Past Articles from Sandy McDaniel's column found every Sunday in the Accent section of the
Orange County Register


For more help, visit Sandy's ParentingSOS.com web site

PARENTING SOLUTIONS #21
by Sandy Spurgeon McDaniel

DO YOUR CHILDREN PICK UP THEIR MESSES?
You are dying, laughing, right? Few children pick up their messes. I have several strategies for this problem and am going to share a new one, learned from my dentist, Dr. Gerald Kushner.

REMEMBERYou care so you remind yourself to be:

* Consistent

* Always listening

* Reasonable

* Encouraging

A SOLUTION: When your children leave things lying around (jackets, sports equipment, etc.) pick them up for him/her. Put the items away until the Sunday family meeting. At the meeting, the child may buy back the items from his/her allowance for the upcoming week. The cost of each item is fifty cents. The child’s allowance is five dollars.

If it is not feasible to pay the children an allowance, trade a chore for each item to be returned.

In addition, Dr. Kushner charges a dollar for not taking a shower. (Pre-adolescents and adolescents can’t smell themselves or they would stay in the shower all the time!)

This strategy will be appropriate from eight years through the teen years.

With a smaller child, it usually works to take the items, put them in a pillowcase and return them in three days. Parents who say this doesn’t work with their child have not stuck to their guns, continually keeping the toys that the child refuses to pick up each day. Eventually, you will have all the toys; then you will also have that child’s attention.

Give the child a reasonable time to accomplish the task, “You need to have that mess picked up by five o’clock.”  If, at five o’clock the chore has not been accomplished, put the child on the Minute Drill (“Parenting Solutions,” column #10 and column #15): “You were given a reasonable time to pick up this mess. You chose not to pick it up in the time allowed. For every minute it takes you to pick up the mess, you will lose fifteen minutes off of your (computer, TV, play) time. It starts right now.”

TEACH THE VALUE OF AN EDUCATION. School is starting very soon. My brother, Bill, teaches in an intermediate school in Santa Ana. Bill has a gift for teaching his middle-grade students the value of an education. “Staying in school improves your potential,” he tells his sixth graders, “School broadens your understanding of the world. It is your ticket to more choices in the job market and to getting a good job.”

Your child needs consistent boundaries in order to choose doing schoolwork over play. Beginning on the first day of school set a routine. Have the same homework time every day. Have an area where the child can sit up straight and write comfortably. Do not have the television or radio on in or near the child’s study space. Have paper, pencils, pens and other supplies the child needs available for the child.

Have a chart or piece of paper at the front on your child’s notebook where the child can write all assignments. Keeping assignments on a single piece of paper improves communication between home and school.

Have a family meeting. Define the jobs in your household. One of the jobs of each child is to do his/her best in school. Doing your best in any arena requires self-discipline, determination and organization. These skills are a key to success in every aspect of a person’s life. Inspire your child to do his/her best in school.  

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PARENTING SOLUTIONS #22
by Sandy Spurgeon McDaniel

GOING BACK TO SCHOOL:
As the first days of school pass by, it helps to remember that change is always stressful.

REMEMBERYou care so you remind yourself to be:

* Consistent

* Always listening

* Reasonable

* Encouraging

Even if a child loves school, that child has just  walked into the unknown. There is a new teacher, different students in a classroom and an altogether new routine. The fear of failure and parental expectations loom over many children’s heads.  Change is scary.

It is not appropriate to tell the child, “It will be fine,” or “You will like school once you get used to it.”  How do you know that to be true? It is better to say, “I bet lots of student at your school are having a hard time with school starting. What is the hardest thing about school right now?” Accept whatever the child says as that child’s reality.

Don’t make a child’s feelings wrong. Never say, “How could you be worried about fitting in; you have so many friends.” That statement invalidates the child’s feelings .

If your child says, “I hate school!” don’t try to talk him/her out of that idea. “It is difficult to give up the freedom of summer, and school is what most children in America do. Once you get into a routine, you may feel better about it. The bottom line is that you will be going to school for a very long time. Hating school won’t change that it exists. How could you make tomorrow a better day than today?”

