"Okay, you've convinced me not to punish. But my two year old still bites, has tantrums, throws his food and scribbles on the furniture...." - Rebecca
Unfortunately, a two year old's frontal cortex is still developing the ability to control his emotions and behavior. That means they throw food, break things, have meltdowns, bite when they're mad, and scribble on the furniture. In other words, they act like two year olds.
But since the brain is still developing through the teen years, kids of all ages sometimes lack the rational control to behave as we'd like. Sometimes even 15 year olds act like 2 year olds!
So what can you do when your child acts out, whether he's a toddler or a teen? Here are the five best strategies for preventing misbehavior, for all age kids. READ POST
"What if you do all that, and he still won't brush his teeth? Give up for the night?"
In my post How Can You Set Limits If You Don't Use Threats to Enforce Them? we explored how to deal with the normal resistance that all kids feel from time to time. We used brushing teeth as our example, because most parents have problems with this daily habit in the early years. Why, after all, would any child want to brush his teeth?
I suggested that punishment and force will ultimately create more resistance, because force always creates push-back. After all, how would you feel if someone sat on you, pried open your mouth, forced a toothbrush in and scrubbed? Sure, you might begin to acquiesce. But I'm betting you'd be pushing back in other ways. Force creates power struggles.
I suggested that parents instead: READ POST
"Throw the word "consequence" entirely out of your vocabulary and replace it with the term "problem-solving." -- Becky Eanes
"My 3 year old was sitting on the couch after bath wearing her towel and said NO about 5 times when asked to get into her pj's. I was busy with the baby and I heard my husband say "OK fine -- no books then!" so I said "Hey! We've got a problem - it's bedtime and you need to be in your PJ's -- How do YOU think we should solve it?" And just like that -- she got a big grin her face, suggested we all clap our hands and march our feet and we formed a line right into her room -- happily! Same thing for teeth brushing and potty later! Each time I said "Hey, great problem solving skills! Thank you!" And her response? "You're welcome mama -- no problem!" - Carrie
Most parenting experts suggest that when children "misbehave" the best response is "consequences." Parents are told that letting children experience the consequences of their poor choices will teach them lessons. Makes sense, right? READ POST
"Dr. Laura -- Could you write about transitioning to positive discipline for parents of older kids? If I start Empathic Parenting now with my kids 12 and 9, will it still help? How do I all of a sudden "remove" punishment? My 9 year old always says 'Oh now I guess I am grounded.' How do I change his thinking?"
Transitioning to positive parenting can be hard. Your child has already come to understand the world through a certain lens. He knows he needs to "behave" or he'll be punished by losing a privilege or being grounded. Of course, you'd rather have him choose to do the right thing because he wants to have a positive impact on the world, not because he's afraid of being caught and punished. But how do you teach him the lessons he still needs to learn, if you no longer use punishment to motivate him? READ POST
"Parents who are serious about raising children
to be decent people spend an awful lot of time guiding them. It's not
enough for us to have good values; these values must be communicated
directly... For instance, to say nothing when a child acts selfishly is
to send a clear message, and that message has more to do with the
acceptability of selfishness than it does with the virtues of
non-intrusive parenting. We need to establish clear moral guidelines, to
be explicit about what we expect, but in a way that minimizes
coercion."- Alfie Kohn
How do you raise a child who assumes responsibility for her actions, including making amends and avoiding a repeat, whether the authority figure is present or not? READ POST
"Dr. Laura....How do you hold a child accountable for her behavior without punishment?"
"I recently read a quote from a Finnish education minister: "There's no word for accountability in Finnish...Accountability is something that is left when responsibility has been subtracted." - Teacher Tom
What does it mean, to hold our child accountable for her behavior? My definition would be that our child assumes responsibility for her actions, including making amends and avoiding a repeat, whether the authority figure is present or not. So, really, it isn't about "holding our child accountable." What we want is for our child to step into responsibility, to hold HERSELF accountable. Once someone takes responsibility, we don't have to "hold her accountable." READ POST
"I am a loving mother and mostly my children are very good. But everyone knows that children need discipline. What do you recommend as loving discipline?"
Want to join me in a survey? Let's ask 10,000 people whether children need discipline. I'm willing to bet that in any random sample, 9999 of our respondents will say "Yes, of course!"
But discipline is a murky word, so maybe we should define our terms. From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
2. Instruction (obsolete)
3. Field of study
4. Training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character.
5. Control gained by enforcing obedience or order.
So, the word Discipline originally meant Instruction or Guidance and derives from the same Latin root as the word Disciple. Nowadays, however, that meaning is considered obsolete, and the word has come to mean Punishment. READ POST