Thursday, June 30, 2011

Setting the Intention to Understand

Sneak Peek Friday

I am honored to have worked on the Academy of Coaching Parents International's HeartWise book called Parenting Responsively for Connection. I, along with 10 other ACPI Certified Parent and Family Coaches, wrote the book to help parents answer some difficult parenting issues. Every Friday this summer YOUR Parenting Question Blog will share a short excerpt from this book. We hope that you find them information and helpful. If you like what you read and you would like to order the E-book you may do so here at Strong Roots Family Coaching.

Setting the Intention to Understand

I often hear parents say things like “He always throws a temper tantrum just to get my attention,” or “She’s just trying to manipulate me.” I know that it often feels that way, but I believe that when our children behave in less than desirable ways, there's something deeper going on. The more we understand what the driving force behind the behavior is, the better we will be able to respond to it effectively.

What if I told you that all behavior is an attempt to get needs met—whether consciously or unconsciously. I really don’t believe children get up in the morning and ask themselves, “How can I best antagonize Mom and Dad today?” Although some days it may seem like they do! I believe our children (as well as us adults) behave, speak and act in ways that express our needs in an effort to get those needs met. It’s as simple as that.

So often, we as parents place our focus on the outside--the behavior, rather than on the inside—what’s happening within our child to “cause” the behavior. When we just deal with the behavior in front of us, we are like a doctor who prescribes cough syrup for a cough instead of treating the infection in the lungs, which is causing the cough. Until the root cause is understood and addressed, the symptoms (and behaviors) will likely keep recurring. So how do you find the root of the behavior? By thinking in terms of universal needs

Sherri Boles-Rogers

ACPI Certified Parenting Coach


Page 21

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How can I teach my “teenager” to be polite?

All parents hope that their child will be the kid on the bus that says “excuse me.” But how do you make that happen when your child is never polite around you?
Last week I talked about modeling the polite behaviors you want your child to learn from infancy. However, what if your child is no longer so young? What if your nine year old and rarely looks you in the eye, let alone EVER willingly says Please? Will modeling behavior actually work? In this case, being the example of politeness for your child is just the first step.

Many parents can get on board when I say you should not require your four year old to say please and thank you. However, I strongly believe that it should continue with older children as well. If your twelve year old child needs or wants something from you and asks you without using polite words or tone, most parents would naturally react with frustration telling him that he has to change his attitude and words.
However, this won’t help your child want to say please or thank you. It won’t even help him understand why he should say them. What it does is create a power struggle between you and your child. I don’t know about you, but I have enough power struggles with my pre-teenagers.
This conflict did not exist before you made the demand. You have now made the issue about obeying you instead of learning to be grateful. Now, if your child refuses to obey, you have to make a choice between not following through and disciplining him. Why do that to yourself and your child?
There are a few words and phrases that CAN aide you in the endeavor of creating gratitude and courtesy in your child. “I like to be asked,” “Please talk to me like I am someone you care about,” and “I try to use polite words when I talk to you, and I would appreciate it if you try to as well” are just a few things you can say AS you respond to your child’s request. These phrases can take the place of “what do you say” so that when transitioning to this new way of looking at teaching politeness and gratitude, you have something to say.
When you make the choice to not require your child to say please and thank you, the biggest stumbling block will be when you are in public. You will feel every eye on you the moment everyone expects you to utter “what do you say.” Instead thank the person FOR your child or repeat the request with a please. This will do 2 things. One it will relieve some of the pressure you feel to make your child say it. Two it continues to model the behavior for him.
Not every family has religious traditions, but even those that don’t can incorporate gratefulness for at the dinner table. It does not need to be a forced “let’s go around the table” kind of event. It can be spontaneous and start with you. Just talk about your day and in the course of discussion say what you appreciate about your life. This habit, consistently performed will at least teach children there are things to be grateful for in everyday life.
The truth is that it is up to your child to take these cues and learn from them. You can provide the atmosphere, explanation and examples of gratitude, but your child needs to choose for himself if he is going to show politeness. Making him say thank you does not make him feel thankful.

As parents and caregivers it is analogizing to watch your child show little gratitude to yourself and those around him. Check back next week and I will talk about how peer pressure affects your child's lack of civility.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Overcoming Challenges to Connection

Sneak Peek Friday

I am honored to have worked on the Academy of Coaching Parents International's HeartWise book called Parenting Responsively for Connection. I, along with 10 other ACPI Certified Parent and Family Coaches, wrote the book to help parents answer some difficult parenting issues. Every Friday this summer YOUR Parenting Question Blog will share a short excerpt from this book. We hope that you find them information and helpful. If you like what you read and you would like to order the E-book you may do so here at Strong Roots Family Coaching.

Overcoming Roadblocks and Challenges to Connection

Meeting your child’s need for connection will often result in a happier, more confident, and more cooperative child. What if, however, your efforts at connecting with your child do not go so smoothly? Let’s explore some of the possible roadblocks to connecting with your child and how to overcome these challenges. In doing so you'll likely discover that part of the beauty of connection is its flexibility and that a heartfelt desire can overcome any connection obstacle.

Roadblocks and Challenges:

Problem: “I work 10 hours a day and by the time I get home, I need to get supper organized and get my daughter to bed. Furthermore, I am exhausted. I don’t seem to have the time or energy to connect with my child during the week.”