Don’t attempt to have your child match your feelings. Don’t invalidate a feeling even if you don’t understand it. Listen! Empathize! Just because you liked school doesn’t mean your child will feel the same. Just because you disliked school doesn’t mean your child will feel the same.

If a child’s feelings are not safe with you, that child will cease to tell you his/her truth.

It is wise to get back in to some sort of routine every day. Have the children go to bed at a time appropriate to getting up and going to school the next day. Have the same homework time every day and a quiet place where the child can work.

When a child is nervous or afraid, that child will be more energetic and less likely to mind. If your child is having a difficult time at school, that child will vent his/her frustration in your home.  While it is important to be compassionate, it is equally important to create clear limits and enforce them.

What the child is seeking is consistent boundaries. Ironically, it is that child who will push every boundary you set. Boundaries that are fairly and lovingly enforced create safety for the child, especially in such an enormous time of change as school starting.

The more you, as a parent, honor the stress of change for your child, the more your child is likely to adapt. Be empathetic and hold the line. One more thing, remember that change is stressful for you as well.


TEACH TEACHING, NOT CORRECTING: Too many children experience failure while doing chores or following a parent’s orders. If a parent assumes the child knows how to do something and has an invisible standard as to how the job is done, failure is guaranteed.

For example, your version of how to clean a room and your child’s version are miles apart!

Teach the child how to put dishes in the dishwasher, how to make a bed, how to wipe off a sink, how to clean up spilled milk, how to wash their own clothes, how to do whatever you ask him/her to do. Children who experience success are more willing to assist around the home than those who are set up for another failure.

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PARENTING SOLUTIONS #23
by Sandy Spurgeon McDaniel

WORKING WITH CHILDREN IN A CRISIS:
A crisis, such as a death in the family immediately impacts the adults in a family. Such a situation becomes more difficult when children are involved. The degree of difficulty increases dramatically when there is a national disaster. Terrorists have just attacked the United States of America.

REMEMBERYou care so you remind yourself to be:

* Consistent

* Always listening

* Reasonable

* Encouraging

A SOLUTION:  Children cannot begin to comprehend the scope of a problem such as this one. As the whole nation waits on pins and needles, fearful that there will be more attacks, our children are left to watch and wonder.

If your children hear information from you, keep it short and simple, "A lot of people were hurt in a city far away from us. Let’s send them love right now."

Turn off the television where children are present. Get your news elsewhere. It is too difficult for children to be constantly bombarded with photos of a plane hitting a large building, and people being put into ambulances. Children cannot anesthetize themselves the way adults do. They feel the impact of everyone’s fear.  Shield them, as much as possible, from what is happening.

The problem with school children is that the big kids will tell the little kids too much about what is happening. This will bring a barrage of questions to the teachers; (Bless teachers on a disaster day; they are handling a whole room-filled with children, not just one or two children.) Answer questions; do not take off on a speech about what has happened. "We don’t know exactly what happened. It looks like an airplane rammed into a tall building in New York."  If asked if the people in the planes did it on purpose respond, "We don’t know, yet."  Keep it simple and brief.

Older children feel helpless and afraid. Get them busy with a project that will help the cause: pass out flyers to give blood at the local red cross, see if the Red Cross needs food or clothing, send love to the whole situation. Pray together.

If a child sees a video of the plane hitting the building and responds with "Cool!" realize that we have created this response by exposing our children to too much violence in movies and on television. Be serious, calm and kind, "The difference between a movie and what you just saw is that what you are watching is real. Let's send love to all the people who are hurt in that explosion." Keep it simple and brief.  Don't reprimand that child for being insensitive.

If you respond to a disaster with sobbing and uncontrolled crying, it models feeling your feelings. If those feelings continue for an extended period of time, the child becomes extremely anxious as he/she feels helpless and alone. It is important to model standing up in a crisis for our children—however difficult that challenge might be to you as the parent.

