Monthly Archives: December 2011

How to Parent Toddlers and Youngsters

How to Parent Toddlers and Youngsters

Isn’t it amazing how toddlers can be so strong-willed? The “terrible twos” are not so named without good reason. And parents are almost universally challenged when it comes to how to parent a toddler who already seems naturally bent on resisting orders, commands, and even less harsh forms of guidance. But  that’s the way it is, and once the child learns to say “No” the battle of wills is underway.

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Old School to New School Shift, b

Old School to New School Shift, b

Parents wishing to change some of their Old School parenting habits to New School practices can get an overview of some of the main practices that characterize each of the two approaches to parenting by studying this one-page chart.

It shows the main day-to-day things that parents in each school do, and how they think, in each approach to how they parent. While it does not show all aspects of how to parent differently in the New School approach, it gives a clear idea of what the parent needs to do  in making the shift from Old School to New School ways of parenting, as well as some of “mid-level” techniques an Old School parent might use in order to make the chonscious shift away from Old School methods and toward New School methodsl..

Please click on the following link to view the chart.

                       Old School to New School Shift b

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3 Steps to Parent-Child Harmony is my book  that describes in detail the differences between the Old School Parenting model and the New School Parenting model.  Please see these links if you are interested in more information or wish to purchase.

     Learn more.    Buy Now.   Table of Contents & Intro   

Old School to New School Shift, a

Old School to New School Shift, a

Parents wishing to change some of their Old School parenting habits to New School practices can get an overview of the main priciples that characterize each of the two approaches by looking at this chart. It shows the four functional principles that guide parents’ behavior almost all the time in each system. While it does not show all aspects of how to parent differently in the New School approach, it gives a clear idea of what needs to be done in making the shift from Old School to New School ways of parenting.

Please click on the  following link to view the chart.

Old School to New School Shift a

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3 Steps to Parent-Child Harmony is my book  that describes in detail the differences between the Old School Parenting model and the New School Parenting model.  Please see these links if you are interested in more information or wish to purchase.

     
Learn more.    Buy Now.   Table of Contents & Intro

Parenting Styles

Parenting Styles

Many authors refer to various parenting styles, and some have their own unique styles (for example John Gottman). Most authors, however, describe some variation of three general styles of parenting. These are: authoritarian, permissive, and balanced.

The authoritarian style is one in which the parent is strict, definite about setting limits for children, and “rules with an iron fist.” This style is considered autocratic in that the parent tends to be heavy-handed in making decisions for the children, and leaves relatively little room for child decision-making.

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Parenting Authors: An Old School to New School Continuum

Parenting Authors: An Old School to New School Continuum

At this link, more than two dozen authors of parenting books, and the tiltles of their books, are placed on a 10-point continuum between Old School and New School. This is how I (Chuck Adam) see their parenting philosophy, as well as some characteristics of an Old School and a New School approach to parenting.

Please click on the following link to see a PDF version of the continuum of parenting authors.

Parenting Authors Continuum

Example: At the far left side is Supernanny (Jo Frost), who I see as extremely Old School. At the far right side is Alfie Kohn, who I see as extremely New School.

NOTE: I make no judgment on this chart of the value of these authors’ positions, or their helpfulness to parents. For example, although Supernanny is very Old School, she is also extremely good at it, and has been very helpful to many parents with young, high-energy children.

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3 Steps to Parent-Child Harmony is my book  that describes in detail the differences between the Old School Parenting model and the New School Parenting model.  Please see these links if you are interested in more information or wish to purchase.

     Learn more.    Buy Now.   Table of Contents & Intro

Thoughts About Ross Greene’s “The Explosive Child”

Thoughts About Ross Greene’s “The Explosive Child”

I appreciate the challenges I’ve received from Lisa, Bev, and Allan regarding my classification of Ross Greene as an Old School author. I’ve re-read my copy of The Explosive Child (second edition), and I must admit a) that I did misunderstand some of his approach, and b) that he belongs in the New School camp, and not the Old School. I have changed the chart (“Parenting Authors: A Continuum”) to reflect that.

In spite of the fact that I’ve had problems with some of Dr. Greene’s ideas (see below), I’ve loved the Behavior Baskets imagery and its usefulness as a working tool for parents. I developed a handout for parents in my classes, and use it often (with full credit to Dr. Greene), and some time ago posted this handout on this site. I also appreciate more now than before his emphasis on problem-solving based on understanding and empathy, and his teaching parents to ask the child for ideas on how to solve the problem after stating the two sides of the conflict. I also like his emphasis on parents intervening at the beginning stages of a meltdown (“vapor lock”), and the ineffectiveness of back-end strategies (punishments), that typically do not work well as a teaching tool, and can cause more harm than good.
Some of the problems I originally had with Dr. Green’s approach I still have. These are what got in the way of my appreciating the value of his front-end engagement of children in problem solving as a set of genuinely New School techniques that Old School parents and professionals don’t often use. The difficulties I’ve had (which he might have  addressed in a later edition) include the following. Continue reading

