"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?"
Yes, empathic parenting always helps. Empathy creates a connection with your child. Children of any age, including teenagers, respond to that connection by being more open to your guidance.
Grounding your child, removing privileges, punishing with extra chores -- all of these approaches are meant to "teach a lesson." But research shows that kids get preoccupied with the unfairness of the punishment, instead of feeling remorse for what they did wrong. The lesson you want to teach, I assume, is that your child can make a better choice next time. You also want to teach that everyone makes mistakes, and your child has the power and courage to make amends. You want him to practice that. Right? Here's how. 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?
You raise the kind of person who WANTS to do the "right" thing, give her the tools to manage her behavior, and empower her to see the results of her actions, so she can choose whether to repeat them.
Yesterday, we reviewed why Why Punishment Doesn't Teach Your Child Accountability. Essentially, force always produces push-back, and eventually destroys your influence with your child
As Thomas Gordon says,"The inevitable result of consistently employing power to control your kids when they're young is that you never learn how to influence."
But I can understand if you’re feeling a bit nervous right about now. We all want to raise responsible, considerate, cooperative kids. Won't they just run wild without punishment? 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 just don't believe that kids learn to do what's right by us giving them hugs. The only reason I ever did my homework was the strap waiting if I brought home a bad report card." -- Jack
It's true. Kids need our hugs, but that's not what teaches them to do right. How do kids learn?
Our modeling. When we take responsibility, when we apologize, when we regulate our own emotions so we aren't yelling at them, children learn to take responsibility, to apologize, to regulate their own emotions and treat others with respect.
Our guidance. When we talk with them about the choices in their lives, kids learn. Should he lie about his age to get a cheaper admission price at the amusement park? Can she break a date with a friend when she gets a more exciting offer? Should he help pay for the window he broke with his baseball? Talk about the fact that ethical choices are worth making, even when it costs you...And what ethical choice doesn't cost you?
Our family habits. When kids get used to "repair" rather than punishment, they automatically look to make things better after a fight with their sibling. When they learn that everyone has big feelings, but emotions aren't an emergency, they learn to take responsibility for their emotions and their behavior. 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. READ POST
"You always recommend roughhousing,
and my kids do love it, but what do I do when they jump all over and get
too wild? Last week they broke the lamp and there was glass all over.
I was yelling like a crazy woman. I don't know which scared them more -- me or the glass." - Camille
Roughhousing is great for kids. Moving helps work out emotion. Laughter is even more important, since it vents anxiety and creates more oxytocin, the bonding hormone. Roughhousing builds self esteem, especially for kids who are less assertive, or smaller than other kids their age. And like other young mammals, when kids "play" fight, they learn to manage aggression, which makes them less likely to lash out when they're angry.
So when kids wrestle, pillow fight, and roughhouse, it's terrific for them. But it isn't always so good for our houses. And parents often worry that sooner or later, someone will get hurt. READ POST
"I had just read Dr. Laura’s blog about staying calm and acknowledging his desires. When the screaming and stomping began, I stopped what I was doing and sat down next to my three year old. I made eye contact, listened to his complaint and did not let the screaming anger me; I then calmly explained that I hear him. I know cheesy poofs are so tasty and I love them too but he will have to wait half an hour until dinnertime. He blubbered briefly, collapsed into my arms for a minute and then went to play with his toys. My husband congratulated me on keeping my cool. The best part? He was perfectly pleasant the rest of the evening. Wow!" – Aimee READ POST