Friday, December 7, 2012

If I Have to Tell You One More Time: preventing misbehavior

Hannah drew a picture of me. It is kind of awesome. Those lines on top are my hair.
And how much do you love my eyelashes??
As I was saying (here, here, and here), If I Have to Tell You One More Time... is awesome. After discussing some goals of misbehavior yesterday, today I've got a summary of some of the strategies If I Have to Tell You... gives for preventing and addressing those misbehaviors.

As with the consequences, the biggest tool in your arsenal is prevention. One-on-one time, actively teaching positive behaviors to your kids, etc. And if you can foresee a whiny/needy/interupty scenario (think: you have to make an important phone call or take the kids to the grocery store), schedule some one-on-one time right before the event. Once you've prepared them for what is coming (they have gotten some quality time with you and you've taken time to teach them how to behave and how you will respond if they misbehave), the next step is to ignore requests for undue attention. As with natural/logical consequences, this consequence should be explained in advance and repeated back by the child so they totally understand that if they don’t “use their big girl voice” you’re not going to respond to them. The big eye opener to me is after you have established the rule, NO reminders (aka, no nagging). That is where I mess up constantly. Because those reminders are still attention. Also, don’t give in when your child escalates their behavior. That will just make things worse. Finally, use encouragement throughout the day (they have a whole section on this that is reminiscent of How To Talk… and Nurture Shock, summarized here.)

The author also that when your kid asks you to do things that they can do themselves, what they really want isn't for you to tie their shoes or get them a snack; what they want is your attention. Start by making sure (in advance) they really can do it on their own. Put clothes, cups for water, healthy snacks, favorite toys etc. where they can reach them. Take time to work with them on the skill and make sure they have mastered it. Then, when they ask, remind them they can do it on their own. Be calm about it (think: channel Mr. Rogers. In fact, it’s not a bad idea to channel Mr. Rogers 24/7. He is kind of awesome and on to something with his calm manner and voice). If they do it on their own, encourage their efforts. If they refuse, just walk away.

For avoiding power struggles, the author suggests inviting cooperating. Instead of barking orders or commands, make statements like: “We have a bunch of groceries in the car, anything you could do to help me unload them would be great.” Invite them to contribute to the larger goal rather than a micromanaged sliver of it. This advice was a lot like How to Talk’s advice here. The author asks you to talk to your kids the way you’d talk to a coworker. You wouldn't say, “go copy this for me. did you hear me? I said copy it, right now!” You’d say something more like, “could you do be a huge favor?” And if talking to your kid more respectfully doesn't elicit a response, use a “when/then” statement (like How to Talks, giving choices: here); e.g., “When you pick up your toys, we can turn on the movie.” Or make “I feel” statements. ("I feel [emotion] when you [action] and I'd appreciate it if you could [action] instead." note the use of actions. So "I feel sad when you are a jerk" doesn't count.) If a power struggle escalates, remind yourself that you are reinforcing their behavior by engaging (giving attention) in an unproductive power struggle and just walk away. Say, “I’d be happy to talk to you about this when you are able to use a calm voice and be respectful of my feelings.”

And now that you know, you are on your way to being a perfect parent. Just kidding! I've read all these books and I'm still pretty bad at parenting. But anyway, hopefully this will help.

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