Tag Archives: discipline

Old and New School Parenting

Old and New School Parenting

In this category I have posted numerous articles describing the differences between my Old School model of how to be a parent, and my New School model of parenting.

The Old School model is not necessarily bad or wrong, but it is often ineffective, especially with strong-willed, resistant, out-of-control children. The Old School methods don’t seem to work well at all with these children, regardless of their age. The New School model offers an excellent alternative to the Old School model, and it is effective with all children, not just stubborn or defiant ones.

You will find a difference in the four basic operational principles of each model, as well as a wide variety of “new” techniques to use (see the category “9 Key Parenting Skills”). Parent-child dialogue is the heart and soul of the New School approach to parenting, and this can be very effective with all children, even as young as two years.

Finally, the category “New School Discipline” presents a totally different approach to discipline from the one almost all of us were raised with. Before exploring those posts, I recommend that you become familiar with the posts in this category, “Old and New School Parenting.” You’ll see that it contains a lot of significant differences from the way your parents raised you, and the way you may have been trying to raise your own kids.
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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 (based on power, control, and punishments) and the New School Parenting model (based on dialogue, agreements, and accountability). The ideas contained here can transform a stressed parent-child relationship from conflict and arguments to one of cooperation and harmony. Please see these links if you are interested in more information or wish to purchase.
     Learn more.    Buy Now.   Table of Contents & Intro

Dialogue: The Heart of New School Parenting

Dialogue: The Heart of New School Parenting

Parent-child dialogue is the heart and soul of my New School approach to how to be a parent. The love a parent has for a child is expressed and embodied in how the parent communicates with the child, even when the child is a newborn. Obviously, dialogue entails listening as well as talking, and it includes all non-verbal communication as well. There are many skills involved in having a good dialogue, and as parents we are illustrating and teaching them to our children in everything we say and do.

In the New School approach to parenting, we recognize and accept the fact that control of children’s behavior is a delusion. We cannot control our children’s behavior. (See my “Volcano Theory.”) They have free will. We do not have a remote control to their brain. They are not robots or slaves. They talk to us when they want to talk, not necessarily when we want them to talk.

Consequently we are convinced that we are better off not even trying to control their behavior through the Old School use of power and control tactics, like our parents used (yelling, ordering, bossing, threatening, punishing, spanking, hitting, grounding, etc). We recognize these as invitations to trouble. We acknowledge that the best we can get from our children, and what we really want from them, is their cooperation, based on dialogue and agreements, rather than their obedience to rules that we impose. If they don’t want to talk, we realize we cannot force them to.

Influence Does Not Equal Control

In the New School approach to parenting, we acknowledge that while we have absolutely no control over our children’s behavior, but only over our own, we also acknowledge that we have tremendous influence on our children’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior. We acknowledge that influence does not equal control. Continue reading

Accountability: the “You-and-Me” Dialogue (Discipline Skill #2)

Accountability:
The “You-and-Me” Dialogue (Discipline Skill #2)

I refer to the “Accountability Dialogue” also as the “You-and-Me Dialogue” because this is where I (parent) talk to you (child) about how we are treating each other — especially after you break an agreement you have made with me.

Unacceptable child behaviors (UCBs), such as temper tantrums, arguments, angry and disrespectful insults, lying, stealing, physical or violent attacks on others, etc., can be distressing events for parents. How to handle them can often be a confusing disciplinary challenge.

In my New School approach to how to be a parent, I advocate reaching an agreement with the child (even as young as two years old) about how they will handle the particular UCB in the future. The best the parent can expect to get at that point is an agreement from the child that she will do something different next time. It is understood that the child will break her agreement (at least sometimes). This approach rejects punishments for the misbehavior because punishments are meaningless, ineffective, and counterproductive–they invite the child’s anger and “payback.”

