Tag Archives: how to parent

Family Meetings Fizzling? Here’s Help

Well run Family Meetings improve communication, let every voice be heard, save time, ease decision making, and are far too rare.

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Every time I talked about family meetings at workshops or with parents seeking help, three responses predominated. Some parents said:

“Tried that. Didn’t work. No way I’m trying again.”
“Go to too many meetings at my job; all a waste of time.”
The third response would be a facial expression screaming “No, no.”

If I was lucky enough to get a family to talk about why their family meetings failed, the answers were pretty much the same:

“Too much complaining, too much whining, too much venting.”
“Took too long to get everyone to agree.”
“The kids sat silently and later complained we were first class dictators.”

I don’t blame the parents for failing; I blame the parent advice experts. Some of the advice mirrors my own: set an agenda, use go-round discussions, build fun into the process, have opening and closing rituals. Good advice.

However, is a sample of advice that made me screech like someone stepped on a sore toe; it is from an article in Parenting Magazine:

The best approach to planning family meetings is probably to set up the expectation that the whole family will meet to try to make decisions and solve problems together.

Hog wash, humbug and a set up for dissent and difficulty. Mostly a plea for democracy. However, democracy works when there are strong, caring leaders who know what needs to happen, who know what is possible, and who don’t let the kids vote until they are at least eighteen and in many places, twenty-one.

Contrary to popular opinion as reflected in most of the parenting advice floating around, a family run as a democracy does not work. Let me repeat that: A family run as a democracy does not work.

Families work best when parents take on the role of benign dictators. Be very clear, I am talking about benign dictatorships not the ones invested in getting the trains to run on time and the masses bowing or saluting un-elected and cruel leaders.

Here are my tips for becoming a benign family meeting leader and having half a chance of running a successful family meetings:

1. Repeat and believe the following mantra. For two parent families: “Us, our house, our wallet, our rules.” For a single parent home: “Me, my house, my wallet, my rules.

2. Do not work to keep everyone happy, allow everyone to vent, or allow full participation in the problem solving process. Your job as a parent is to  pay the bills, assure children kept safe and properly cared for, not to assure happiness.

3. Make the rules and punishments are clear,  fair, just,  realistic, and work for the betterment of all, are

4. Allows a few decisions to be reached by consensus or vote, but do so carefully, and if dissent arises,  exercise the benign dictator’s right to rule.

5. Do not allow pop-corning. Pop-corning lets participants speak at random. Instead use the go-round facilitation style. The facilitator asks the questions or poses a comment for discussion at the start of each go-round; the others respond one by one. As each person responds, the facilitator merely nods or say “Thank you.”

If during a go-round someone speaks rudely, speaks about another person’s view instead of their own, the facilitator says “Please stay on topic, and repeats the question or item for discussion.

A Reality Check: If you have been following the “Siblings Without Rivalry,” soft love ideas that parents are responsible for their child’s feelings and happiness becoming a benign dictator model will not be easy.

Moreover, the kids will protest. Wouldn’t you if someone instead of focusing exclusively on your happiness, started to tell you a variation of “Suck it up, Buttercup”.

What to do? Announce the change in parenting styles. Reframe it as the next step to adulthood. Say something like this:

“You are at the age, when you need to learn what it means to be an adult and that means attending and participating in meetings like a grown up. We are going to have Family Meeting and I am going to run them like a hard-nosed boss.

Second reality check: If your parenting style has been that of Marine Commander ala The Great Santini, meaning you either don’t have family meetings or use them to issue edicts to your sullen or frightened subjects. You will need to reverse tactics and follow the more usual advice of letting your subjects make more decisions, and giving them more rewards. Your mantra needs to be “Their life, their needs.”

Final reality check: Expect stress whether this is your first attempt to hold a family meeting or a renewed attempt. If switching parent styles is part of the process that will add more stress. Here’s an introduction to EFT’s Self-soothing skills. So a tip or two about dealing with that stress.

Tip one: Keep your expectations realistic. Hold six meetings and then figure out if they are working. If working, take everyone out for ice cream or to the movies as a reward. If not working, think about having a parent coach come and help get things on track be possible?

Tip two: Work to improve your self-soothing skills. Practice my Daily Twelve Emotional Fitness Exercises. Here’s an introductory link. For more on self-soothing, consider buying my eBook, Self-soothing To Create Peace In Your LIfe. It costs less than a latte and lasts longer.

Tip three: If all family times are mad or sad times, consider seeking a competent professional consultation.

