May 27, 2020

Living: Defining Age

“May there be just enough clouds with your life that you have a beautiful sunset.”  Grandma Viola Stouder Frederick

Have you thought of how you’d like to leave this world? If given the choice few people would choose a long and lingering illness. Some indicate an accident with instant death; others prefer not to wake up from a good sleep.

Aunt Charlotte, 93 years old, was my dad’s sister. She lived life with graciousness and joy. Married 65 years, her home was on the farm belonging to her husband’s family — an Indiana historic farm, recognized in this way because for over 100 years it was owned by the same family. Aunt Charlotte raised her two sons on this remarkable land; she  continued living in that big house until a few years ago. She then moved in with her son, and only early this year moved to more restricted living.

Over the last several weeks of her life, Aunt Charlotte gave her children and grandchildren a gift. They had the chance to say good bye. Even as she struggled   with memory, she maintained a connection with the people closest to her. As the grandchildren hugged her goodbye, they knew she knew them. She waved them out the door.

The story of her passing is most pleasant. She gathered with other residents for lunch. As she ate, she began to feel a bit tired. Returning to her room, she lay down for a nap. The staff found her later in the forever sleep. It seems a good way to die, in a natural sleep.

Aunt Charlotte loved the big farm house and the farm itself. Her pride  of that farm and it’s beauty was in part because of its age. A winding dirt road led up to the two story farmhouse; large trees in the front yard overhung the path and bathed it in shade. I loved the wraparound porch, where you could look through the trees   and see the mailbox setting a bit askew on the county road. The house had additions and of course the old now unused well. It had a junk pile, some sheds and the Hoosier icon — the barn with a rusty basketball hoop on the side.

She, like my Uncle Bob, had this twinkle in her eye, this appreciation of the day even as days of her life were often full of work with the farm and family.

In the 1930s, years before she married Uncle Paul, my aunt and my mom were good friends. My sister’s middle name is Charlotte; I always knew she was named after Aunt Charlotte. My cousins are only now aware of that connection.

The vision of mom and my aunt as good friends is a pleasant way to think of them. It reminds me of the spirit in mom  when she was at her best.

Fred and Jay, my cousins, tell stories of their mother with the respect, a little awe, and a lot of love. I treasure the image they offered of her turning in the hall and waving good bye for the last time to her grand children, just days before she moved to her sleeping space and her death.

How do you define old? How you feel? How you see people? How is life at a given moment? Ninety-three is certainly considered old.  In a way Aunt Charlotte always felt old to me, after all she was 30 years my senior. The other side of it was when I got to those ages I understood them differently. Still my perception was of her with energy, smiles, love and a zest for life.

My gerontologist friend, David, and I had a brief debate about use of the word “old”. On the one hand I suggested that word not be used, at least not as an excuse to not do something. I say do not focus on age but rather pay attention  to what your body and your mind tells you; if it says do not throw a ball because of risk of injury — don’t throw a ball. But do not say “I am too old to throw a ball.” Attend to the awareness, here and now of your body and mind. Don’t say aloud or silently: I am too old to play ping pong, or too old to dance.

David counters to honor the word “old”. It is part of our natural progression. He challenges me to use it in a healthy way contrary to society’s underlying push to first become an adult as soon as possible and then remain one forever. He adds the word “old” in this society has become an undesired state of being, a word we avoid as in “don’t become old.” If you wonder how society does this, check much of TV programming and advertising. David wondered aloud “at what age do we become old” and wears that tag for himself with honor and   humor. He challenges the notion “you are only as old as you feel” while I think there is much wisdom in the idea. I have met people that at 40 seem “old” and others at 75 that do not. Either way, it begs for the definition of what “old” is for each of us and similarly how can we honor, not avoid the term.

So lessons from my ancestors are to do and do daily. Maintain as often as you can that twinkle in the eye which comes from appreciation of challenging life with the best every day. Much of the twinkle is from doing both the work and the fun of life.  Be with your family, play, dance, work and recognize the interconnection.

It is nice to be here.

