight with your 3 1/2 year old for 30 minutes just to get her to go potty before bedtime? How can you not lose your patience with that situation and react emotionally, especially when her brother is already in bed and she's making enough noise with her defiance and complaining to wake the entire neighborhood?
  3. I was happy to see the ideals of letting reality be the teacher and that B doesn't happen until A is completed. I feel like we're already utilizing these strategies with LO, but I have no doubt that we haven't been as consistent with them as we need to be in order for them to be effective.


Wednesday
Notable quotes:
  1. "What your children think about you at any one particular moment isn't necessarily what they will think about you for life."
  2. "Your child needs not only your attention but also a relationship with you!"
  3. "Being happy all the time isn't real life, and you're not being fair to your child if you're providing a continual Disneyland experience."
New strategy:
  1. Determine what kind of parent you are: Permissive, Authoritarian or Authoritative.
    • A permissive parent is a slave to the child; places the priority on the child, not on his or her spouse; robs the child of self-respect and self-esteem by doing things for her that the child can do for herself; invites rebellion with inconsistent parenting.
    • An authoritarian parent makes all decisions for the child; uses reward and punishment to control the child's behavior; runs the home with an iron hand, granting little freedom to the child.
    • An authoritative parent gives the child choices and formulates guidelines with him; provides the child with decision-making opportunities; develops consistent, loving discipline; holds the child accountable; conveys respect, self-worth and love to the child and therefore enhances the child's self-esteem.
My thoughts:
  1. Wow. What an eye-opening chapter this turned out to be! I think I can safely say that I am without-a-doubt a permissive parent and hubs is an authoritarian parent. No wonder LO is so confused! I always expected hubs and I to have differing parenting styles, and I always assumed that dynamic would be beneficial to our ability to parent our kids. But I guess I never really thought about the negative impact that would have on our kids.
  2. I do believe we both try a lot of the authoritative parenting techniques often, but eventually we both resort to our ingrained approaches and that just adds to the confusion.


Thursday
Notable quotes:
  1. "Every child lives up to the expectation you have for him."
  2. "Want to empower your children? Give them responsibility."
  3. "Praise links a child's worth to what she does. Encouragement emphasizes the act."
New strategy:
  1. Respect your children:
    • Never do for them what they can and should do for themselves.
    • Don't repeat your instructions.
    • Expect the best of them.
    • Don't praise them.
    • Encourage them.
  2. Help your child develop the key pillars of self-worth:
    • Acceptance
    • Belonging
    • Competence

My thoughts:
  1. We're really getting down to the heart of the matter today, now aren't we? Respect your child? My focus has always been the other way around, so I know for a fact this concept has been neglected in our household. It's so simple and makes so much sense.
  2. Expect the best, get the best. How poignant! I need to remember to expect the best from my children, in all things, all the time. I don't want to build up their self-esteem at the cost of their self-worth! The book mentioned that praise focuses on how "good" a person is while encouragement focuses on an action. And I know I've continually caught myself doing things for LO that she's more than capable of doing herself, but she just never does it my way. Or she makes a big mess when she does it. Or whatever. I need to let go of that mentality and support her in developing her own self-worth.


Friday
Notable quotes:
  1. "Children who have been allowed to have their own way for a while can be extremely powerful."
  2. "If your child is thrashing as he comes out of the water, you'll know you're on the right track."
  3. "Friday is FUN DAY -- the day you decide to go for it! You're going to launch your game plan on your unsuspecting children."
New strategy:
  1. The Top 10 list of what it takes:
    1. Be 100 percent consistent in your behavior.
    2. Always follow through on what you say you will do.
    3. Respond, don't react.
    4. Count to 10 and ask yourself, "What would my old self do in this situation? What should the new me do?"
    5. Never threaten your kids.
    6. Never get angry.
    7. Don't give any warnings.
    8. Ask yourself, "Whose problem is this?"
    9. Don't think the misbehavior will go away.
    10. Keep a happy face on, even when you want to... do something else.
My thoughts:
  1. Whew! How about that? All of the strategies and principles one needs to raise a child, right there in black and white. Who knew it could be so easy? Right. It's easier said than done, obviously. But I feel empowered to a degree that maybe, just maybe, Dr. Leman slipped me the other team's playbook under the table. Little Miss doesn't know we're on to her. And boy is her kingdom about to experience some massive changes. I guess that means it's time to get started!

If you made it this far, thank you so much for humoring me and following along on our journey! Stay tuned tomorrow for my next post in this series. It's the one where LO doesn't see what hit her. ;) Bwahaha!