A woman ahead of me in the market this morning was five cents short of her bill; I put a nickel on the counter next to her change. She said she would pay me back and I responded, "A little more love in the world today can’t hurt. Let me do this small thing."

She hugged me.

The tragedy about a crisis is that it takes the crisis to bring us all together. If anything positive could come out of this nightmare, let it be that we build bridges of love between each other. You can do that by modeling kindness, graciousness and love to your children. In that seemingly small way, you will have made the world a better place.

One more thing: You’ve heard me say, "Send love to that situation." Please do not underestimate the power of stopping whatever you are doing and sending love to any negative situation. More than something positive to do, love is an energy that cannot be denied. Send love from your heart, and be a part of the invisible solution. Life is the question, love is the answer! 

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PARENTING SOLUTIONS #24
by Sandy Spurgeon McDaniel

“We are kind to each other in our home.”
We had a cool rule in our home: Each person was to be kind to every other person. This rule heads off almost every arena where children don’t get along.

REMEMBERYou care so you remind yourself to be:

* Consistent

* Always listening

* Reasonable

* Encouraging

A SOLUTION:  I have a friend who has a nine year and a six year old son. The eldest son (James), has used the younger one (Tim) as his “whipping boy” for several years. In order to stop this behavior, the mother is following my suggestion. “I cannot force you to like your brother, “ the mother tells the older child, “And you will be kind to him. Every time you hit or are unkind him, I will say PENALTY BOX; you will go to your room for ten minutes.”

I have had an occasion to spend some time with this family. We went snorkeling one day. I took the older boys ahead; the mother was to follow. Tim slipped under the railing and was walking on the rather steep sea wall. James got very upset, wanting me to protect Tim from danger as Tim does not swim well.

Later, Tim walked into the ocean without his life-vest on, and James grabbed my arm, “What is he doing?” I responded, “Looks like he’s going swimming.” James was considerably more alarmed, “Go get him, he can’t swim!”  I watched the younger boy challenging his own fear and stayed in “launch”mode.

The two concerns of James do not match up with the spoken, “I don’t like my brother” comments. I suspect the intent of picking on the smaller boy is to get more attention from the parents.

When a child thinks he can’t get enough positive attention, he will go for negative attention.

By saying, “Penalty Box, ten minutes!” and not creating a scene, the older boy gets the message that his behavior is NOT acceptable.

If one of your children says something unkind about another child, have the first child sit down and write three positive things about the person who was violated. Then have the child who has done the writing, read the paper to his brother or sister.

Borrowing a phrase from Barbara Coloroso, “If you hit, you sit!”  When one child hits another child, send the hitter to the remembering chair for one minute for every year of the child’s age; (A ten-year-old sits for ten minutes).

If each one of us, adult and child, lived by a simple rule: to be kind to each other; the world would be a more loving place in which to live.

WRING A TOWEL WHEN YOU ARE ANGRY: Lance Bialik, a therapist who specializes in child behavior, called me after my column broke on teaching children how to defuse their anger. 

He said, “Have a child (or adult) wring a towel for several minutes when he/she is angry. That activity will defuse the child’s adrenaline. When the adrenaline burns out, the child is able to make a rational decision. The child feels more empowered because he is able to control his anger, not letting his anger control him.”

As I’ve stated several times, if we do not teach our children how to defuse their anger, we will not stop the overflow of anger in our society. In addition, a child who has learned to defuse anger is more likely to make rational choices than the child who is walking around like a human time bomb.  

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PARENTING SOLUTIONS #25
by Sandy Spurgeon McDaniel

CONTINUING TO WORK WITH CHILDREN IN A CRISIS:
Children cannot  comprehend a crisis such as the one penetrating every breath of every citizen in our country today. Parents are at a loss as to what to say or what to do with children’s questions.

REMEMBERYou care so you remind yourself to be:

* Consistent

* Always listening

* Reasonable

* Encouraging

A SOLUTION:  Here are some guidelines for parents:

1) Do not expose children to television, radio or even personal conversations about the crisis.  The morning of the attack, one of my friends learned that the planes had hit the world trade center by a mother spewing her fear in all directions. The small children who were entering their pre-school heard every word she said.