Bill

Aging: Keep a Twinkle in Your Eyes

Summertime — it’s for the great outdoors, baseball, parks and family. During this season, families often travel to visit grandparents or go back to home towns. This includes seeing aunts, uncles, cousins — the young and old.

When it comes time for a family reunion, there’s a question of going or not. It’s not because of seeing them, but rather the change of routine, drive, and getting there. Always glad that we went and typically feel enthusiasm once we hit the road.

How do you handle those trips? Awareness, interest, eventual joy?

Over the past six weeks, we have experienced definite joy and discovered treasures of life in unexpected ways. Here’s one of our riches.

About a month ago, Uncle Bob (Bobby as my mom always called him) came back to Indiana for his 70th high school reunion. Think about that – 70 years after high school, at age 88, he makes the trip. His visits back are infrequent. He came from California accompanied by his son Dan.

I know little of Uncle Bob’s life except for brief contacts over the years and stories from the family. He lived in California after military service in World War II. When I visited California in 1962, he took us to Disneyland and Knottsberry Farm; then to his garage where he schooled me in ping pong.

Uncle Bob always seemed, as I remember, to have this gleam in his eyes, this joy of living. He and his wife had a zest for life, finding ways to stay active and connected. In retirement they square danced their way up and down the California coast. Certainly Uncle Bob had struggles. His wife had a prolonged death and recently his only daughter died. It was a shattering time for him.

So Uncle Bob was in Syracuse, Indiana to visit the old farm, for his school reunion and for our family reunion. Dan and I had a catch; it seemed we took up where we last left off as boys in 1962.

But Uncle Bob was the attraction on this Sunday. As I ask how about a brief catch, he says no that arm does not work that way anymore.

Then with that twinkle, he asks if I know how much Ping Pong paddles cost. Responding with a guess of $40-$50; I ask if he has one. He nods yes and I ask how much his cost. He holds out two fingers; I fall for it with “oh you paid two dollars for yours?”  “No, he chuckles, $200.00.”

This is his special paddle; the one he uses to play his son every week as they continue to compete and tease each other about who is the best ping pong player. Uncle Bob and Dan have been playing for years. At 88, Uncle Bob is still playing.

Uncle Bob also uses his expensive paddle to play other residents at his retirement village. His arm does work in that way! And he continues the regular ritual of square dancing; saying “it’s a good way to hold a woman.” Then with that telltale twinkle he adds that he has a female friend.

The consistent gleam in his eye, continues to say “It’s good to be alive. It’s nice to be here.”

I found treasures and another day of happily ever after in that Sunday reunion; I also felt more educated on aging.

Find ways to enjoy yourself. Take advantage of the summertime. Be with your family, play, dance and cuddle. Enjoy the days of your life the best you can.

Bill

Improving Your Marriage with Repair

“Your future together can be bright even if your disagreements tend to be very negative. The secret is learning the right kind of damage control.” John Gottman

Disagreements: What happens as you and your partner disagree? Can you get back to normal pretty quickly? Or is there stonewalling and combativeness?

John Gottman, preeminent marriage therapist and author of Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, writes of the REPAIR concept noting that repairs save marriages and the inability to make repairs is a major contributor to failed ones.

REPAIR: An effort to get beyond the disagreement. According to Gottman, spouses will never agree on everything and most arguments can’t be resolved. The question becomes how can we agree to disagree and get past the fight?

Gottman’s definition of repair is “any statement or action—silly or otherwise—that prevents negativity from escalating out of control.” In that way, the disagreement does not go on for days, bringing it up again and again or stonewalling. The effective couple moves on to what is next and does so rather seamlessly.

Repair is not an apology. It’s getting back to normal. If Bob and Alice have an argument about vacation or how money is to be spent, the argument stops; the repair is effort to get back to normal. It might be a touch, a kiss on the cheek, a silly comment.   It can be a number of affirmative, nice or even neutral gestures.

Additional techniques may include taking breaks, self soothing or saying you are wrong.  Gottman suggests trying to listen even when disagreeing.  Appreciation of your partner is also necessary.

What’s Success?  Couples get back to normal more rapidly than failing couples. No apology necessary; instead there is respect for each other that includes agreeing to disagree.