Thank you for all you do

Practice kindness. Remember to share all you find of value on the internet.  All who post crave recognition. A like says “Thank You.” Comments say you have read and thought about the post. Sharing is a gift to three people: the blogger, the people you share with, and you for your kindness blesses you.

Stay strong, it takes some effort for life can be a painful struggle.

Katherine

Post Inspiration: This post was not inspired  by the WordPress Daily  Prompt:  Clean.

Go here to learn more about the Daily Prompts.

Links of Interest

These links are for those not familiar with Emotional Intelligence or the idea of Emotional Fitness.

Disclaimer two: Take all advice even mine, carefully.  Don’t just listen to your heart, but also think; don’t just think, listen to your heart.  Heart and head working together increase the odds you will find useful advice amid all the promises and hopes pushed at you be others.  As others have noted, take what seems useful, leave the rest.

Disclaimer two: Forgive my grammatical errors

If  you need perfect posts, you will not find them  here;  I will understand if you don’t follow, like or share what  like me.  Not only am I dealing with an aging brain, but all of my life I have been plagued by dysgraphia–a learning disability,  Some of my posts might be peppered with bad spelling, poor punctuation, and worse words that make no sense.  If  you want to hang in with me, thank you; you are kind. If a post doesn’t make sense or bugs you too much, stop reading, I will understand.

 

 

The STOP Plan – A Giant Tool for Eliminating A ChildBad Behavior

The Stop Plan

Parents need lots of tools when it comes to controlling negative behavior, for as Abraham Maslo noted, “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.”

Sometimes, behavior is so unacceptable, it must be stopped immediately.  The STOP plan is designed for those times.  Use the STOP plan when someone is :

  • In danger or putting others in danger.
  • Hurting another including pets
  • Breaking the law
  • Destroying valuable property.
  • Bullying
  • Doing something others would find disgusting.
  • Stepping on your last nerve as a parent or care-giver.

Parents and care-givers have limits.  The experts talk a great deal about boundaries, but mostly in terms of parents not violating a child’s boundary.  Parental and care-giver boundaries also need protecting, and so “Stepping on someone’s last nerve” is included in the mix of unacceptable behaviors.

Here is how to use STOP:

  • S = Say the word stop. Say it loud, even angrily.
  • T = Tell the person what to stop.
  • O = Offer an alternative more positive behavior.
  • P = Physically forcing compliance if necessary, but add a positive even if obeying had to be forced.  Physically forcing compliance if the child does not comply with your command means using you hands.

More examples of the Stop Plan

  • STOP running toward the street, run to me instead.
  • STOP hurting your sister, go to your room and calm down.
  • STOP pulling the dog’s ears, pet her instead
  • STOP crossing the street when the light is red; obey the law.
  • STOP pounding the wall, go to your room and pound your pillow
  • STOP bullying your brother, apologize or go to your room.
  • STOP spitting on the ground, use a tissue instead.
  • STOP making me crazy with that noise,  go outside to play before I really flip out.

Stay In Control 

Behavior that makes it necessary to use the STOP plan usually finds a parent angry, afraid, or super stressed. Having strong self-soothing skills dampens those reactions, so you can enforce the STOP Plan more calmly and easily.

To strengthen your self-soothing skills: buy my eBook Creat Calm in Your Life. Costs  only $2.99 which is less than a latte.

Two Warnings

  1. Use physical force carefully. With the preschooler, just sweeping them up in your arms and giving a gentle hug works. With an older child, try a  hand on their shoulder. With a teen who is bigger and stronger, you may need a second person to help get compliance.
  2. Do not over use this plan. Lots of other tools work better and over use of any tool diminishes its effectiveness.

Thank you for all you do

Remember to share all you find of value on the internet.  All who post crave recognition. A like says “Thank You.” Comments say you have read and thought about the post. Sharing is a gift to three people: the blogger, the people you share with, and you for your kindness blesses you.

Katherine

Post Inspiration: This post inspired  by the  WordPress Daily  Prompt: Giant.

Go here to learn more about the Daily Prompts.

Links of Interest

These links are for those not familiar with Emotional Intelligence or the idea of Emotional Fitness.

Even the most learned researchers and therapists quarrel about much.  Take their advice and mine carefully.  Don’t just listen to your heart, but also think; don’t just think, listen to your heart.  Heart and head working together increase the odds you will find useful advice amid all the promises and hopes pushed at you be others.  As others have noted, take what seems useful, leave the rest.