After a Broken Agreement
Continue reading

The Behavior Dialogue: Negotiating Agreements: The “How To” (Discipline Skill #1)

The Behavior Dialogue:
Negotiating Agreements: The “How To” (Discipline Skill #1)

In this process (the Behavior Dialogue) you use all the listening skills (acknowledging, questions,and reflecting) and the illustrating skills (especially modeling and I-messages). While arriving at an agreement on something here and now is important to you, what’s even more important in the long run is that the child learning to respectfully negotiate a solution to a problem and reach an agreement that you can both live with.

The following steps might seem pretty complicated at first. But they’re very logical, and if you make this your standard M.O. (method of operation), you’ll get pretty good at it, and you’ll be able to do the whole process without even trying to concentrate on whether all the steps have been used. What’s even better, the child will also become capable, through practice, of intuitively using a very important life skill: negotiating an agreed-upon solution to relationship problems.

Step 1: Set the table–get her attention by inviting cooperation. Here you invite the child to enter into a dialogue with you about something you consider important. These should be stated as “I-messages.” In other words, they start with the word “I.” As the parent, I am conveying to my child that I am the one who has a problem, and not that the child is the problem, has a problem, or is doing something wrong. For example:

  • “Johnny, I’d like to talk to you about something that’s been bothering me.”
  • “I’d like to get your help on solving a problem we’ve got around here.”
  • “I was wondering what made you so upset with me yesterday when…….”
  • “Honey, I’m having a problem with something and I’m hoping you can help me with it.”

Step 2: In an I-message, state YOUR problem as clearly as you can. In other words, give your reason(s) as to why you think it’s a problem for you. You can refer to what the child does behaviorally. This is a legitimate part of an “I-message.” Give them your reason, too. Examples:

  • “I get irritated when you whine, because you’re not a baby and I expect you to act your age.”
  • “I got upset when you hit your sister earlier, because I don’t like you kids hurting each other.”
  • “I get worried when I don’t know where you are when you’re out at night, because it can be very dangerous and I’m afraid you might get hurt (or in serious trouble, etc.).”

Don’t pass negative judgments on the child, like “When you act like such a little baby,” or “When you bully your sister,” or “When you go gallavanting the streests all night.”

Don’t propose the solution. Don’t start out by saying something like, “Would you be willing to take out the trash?” Or, “From now on it’s your job to take the trash out whenever the bag is full.” It’s too early to start imposing solutions. You might say something like:

  • “I have a problem with the garbage bag getting full, and starting to smell, I really don’t like smelly garbage in the kitchen.”
  • “When you and I are at the store, and you start whining and crying and reaching for things, I get upset with you, I get distracted from what I’m trying to do there.”
  • “When you hit your sister earlier, I got angry with you because I was afraid you might hurt her.

Step 3: Ask for their ideas.. Build a list of possibilities. Here’s a great way to invite their cooperation. Simply ask, “What do you think we can do about this?” Or, “What should we do about this?” Or, “How can we handle this?” There are lots of ways this can be put out there–the point is you’re inviting their ideas before giving your own. Other examples:

  • “What ideas do you have about how we could handle this?” Or,
  • “How do you think this could be handled?”
  • “What do you think should be done?”
  • “How do you think you could do better in that situation?”

You’re asking him to brainstorm possibilities here. Accept and acknowledge everything he says as a possible solution, even if it’s unacceptable to you. Then ask for more ideas. Let’s say he says, “Make Sue do it.” Or, “Let mom do it.” Or, “Do it yourself!” You can respond with, “Okay, those are some possibilities. What other possibilities are there?” He might not suggest that he could do it, so you can put that one on the table: “Well, another possibility is that you could do it.” When he objects, listen to the objections (“Sue never has to do anything!”). Don’t get into an argument about what s/he says, but use I-messages to let him know how you see it: “I see you as part of the family team, and I expect you contribute your fair share.” Listen to his objections (“I always have to do everything!”). Again, don’t take the bait and get into an argument, but let him know what you think, using I-messages (“I expect you to do a little more to help out around here.”), not you-messages (“You never do anything around here!” Or, “You’re nothing but a lazy oaf!”).