Remember this is work on your marriage path — you are repairing cracks before potholes are the problem. If you find spats go on and on look for repair avenues, rapidly get back to normal even if there is no agreement.

Bill

Ten Myths of Psychotherapy

“I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men’s minds without their being aware of the fact.” Levi Strauss

The process of psychotherapy is full of myths related to the process. This blog examines the most popular myths and clarifies what we know about therapy.

Myth: Clients get worse in treatment before they get better.
Fact: At the start of therapy, clients are often feeling their worst. Clients should expect noticeable positive change is 3 to 6 sessions.  It is not necessary or advisable to get worse first.

Myth: Clients become resistant to treatment because they are afraid to deal with emerging unconscious material or childhood experiences.
Fact: Clients want to change and often dealing with unconscious material is not necessary.  While it may be useful for some to do that it is also the case that many move forward looking primarily for solutions.

Myth: Client problems are usually the result of a biochemical imbalance.
Fact: In spite of drug company research, there is no substantial evidence that medication is better than therapy in changing lives. There is  evidence over the last 50 years that people who get therapy are better off than 8 of 10 people that do not receive therapy.

Myth: The appropriate diagnosis is essential for effective treatment.
Fact: Diagnosis is applied inconsistently does not correctly predict techniques to use or length of stay. What’s important for therapy is client – therapist agreement on goals and using an approach to the problem that makes sense to the client.

Myth: The clinician can change the client’s behavior with the proper techniques.
Fact: The client – clinician relationship, as viewed by the client, is the number one predictor of outcome of therapy. Only the client can change his/her behavior.  Techniques must fit with a client’s view of change. There are now over 400 different therapy techniques available. If your clinician can not find one or two that fit with you, find another clinician.

Myth: Client’s who pay directly for services benefit more in therapy.
Fact: Regardless of whether services are direct pay, insurance pay or no charge, research over the last 50 years is clear that clients
benefit from therapy.

Myth: If the clinician feels empathic towards the client an alliance is formed.
Fact: Ultimately an alliance is formed when a client determines it is formed. While empathy is often useful, it is more important to work with a therapist that fits with your needs in a broader context.

Myth: The most charismatic therapists get the best outcomes.
Fact: Therapists that have good and trusting relationships with clients, and trust that the clients can improve, have the best outcomes. Some of the most effective therapists are not charismatic. It is worth noting that there is dramatic difference in therapist ability.

Myth: Clients always know what they need.
Fact: Wouldn’t that be nice? Frequently   knowing or learning what one needs is a series of mental and behavioral experiments. The learning comes from talking or actions  the client tries, often secondary to the therapeutic interactions.

Myth: A good therapist always intuitively knows what their clients need.
Fact: A good therapist nurtures hope with clients and works with their needs. Finding and using reasonable hope is a prerequisite of effective therapy.

If you would  like more information on mental health and therapy, please contact my office: 765.288.7939 or use the contact form at www.solutiontherapycenter.com.

 

 

Parenting: A Reference Summary

“All children behave as well as they are treated.” Anonymous

“I looked on childrearing not only as a work of love and duty but as a profession that was fully interesting and challenging as any honourable profession in the world and one that demanded the best that I could bring to it.” Rose Kennedy

Parenting — It’s the most important work many of us will ever do.

Over the weeks, you’ve read ten blogs on guidelines to improved parenting. Following are key reference points to use in your quest to raise healthy, respectful and happy kids.

SPANKING:
“Spanking does not teach inner conviction. It teaches fear, deviousness, lying and aggression.” Dorothy Corkhill Briggs

  • You can be a better role model and more effective parent yet never spank. It is typically not helpful and, at its worst, spanking teaches hitting will solve problems.

ROLE MODELING:
“If there is anything that we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better  be changed in ourselves.” C.G. Jung

  • Kids model what they see! Being a good role model is the most important guide you can provide your kids.  You want a loving child, be a loving parent. You want a non smoker, don’t smoke. You want kids to use good language; you use good language. Continue lifelong learning to set an example of education for your child.