2) Remember that children, especially small children, are very intuitive. A child can tell if a person is pretending that everything is fine but does not feel fine inside. A child will ask, out-of-the-blue, "Are you upset, Mommy?"  How did that child know? Don’t say you are fine when you are not fine. Instead say, "I’m a little upset right now. It is not about you. I could use a hug from you. Thank you for your hug."

3) When you talk to children, keep it simple and brief, "I don’t know if we are going to war. Let’s wait and see what happens. Meanwhile, let’s send love to the people in New York."  There is no point, for any of us, to speculate about what is going to happen next. Since we don’t know, the best approach is to say you don’t know. Rather than leaving it there, giving the child something positive to do helps the child to change channels and not feel so helpless. 

4) It is difficult to teach children not to be afraid if we are afraid. Many adults and children are having nightmares. There is no "fixing it", no easy solution. Telling a child that it is all right or that it will be fine simply won’t cut it –especially if the person saying it does not believe those words. Comfort your child. Love your child. Get the child to change channels by singing a song or telling a familiar story. 

Children have great imaginations. Sometimes, it works to take a bad dream and put it into something (a box, a basket) and put it outside the child’s bedroom door. This simple act allows the child to put the fear aside without asking the child to give up the fear, which is too big of a step.

5) To small children who are talking about hating the enemy and wanting to be a part of retaliating, I would say, "I think it important that we send love, not anger, to this situation. More anger won’t help. Love will help. Let’s send love to the people in New York." With older children, especially teenagers, I think what an intermediate school girl said in a classroom is important to consider . The students wanted us to bomb the bad guys. She said,  "OK, how is killing a bunch of innocent people different from what they just did to us?"

Hatred is the root of the crisis at hand in America. If we meet hatred with hatred, how are we different from the enemy? If we teach our children to hate, how will it stop?

TELL THEM YOU LOVE THEM: Learn from the crisis facing our country right now, the importance of continually telling the people you love that you love them. Tell your children every day.

If you didn’t see your loved ones again, would you want the last words you spoke to them to be the words they (or you) remembered? Let’s all learn from those who have provided us with such a difficult lesson, how precious life and love really are. 

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PARENTING SOLUTIONS #26
by Sandy Spurgeon McDaniel

HELPING CHILDREN WITH HOMEWORK:
Generally speaking, children have too much homework, especially in elementary school. In my opinion, the school system needs to stop using testing as a measurement of whether children are learning. Then teachers will be free to teach to individual children’s needs. Teachers will not need to focus on getting a class to pass tests that only measure which kids can successfully take that type of test.

REMEMBERYou care so you remind yourself to be:

* Consistent

* Always listening

* Reasonable

* Encouraging

A SOLUTION:  In the meantime, here are some tips for getting your child to do homework:

1)   Have a specific time that the child is responsible for homework every day. Be as consistent (as possible) with this time.

2)   Have no television, radio, CD’s (unless it is wordless music) on during the child’s study time.

3)   Sit down with the child. Ask the child to “think out loud” as he or she works. If a parent listens, the child’s difficulty will probably fall into one of four categories:  

a. The child can’t read the material.

      b. The child can’t transcribe or write the information down on paper.

                  c. The child does not understand the material.

d. The child doesn’t stay focused and therefore does not get the job done.

If the young child has difficulty reading the material, read it to him/her. If the child’s thoughts go faster than he/she can write, have the child talk while you write. Then let the child copy what you wrote.

Some children who have trouble writing can learn to type and use the computer to get their work completed.

Be sure to let the teacher know that problem “a” through “d” exists. Remember, the teacher is out-numbered at least twenty to one (sometimes thirty to one!), so feedback is essential.

If the child procrastinates and takes forever to do the necessary work:

a.   Set up an incentive, “When you finish your homework, let’s play a game together. Every child wants more time with a parent.

b.   Break the homework into small increments. “When you finish your math, You can take a five minute break and have a piece of celery with some peanut butter in it.”  (Sugar is not recommended before bedtime.)

