Tag Archives: cooperation

June ’19 Q&A – Control vs. Problem Solving and Balance

Q. I have a 16 yr. old daughter home from boarding school after 3 years. Since school started, she has been with “friends” every evening till 8 or 9 PM. On weekends, she has been out at least till 11 PM. She wants me to extend weeknight curfew to 9 PM and to midnight on weekends. I had said no, that she needed to be home by 6-7 PM at night and by 9 PM on weekends. She said that she does not have homework and gets bored at home with nothing to do. She brought home her first grades report — mostly As & Bs, except a D in Biology and an F in Language Arts. What are your thoughts on curfews?

A. My thoughts on curfews is that they stem from a reward and punishment system that depends on the parent holding all the power. Many parents think this is necessary. I don’t. What is necessary is to know when and how to use your parent authority and when not. But authority is not the same as control, which makes a connective approach harder and trickier — but once you get it, it makes complete sense, and your children will respond so much more cooperatively – because you are not trying to control them.

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How to be a More Confident Parent

Confident Parents, Remarkable Kids: 8 Principles for Raising Kids You'll Love to Live With
Do you want to feel more confident in your parenting decisions and actions? Do you want a mutually respectful and loving relationship with your kids? Do you want a little more cooperation in your family?

Here is the book you’ll wish your parents had — because then you would have more of that confidence you long for.

When a child believes he is bad, he behaves badly; and parents react badly. This reconfirms for the child that he is bad. The age-old cycle of reward and punishment keeps spinning in order to maintain control. But punishment (consequences) is only an illusion of control. Most parents know it doesn’t work, because they end up feeling more out of control, their children “don’t listen” and resistance grows. But they don’t know what else to do.

If you find yourself in this most unhappy place, you want answers.

I hear parents complain all the time, “I’ve tried everything and nothing works.” The problem is that “everything” does not include what you truly need — a new understanding of your child and what her behavior really means.

“But if I don’t punish (use consequences), what do I do?”

The old reward and punishment system of discipline creates a disconnected relationship in which children feel unaccepted and misunderstood resulting in resistance and anger. Yet even when parents understand this, they are hard pressed to know an alternative. The answer to this question is found in a balanced relationship where blame and punishment are replaced with problem solving and holding clear boundaries — a more compassionate approach that teaches responsibility and accountability and brings parent and child together in life-long connection.

In 8 clear and simple principles of understanding children and how to most effectively respond, Confident Parents, Remarkable Kids outlines step-by-step the “what else” you can do. Full of real life stories, Confident Parents is a “how-to” of shifting your mindset so you see your child through the eyes of understanding and compassion as opposed to the anger and frustration that usually accompany the daily struggles of life in the trenches with kids.

You can improve your child’s behavior. But not through control and arbitrary coercion. It takes a change in perception — yours. Do you see your child as mean or selfish? Or do you see that he is having a hard time controlling his impulses? Or that he is in an egocentric stage of development and cannot yet be expected to consider others? Your perception makes all the difference in how you respond to even the worst behavior. It’s about switching from judgments and criticism to what is really going on.

When you think your child never listens, you will forcefully control to make sure she does. In this place of frustration, you miss the relationship piece, and do not understand what she may be hearing in your tone or words that she is shutting out. When a parent understands how important the parent/child relationship is — the foundation of your life-long influence — the desire for holding power over your child (He has to listen to me because I’m his parent) switches to a more balanced relationship in which your child feels trusted, accepted, understood, and an important member of the family.

Using these 8 parenting principles designed to help you help your children succeed, you will learn the following truths:
  • my child wants to please me more than anything (even when he says he hates me)
  • behavior is my clue to my child’s emotional state and tells me all I need to know
  • unacceptable behavior means my child is having a problem not being a problem
  • my needs are no more or no less important than my child’s, and many more…
  • Plus you will learn the skills of connective communication, problem solving, and conflict resolution — the most important skills you can learn and teach your children.
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    Problem Solving 101

    My husband and I were taking a walk with our 21 month old grandson. For a short distance we needed to walk in the road. I said,

    “Hold my hand Sam. You have to hold my hand in the road.”

    At first he did and then he had a different idea and pulled his hand away. I said,

    “Sam you have to hold my hand.”

    He did not want to comply. So I picked him up as he was working hard to wriggle away from me and said,

    “Sam you have to hold a hand in the road. You can hold Poppy’s hand or my hand, which do you choose?”

    He stopped wriggling. I could see him thinking. He then reached for Poppy and happily took his hand. Then he reached up for mine. For the rest of our walk he wanted to hold both our hands.

    This is problem solving. Quite simple when you understand the principle. But impossible when you are stuck in the old reward and punishment mindset.

    It worked because Sam wasn’t being forced to do something he didn’t want to do—and I got what I wanted. In other words, it worked for both of us—the #1 rule of problem solving.

    When this kind of communication begins early in a child’s life, problem solving becomes second nature. You don’t even realize you’re doing it. When children trust that what they care about is important to you, even when you highly disagree, they are willing to listen to rules because they know nothing punitive or threatening is involved, and they will come out okay. No need to worry about getting in trouble, which keeps the child’s focus entirely on herself—the opposite of what you are trying to teach.

    As children get older, problem solving gets more complex. If you have been parenting in the punitive mindset, believing that your child is being defiant and bad, switching to problem solving first requires a shift in your perception and then building trust so your child knows you are willing to see things differently. If she expects you will yell, take away her iPod, or disrespect her with degrading words, she will get quite cleaver at becoming parent deaf and defy everything in anticipation of attack.

    In my scenario with Sam, my old mindset tells me,

    Sam’s being defiant and disobedient. He’s not listening.

    This of course provokes my anger, which leads to my reactivity—control, domination—grabbing his hand with force and using a hard tone,

    “You will hold my hand or we’re going back in the house! Don’t you even try to get away. It’s not safe. You have to do what I tell you.”

    This works against his agenda and will most likely lead to a power struggle in which I have to fight to win (meaning he has to lose). He will begin to distrust me. Of course it’s not safe. Of course he has to hold my hand. But I can give him a way to comply with my wish without forcing his will and making him think he’s bad.

    I need to understand that he’s not doing what he is doing on purpose to defy me. He’s doing what he wants. When I take it personally, I get my buttons pushed, and I react.

    When I shift from assuming that he needs to be taught a lesson and listen to me, to understanding that he wants what he wants when he wants it—that’s his job, my mindset thinks,

    Of course he doesn’t want to do what I’m telling him. He has another agenda.

    When I think that way, I remain calm because he is behaving the way I expect him to. Therefore I can stay firm with my rule, mean what I say, yet do so without anger and blame and most likely gain a cooperative child. read more