Sunday, August 26, 2012

Decide What You Will Do

Decide what you will do andfollow through! The most important part of this tool is the follow through. Children know when you mean it and when you don’t.

After all, isn’t that their job is to test you and their limits? Of course it is! This is why it is so important to only make promises (not threats) that you’re willing to keep.

I think we’ve all learned the hard way at least once. For example, you are so mad in the momentin the flipped lid stateand you’re feeling desperate and totally defeated. Therefore, in the heat of the moment you make a threat you’re never going to follow through on and your child continues to do what they’re doingprobably because they know you’re not going to follow through.  Listed are some of my personal favorites:

  • Turn the TV off NOW or you won’t watch it for an entire week.
  • You and your brother better stop fighting in this car, or I’m going to turn around and we’ll go home.
  • If you don’t start sharing, and being kind to your fiendsthen we’re going to leave our play-date.
  • If you don’t brush your teeth right nowthen you can forget about any sweets ever again.
  • If you don’t change your attitudethen you can forget about going to the_________!
  • If you can’t take better care of your bike, baseball glove, toys etc., then I’ll take them away from you and you won’t be able to use them.
  • If you don’t stop asking me for everything in the store and start behavingthen we’re leaving this.

Of course my oldest son had to test meand I was just as sad as he was when I needed to follow through. We had “taken time for training” (another tool card) and I had explained to him that we were going to our friends house for a play-date and I went over the rules, e.g., no hitting, sharing, taking turns, using nice words etc. I then went on to explain that if we didn’t follow these rules, we would need to leave. Naturally, it was with one of my good friends and I wanted to be at the play-date as much as my son. Needless to say they also lived 45-minutes away.

Sure enough, less than an hour after being therehe hit his friend and called him a name. (I want to note that the play-date before this one, I had done plenty of redirecting, connecting before correcting, validating feelings as well as the many other tools my son was accustomed to.)

Sometimes, using the kind and firm tool of follow through is the most effective. I wasn’t trying to make him “pay” for his behavior but was simply tired of having each play-date so consumed with using so many other tools. Deep down I knew it would be a painful lesson for both of us as well as a lot of gas and time wasted. (He cried himself to sleep on the way home.)

It wasn’t a total waste, because he never forgot it, knew that I meant it, and honestly, I feel like I forever earned his trust of knowing that when I said it, I meant it, and I followed through.

Unfortunately, your children are going to test you and believe me it will be at the most inconvenient time. But just think of the valuable lesson you’ll be teaching and the reputation you’ll be earning.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who has heard THAT Mother saying, “I’m not going to tell you again”, and then says, “This is the last time I’m going to tell you.” Then their kid just continues to ignore her and do whatever it is they were doing.
I’ll always remember my mom saying, “The tongue in the shoe speaks louder than the tongue in the mouth.” In other words, if you say it, mean it, and if you mean it, follow through.

I promise you that it will only take a few times of inconvenience usually accompanied by total humiliation and embarrassment (as their screaming at you telling you that you’re the worst Mother ever and that they hate you). In the end, it ‘s totally worth it!!!!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Distract & Redirect

In the beginning of this week I thought this tool was used mostly with younger children. I used distract and redirect on a daily basis when my boys were toddlers. However, this week I had several opportunities to practice this tool in many different ways with my almost 6-year-old.

Sense-of HumorGreyson was in a “flipped lid state of mind” and was saying things such as “I hate you,”  “Worst day ever!” or my favorite“You wish I wasn’t even in this family.” Instead of flipping my lid back or telling him that what he was saying was totally ridiculous and untrue, I distracted him with a little unexpected sillinesstickling him while saying, “You think I don’t love you?” Then would completely overwhelm him with, “I love you’s,” and more playful tickles and kisses. Once he was totally distracted and calm, I was able to use other tools such as validating his feelings and asking some curiosity questions. After this (connection before correction)  we came up with a plan (focus on solutions and take time for training) on what we could say or do next time he was feeling so angry.

RelatingKids love it when they know you can relate—another way distracting and redirecting. Another one of my favorite comments from Greyson is when he says in his whinny voice, “That’s not fair!” What I want to say in my irrational and annoyed flipped list state is ‘That’s rightit’s not fair and neither is life!” But insteadI would relate to him by sharing a story of when I was his age and experienced something similar that wasn’t fair. Kids love knowing you have felt the same. It’s endearing when they say things such as, “You were once five?” or, “Your brother used to get things or do things you couldn’t do?”

DistractionIf all else fails; you can completely distract your kids by both completely changing the subject and making it about you or something that you did or saw that day. Or by saying with total enthusiasm“I have a great idea!” Then come up with a completely new idea or game and hope they follow your lead with enthusiasm.  Once again, when everyone is calm and you can then follow up with problem solving and solutions on how we could avoid a major meltdown, saying hurtful things, fighting with brother, etc.

HugsAlways one of my favorite tools and defiantly one that can be use with almost every Positive Discipline tool. Always a great distraction and way to redirect is to ask your child if he or she would like a hug? If they say “No!” then ask if they’d give you one, because “I need a hug.”

Focus on SolutionsWhen your children are in the middle of a conflictsimply interrupt by saying, “ I have faith in you to come up with a solution. If they can’t, it is a big distraction to say, “I’ll take this _______ until you all come up with a solution that everyone agrees on.”

Again, a simple reminder that no one tool works every time and that when we are creative we will find many ways to use each tooland to combine them. Have fun practicing this tool and notice how much a little distraction or redirection helps you as a parent.