Step 4: Share your ideas. You have ideas too. They count as much as the kid’s ideas! You might say:

  • “Okay, I have some ideas too. Would you like to hear what they are?” (Seek permission first!)
  • “Well, I have some ideas that I’d like you to consider.”
  • “I’m going to share my ideas with you.”
  • “I’d like you to hear my ideas now.”

Share those ideas on what you would like to see happen, or what you expect from your child as a member of the family team. Eliminate possibilities that are completely unacceptable to either of you.

Step 5: Pop the question: “Okay, so, what can we agree on here?” As this discussion continues, remember what your main objective is: reaching an agreement. Don’t force your solution, even if it means you don’t get an agreement this time around. Be willing to let the subject drop (for the time being) if he digs in his heels and refuses to play ball with you. “Okay, Johnny, we’ve eliminated all the possibilities. I was hoping you’d agree to take on that responsibility. Why don’t you think about it, and we’ll talk about it again later.” This is all about parenting smarter (New School), not power and control (Old School). You are trying to teach cooperation, not force compliance, submission, or obedience. This is part of why New School parenting methods work better than Old School methods.

You could, of course, try to ram it down his throat. (“That’s enough! It’s your job from now on, and that’s that! Got it?”). Life happens that way sometimes, and Johnny has to learn how to cope with it, right? Well, he will (hopefully) at some point, but right now you’re trying to help him to learn to negotiate solutions to problems and reach agreements. Try not to view this as a zero-sum, win-lose type of ball game. If you drop the discussion for the time being, and let Johnny think about it, he just might surprise you. He might come up with something “out of the box.” (“I talked to Sue and she’s willing to take the garbage out if I load the dishwasher for her twice a week.”) Or, he might even agree to do it himself–perhaps with a condition attached. (“Okay, I’ll take the garbage out if I can stay out till midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.”) If it’s an outlandish proposal, you might want to make a counter-proposal. (“Well, I think that’s too late, Johnny, but I’d be willing to say ten o’clock on one of those nights if we know where you are and how you’re getting home.”) You want more than what he might be willing to do. You want a commitment. Have a little more discussion here, and be willing to bargain, till you’re clear that he’s proposing an adequate solution in your eyes (that is, an agreement you can live with). If you incorporate his/her ideas into your agreement, you greatly increase the chance of cooperation and commitment to follow through.

Conclusion

The big value I see in negotiating agreements with children is that, besides teaching them how to do it, agreements constitute the basis for an effective discipline system. When the child doesn’t follow through on agreements, the parent has two options, at least: 1) administering the punishment (Old School approach), and 2) holding them accountable for breaking their agreement via the “You-and-Me Dialogue” (my New School approach). I prefer the latter, particularly with children who are willing to “play ball,” talk things through with you, and reach the agreement in the first place.
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3 Steps to Parent-Child Harmony is my ebook  that describes in detail the differences between the Old School Parenting model (power, control, and punishments) and the New School Parenting model (dialogue, agreements, and accountability). The ideas contained here represent a shift from parenting harder to parenting smarter. They can transform a stressed parent-child relationship from conflict and arguments to one of cooperation and harmony. Please see these links if you are interested in more information or wish to purchase.
     Learn more.    Buy Now.   Table of Contents & Intro   

The Behavior Dialogue: The Rationale (Discipline Skill #1)

The Behavior Dialogue: The Rationale  (Discipline Skill #1)

The first New School discipline skill is the ability to negotiate agreements with a child about right behavior (the Behavior Dialogue). This forms.the basis for holding the child accountable for their actions, which is discipline skill #2 (the Accountability Dialogue, or the “You-and-Me-Dialogue”).

But first of all, what the rationale for why a parent should negotiate “acceptable behavior” with a child?. As the parent, shouldn’t you just define the rules, and tell the child what’s acceptable, expected, and demanded? No! The New School way substitutes agreements for rules. Why?

