Monday, May 21, 2012

Put Kids In The Same Boat

This week, as I read the tool card and Jane Nelson's post on Put Kids In The Same Boat, I had an EPIPHANY!  This is one tool I was not only forgetting, but I don't think I had even thought of it once since our second child was born.

Put kids in the same boat means to treat them equally when you respond to an incident that involves both of them.  It says to give both or all kids involved the same choices for dealing with the problem and then you have to have faith in them and leave them to deal with it according to the choice they made.

In our house we have a mild mannered five year old girl and a very active one year old boy.  The boy is known for slapping, pinching, biting and scratching, all in very affectionate ways of course!  He often gets excited or upset or something and manages to inflict pain on anyone nearby.  We generally respond by asking the baby to be gentle and show us how he can be gentle and asking his sister if she is ok.  Lately this has actually started to work since we started teaching him how to be gentle at times when he wasn't already in action.  We never really thought about how these interactions were affecting our daughter.  After reading Jane's blog I realized that we are totally making our daughter out to be the victim.    That is not something we wanted or intended to do.

The next time the opportunity arose we responded by telling them both that if they couldn't play nicely together in the living room, then we would have to find places in our house for them to play separately.  I could see the shock on my daughters face, and she instantly blamed him for hurting her - playing the victim as we taught her :(  I told her that it makes me very sad to see either of them get hurt and that I was going to take him to his room to play alone and then she could go to her room to play alone until they were ready to play together nicely.  After a few minutes in their respective rooms she came out and said she wanted to to play with him nicely.  Whew, it seemed to work.  I am not sure that the baby got much out of it, but at least he wasn't made to be the bully!

I can see this being a very effective tool, and I plan to keep it in my tool box from now on!

Next week we will work on: Allowances!  Perfect timing for us as we have been working on learning about money around here lately!!!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Teach Children What To Do

The Parenting Tool this week was Teach Children What To Do.  To me, this tool sums up Positive Discipline and Montessori in one!  Teach - what a powerful word.   I love that, very simply,  a parent or educator can learn to respond to what they view as disciplinary problems with education.

I have heard that very young children have a bit of selective hearing.  A parent might say, "Don't hit" or "Don't jump on the couch", and the young child hears "hit" or "Jump on the couch".  I don't know if that is exactly true, but it does seem like that when they do exactly what you tell them not to do.  I also know a lot of parents who complain that their toddler's favorite word is "no".  If that is the word that they hear most often, then it is likely that that will be the word that they use most often too.

There is a very commonly known quote from Maria Montessori, "Help me to do it by myself"!  Young children desire instruction as to what to do.  Knowing this, we can easily divert a child who is doing something undesirable by teaching them what they can do.  If a child is repeating a behavior, then we have to assume that they have a need to do it for the purpose of acquiring a specific skill.  We have to give the opportunity to do it in an appropriate way.  A child who is constantly throwing things needs to be given a soft ball to throw inside or taken outside to throw a ball there.

Our baby boy started pushing things around the house.  Things like our laundry basket, light furniture, pots and pans, etc.  We recognized his need to have a safe and appropriate thing to push.  Once we gave him a push wagon to use whenever he desired, his pushing behavior was curtailed and we were less likely  trip over random things in strange places.

One rainy afternoon, our daughter was climbing all over our furniture, jumping and sliding down the most unlikely things.  First I asked her to use the couch for sitting.  She continued to climb minutes later.  I recognized her need to climb.  We went to a indoor gym that afternoon, where she was instructed in some major moving and climbing.  Her needs to climb were met and my needs to have her stop climbing the furniture were met!

Teaching is pretty easy, and it can be fun too, but most importantly it is a very effective parenting tool!

Next we will work on: Put Kids in the Same Boat.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Natural Consequences

This weeks Positive Discipline Parenting Tool is Natural Consequences.  This is one that most people have heard about and many have tried to use.  I say tried because I think it may also be the most misused tool.

The point of a natural consequence is that it just happens, naturally!  It is not something that a parent can do or cause.  It is something that is the result of choices that someone makes.  An example of a natural consequence is when my daughter chooses to wear dress shoes when we will be walking all day and she gets blisters.

