Tuesday, September 28, 2010

There Are Just Some Things That You CAN'T Make Your Kids Do

I told you I'd be letting you know my recent reads and here is another one that I'm wading through.   Have a New Kid by Friday: How to Change Your Child's Attitude, Behavior & Character in 5 Days, written by Dr. Kevin Leman.  

I really like the case that Dr. Leman makes for Natural Consequences.  Not totally agreeing with everything he says, every example he gives, or even every principle, I have begun to implement several of the methods from this book and it really seems to be making a difference in the dynamic of our home.

First of all, the book title makes it sound like your child will be the one making all the changes, and in less than a week for that matter!  The thing is, that we will be making these changes with our children...and it is a lifelong attitude adjustment.  "The key to changing your child is changing your attitude."

Knowing that each child is different and that a lot of circumstances aren't as cut-and-dry as he makes them sound I'm going to share 3 things that I've been working on that have made the most impact on the relationship between me and my kids.

1 - Learn to respond rather than react - "If your doctor says, 'You responded to your medication,' that's good.  If the doctor says, 'You reacted to your medication,' that's bad."  The same is true about parenting.  All too often I react emotionally toward frustrations or actions so I've been intentionally working on responding with consistency.  

2 - "When your child yells, 'You can't make me do it!' he's right.  You can't make him do something."  It's a choice they have to make.  Give them age-appropriate choices.

I can't force Areyna to eat eat her dinner, but I can give her a choice to eat with the rest of the family until her hungry belly is full or be done for the remainder of the night, left to go play, but reminding her that she may not eat anything else until breakfast the next morning.  I must stay firm in my authority while still showing consistent temperament with whatever choice she chooses, even if she chooses the choice I'd rather she didn't make.

Zeke is a good temper tantrum thrower!  I refuse to let him just yell, scream and run around like a chicken with his head cut off with absolutely no self-control.  I've learned that a lot of these tantrums are for show and when we take the audience away his temper cools down rather quickly, especially when he knows we are all together enjoying family togetherness without him.  So, what I've started saying is, "I can't make you stop screaming and carrying on, but I don't have to listen to the foolish choice you are making.  If you are going to act like that you may go outside on the back porch until you can calm yourself down and rejoin the family or change your heart immediately."
I guess I was consistent enough because he started going outside
on his own to "cool off", ha!

3 - Say it once - "If you want your child to take you seriously, say your words once.  Only once."  (My difference in this one is that I allow second chances.  I believe in a warning to remind the child what the consequences will be.)

Example #1:  I asked the kids if they would like to keep playing OR clean up right away and get ready for bed so we'd have time to read books together.  They both chose to clean up right away so we could read.  They began cleaning up fine, but they still had a lot to do.  After a few more "encouraging words" to get them to keep cleaning up I began to get frustrated.  Then, they began to play, chasing each other around the house.  So, I said, "alright, no stories tonight.  I am sorry you chose to disobey and that we don't get to spend time reading together tonight.  Maybe next time you will choose a different choice."  I said it with grace and compassion, truly showing them that I was sorry that we didn't get to read a story.  You would have thought I took bear and bubby away!  They both LOST IT, crying themselves to sleep.  It was SO hard to stick to my guns and not give in.  Even after they said, "Okay mommy, we cleaned it all up now.  Can we PLEASE read just one story?"  I'd already spoken my words and I had to follow through, knowing these were the consequences they chose for themselves.  Man, it was hard, but you better believe that this hasn't ever happened again!

Example #2:  Josh and I had both reminded Areyna several times to get her jammies on.  She finally made it to the closet where her dresser is but got distracted, thinking about which dress she was going to wear the next day.  So, I made her go to bed with just her undies on (which is what she had on at the time the consequence needed to happen).  She no longer had the privilege of getting jammies on at all.  She was furious, but she has gotten her jammies on right away ever since.

Example #3:  When Zeke begins freaking out about not being able to get a costume on correctly, instead of using self-control and asking for help, then he loses his privilege of wearing costumes at all.  I simply take them away, while showing genuine compassion for the choice he made and letting him know that the consequence is hard for him.

Again, there are some definite things I don't agree with that Dr. Leman teaches, but there is a lot of meat in this book and I do recommend it.
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