Disclaimer two: Forgive my grammatical errors

If  you need perfect posts, you will not find them  here;  I will understand if you don’t follow, like or share what  like me.  Not only am I dealing with an aging brain, but all of my life I have been plagued by dysgraphia–a learning disability,  Some of my posts might be peppered with bad spelling, poor punctuation, and worse words that make no sense.  If  you want to hang in with me, thank you; you are kind. If a post doesn’t make sense or bugs you too much, stop reading, I will understand.

Teach Your Children The Value of A Not-knowing Philosophy

Thank you

That should also read, “Every Mind…..”

Our minds get filled with lots of stuff as we grow from baby to adult. The beliefs we create are part of what forms our being.  Beliefs are based on our genetic heritage, what other’s tell us, and what we accept as fact based on our experiences.  Which explains why siblings can be alike or different and also why some twins raised in separate home turn out to have similar tastes and beliefs.

Fact:  There are what some call “Brute facts.” These, however, are not necessarily scientific truths. Think of the solid paths we walk across  without thought:  floors, cement, hard packed dirt, rocky cliffs. What seems solid enough to be called a Brute fact, might be anything but, and could in a second cast you down, cover you with lava, or pull you into a pit of sand.

Learning to accept a “Not Knowing  philosophy is the stepping stone to becoming  a critical thinker.  And critical thinking is the doorway to emotional intelligence.

Here’s a fact that is forgotten in today’s youth oriented world. While  young children have poetic moments, thinking that makes great thinkers could get them killed.  Why we make our small children hold our hands crossing the street or in parking lots and discourage playing with matches.

Another forgotten fact: Children and many adults think with their feelings and not their brains. Emotional Intelligence means thinking about what your feelings are suggesting and knowing when to act on those suggestions and when not to.

The good news? Studies show that Emotional Intelligence is more important in living the good life than intelligence in general and is more important than money, education or social class in getting ahead.

More good news: .Emotional Intelligence is learned, not gifted and can always be improved. That is best done by helping a child develop an inquiring mind. a mind that thinks “Maybe” not “For Sure.”

PARENTING TIPS

Tip one: Work on you first. Add the word “Maybe” to your vocabulary. Do not be afraid to say “I don’t know” or that is “Only my opinion”

Tip two: You need to keep age and stage in mind.

  1. Pre-school aged children cannot think beyond  the feeling of the moment.
  2. School aged child cannot think beyond what can be seen, heard, or touched.
  3. Starting with the preteens children  become more and more able to think about abstract things like possibilities and  varying points of view. This shift in thought explains why teens are often so critical of parents.
  4. As the child moves into adulthood, life experiences  improve judgement, something teens often lack; however, there is a comfort in holding to earlier beliefs.

Warning: The guidelines are general and some never become critical thinkers; others do it earlier than the above parameters.

Tip three: Do not worry  about a pre-schooler’s fantasies; at the same time, point out the make-believe stuff. Label play and make-believe as pretending or imaging. Do so in a calm matter of fact way.

Tip four:  Keep the fun in fantasy.  Saying “It is fun to believe in make-believe” when hanging up the Christmas stockings will not in any way diminish the child’s pleasure, but does pave the way for when s/he begins to understand what is real and what is not.

Tip five: Allow as much choice as possible, but label choices  “You have two choices” works well when  you can let the child pick one or the other.  Then label the child’s choices; “A wise choice.”  or ”Not the best choice.”  Also hold to safety and other major rules as “Not a choice.”

Tip six: Once the child stops believing in the Santa Claus or similar myths, start asking as you watch movies or media together “What’s real about that?” or “What’s fantasy about that?”

 Also be quicker to point out twisted thinking and label it as such.

12 Examples of twisted thinking aka #fallaciousarguments

Thank You For All You Do

Thank me by remembering sharing is caring; so is liking, or commenting. Your caring keeps me going.

Also, if you did not find it helpful, comment and tell me what might have made it more useful.

Katherine

This post was inspired by this WordPress Daily Prompt  Maybe  

Go here to learn more about the Daily Prompts.

LINKS OF INTEREST

These links are for those not familiar with Emotional Intelligence or the idea of Emotional Fitness.

Emotional Intelligence (en.wikipedia.org)
The five components of Emotional Intelligence (www.sonoma.edu)
Emotional Fitness Tips for Parents  (parentsarepeopletoo.com)
An Emotional Fitness Program for Parents(amazon.com)

Stay strong, diligent practice of my exercises will help.