Thoughts about Alfie Kohn’s “Unconditional Parenting”

Thoughts about Alfie Kohn’s “Unconditional Parenting”

Comments by Chuck Adam
about Alfie Kohn’s Unconditional Parenting

I was first introduced to Alfie Kohn when I read one of his earlier books, Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s, Praise, and Other Bribes (1993). The theme of that book was that rewarding people for good behavior is a mistake, because in the long run rewards actually hinder (instead of helping) people do their best. That’s because rewards distract the performer from the intrinsic reward of living and performing responsibly in school and in the workplace. Superficial extrinsic rewards cheapen the work and encourage the performer to do less well by sloughing off once the reward is earned. His ideas struck me as somewhat radical, but they also made sense.

So, when I saw his book Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason (2005), I knew it would be thoughtful and challenging. One of the subtitles on the cover calls it “A Provocative Challenge to the Conventional Wisdom About Discipline.” It is just that, with a great deal of persuasive thinking, lots of examples, quotations from other authors, and tons of citations to research on parent-child interactions as well as behavioral motivations in children and adults over the past thirty years.
The dominant theme of the book is Kohn’s constant insistence that power and control parenting techniques–that is, bribes, rewards, threats, and punishments (including love withdrawal)–do more than just miss the mark when it comes to raising caring and responsible children. They actually damage kids because they teach, encourage, and fuel children’s resentment, resistance, rebellion, and low self-esteem. These qualities are just the opposite of what almost all parents want to encourage in their children by using power and control methods of discipline.
There are many reasons why so many of us tend to parent this way, Kohn says. They include these: that’s how we were raised; that’s what we see most other people do; our beliefs (about kids, people, God, motivation, competition, and other things) tend to support our desire to take the easy (but more primitive) route; and by behaving this way as parents we can feel better about ourselves when we can pressure kids into doing what we want. Ultimately, he says, these reasons all boil down to one overriding reason: fear. The specific things we fear are: parental inadequacy, powerlessness, being judged by others, children getting hurt; babying our children; and being permissive. The end result of parenting from a position of fear is conditional parenting: we love, accept, and nurture our children mainly on the condition that they conform to our desires and thus make us feel good about ourselves. He says the fact that so many parents seem to accept their children only conditionally doesn’t make that practice any less damaging or any more acceptable.
What all children need is just the opposite: unconditional parenting, or love without strings attached. They need to know we love them unconditionally, at all times, no matter what they do–when they fail, goof up, make mistakes, cause us problems, get angry with us, and….always. No matter what. How do we do this? Kohn suggests  we start by being mindful of the whole question of unconditionality, asking ourselves often, “If what I just said or did had been done to me, would I feel loved  unconditionally?” No matter what is happening we have to not only keep accepting them, but we have to let them know we still accept them. Of course, we’ll fail at times.
But our objective should be to come as close as possible to this ideal: that we accept and love our children for who they are, with no strings attached, and that we communicate that to them.
He suggests that we minimize criticism, giving orders, praise, rewards, punishments, threats, and other forms of withdrawing our love. Instead we should maximize sending messages of unconditional acceptance, which is not only something that all children deserve, but also a powerfully effective way to help them become nicer people. He says that a reliance on punishments (including time-out and other forms of love withdrawal) and rewards (including positive reinforcement) makes it much less likely that children will feel loved unconditionally.
This practice is not achievable through a specific technique, Kohn says, but rather it consists of many things discussed in the latter half of the book, which he summarizes as three specific ways: expressing unconditional love, giving children more chances to make decisions, and imagining how things look from the child’s point of view.
He identifies the following principles of unconditional parenting, each of which has practical implications that are far more challenging than they sound on the surface.
  1. Be reflective.
  2. Reconsider your requests.
  3. Keep your eye on your long-term goals.
  4. Put the relationship first.
  5. Change how you are, not just how you act.
  6. R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
  7. Be authentic.
  8. Talk less, ask more.
  9. Keep their ages in mind.
  10. Attribute to children the best possible motive consistent with the facts.
  11. Don’t stick your no’s in unnecessarily.
  12. Don’t be rigid.
  13. Don’t be in a hurry.
A thoughtful, reflective reading of this book will provide the reader with a goldmine of insights and a very well-reasoned game plan for improving one’s parenting attitudes and skills. It goes far beyond the typical power and control tactics that many parenting experts advise. I rank this one right up there with the “cream of the crop”: the masterpieces by Haim Ginnott (Between Parent and Child), Thomas Gordon (Parent Effectiveness Training and Discipline That Works), John Gottman (Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child), and Jane Nelsen (her Positive Discipline series).
               
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3 Steps to Parent-Child Harmony is my book  that describes in detail the differences between the Old School Parenting model and the New School Parenting model.  Please see these links if you are interested in more information or wish to purchase.