ATTENTION:
“Praise is like sunlight to the human spirit; we cannot flower and grow without it.” Jesse Lair

  • It is what is most important to kids.
  • Kids work to get the attention of their parents.
  • They quickly learn bad behavior first gets attention and often is followed by getting their way.
  • Give consistent praise for good behavior. Without children will increase misbehavior.
  • Kids will learn appropriate behavior brings attention and privileges.

COOPERATION:
“We find what we expect to find, and we receive what we ask for.” Elbert Hubbard, editor, publicist and writer

  • Doing what they are told is often the primary concern of parents.
  • It could be helpful to count how often you child obeys.
  • Praise is THE key way of attending to positive behavior.
  • Tell children what to do when there is no option.
  • Ask them when they have the option to say no.
  • Give them time to start the activity.
  • If they do not start in 30 to 60 seconds tell them again but more firmly.
  • If they still do not cooperate use Time Out.
  • If they break a rule use Time Out.
  • When they cooperate…praise.

LECTURING:
“We live in an emotion-dismissing culture,” says John Gottman, Ph.D., author of Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child, “but if you build an awareness about your child’s emotions and your own, particularly an awareness of smaller emotions, then it may not be necessary for emotions to escalate.”

  • Explaining over and over is rarely helpful. It gives to much attention to the inappropriate behavior and the child typically zones out. Parents will simply increase their own frustration and waste their breath.

PUNISHMENT:
“There is a strong chance that siblings who turn out well were hassled by the same parents.” Robert Brault

  • It must not be dependent on pain, physical, mental or emotional; Punishment is only to help to decrease the unwanted behavior over time.

IGNORING:
“The prime purpose of being four is to enjoy being four – of secondary importance is to prepare for being five.” Jim Trelease, The Read-Aloud Handbook, 1985

  • Used correctly a punishment stops attention for non-destructive undesired behavior, such as a tantrum.
  • When ignoring is used, the behavior may get worse before it improves.

REMEMBER:
“The child supplies the power but the parents have to do the steering.” Benjamin Spock

  • Be aware of what workswith your child.
  • Be thankful for the good immediate results.
  • Be more focused on and aware of the long term results.

Parenting is hard work and conceivably the most satisfying hard work you will do.

Be present and enjoy this work.

Bill

PARENTING: Interpreting Kid Talk

“We live in an emotion-dismissing culture,” says John Gottman, Ph.D., author of Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child, “but if you build an awareness about your child’s emotions and your own, particularly an awareness of smaller emotions, then it may not be necessary for emotions to escalate.”

Hearing and Listening: Are you hearing but not listening?

It is important that we translate what others say to us — particularly when our children talk to us. Often we hear the words, take the  meaning literally and get distracted from what the context and delivery offer in the broader more accurate interpretation.

We can never be absolutely sure of meaning for any given communication. Words are only a small part of meaning. Context, tone, volume and facial expressions also need to be considered. Only the sender can know for certain the meaning or intent; sometimes the sender gives a mixed message.

Children want to be understood; they want their parents to stop and listen. When a child is not allowed to do some activity, he may say, “I hate you” or “you are a bad mommy.” Parents often get rapidly upset with those words and give attention with a lecture, punishment or give in to a tantrum letting the child have his way.

It is more useful to translate the communication. Acknowledge the feeling yet minimize attention. A parent’s response might be “I know you are disappointed (or angry) that your friend can not come over.” Be done with it; go on to what’s next.

Explanations are often particularly odd, saying a child is not allowed a certain feeling such as hate or a certain opinion. The oddness comes to play because nobody can control a child’s feeling or their opinion. Typically the feeling or stated opinion is not what is really going on.

Explanations generally serve to give more attention. For many children, the intensity and length of a lecture reinforces what they wanted — parental attention. If they get the attention, they may also eventually get their way.

Realize: “A tantrum is not a bad thing. It is actually an important developmental experience all kids need to have. Kids who don’t learn to express powerful feelings may have more trouble expressing them later. Your goal many not be to stop the tantrum, but instead to help your child work through it in a way that’s right for his development.” Gillian McNamee, Ph.D, Director of Teacher Education, Erickson Institute

If you can not ignore the words, Consider Time Out! It’s a much better solution for these situations.

