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

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