Connection Strategy: Remember, even just a little more connection time can go a long way. Busy parents may have to get more creative, but improving one’s connection with their child can be accomplished by anyone. Can you connect with your child during the day, even if only for a few minutes by phone? Can you allow her to help you prepare dinner thereby creating a daily opportunity for connection? Can you give her some connection time during the car-ride home by genuinely listening to her discuss her day and telling her how much you love and appreciate her? Can you give her a great big hug and kiss when you first enter the house, before you begin your chores? Can you spend 10 minutes before she goes to sleep cuddling her and reading a story together? Can you make the most of the time you have together on the weekends? And most importantly, can you commit to improving your own state of balance and personal connection? Even just 10 minutes of personal time a day spent on nourishing your body, mind and soul can make a difference and will give you the energy you need to connect with those you love most.

Problem: “I wasn’t raised this way. I’m not comfortable with this level of intimacy with my child.”

Connection Strategy: Start with what’s easy and practice connection. Perhaps verbal displays of connection are more comfortable for you right now then physical expressions. Maybe a walk in the forest with your child will feel more natural then roughhousing. Slowly expand your comfort zone and take the risk to explore the depths of connection, knowing that it will feel more natural the more you do it. Initially, you may want to be quite meticulous about making plans for connection, with specific ideas, times and activities. Once connection feels more natural, you can be more spontaneous. If you find yourself reverting to old patterns of relating, don’t beat yourself up; just acknowledge it and move forward. Open your heart to the idea of becoming more connected to your child. You will be glad you did.

Problem: “My child is older and because this information is new to me, I haven’t been parenting him in this way. We don’t have a great bond and he resists connection time with me. What should I do?”

Connection Strategy: Start off slowly. Be open with him about your desire to improve your relationship. Explain that when he was younger, you didn’t know the things you know now. Ask him to give you a chance to try to make your relationship better. Tell him how much you love him and how you want to be closer to him. Tell him how important he is to you. Ask him what he thinks about what you are saying and listen without judgment. Talk to him about what his passions and interests are and join him in those. Be patient with him and trust that in time, he will not only accept, but also come to love the new relationship he has with you.

Now that you have some connection strategies to overcome the challenges you may face in connecting with your child, you’re ready to get started. Remember that when the desire for a deeper, more connected relationship with your child is present, you will find a way to overcome any challenge you find along your path.

Malini Mandal

ACPI Certified Parenting Coach


Page 16-17

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

How can I teach my child to be polite?

How many times have you asked your child: “What do you say?” Does repeating that phrase over and over again work? Does your child remember to say “please” or “thank you” the next time it is expected? This tactic rarely works so why do we keep doing it?

I have a better suggestion. In order to do it, you will have to momentarily put aside the idea that your child should be required to say please, thank you, excuse me and your welcome. The truth is that we require our children to say these words because of the expectation of our family and friends. It was always expected of us, so we expect it of our children. If you were to not give the automatic response “what do you say?” when around other parents you might look like a bad mom or dad. And you do it when no one is around to feel like you are doing a good job. If we were honest with ourselves, I think this is the biggest reason most of us do require our children to say please, thank you and excuse me.

Please don’t misread what I am saying. I believe using polite words is an important thing to teach. However, I believe it is more important to teach our children what those words mean and why they should be said. So the real question is how do we do THAT? 
How many times do you ask your child for something and include the word “please” or how often do you say “thank you” when your child does something you ask him to do? The answer is probably not as often as you want your child to.

I found out that I use the word “thank you” way more than I use the word please because my 20 month old daughter said thank you all the time but rarely said please. My husband and I began deliberately saying please more to each other, to others and to our daughter. Guess what happened? She started using the word more too, without ever being required to say it.

Now that my daughter is two and a half she frequently uses her “polite” words. There are times she forgets, because well she is two. Even we adults forget to be polite. When she does forget I will say “please use your ‘nice’ words” or “I like to be asked.” I do not REQUIRE her to say please before I respond to her request. I simply use the phrase AS I hand her what she asked for.

At this point you may be saying, “That’s great if you have young children, but what do I do with my 9 year old that refuses to use nice words?” For that matter what about those teenagers. Check back next week Wed to find out how to encourage polite behavior in older children.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

How can I get my child to respect me and what I say?

Do you believe that children today have respect?  If you are like most adults today your answer would be NO.  Respect shows itself in many ways.  Eye contact, gentle physical touch, and responsiveness to requests are a few of them.  Sometimes it is easier to define a word by what it is not.  I know someone is disrespecting me when they interrupt me, don’t fully listen to my thoughts and ignore or laugh at my needs. 

Knowing these as the characteristics of respect, would you say that in general children are shown respect by adults?  I know my answer to that question is NO as well. 

I say week after week in this blog that children learn habits and skills by witnessing someone that models the behavior for them.  The same is true of respect.  If you want your child to understand and begin to show it others, including yourself, they must be consistently exposed to it. 

Showing your children respect does not mean that you let them do anything they want.  It doesn’t mean that you treat them exactly like you treat your friends.  But it does mean that when disciplining and dealing with the many mistakes and misunderstandings your children make in any given day, you talk to them in a way that shows you love and care.  You listen to their thoughts.  No matter how ridiculous those thoughts might seem to you, to your children they are important.  You tenderly look them in the eye when you are upset.  No matter how frustrated you are, you use gentle physical contact with them.  You do not interrupt your child unless he or she could be physically harmed.  You never intentionally ignore or callously laugh at a need they are expressing to you. 

In short, talk to and treat your children the way you hope someone with more experience and knowledge would treat you. If you consistently show your child this kind of respect they will begin to model that same respect back to you and to others at any age.