     Learn more.    Buy Now.   Table of Contents & Intro   

Thoughts About Alfie Kohn: Excerpts from “Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason”

Thoughts About Alfie Kohn:
Excerpts from Unconditional Parenting

I (Chuck) really like Alfie Kohn and his ideas on parenting. I present here some extended excerpts from the Introduction of Unconditional Parenting on short-term and long-term parenting goals. This material is relevant to and meaningful for parents of any age. A few of my own comments follow in the Conclusion to this post.

Obedience: The Temptation to Control Children
We may be tempted to focus our energies on overcoming children’s resistance to our requests and getting them to do what we tell them. If we’re not careful, this can become our primary goal. We may find ourselves joining all those people around us who prize docility in children and value short-term obedience above all. I realized that this is what many people in our society seem to want most from children: not that they are caring or creative or curious, but simply that they are well behaved. A “good” child–from infancy to adolescence–is one who isn’t too much trouble to us grown-ups.
Over the last couple of generations, the strategies for trying to produce that result may well have changed. Where kids were once routinely subjected to harsh corporal punishment, they may now be sentenced to time-outs or, perhaps, offered rewards when they obey us. But don’t mistake new means for new ends. The goal continues to be control, even if we secure it with more modern methods.
Long-term Objectives of Parenting
In my parent workshops I like to start off asking, “What are your long-term goals for your children? What word or phrase describes how you’d like them to turn out, what you want them to be like once they’ve grown?”
Take a moment to think about how you would answer that question. When I invite groups of parents to come up with the most important long-term goals they have for their kids, I hear remarkably similar responses across the country. Continue reading

Thoughts About James Lehman’s Total Transformation Program

Thoughts About James Lehman’s
Total Transformation Program

This program has pluses and minuses. Consequently,  there are a lot of things I like about James Lehman’s Total Transformation Program, and a lot things I do not like about it. The following comments are based on a study of Lehman’s Total Transformation Program Workbook, without the benefit of having listened to the extensive audio or the video programs. Still, I think my comments are a relatively accurate and complete summary of Lehman’s concepts and his approach to parenting children with extremely difficult behaviors.

The comments which follow are a brief overview of a more in-depth analysis of the Total Transformation Program. If you would like a free copy of my more comprehensive critique, please click here.

Things I Like About the Total Transformation Program

First of all, I like the fact that Lehman presents parents with a coherent, well-designed, and extensive program for dealing with very assertive, obnoxious, and abusive (both physical and verbal) child behavior.
Second, I like the fact that he identifies faulty thinking on the part of the child as the real cause of disrespectful, obnoxious, and abusive behavior.
Third, Lehman presents the program in a structured set of lessons, Continue reading

Thoughts About John Rosemond’s Old School Approach to Discipline (Short Version)

Thoughts About John Rosemond’s
Old School Approach to Discipline (Short Version)

John Rosemond’s book The New Six-Point Plan for Raising Happy, Healthy, Children is quite interesting and quite provocative. Rosemond is a psychologist who has been around a while, who says he doesn’t believe in psychology, who has done a lot of work with parents, and who has published numerous other books, including: Teen-Proofing; Because I Said So!; Parent Power: A Common-Sense Approach to Parenting in the 90’s and Beyond; John Rosemond’s New Parent Power; and others.

Rosemond’s Six-Point Pla

Here are the chapter headings of his six-point plan: 1) The Parent-Centered Family; 2) The Voice of Authority; 3) The Roots of Responsibility; 4) The Fruits of Frustration (the child’s frustration–CA); 5) Toys and Play–The Right Stuff; and 6) Television, Computers, and Video Games–More Than Meets the Eye. Point number seven is Love ‘Em Enough to Do the First Six!

He also presents, in an afterword, Rosemond’s Bill of Rights for Children, which are, essentially, that children have the right to be bossed around by their parents.

The New Six Point Plan really challengied me to think about and question my “New School” approach to parenting.  He refers to himself as “old fashioned,” and  I’d say he is certainly in the running for the title “King of the Old School Approach to Parenting.” If Supernanny (Jo Frost) can be considered “Queen of the Old School Approach to Parenting” (I think she can), John Rosemond is the king. Now there’s a match made in heaven!

Old School Is Not Necessarily Bad or Wrong

I have said from the start of my talking and writing about New and Old School parenting that the Old School methods aren’t necessarily bad, but that they are not working so well with many of today’s savvy, autonomous, well-connected, and even defiant children–of all ages. For some of those kids, on the “defiant” end of the “compliant-defiant continuum,” the Old School methods just make things worse.

However, for many other kids, toward the other end of the continuum, who are more compliant, they do work fine, just like they did for us when we were kids.
It’s that group of kids in the middle, who are resistive, rebellious, and strong-willed  enough to cause behavior problems that I’m wondering about. Continue reading