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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

"Kids spell love, T-I-M-E."

(title quote by John Crudele)

Last week i mentioned Ryan and I were off to talk with a specialist on Child Discipline.

We were both tired of having results that were not working. As we got more frustrated with the kids, volumes on both sides would continuously go up, and well...nothing ever changed. The kids didn't listen, time outs would grab their attention but not stop the overall issue that wound them up in time out in the first place; and so, off to a specialist we went to see if we could become "better" parents and find better resolve for our kids behaviour.

We met with Dr. Deborah Macnamara, who helped us make sense of why kids act the way they do, basically!
With the child brain not formed till close to age 6, kids actually cannot rationalize or understand that "this = that" consequence. Kids yell and scream not necessarily because they want to, but because they really do not understand the feelings they are having and what they mean. They need to be taught that they are frustrated or angry. These are things we as adults just make assumptions on and WE get frustrated with them. But they just don't get it!

Her recommendation on parenting is an Attachment Method. To actually give them more praise and love. To acknowledge when they do something that is not right, but then to move on to another "activity" or whatever, oppose to separating them from you and sending them to, example, time out. Kids of a young age get scared of the separation. They want to be with you. They want to have their needs met before they even knew they needed them filled. "Over-loving" parenting if there is such a thing: I don't think there is, but an easy way of trying to simply state something.

I have to admit I was a little skeptical as we left: what so you mean no consequence!?
But open to anything as the past ways of reasoning clearly were not working.

We noticed a difference in their behaviour the next day. Us not yelling meant they weren't yelling. The house was quieter...well kinda. They were listening better and not throwing as many tantrums. Playing nice...and really not pressing out buttons as much as they had been prior.
I am a new advocate of this. Of course, they have to not what is right and wrong. That "sorry" is still in their vocabulary...but instead of raising voices to get their attention, suddenly they are beginning to listen to a normal voice...most of the time.

Dr. Macnamara made a good point that stuck. When you yell, it causes alarm: which it should. But when you use this mechanism too often, kids begin to tune it out and not listen. But there are the times that you are not crying wolf, when the alarm should be sounding (crossing a street with cars for example)...save the alarm for the emergencies so your kids really do know the difference.

I found this bit of info on attachmentparenting.org :

Practice Positive Discipline

API's Eight Principles of Parenting

The following is a condensed version of this Principle. If you have questions about this Principle or how to apply it to your family situation, please contact an API Leader near you or post your comments and questions to API's forums.
Attachment Parenting incorporates the "golden rule" of parenting; parents should treat their children the way they would want to be treated. Positive discipline is an overarching philosophy that helps a child develop a conscience guided by his own internal discipline and compassion for others. Positive discipline is rooted in a secure, trusting, connected relationship between parent and child. Discipline that is empathetic, loving and respectful strengthens that the connection between parent and child, while harsh or overly-punitive discipline weakens the connection. Remember that the ultimate goal of discipline is to help children develop self-control and self-discipline.

The Dangers of Traditional Discipline

  • Instilling fear in children serves no purpose and creates feelings of shame and humiliation. Fear has been shown to lead to an increased risk of future antisocial behavior including crime and substance abuse
  • Studies show that spanking and other physical discipline techniques can create ongoing behavioral and emotional problems
  • Harsh, physical discipline teaches children that violence is the only way to solve problems
  • Controlling or manipulative discipline compromises the trust between parent and child, and harms the attachment bond
  • It is a sign of strength and personal growth for a parent to examine his or her own childhood experiences and how they may negatively impact their parenting, and to seek help if they are unable to practice positive discipline

A Gentler Approach to Discipline

  • Positive discipline begins at birth. The bonds of attachment and trust that are formed when parents consistently and compassionately respond to an infant's needs become the foundation of discipline
  • Positive Discipline involves using such techniques as prevention, distraction, and substitution to gently guide children away from harm
  • Help your child explore safely, seeing the world through his eyes and empathizing as he experiences the natural consequences of his actions
  • Try to understand what need a child's behavior is communicating. Children often communicate their feelings through their behavior
  • Resolve problems together in a way that leaves everyone's dignity intact
  • Understand developmentally appropriate behavior, and tailor loving guidance to the needs and temperaments of your child
  • Children learn by example so it's important to strive to model positive actions and relationships within a family and in interactions with others
  • When parents react in a way that creates tension, anger or hurt feelings, they can repair any damage to the parent-child relationship by taking time to reconnect and apologize later

Tools for Positive Discipline

API Leader near you for more information on these tools.
  • Maintain a positive relationship
  • Use empathy and respect
  • Research positive discipline
  • Understand the unmet need
  • Work out a solution together
  • Be proactive
  • Understand the child's developmental abilities
  • Create a "yes" environment
  • Discipline through play
  • Change things up
  • State facts rather than making demands
  • Avoid labeling
  • Make requests in the affirmative
  • Allow natural consequences
  • Use care when offering praise
  • Use time-in rather than time-out
  • Use time-in as a parent, too
  • Talk to a child before intervening
  • Don't force apologies
  • Comfort the hurt child first
  • Offer choices
  • Be sensitive to strong emotions
  • Consider carefully before imposing the parent's will
  • Use logical consequences sparingly and with compassion
  • Use incentives creatively with older children

In whatever form of "discipline" that works for you and your family, Happy Parenting!
I know we are all just trying to do our best.

"...we never really know what is going on inside another person to make them act the way they do. Try to understand that they have their reasons" ~ Manilla Longan

“Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.” 
~ Robert Fulghum

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