I think the hardest thing to remember is that you can't create natural consequence; usually the consequences that provide the greatest learning opportunity come a bit unexpectedly.  One day, after many frustrating long drives home from pre-school with my daughter, I prepared her for a positive discipline experience.  Before we began our drive, I told her that it is hard for me to concentrate on driving when she screams and kicks and cries.  I told her that if she starts to lose control on our drive, then I would have to pull over and wait until she was calm and quiet before I would drive again.  I told her that I brought my book, so I could read while we were pulled over and that she could let me know she was ready to continue our trip home by calmly saying, "I am ready to drive calmly mommy".  I also might have mentioned something about it being dangerous to sit parked on the side of the road, and that police often give people tickets for stopping on the freeway.  As usual, she started to scream and lose control about ten minutes into our 45 minute journey.  I was on a major freeway, but luckily there was an extra wide shoulder coming up, so I pulled off to the side of the road.  Within a few seconds of being stopped a large tow truck with flashing lights started approaching us, slowing down and over to the side.  To my daughter, the truck looked a lot like a police vehicle.  She started freaking out!  "Please Mommy, I am so sorry, I am calm and I will never do that again, just please don't let the police man take me!" she said to me in the calmest voice possible.  I waved the tow truck away and started the car and quickly drove away.  I have to say, that was the last car fit we had to deal with to this day!  I am not sure why she thought the police man would take her away and we later talked about that, but at the same time the natural consequence that occurred - the "police car" showing up at just the right time- was PERFECT.  The natural consequence strengthened the lesson that I was attempting to share with her.

I have to laugh when I think about this story.  It was really a comical scene in our car that day!  Natural consequences can be pretty powerful teachers.

Next week we explore: Teach Children What To DO.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Logical Consequences

Logical Consequences are often confused with Natural Consequences.  They are in fact very different.  Logical consequences are something that the are created by parents/teacher to teach a child a lesson.  They related to the problem or situation, but they do not happen on their own in the way that Natural Consequences do.

According to our Tool Card, Logical Consequences are to be used rarely.  When we do use them we need to follow the Four R's of Logical Consequences: 1. Related 2. Respectful 3. Reasonable 4. Revealed in advance if possible.

The important thing to remember when working on logical consequences is that they are meant to teach not punish.  As soon as the consequence becomes punitive it is no longer teaching, at least not teaching what you are hoping to.  Let's look at teach of the four R's.    For the consequence to be related it must be something that happens as a direct result of a behavior or action.  To be respectful means that it is not punitive, belittling or humiliating to the child in anyway created by you.  A Reasonable consequence is not extreme or impossible for the child to achieve. For the consequence to be revealed in advance the parent/teacher needs to be proactive in their thinking.  What might happen here and how will it be remedied?

Here is an example that meets all the r's.  Your child and friend decide they are going to have a lemonade stand all by themselves.  You think, "what a fun idea!" and then you think to yourself what might go wrong?  They might make a huge mess in the kitchen, they might break one of your kitchen tools, etc.  To be proactive you tell them that they are allowed to use the items in the kitchen, but if anything gets broken they will be responsible for replacing it.  As suspected a glass pitcher gets broken in the process.  You help the girls clean it up and they continue with their project.  After the lemonade sale is over you offer to take them to the store so that they can purchase a pitcher to replace the one they broke using their profits.  The logical consequence here is that they have to replace the broken pitcher with a new one.  It is clearly related - break a pitcher, buy a pitcher.  It is respectful to the children in the sense that they are only replacing what they broke, and it is respectful to you as you will not have your things broken and not replaced.  It is Reasonable because they are replacing that they can afford to replace with their earnings.  It was revealed to them in advance and came as no shock when they had to replace the broken item.

It is not always easy to follow all four R's.  If you can't then you need to ask yourself if it is really a tool you should be using at the time.   Remember there are many other tools, this one should only be used when appropriate.

Come back later this week and read about Natural Consequences and how they are different!