Finally, in the midst of communication, give your children the most generous interpretation of what they say. It is not that they “hate” you or think you are “a bad parent.” It’s the here and now struggle with not getting their way.

Acknowledge that and move on.

Bill

Couples & Money: Financial Social Work to the Rescue

In the May/June 2011 issue of Social Work Today,  Financial Social Work experts discuss relationship issues relative to the stresses from financial difficulties.

Money is one of the big issues that bring couples into therapy. Learn about a relatively new social work specialty that is offering solutions.

With the divorce rate in the United States hovering around 50%, combined with an economic recession that has affected all demographics, it should come as no surprise that more couples are turning to social workers for financial therapy. While financial difficulties may not be the root of all relationship strife or marital demise, they certainly play an important role—one that therapists are addressing.  . . .

While disclosing financial stressors is paramount in couple’s financial therapy, a term being bandied about these days is “financial infidelity.” As Bill Frederick, LCSW, PC, of Solution Therapy Center in Muncie, IN, explains, many couples often employ the “this is my money and that is your money” approach—with the implicit understanding of who buys the groceries, who pays for the truck, who covers the electric bill, and so on. (read full article)

Parenting: A Key Skill

The prime purpose of being four is to enjoy being four – of secondary importance is to prepare for being five.” Jim Trelease, The Read-Aloud Handbook, 1985

“The pressures of being a parent are equal to any pressure on earth. To be a conscious parent, and really look to that little being’s mental and physical health, is a responsibility which most of us, including me, avoid most of the time because it’s too hard.”  John Lennon

How well can you ignore people, situations or spouse? Do you ever tell your kids to just ignore that kid at school who is teasing them? Then, possibly within minutes, your child asks for ice cream, begs, and begs some more “to please give me ice cream.” You say “no” and “no again” but eventually give in to the pleas. Sometimes parents will  admit…”I know I shouldn’t do this.”

Ignoring is an effective punishment for non-destructive behavior — such as  tantrums, nagging, pouting — to get one’s way.

Don’t use ignoring when there may be risk of injury to anyone or when there is disobedience.  Use Time Out.
Example of Injury and Disobey:   A 4-year-old says “I will run away” —
ignore the words. If the child then goes to leave the house, stop  him and use Time out.

However, there is a catch that makes ignoring a particularly hard job for parents. Ignored behavior will get worse before it gets better. When those same actions previously worked to get one’s way, and now are not working, a child’s natural reaction is to try harder. So ignoring is a difficult skill for parents to master.

A woman I worked with reported that her 6-year-old cried, whined and complained at bed time every night. After ten to fifteen minutes, the mother would acquiesce, go in and lay down with the child until he fell asleep. The process took about forty minutes.

The second night was similarly distressing but she stuck with ignoring. After a week she returned and reported her son’s complaining was down to 30 minutes. She was encouraged and felt more in control. By the next appointment, he had stopped fussing and was going to bed when told. He tried, one more time a few days later and she just ignored him. Bed time was then better for both of them.

Ignoring may at times seem the hardest task in raising children. Kids can often last longer; they have more stamina, more determination and situation by situation, they wear parents down.

It’s so tempting to lecture, explain or give in. Doing this simply strengthens the undesired behavior; the child got our attention and/or got his way. In the short run this works for the parent because the tantrum stops. In the long run, the undesirable behavior gets stronger and may take longer to get stopped.

Ignoring also requires cooperation. If one parent ignores and the other gives in, the child learns to repeat the undesired behavior with the right parent.

In the Parents Class, we did role play with the child getting her way.  Parents were asked who was in charge. Class members clearly identified it was the child. Next role play was the child not getting her way, but the parent using ignoring. It was clear to everyone the parent was in charge; the difference was dramatic.

IGNORING RULES:

  1. 1. Look away. No eye contact.
  2. 2. No Words. Do not respond to what they say.
  3. 3. Move away.
  4. 4. Keep a blank face, even as you look away. When parents understand ignoring and relax, they often see the behavior as funny and start laughing. This is simply another type of attention. On the other hand, don’t be so angry that your face is unfriendly.
  5. 5. When the tantrum stops, look for the child’s next positive behavior and praise immediately.

