Tag Archives: punish

The Power of Acceptance

All parents struggle with fears and worries about their children and many end up just getting in their own way. When you take your children’s behavior personally and use your authority to control them to do what you want, you may wind up creating the scenario you most fear.

The problem comes when we think it’s our children who need to change when indeed it is us. Whatever you need to do to get to acceptance is the answer.

The following is a story from one of my clients that I find truly inspiring. Her struggles to understand her son and ultimately herself have led to a wonderful relationship. I hope it motivates you to trust your children and let go of a small bit of your fears. You will always have fears and doubts — you wouldn’t be a conscientious parent without them. But in the moment, when your child needs your connection, you must be able to at least temporarily put those fears aside.

Reflections on my journey with my son – Mother of three

I am enjoying a playful moment in the kitchen with my 6’6, 17 year old son. He likes to get in my space and see if he can startle me with his big teenage energy. I get flustered and cry out, “You make me feel anxious when you do that!” He smiles with this gentle warmth and looking right in my eyes​ ​he says lovingly​, “​Mum, it’s not what I do​ that makes you feel anxious. It’s what you ​think​ about what I do.”

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On Being a Parent

Becoming a parent is easy. Being a parent is the hardest job you will ever have. There are as many “shoulds” and “oughts” about parenting as books on bookstore shelves. What should you do? Who do you listen to?

Some say trust your instincts. I agree. After all we are evolved to procreate and raise children in the culture of our heritage. It should be as easy as it appears for the birds and the bees. But where are all those wise instincts we’re born with? For most of us, they are buried under layers upon layers and years and years of being told what to do, when to do it and how to do it. We’re taught if we don’t listen to parents and elders, we will be in trouble, maybe not be loved or accepted. Years of learned experience has set up detours and roadblocks tricking most of us away from our instincts to look in the wrong direction for the answers.

The answer is found in trusting yourself.

But first you have to believe that you actually do know what to do? Probably you learned you shouldn’t trust yourself because you were taught to listen to your parents and teachers no matter what. Giving your opinion was thought of as rude and “talking back”. You probably decided to just keep quiet and stay out of the way so nobody yelled at you. Or you decided you didn’t need anybody and began listening to the wrong people. You learned so much in all those developing years – just not how to trust yourself.

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4 Ways to Help Your Child Succeed in School

Of course, you want your children to succeed in school. You do all you can to manage getting their best. But what really is your job? Is it to insure good grades, getting involved in the right sports and extra-curriculars, and diligently doing their homework? If so how involved do you get? And what do you do if they don’t meet your expectations?

Do you know that all your best intentions can undermine your child’s school success and desire to learn?

Children are natural learners. We come evolved to soak up all the learning we can — until it becomes a requirement. Remember when your toddler kept asking you why? until you wanted to scream? How is she doing now in the curiosity department?

Here are four key aspects to help you help your children succeed in school:

1.      Stay Out of It

This makes parenting so much easier, gives you more time for connection, and hands over the responsibility they need to learn. But it’s hard give up managing your kids’ school lives and work, especially if your definition of success isn’t happening.

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Jul. ’18 Q&A – Sleep Training, Common Frustrations, and Finding the Best Direction

Sleep Training

Q. I’m wondering if you have any advice on “sleep training”. My baby is almost 8 months and breastfed to sleep for naps and bed time. We also co-sleep. But my husband is ready for him to move to his room and everyone is trying to give me advice about how to achieve this. I do NOT want to do the cry it out method. I’m having a hard time accepting the entire idea. Plus he’s never slept in his crib. I have tried the pacifier several times throughout the months, but he never has accepted it. It’s so hard because I hate to hear him cry, it will be torture not to pick him up or nurse him when he is resisting sleep without nursing. I’m thinking I’ll put a mattress in his room so I can be near while he adjusts to his crib. But I definitely need to mentally prepare myself for this entire process or I know I will give in.

A. You are at a good point to start sleep training (altho I hate that term). I think the first place to start is putting him in his crib for naps so he gets used to that. Keep nursing him to sleep so he goes easily and wakes up in his crib. Once that is accomplished the next step is to gradually put him down awake – without nursing him to sleep. This is the hard part but so important. When he associates going to sleep with nursing, that’s what he will expect when he wakes up at night. He no longer needs a feeding at night – that doesn’t mean you are going to stop – but just know that. When he will not stop crying at night until you nurse, that means he has made the association strongly. This is a hard time because you will of course go back and forth for awhile — nothing ever needs to be cold turkey. But the best thing you can do for both of you is to get him to go to sleep without nursing.

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June ’18 Q&A – Refusing the Toilet, Unrealistic Expectations and Huge Feelings

Refusing the Toilet

Q. My 3 yr old daughter goes to a small home daycare and uses the toilet there without accidents but refuses to use the toilet at home. I understand that it’s more of a control issue than a potty training issue. I have been letting her wear pull ups at home as long as she puts them on herself. She still refuses to try the toilet. There hasn’t been any event that I can think of that would have scared her. She is very verbal and will tell me that she just doesn’t like to use our potty. She won’t poop at daycare either. She holds it until she gets home and gets a pull up on and then she goes.

Do you think I am doing the right thing by letting her wear pull ups at home? I have tried not letting her, and she lays on the floor and screams. I am trying to make it her idea to use the potty and am trying not to make a big deal about it. She is so stubborn about it that when we “ran out” of pull ups she wore the same one for the entire day. When it leaked down her leg, she changed her pants 4 times, but still refused to use the toilet. Any ideas? I have tried everything (stickers, rewards, bribes, presents, running out of diapers/pull ups, picking out her own underwear, we made a potty for her babies, she has a potty and a seat for the toilet, tried going naked).

