Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Anger Wheel of Choice

Anger is one of the many emotions that we, humans, experience from time to time.  It is a perfectly normal and healthy response to various situations that we are confronted with.  The problem with anger is not that we feel it, it is that we aren't always the best at dealing with and expressing it appropriately.  The Positive Discipline Tool: Anger Wheel of Choice can help.

The idea is to help your children learn that all feelings are okay, they just need to learn how to deal with them.  During a peaceful moment, introduce the anger wheel of choice.  You can use the free download here, or use it a an outline for you and your older child to come up with things that work for them.  The next time that your child gets angry, invite him to use the wheel of choice to find an outlet that works for him.

We used an old spinner from a board game to make ours.  Our, then 5 year old, daughter came up with her own tools for dealing with anger.  They are:  Read a book in bed, listen to music, draw or write about feelings, put it on the family meeting agenda, or have a hug.  We also created a place in her room that she calls her peaceful corner.  She has a giant teddy bear for sitting on and snuggling with, some beautiful pictures and a sound machine to listen to southing sounds.  When she starts to get angry I can ask her if she would like to spin the anger wheel or take a Positive Time-out in her peaceful corner.

As with all the other tools, this only works some of the time.  Sometimes it seems to make her more angry, but others it really, really, works, and when it does it is so great!  Even if it only works one in ten times, I think it is worth it.  Keep offering, if nothing else it is a way for you to consistently remind your child which responses to anger are appropriate and which aren't.  This is a gift that can take them very far in life.  Immagine if we all had the ability to deal with feelings in a peaceful and rational manner.  It reminds me of something Montessori said, "Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war."  That is to say, peace is an action we can teach/model, while war and conflict are emotional reactions.  Let's teach peace!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Avoid Pampering

The Positive Discipline Tool Avoid Pampering has to be one of my favorite tools. And while it sounds pretty easy, I think many parents might find this the hardest tool to stick with.  The tool card says: Parents make a mistake when they pamper in the name of love.

I have made myself heard on this topic in the past, here and here.  Maria Montessori made it clear that when we do something for a child that he is capable of doing, we are putting up an obstacle in the way of his development.  I believe this wholeheartedly.  Children learn to be capable and self confident by doing things for themselves, making mistakes, struggling and facing challenges.

To avoid pampering does not mean that you withhold love or affection.  Tell your children you love them, hug them daily, and encourage them, just don't help them when they don't need help.  Don't rescue them when they don't need rescuing, and don't tell them what to do when they can figure it out on their own.  Yes, even telling them what to do next is pampering.  Here are two examples a bit of a morning routine with a 2 year old.

Example A:  Mother says, "Let's go.  It is time to go to grandma's house.  Let's go get your shoes and sock." Mother grabs shoes and socks while holding the toddler's hand.  "Let's put your shoes on."  Mother puts the shoes and socks on.  "Okay, lets go get in the car."  Mother picks up the child and puts him in his car seat, and buckles the car seat.  Off they go!

Example B:  Mother says, "It's time to go to grandmas house.  You need to wear shoes and socks, please."  Toddler goes to grab his socks, brings them to his mother.  Mother says, "I see you found your socks, please put them on."  Toddler tries to put the socks on and then asks "help, please" when he gets to a point of frustration.  Mother helps as little as possible to help him get the socks on.  Mother says, "What d you still need?"  Toddler looks at his feet and says, "shoes!"  He runs off to find his shoes.  Mother allows him to attempt to put his on shoes, and helps when necessary.  Mother says, "Okay, you are already.  Let's get in the car."  Mother allows toddler to try to climb in the car and into his seat.  She then allows him to attempt the buckles, and helps when needed.  Off they go!

The difference between A and B, besides the amount of time it took to get to the point of leaving, is that the mom in B did not pamper the child.  She allowed him to do what he could on his own, and by doing so,  conveyed the message that he is capable.  This kind of experience is possible when you Take Time for Training, and plan ahead.  When children know how to do what is expected of them you can show faith in them.  Planning ahead means allowing time for children to do things at their own pace, without feeling rushed.  Things will not always go this smoothly, and some days your child will actually need more help than others.  That is okay too.  Some days we all need a little extra help!

At the same time, and for as much as I push for parents to give their children the chance to grow and experience things on their own, I also think it is important to mention the concept: Acts of Service.
One of the 5 Love Languages, as described by author Dr. Gary Chapman, is Acts of Service.  Many people feel loved when other people do things for them, and in turn feel that they can best express love by doing for others.   This happens to be my love language.  When my husband makes the bed before going to work, and washes diapers without me having to even ask, I feel love.  This may sound silly to someone who has a different love language.  I encourage you to read about the love languages.

Performing an act of service is not only a love language, it is a valuable aspect of humanity, and therefore something that we need tom model for our children.  I am not giving you the go ahead to wait on your children hand and foot, but doing something for them or others around them as an act of service is an important virtue to share with them.  Balance my friends, it always comes down to balance.  Teach your children to love in all the love languages, but try to allow them to do things for themselves too.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Break The Code

The idea behind the Positive Discipline Tool Break The Code is that children make decisions about themselves and how they will act based on how they feel and what they believe about themselves.

This isn't a quick and easy tool to apply.  This one requires some time, observation and self reflection.  Basically, you look at a specific behavior of your child's that you find troubling, reflect on how it makes you feel, then use the Mistaken Goals Chart to identify what belief is behind your child's behavior, and what you can do encourage the behavior to change.  Take a look at Jane Nelson's blog on this tool, it goes over the process in great detail!

Here is a look at one of my experiences with this.

My husband, who just had come home from work, gets out his laptop to send an email for work.  Our daughter comes over and puts something in front of the screen for him to see, or turns the computer off, or starts bouncing on the couch next to him.  This scenario happens frequently.  I ask him if he is willing to take a look at this problem with me .  Later we have this discussion:

Me: How do you feel when this happens?
Husband:  Annoyed, frustrated and a little guilty.  Mostly annoyed.
Me:  Ok.  What do you usually do about it?
Husband:  Ask her to stop, tell her that I am almost finished, plead with her to just be patient.
Me:  Then what happens?
Husband:  She usually keeps doing it, or stops for a second and then starts doing something else to    
                 annoy me.
Me:  How do you think that you would feel if you were in her shoes?
Husband:  Well, I understand that she just wants to see me, but sometimes I just need to do something
Me:  Ok, but if you think from her perspective, how would you feel?
Husband:  Sad :(
Me:  Ok, and what do you think you would decide to do?
Husband:  I don't know, probably just keep doing it until he paid attention to me, or do something else      
                 that would make him pay attention to me.
Me:  Well, I think that it is clear that she is acting out because of Undue Attention.  Let's look at the
        chart together and decide what you will do next time

Together we decide that next time he will pause what he is doing and tell her "I love you and I promise that we will get to have our special time tonight right after dinner, and you can tell me al about your day then".

Fortunately, we had already discussed the need for special time and had arranged for that in our daily schedule.  All it took was taking a moment to explain that he has a quick thing to do, but that he does love her and they will get to have their special time.  What first looked like "misbehavior", was identified as Undue Attention.  Using the Mistaken goal chart made it easy for us to find solutions we could try.

I think part of what makes this chart work best is having two people to share in this dialogue.  It is possible to do it yourself, but if you have a spouse, partner, coworker etc. that you could go through it with, it makes is a more valuable experience.

I encourage you to try using this idea that there is a belief behind your child's behavior, and when you discover what it is it will be much easier to reach out to them and change the behavior.