Tag Archives: parent-child relationships

Empathy: Understanding the Child’s Point of View

Empathy:
Understanding the Child’s Point of View

Empathy is the ability to understand another person’s plight, including his or her behavior and the motivations for a given act. It means being able to comprehend the circumstances in which a person acts, and both the intellectual reasons and the feelings (emotions) that help motivate a particular act. Parental empathy means that the parent is “tuned in” to the way a child thinks and feels in a given circumstance, and that the parent accepts those thoughts and feelings as legitimate age-appropriate motivations for behavior, even if the parent disagrees with those reasons or doesn’t like the way the child feels. This empathic understanding can have a profound effect on how the parent reacts to the child. Let’s consider some examples. I’ll come back to them later.

Some Examples

Example #1. Let’s say a daughter misses her mother who is away on a business trip, and throws more tantrums than usual, and tells Dad she doesn’t like him, or that he never lets her do what she wants. It’s possible that the child’s crying and tantrums might be related to the fact that her mother is not around and she misses her. Empathy means that, if this is so, Dad will pick up on it and be inclined to let her know that he understands how much she misses mama instead of just blowing up at her.

Example #2. Children of separated or divorced parents often present many difficult behaviors that appear to have no obvious rational basis. Continue reading

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

Anger = Expectation + Interpretation (ver. 1)

Anger = Expectation + Interpretation
(Ver. 1)

Do you easily get angry at what someone else says or does? Their offensive behavior (such as someone insulting you, or your child disobeying you) is a “trigge eventr” for your anger.

You don’t need to pull that trigger! You really CAN manage your anger. And by that I mean reduce its intensity, or eliminate the angry feeling altogether in any specific situation. How?

Your anger is the result of your own thoughts about the “trigger event” (that offensive thing someone else did or said).

Your Expectations Set You Up.  Were you caught off guard? Or did you expect

Continue reading

The Volcano Theory

THE VOLCANO THEORY:

 BEHAVIOR MOTIVATION  AND ITS IMPLICATIONS

What is it that motivates the unacceptable behavior we see in children? In any given situation, there may be many things that play into it. Still, there is one simple and really obvious explanation for all unacceptable child behavior–and indeed, for all behavior in all people at all times.

The Motivations for All Behavior

Think about your own reason for doing the last thing you did or said. Why did you do or say it? You might come up with any number of reasons, all of which are valid answers to the question. However, I propose that when you think about your reasons, there will be one inescapable conclusion. No matter what your various reasons are for doing or saying what you last did, we can classify all of them under one or both of two headings: 1) what you were thinking at the time, and/or 2) how you were feeling at the time.

I’m saying that no matter what you did or said, two minutes ago or two years ago, in any situation, your motivation can always be attributed to your thoughts and/or feelings at the moment. Although the specific thoughts you may have at any moment are infinite in variety, and your feelings (emotions) can be many and complex, the truth remains: you do what you do because of your thoughts and feelings at the moment you act.

This is true for all people, at all times, in all situations.

By “thoughts” I mean any cognitive or mental processes that take place upstairs, in the brain. This includes ideas, mental images, Continue reading