4)   If possible, don’t have the child do homework right after school. The child needs to run and play and relax before taking on more school work.

If you have an opinion about the amount of homework your child is asked to do, voice your concern without anger. The system is at fault. Work with your teachers, talk about it in your PTA, include the principal. Change occurs when people work together lovingly to create change.

THE TIME IS NOW. There has never been a time when it was more essential that we focus our energies, our dollars and our love on our most precious resource—our children.

Take time to learn how to work with your children in a more positive way. (Have you checked out my Web Site: parentingSOS.com?) Spend more time with your children.

Think of them as powerful beautiful tiny humans who are our only hope for creating a more loving world.

It is our duty as parents to work with our children in a more positive way. Less angry children will create a more loving world.  

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PARENTING SOLUTIONS #27
by Sandy Spurgeon McDaniel

BIRTHDAYS:
Since my sixtieth birthday was last Wednesday, I have had the topic of birthdays on my mind.

REMEMBERYou care so you remind yourself to be:

* Consistent

* Always listening

* Reasonable

* Encouraging

A SOLUTION:  Birthday parties for children are a mega-business. A one-day event can create the need for both parents to seek additional employment!

Picture this--ten or more energetic little darlings turned lose into an area with too many choices: rides on ponies, plastic domes in which to bounce and giggle, balloons, gifts, decorated tables and the spring-for-the-human-wind-up-toy, CAKE! Sugar!

Now, the ten little darlings are moving at hyper-speed. The birthday child is totally glazed.

Present time! A fifty dollar gift certificate, a seventy dollar Game Boy, a forty dollar skateboard, a make-it-yourself bear costing sixty dollars. Remember that each of these children will invite your child to his/her party in the next year. For your budget sake, it might be a wise to encourage your child to have only a couple of friends!

Where are we going with this and what is the point? If we give $50 gifts to a four-year-old, what on earth do we give to a teenager? (A one-way ticket, anywhere. Just kidding!)

And here’s my real concern: We have taught our children to be loved through gifts. "The more gifts I give you, the more I love you," is the message.

As I’ve mentioned in other writings, children can’t take in more than three gifts. With that in mind, how about giving the child two gifts and a certificate to do something fun with you? I remind you again, the number one gift choice of children is more time with mom/dad.

As Oprah said the other day, "The President is encouraging us to get back to life as usual.  I think the New York tragedy is inviting us to live in a whole new way."

Yes, Oprah! The escalating emphasis on objects being the conduit or our love can stop. You stop it, I stop it –it S-T-O-P-S!

CHRISTMAS IS COMING! The solvency of our economy is dependent upon us spending money. I support stabilizing our economy. How about this idea: Draw for gifts in your family-at-large. Each person has one gift to buy for one family member.

Give each child two gifts and a stocking filled with fun stuff. Adults (husband and wife) exchange one purchased gift and (husbands, wives, friends) get a coupon for time together.

Here’s the best part! Take the huge gob of money you would’ve spent giving Uncle Charley a tie he hates and other un-necessary gifts to friends and family members –and give it to charity, or to a family in need.

Pool your family money and give a complete Christmas to a family who are too busy surviving to dream of gifts and festive food.

Prepare a meal and take it to a family –or an elderly couple. Make festive cards and take them to children who have to be in the hospital at Christmas. Take your teenagers to serve a meal at a homeless shelter.

What will your family and friends think of you if you implement this plan? What other people think of you is none of your business!

Cycles get broken by people brave enough to break them.

Let’s love each other this Christmas –not just in our birth-families but as a family of human beings.  

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PARENTING SOLUTIONS #28
by Sandy Spurgeon McDaniel

MAKE YOUR CHILDREN YOUR FIRST PRIORITY:
Last night, I gave the last in a string of parenting talks. I speak to schools, churches, and small groups of parents and teachers. Though I’ve taught parenting for twenty years, my message is more passionate than ever:

REMEMBERYou care so you remind yourself to be:

* Consistent

* Always listening

* Reasonable

* Encouraging

A SOLUTION:  As an educator, I realize that in order to create change, one must change the structure or cause of a problem. Right now, because of the uncertainty terrorism has brought to our lives, we must unite and do everything possible to create a more loving world.

