I love this article on the right way to parent your child! It's near and dear to me because this is exactly how my parents raised me. I never could quite explain in words what or how i was raised but here it is. I finally found the words! My MOTHER spent all of her precious time with us, not pursuing her interests, she knew her TIME was limited with us and she used it wisely. She spent her time GUIDING us and never through the use of force, which is immoral. I never ONCE saw her use force; She rarily raised her voice! ever! or emotionally abused. That's unheard of. Infact she was the first to explain how wrong and backwards THAT would be. Always gracious and straight forward 'Honesty is the best policy' was (and is still,)her mantra. When she really wanted our attention, she behaved in a childlike manner rather than an adult bossy person! She didn't work outside the home and she didnt allow any hobbies or housework to consume her time(yet the house was ALWAYS picked up). She got it? She is so wise and extremely intelligent. Sometimes I wondered growing up, why she would explain the obvious to me, did she think i didn't know that already? Yet that's just what our little children need! They need for us to talk to them about the small and obvious things. I remember being lightly spanked when I was little because sometimes i just wasn't getting it. That usually started with tears and ended with laughs between Lisa and I. Then that stopped after a young age and I always tried to do what mom and dad said because I knew they loved me! We were of one heart and one mind and there was always harmony in the home. Obviously, it wasnt perfect, we would get annoyed with each other like any family does but...for the most part it was fun and games. My mom listened and took interest in me. We were always open about everything, talking about hard subjects. I was her highest priority! Shes been my BIGGEST cheerleader. Who do i call when i do anything good? Mom! She cares more ghan anyone. Here is the article. Mom when you read this, I want you to know how much I appreciate you for this. I love you!! You are an AMAZING mother!!!!!!
"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?
The answer is no. They will just run wild without guidance! But guidance and punishment are not at all the same thing. Punishment is purposefully causing pain (physical or emotional) to force the child to do things our way. Guidance is showing our child the path we recommend, explaining why we think it's the best path, and giving our child the tools to stay on that path.
Unless we're willing to use force--which teaches immorality--influence is all we have to work with as parents.
Luckily, because humans resist force, influence actually works better to transmit values and behavioral standards. Kids CHOOSE to do the right thing, because they want to "follow" our lead.
Effective Guidance includes:
Empathic limits - We guide kids daily in their behavior, and often that involves setting limits. Kids can't hit, run in the street, or throw their food at each other. If we set those limits harshly, they'll eventually learn them, but with lots more resistance. If we set limits with an understanding of their perspective ("You are so mad, but I won't let you hurt your brother! Come, I'll help you tell him how you feel") kids feel understood, and accept those limits more readily. They're more likely to share, rather than resist, parents’ expectations.
Connection - When kids start to feel disconnected -- because they're angry, because we're angry, because we've been apart from them all day, etc -- they act out until we can heal the disconnect. When kids feel connected to us, they're open to our influence. They WANT to behave, to cooperate, to please us. Since we're the most important people in our child's world, children are predisposed to listen to our guidance, as long as they're convinced we're on their side. Punishment erodes this connection, because we're intentionally hurting the child, either physically or emotionally.
Empathy - When our "go-to" response to our child is empathy, he develops empathy for others -- even siblings! They treat others well because they care what others feel. As my teenage son said, "When I was little, you helped me see that the things I did could hurt people, or help them. I didn't want to cause hurt." Empathy is the foundation of morality.
Empower to Repair - We all make mistakes, and every one of us has at one time or another damaged a relationship we care about. Kids need to know they can make amends. Once your child has calmed down, help her reflect on what she might do to rebuild what's broken. But resist the urge to make this into a punishment, or your child will resist and miss the deeper lesson.
Emotion Coaching - When kids learn to manage their emotions, they can manage their behavior, so they're ABLE to behave and cooperate. We only gain control of our emotions by befriending them. Start by accepting your child's full range of emotion with as much compassion as you can muster, and lots of roughhousing play to work through feelings and anxiety. This gives your child the support she needs to understand and regulate her emotions, so she can behave as her best self. She learns that actions must be limited, but that she is more than enough, exactly as she is -- complete with all her complicated emotions. That feeling of “goodness” is what helps all of us make progress toward our good intentions.
Modeling - Children learn their values and emotional regulation from what parents DO, not from what we SAY. As my teenage daughter said, "You always listened to us and tried to work things out and you didn't punish us. So we learned to listen to each other, and other people, and to try to work things out so it works for everyone, and we don't use force to get our way." Notice this is the foundation that keeps kids from participating in bullying.
Discussion - Children learn from experience accompanied by reflection. It's our job to provide the opportunities for reflection. That means LOTS of talking and listening with our child, daily. If you only talk when there's a problem, you can count on lots of problems.
Helping your child take responsibility for his actions happens every day that you set empathic limits, connect, empathize, empower your child to repair, emotion coach, model, and discuss.
You'll notice that much of this is prevention. Prevention is always the most effective strategy, because once kids "misbehave" your options are more limited. Luckily, when you parent this way, kids don't act out as much. Once you get out of the habit of punishing and see how much your child WANTS to cooperate, you won't miss punishment at all."-AHA Parentingg