Your Challenge: As a parent, you pick one whiny, pouty, tantrum behavior that your child does repeatedly. Try ignoring the behavior for several days. Remember it gets worse before it gets better; then you’ll see good improvement.

Bill

Parenting: Time Out — Discipline Parents Can Rely On

“I looked on childrearing not only as a work of love and duty but as a profession that was fully interesting and challenging as any  honourable profession in the world and one that demanded the best that I could bring to it.” Rose Kennedy

“Parents who are afraid to put their foot down usually have children who tread on their toes.” Chinese Proverb

Question: what should happen when children break a rule or do not do what they are told?

Answer: Unfortunately for many parents this answer often starts with STOPPING! That is, STOP talking to them, STOP trying to convince them that they will be better off if they cooperate. STOP the ongoing and prolonged attempts to get then to understand. Pay attention — you will likely observe your child rapidly tuning you out.

Lectures are rarely helpful; the same lecture over and over even less so. One adult recently told me how, as a child, she grew the ability to tune dad out. Parents do not want this as an outcome.

Your children want your guidance; they want to know their limits.  At the most basic level, children know they don’t have mature  judgment to safely try a new behavior. Again, watch closely and you will see a child look towards their mother or father before trying something. They are checking out facial expression to see if they ought to be on alert.

Internationally known child rearing expert Ron Taffel says, “There should be a consequence every time they do not reasonably cooperate or they violate a rule.”

Remember punishment must not be physically, mentally or emotionally painful. Punishment is what you do that will reduce negative behavior.

WORDS: Don’t get caught up with the use of words. When words are involved, it opens the possibility of a debate. Parents may ironically note the debating child is learning how to be a good attorney. A debate contradicts the principle that a parent is in charge. Equally important, as a debate goes on, the child gets a great deal of attention (exactly what he/she wants) for the uncooperative behavior. The talking actually reinforces unwanted behavior.

Time Out: Kids 2-12 want your attention! Regardless of any secondary gain, such as ice cream or privilege, they want/need to get a parent’s awareness first.

Time Out: an abbreviation for time away from reinforcement. The idea is simple: find a boring place the child must go to and must stay for a specific time period.

Time Out Spot:

  • A place the child will not enjoy. Find a space that will be boring with minimum attention. It is often a corner of a less used room.
  • Do not use a child’s room. Some kids have an electronic paradise in their rooms. They won’t get your attention here, but there is plenty to distract from the connection of what they did wrong. Their room, at its best, is a space to enjoy not associate with
    punishment.
  • Do not use: any place that may be considered cruel, such as small dark closet or back porch on a cold winter day.

Time Out Time Frame:

  • 1 to 6 consecutive minutes, depending on age
  • Start by using one-half of child’s age for minutes
  • Example: Age 6 = 3 minutes. If there is difficulty implementing, generally speaking adjust the time frame downward. For instance sometimes 1 minute might just be too long for a 2 year old. There is no evidence that longer times are more effective.

Time Out Process:

  1. Child misbehaves:  Present matter-of-factly — what he did wrong and the consequence.  You did not obey me. Go to Time Out.
  2. Child remains quiet in time out. The catch — child must stay in Time Out and be reasonably quiet for the desired timeframe or time starts over. In early stages of learning Time Out, some children may have to be physically restrained.
  3. Ignore any words. This is necessary and it’s hard for parents to do. A child might say, I hate you or you’re mean. The brightest children seem to say I like this, which entices some parents to stop using Time Out very early. Why should you care even if your child truly likes Time Out? You want to ask instead: Did it help (over time) decrease negative behavior? Are you getting the desired outcome?
  4. Do not ignore if the child leaves Time Out. Restrain him/her with minimum words and minimum physical attention.
  5. Leaving Time Out:  After your child is quiet, for the required time period, simply say he can leave Time Out. If he still has a task to complete, restate the command.
  6. Immediately: Use Time Out as soon as negative behavior occurs.
  7. Repeat as needed.

Cooperation Sequence:

  1. To start a process, tell don’t ask.
  2. If they do not do it, reprimand.
  3. If Reprimand does not work, use Time Out.
  4. Always praise any good effort or success.