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When Do I Draw the Line?

Parents who want to leave the reward and punishment methods behind often have a hard time letting go fully and embracing a truly connective relationship with their children.

When my child won’t do what has to be done, I have to draw the line, don’t I?
I try to be empathic and listen, but where do I draw the line?

What does “Drawing the line” mean? Making your child stop? Not being empathic anymore? Maintaining your authority as a parent? I think it’s worth figuring out what this phrase means as it runs endlessly in the minds of well-intentioned parents trying their best to change old ways.

“Drawing the line” is one of the last bastions of the reward and punishment mindset. It comes out of the frustrated parent dealing with a defiant or resistant child. But what do you do when you draw the line? Is this line similar to a “line in the sand” beyond which one cannot cross? Does that mean you and your child are separated by a line preventing both of you from getting to each other? Is it a boundary mark that determines the end of your attempt at connection and the beginning of punitive measures?

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May ’18 Q&A – Confidence, Empathy and Shopping

Is it lack of confidence or too much control?

Q. Our 5-year old boy is struggling with confidence. He has difficulty focusing at school and we don’t want him to get behind. There are 22 kids in his class and the school has an expectation of work. Also has trouble focusing at soccer practice/games, anytime things are going on around him. He has no issues interacting with people, kids or adults. I believe he lacks confidence because he is afraid of trying new things. He doesn’t like to fail and gets frustrated easily when he can’t learn fast. He also gets very embarrassed when things don’t go as expected.

Following the same type of discipline we experienced as kids and some bad advice, we controlled his environment too much the last 2-3 years, and I believe that is the reason he struggles trusting himself and us. We had a baby last year (she is 1 now) and the combination of this big change and the environment we unintentionally created for him has been damaging for him. We have been looking into anxiety (because there is family history) and also ADHD to see if we need to be concerned. He has not been diagnosed with anything, but through some play therapy he started we were told he has control issues and to look into control and anxiety before ADHD. What would your recommendation be in order to boost his confidence and embrace who he is? 

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Getting Your Kids to Listen to You. Could There Be Anything Better?

When your kids don’t listen, how long does your patience last?

You think you’ve tried everything. You ask nicely, you keep asking nicely until you explode, you lecture about all you do for them, you give them consequences for not listening, you give them extra privileges if they do — but your kids still won’t listen.

You can’t seem to get them do what they should: brush their teeth, go to bed, get off the computer, quiet down in the car, eat a healthy meal, pick up their dirty clothes, etc. What’s wrong with them? What’s wrong with you?

What if: They do listen, but they don’t like what they hear? (That’s not okay, is it?)

Now ask yourself: Are you asking them for cooperation or obedience?

You must be clear about what you’re expecting. If you expect obedience (I know, you don’t think you are), your kids hear it in your tone. There’s a “if you don’t do what I say, you’re in trouble” attitude that determines your tone and expectation.

The key to understanding why your children won’t do what you ask lies in understanding if and why you expect them to. Simply put, they are just being kids, doing what kids are supposed to do — get what they want when they want it. They’re probably not being disrespectful or rude. But you expect more. You expect them to do what you say because you’re the parent and kids should do what they’re told, right? After all isn’t that the way you were brought up? That’s expecting obedience. Nothing wrong with that as long as you take responsibility for it and understand that you are likely to get push-back, especially from strong-willed children.

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April ’18 Q&A – “Bad” Preschool Behavior, Racism and Screentime

“Bad” Preschool Behavior

Q. Our 31/2 year old grandson just started preschool, and has already gotten an email (in 6 days) about how bad his behavior is.  Not listening, not being nice with other kids, etc.  I don’t think he is old enough to verbalize what is bothering him, so how do we figure out how to help him? I remember your story about your child when she was young and even now you said it almost breaks your heart because she couldn’t say what was bothering her.

A. If your grandson’s preschool is complaining about his behavior,

  1. They don’t know how to handle impulsive children
  2. He is not ready for school
  3. This school is not the right place for him

Or all 3 of these may be true. In any case, I would remove him from this school immediately. If they see him as having “bad” behavior (not true), they do not understand behavior and it likely means they have already decided too much about him that will color all their interactions with him going forward. He needs a preschool that will understand normal, impulsive, boy behavior and how to respond to that behavior effectively. However, if his parents do not NEED him to be in school, then I might keep him home for another 6 months. Or if they can, hire someone to be with him at home. In terms of him verbalizing what the problem is, it is hard. His understanding is from a 3 y.o. perspective, which is not objective at all.

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March ’18 Q&A – Getting Choices to Work, Getting a Spouse On Board and Swearing

Getting Choices to Work

Q. What is the next step after saying, “You can either pick up that toy you threw and put it in the box or hand it to me. Which do you choose?” and the child refuses to choose or states they refuse to do either? I frequently find this with my 3 year old daughter. We either end up in a power struggle or I end up letting it go and the toy is left or I pick it up. 

A. I would add, “If you can’t make the choice right now, let’s take a break and do something else and then come back to it.” If you put it to her the moment she has thrown the toy it is too soon because she is deep in her anger. Next time give it time for her emotions and yours to calm. I might also start with “Do you want to…” instead of “You can either…” which sounds a little more threatening. If your anger is behind your words, she will definitely not respond. Take a break, do some calming down activity, then acknowledge the anger that made her throw the toy – “You were very angry when I asked you to put your toys away. You didn’t want to do that so you threw one of them because you felt mad.” You then normalize her feelings and let her know she is okay. Then say, “Are you ready now to make a choice? Do you want to bring it to me or put it in the box?” Once feelings are calmed, she is more likely to want to make amends.

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