Sunday, August 28, 2011

Thoughts On Gordon Neufeld's book, "Hold On To Your Kids" Part One.

Gordon Neufeld is a revered parenting expert and clinical psychologist in Vancouver. His book, "Hold On To Your Kids" has been very influential.

One of Neufeld's main themes is that it is important for parents to work on their relationship with their children/teens in order for them to be more influential than their children's or teen's peers.

It is absolutely critical to work on your relationship with your children/teens, but what's the most effective way to go about it? In the Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting approach, we have very specific strategies for parents to help them establish and maintain a positive relationship with their children/teens, and ways of helping parents restore a relationship that has perhaps become not as positive as they would like.

As parents, most of us are in the habit of taking good behavior for granted or even ignoring it most of the time. Many parents also think that pointing out what their children/teens do wrong will help them to stop doing what was wrong and do the right thing instead.

Unfortunately, this does not work as no one likes to have their mistakes regularly pointed out, and when children/teens (or adults for that matter) are criticized, it does not motivate them to want to do the right thing. In fact, it mostly backfires and we end up with an angry or resentful child, teen or adult.

In order to develop a positive relationship with a child/teen or adult, first we need to notice and show that we are pleased when they do the right thing. This technique is what we call Descriptive Praise. It teaches parents to stop and notice when their child/teen has done something that is right or even OK-ish and say this in words, such as, "I noticed you put your dirty plate in the sink--thanks--", or, "You did what I asked you to do the first time with no arguments--", or, "Thanks for speaking to me in a pleasant tone of voice."

Descriptive praise gives children and teens what they crave and need--appreciation and approval. Children and teens need to see that we like them as well as love them. Descriptive praise is also good for the parents because even when home life has become a bit grim, it forces parents to notice and mention the times when the child/teen has done something right (or at least not wrong), as even a very annoying child/teen does many okay things every day.

The technique of Descriptive Praise is easy to describe and makes sense, but some parents find it difficult to put into practice. This is because we are far more familiar and comfortable with pointing out the problems than descriptively praising the good or OK things.

Make this a 30 day challenge and descriptively praise each member of your household 10 times a day. What have you got to lose!

Suzanne Ferera (see profile below)
Vancouver, Canada

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I loved reading Laura's post about "talk-throughs", one of the ways to Prepare for Success using the Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting methods.

There are so many positive, pro-active ways to Prepare for Success, to stop things from going wrong before they have a chance to go wrong.

These days Noël sometimes calls a "talk-through" a "think-through", in order to really make the point that the child is doing some thinking here, not just talking. Children can get quite good at talking without thinking!

In one of these - whatever you choose to call it - our questions, asked at a neutral time before the event, prompt the child to think about and visualize and verbalize themselves doing the correct behavior. It's an extremely useful tool that gets children thinking about the right thing to do, before they've done it, while they still actually have a chance to influence their own behavior for the best. This is in contrast to what often happens between parents and children: the kids get criticism and reprimands after they do the wrong thing.

Adding to the concept of a "think-through" is something my kids and I came to call a "think-after". The boys came up with that name years ago, after they had heard me say a number of times, after some challenging event (that we had prepared for): "I think that went really well, and I'll tell you why..."

A "think-after" is a mini "think-through" that happens AFTER the event. Think of it as a debrief that focuses on the positive. A "think-after" is the perfect opportunity for Descriptive Praise. In fact, your "think after" should consist primarily of Descriptive Praise sentences. For example, instead of saying, "You did such a great job getting ready for school", instead try, "You remembered to put everything you need for school in your backpack--your homework, your supplies and your lunchbox." Just describe exactly what they did right.

If it was worth doing a "think-through" about in the first place, then it is worth doing a "think-after" about afterwards. This is yet another positive way to instill in our children the values we want them to have.

Jill Janis (see profile below)
Tucson, AZ