Agreements Are Better Than Rules Continue reading

Be the Consultant: Don’t Rescue (Discipline Skill #3)

Be the Consultant: Don’t Rescue (Discipline Skill #3)

Discipline Skill #3:
Be the Consultant. Don’t Rescue.
Instead, Guide Your Child to Solve His/Her Own Problems

It is understood that parents must play many roles in raising responsible, caring, and cooperative children. At different times, in different circumstances, depending on their child’s age and needs, parents are nurturers and protectors, they are teachers and guides, they are role models and advocates.

Yet one of the most important roles a parent can play in raising responsible, caring, and cooperative children is one that parents typically may not even consider, much less know how to perform. That is the role of consultant to their child. It is a somewhat difficult role, and may or may not come naturally for any given parent. It is certainly one that requires a real balance between the natural tendency to help the child by protecting and supporting, versus the natural tendency to help the child by teaching right and wrong, or guiding the child in how to do what’s right and how to do it well. The consultant role actually provides the child with a bit of all of these parental blessings: protection, support, teaching, and guiding. With this approach, you are “teaching her how to fish” instead of just “giving her a fish” (the way a baby’s “mommy” might do).

Being a consultant has two important parts. Continue reading

Teaching Kids Self-Control

Teaching Kids Self-Control

I define self-control as the ability to select an appropriate response to a feeling or thought from among a number of possibilities.

If you accept the assumptions (and conclusions) of the Volcano Theory, and if you accept that control over another’s behavior is a delusion (a belief falsely held), then how are you to “manage” or “govern” your child’s behavior? How are you to “get” him or “make” him do the right thing, or do what you want him to do, or behave the way you “need” him to behave?

The answer to these questions is really quite simple. You can’t. So the best thing to do is to stop trying to do the impossible.

What?!? Stop trying to make your child do the right thing?

Then what about the child who never picks up her toys? What about the toddler running blindly into the street? Or hitting her mother? Or biting her brother? What about all her unacceptable behavior at school, or in the neighborhood, or in your home? What about your teenager stealing, or fighting, or cheating, or cursing?

Again, you’ll stop trying to make her do the right thing. You might think I’m crazy. So, what am I talking about??

Continue reading

3 Disciplining Skills

3 Disciplining Skills:
A New School Approach to Discipline

Discipline: the Latin root word disciplina means both “teaching” and “learning.” (E.g., a disciple learns from a master who teaches.) If there is no learning occurring, there is no teaching occurring.
The Three Discipline Skills
We might say that a general goal of discipline is to teach children to care about themselves and others:  Cooperation,  Accountability, Integrity, Responsibility, and Empathy. New School Discipline rests upon the parent’s ability to dialogue and reach agreements where the child makes his/her own decisions.

Skill #1.Co-create (negotiate) clear agreements about two things:

  • Behaviors (Things you either want or don’t want your child to do.)
  • Consequences (Include positive and negative consequences.)
Skill #2. Hold the child accountable for breaking any agreements (the You-and-Me Dialogue).

  • Don’t let them off the hook for breaking their agreements. Rescuing children through inconsistency is a way of telling children they’re incompetent.
  • You-and-Me Dialogue: “How are going to treat each other?”
  • Support your partner’s decisions with the child. Discuss later if necessary.
Skill #3. Be the consultant.Don’t rescue, but help the child solve his/her own problem.

  • Be clear on who owns the problem. If the child does, not solve it; guide the child to solve it. This is like teach them to fish instead of giving them the fish.
  • Use a 4 or 5 step process to guide the child in solving his/her problem.
The Parent’s Commitment to Dialogue

In my New School approach to discipline, the parent negotiates agreements instead of imposing rules because a person–including children–will be more likely to cooperate when s/he has participated in setting his/her own limits and behavioral expectations. In and of itself, the dialogue process is 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