It is no longer optional; every single parent has a job to do. We need to work with our children in a positive way that invites the child to develop, grow and walk in the world with a strong sense of personal integrity and love as the basis of every choice.

The old fear-based parenting techniques do not work with today’s child. The influence of the media, the loss of childhood for too many of our children, the divorce rate escalating, and the misuse of power among too many parents—have created too many angry children.

I’ve worked with the "at-risk’ students. So often the basis of their anger comes from being "hammered" verbally and physically, at home. The other place where children are being stifled is in school.

It is my passionate opinion that measuring whether children are learning or not by testing is absurd. There have been studies clearly showing that children who took the exact same test, two different times, had measurably different scores.

Studies in Texas (Ahem! Mr. President!), showed that when tests were rearranged (meaning they asked the same questions but did so in different language), test scores dropped significantly.

Test scores show which children can successfully take a test. What it does to teachers is ridiculous! A teacher now teaches to get children to pass specific tests.A school that has more low-income, non-English speaking students is penalized point-wise, because of lower test scores. Why don’t we pay those teachers more money because they have the uphill job of getting their students to speak our language before they can use it!

So, what do we do? We say, "Enough!" Talk to your principal about how to contact your superintendent of schools. If you are really ambitious, write your congressman.

School needs to be a place where children come to learn about the world and how to live in it successfully. Teachers who love children need the space to teach! And, more than anything, our children need to feel capable and successful in the place where they spend so much time.

 

COMMITMENT TIME: More than any other time, parents are being called to make children their number one priority. Big houses, fancy cars, "stuff" don’t matter—our children matter.

Our only hope for a safe, loving future are our children. It is a simple formula: less angry children, more loving world.

A parent is the architect of a human being’s life. There are no re-runs. Children need consistent boundaries, fair consequences and rational adults who love them, no matter what they do.

Want to be a part of the change in the world? Invest in a child’s life today. Our children are our only hope for peace. "Children first!" is the message we need to send to our politicians, schools and every single adult. No exceptions, children first!

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PARENTING SOLUTIONS #29
by Sandy Spurgeon McDaniel

HALLOWEEN:
One of the endless challenges in parenting is to deal with the
various holidays that circumnavigate our existence. Some holidays are more challenging than others….like Halloween.

REMEMBERYou care so you remind yourself to be:

* Consistent

* Always listening

* Reasonable

* Encouraging

A SOLUTION: Let’s begin with the fact that Halloween has never been one of my favorite holidays. I have a bias in this arena. As a classroom teacher, it was in your worst nightmare category. Exhausted children come to school. All day long these children eat some of the candy they have stashed in their backpacks, pockets and desks. Exhausted children are replaced by hyper children, who soon become exhausted children again.

The villain is sugar. Sugar is not good for children to eat. Many children are allergic to sugar. Most children get very wound up when they eat sugar. It is not good for the child’s body to be wound up then exhausted from the sugar let down. Illness can penetrate a sugar-trashed body more easily than it can with a healthy body.

The other part of Halloween I don’t like is the threat, "Trick or Treat!" Give me something good or I will do something bad to you. Is that the kind of thinking we want to instill in our children from the time they are young? I don’t think so.

What if the children said, "Thank you for your treat!’ or "Happy Halloween!"

Having parades at school are great as long as every child is able to participate with a costume. The dressing up part is wonderfully fun—unless you are a parent who isn’t in to costumes. And what about competing with the neighbors for best dressed children? Silly! Un-necessary!

What to do? Maybe it would work to put a limit on the intake of candy. The children can get candy at five people’s homes. After the first five homes, your children GIVE THEM something. Your children could color several pieces of paper using crayons or paint. A typed message like, "The McDaniel family wishes you peace," would be your gift.