Katherine

 

Too many expect too much. Life is a struggle and relationships difficult. Mad, sad, and bad feelings are inevitable. As novelist, Robertson Davies noted, “Happiness is always a by-product. It is probably a matter of temperament, and for anything I know it may be glandular. But it is not something that can be demanded from life, and if you are not happy you had better stop worrying about it and see what treasures you can pluck from your own brand of unhappiness.”
Stay strong, diligent practice of my exercises will help.
Katherine

Use Rating Scales to Teach Your Child What Matters

Knowing what matters keeps decision making on track. Teaching children how to rate things keeps them on track.

Rating scale poster

How to practice  Emotional Fitness Training’s Rating Exercise: Every time you feel tempted to complain, rate the complaint: Trivial is one; Life Changing trauma is ten. Hurts but not for long is five.

parent advice

The younger the child, the more s/he lives in the now and what matters is feeling okay or good.  Rating scales can be taught to a child as soon as he or she begins toddling. Why then? Because the child is getting a few bumps and bruises, but also because s/he is acquiring language. This age and stage lets you teach your child to rate pain:

  1. “Big hurt”  if the child is crying inconsolably.
  2. “Hurts” for small weeping moments.
  3. Tiny hurt for when child complains but seems able to comfort self.

For the big hurts, keep saying “Big Hurt” as you comfort the child.    For the “Hurts” repeat that one word and when the child stops crying, smile, hug,  and say “Good job.”

For tiny hurts, ignore or say “Tiny Hurt, well handled.”

By the way, some experts say there are only two emotions: pleasure and pain. Makes some sense by also important to realize that as we grow what feels pleasurable or painful becomes personal.  Need an example? Here’s one based on my experience as a foster parent.

Many of the children who came to live with us, had been abused or seriously neglected. The logical assumption  would be that living with foster parents who were not abusive would be pleasurable. Not so.

As one young man said, “Please beat us once in a while. You treat us better than our parents and that hurts.”

Fritz Redl and David Wineman in their book Children Who Hate called this inability to tolerate good enough parenting “Treatment Shock.”

In my work and life, I have found three elements working in terms of pleasure or pain.

  1. Deprivation of basic survival needs leads the list. And sexual deprivation is included as a basic survival need, although survival of the species not the individual.
  2. Physical pain.
  3. Emotional pain including uncertainty and fear of pain.

As children grow, each of these three elements can be rated.

  1. Survival needs are rated in terms of their impact on the body. Water needs? A bit thirsty vs dehydrated; Food needs? Mildly hungry vs near death from starvation. Sexual needs? No sexual tension versus aroused enough to violate safe sex rules including forcing sex on someone.
  2. Pan has already been discussed. but useful to think about uncertain and fear of pain in the following ways.
  3. Emotional pain?  Rate on tiny hurt, hurt, and big hurt scale. Think about uncertainty in terms of  mildly curious to disruption of core beliefs enough to act violently to those who believe differently. Fear of pain? Reasonable caution vs immobilizing fear.

But it all begins with teaching a toddler to rate pain.

What to do if your child is past the toddler age? Once a child is in school, you can take a direct approach. Again your response starts the process. Look for when a child is “awfulizing” a trivial hurt.

What’s awfulizing? Albert Ellis founder of the Institute for Rational Living coined this  word. Most simply put it involves  making mountains out of ant hills.  Think of the teen who won’t leave the house because of a pimple you cannot see.  Or the Little League who drops a fly ball and acts like he or she lost the World Series.

You have a number options, but the best is simply to ask the child to rate how bad it is. You can do that by saying, ” suspect by  next week you won’t feel so bad, and by next month you will hardly remember feeling so bad and by next year, you will have forgotten this entirely.” I usually add, “Life goes on.”

My mother’s response to awfulizing  took these three forms.

  1. “Suck it up Butter cup.”
  2. “Be glad it isn’t worse.”
  3. “Life goes on.” Which is where I got that one.

Many of today’s parenting gurus would find my mother’s edicts hurtful. These tend to suggest if you cannot praise, say nothing. I disagree. Part of being a parent is preparing your child for the realities of life. Hurt is a reality and learning to rate hurts realistically an important life skill.

THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DO

Remember’s sharing is caring and the easiest way to practice kindness now is to share this post with someone who will find it inspiring.  Thank you.

Katherine

P.S. This post was partly inspired by today’s WordPress Daily Prompt.

Ripped from the Headlines! Head to your favorite online news source. Pick an article with a headline that grabs you. Now, write a short story based on the article.

I thought about the controversy over Starbucks Christmas Cups. Stupid to waste time on something so trivial. Well, at least in my Cranky Old Lady’s Opinion.

LINKS OF INTEREST