Review Parenting Category Blogs

Next week: Ignoring, the punishment many parents do not understand.

Bill

Punishment: THE HARD PART of PARENTING

“There is a strong chance that siblings who turn out well were hassled by the same parents.” Robert Brault

“The child supplies the power but the parents have to do the steering.” Benjamin Spock

The word punishment seems severe; little ones participate in uncooperative behavior — not crimes. In the context of this blog punishment is defined as anything   after a child behaves in a certain way that decreases the frequency of that behavior.  Used carelessly parents sometimes punish desirable behavior.

Be quite clear that punishment is not dependant on pain either physical or psychological, only that it helps to decrease the behavior. The only concern is does it decrease frequency over time.

Parents often say: We tried everything and nothing works. In fact, they may have tried several things, but none for long enough to give it a fair try. So as you try to change your interactions carefully look at behavior change over time.  Parents come back after the short time of a week or two and declare behavior has not improved. They sometimes have quit the effort saying “It did not help.”

Consider that it might have helped but they did not have the ability to identify the small changes.

Example: Your baseline count of obey and disobey for the week was 10 obey and 60 disobey. You add clear commands and praise to working with your child. Week 2 the count goes to 12 and 58. Did the behavior improve or was it just a random variation?

Week 3 the count is 14 and 56; then 16 and 54. At this point, you might realize that behavior slowly improved. Maybe you wonder if change will continue through week 20? Looking at the same rate of change, it could increase to 50 obey and 20 disobey. That would certainly be noticeable and noticeable is the point.

Remember it’s often the small, incremental steps of improving behavior that parents must look at. If there’s no behavior tracking, in a meaningful way, incremental progress will often go unnoticed and parents will say “nothing works.”

Yes — parenting is tough. Sticking with it patiently, for longer lengths of time, is often the hardest piece. Do you want to give up after a week or two because you did not notice
those incremental improvements? Or maybe you thought incorrectly the change was random? If parents say they’ve “tried everything,” that typically indicates they’ve tried lots of similar efforts for brief periods of time, often less than a day or two.

As parents — be in it for the long haul. Keep in mind the “noticeable effects” and the small changes. In your mind celebrate every success, know your steadiness will help your child
continue better actions; realize it will be worth your patience and efforts.

Parenting can be thankless when it comes to punishment. Do kids ever say after punishment “thank you very much for the wisdom you gave to me and the reminder you
love me
?”  Frequently the response is glaring and stomping!  Bear in mind, providing each consequence is best done from your foundation of love and wanting the best for your children. You are not after a thank you.

Discipline and behavior change are the outcomes you want. Ultimately you want your kids to effectively monitor themselves. Kids 2-12 want your attention — don’t forget this. The
underlying idea of punishment is to minimize your attention.

The punishment highlighted today is Reprimand. Use it to:

  1. Start a behavior now.
  2. Stop a behavior now.
  3. When a rule is broken.
  4. After a Tell Don’t Ask has not worked.

It is Tell Don’t Ask, done more firmly. Kids want attention; the REPRIMAND is designed to be as brief, yet  as effective and meaningful, as possible.

Practice REPRIMAND using the following communication skills:

  1. Move close — within 3 feet.
  2. Look at your child in the eyes.
  3. Use disapproving facial  expression.
  4. Voice is firm — but low intensity, not mean spirited.
  5. Nonverbal gesture of  disapproval — crossed arms or pointing a finger.
  6. Do it now — as soon as  your child disobeys or something needs done.
  7. As with  — Tell Don’t Ask, be specific.
  8. Wait! See if  the child cooperates. It’s interesting that children may say something like “you cannot make me” and at the same time cooperate. Pay
    attention to the cooperative behavior, not the words.

The sequence:

  1. Tell Don’t Ask. Wait 30  to 90 seconds. You pick a consistent time frame.
  2. If they do not start, do REPRIMAND. Wait 30 to 90 seconds
  3. Whenever your child  cooperates, praise.
  4. If they don’t cooperate,  you will need Time Out.

That will be next week: next step — Time Out