Corny? Maybe, but I’m feeling a little corny lately. I want us to love each other, to care about each other and feel we are all united in our determination to be greater than any small thought about ourselves. It seems to me that the place to begin is with our children— as we teach them to give as a vital part of learning to receive.

 

SEPARATE A CHILD/PERSON FROM HIS/HER BEHAVIOR:
My friend, Suzanne called to
tell me a life-story. She and her husband, Robert, have used my parenting materials in raising their two boys . Chase is five, Cooper is three years old. The boy’s grandmother was over for dinner one night. The dog did something naughty so the grandmother was shooing the canine out of the room yelling, "Bad dog! Bad dog!"

Chase ran after his grandmother shouting, "No, grandma, the dog made a bad choice. The dog is not a bad dog!"

Be sure as you express your unhappiness with another human being that you focus on the person’s behavior, not the person. There is a huge difference between, "You are lazy!" and "I have a problem with the mess in the living room; your ticket to dinner is that the games are all put back where they belong?" A bad choice does not a bad person make. Separate a child from his behavior by carefully selecting the words you speak.

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PARENTING SOLUTIONS #30
by Sandy Spurgeon McDaniel

ANGER DOESN’T WORK WITH CHILDREN.
Whenever I give a parenting talk, someone
asks about how to get a spouse to stop being so angry with the children. There is no way to do that, unless the targeted person understands why anger does not work.

REMEMBERYou care so you remind yourself to be:

* Consistent

* Always listening

* Reasonable

* Encouraging

A SOLUTION: You scream at a child and the child minds. It looks like anger worked, but it didn’t. Anger stops a behavior but it does not change a behavior.

During a talk, I ask a total stranger to put up his/her hand, high-five style. I begin to push on his/her hand. The person always lets me push a little bit and then begins to push back. It is human nature to resist being pushed, bulldozed, shoved into a behavior. Think of your own childhood for understanding on this issue.

Fear cuts off a person’s ability to think and reason. Therefore, when you scream or get angry with a child, that child can no longer access his/her logical or rational thinking. The child cannot answer a simple question, "What are you doing?" Pressured to respond, the child will lie or do something crazy to divert the parent’s attention.

I was at a friend’s home and the children were preparing to go somewhere. Children get excited when they are going to go on an outing. The mother was on the phone, so the father began barking orders to the children. One child began spinning in a circle.

The father grabbed the spinning boy like a hawk seizing a rabbit. The boy was smart enough to stand at attention while the father yelled at him. When the father screamed, "I’ve had enough! Do you hear me?" the boy repeated, "Yes, sir!"

I watched the boy sit on the floor and put on his shoes; he was angry. He became a fight looking for a place to land. He was going to cause trouble wherever they went because his anger-resentment-revenge cycle had been ignited. Most important, the boy didn’t understand why his father was so angry, and why he was the only one who got into trouble. No lesson can be learned with these ingredients.

Children do so much better with information than they do with orders, "We are going to go out for lunch. The toys in the living room need to be picked up, shoes put on and anyone who needs to go to the bathroom might choose to do so now. We are leaving in ten minutes, so let’s get it done so we can hit the road."

If one child stalls, gets wound up, won’t do the expected task, quietly put him/her on the Minute Drill (see column prior to this one.) There is no need to yell or get angry with a child. Anger teaches the child to mind the parent who is angry; it does not teach the child to change a behavior.

TALK TO YOUR CHILDREN. "Go to your room!" The child asks, "Why?" The parent responds, "Because I said so!" This type of dialogue does not teach a child to understand the reason to change a behavior. Orders without understanding are irritating, a misuse of power and do not teach the child how to walk in the world.

Your child does not comprehend how the world works. He/she is looking to you for that information. Meanwhile the child is trying to find out what power is and how to use it. "Is this how I use power?" is the real question behind any misbehavior. Your answer is "Yes" or "No" without any need for venom in the reply.

Explain what is going to happen and what you want from your children. Children tend to behave better when they are included in the total picture. Treat your children with the same respect you would treat a friend.

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