Sunday, April 13, 2014

Follow Through With Children

Julie complained that her four-year-old son, Chad, is very responsive and cooperative with his father about going to bed, but when she puts him to bed and tries to leave, Chad yells for her to come back and wants her to lay down with him. Every time she tries to leave, he cries for her to come back. Julie feels exhausted and resentful that she can’t have the evening to herself or enjoy time with her husband. She wonders why she can't get the same cooperation from Chad as Dad does.

Why is it that children behave one way with one parent and differently with another? Because, parents behave differently and children quickly learn what “works” with one parent and not the other.  They learn which parent they can manipulate and which one they can’t. So, what is the difference between what these parents do when they both want to use Positive Discipline? (Children who “cooperate” out of fear of punishment are not being cooperative, they are being compliant.)

Follow Through

Parents sometimes believe that giving children what they want and not burdening them with rules will show them that they are loved. We want to stress that permissiveness is not the way to help children develop initiative—or any other valuable social or life skill. If you say it, mean it, and if you mean it, follow through.

Children know when you mean what you say and when you don’t. It is really that simple.  Say it; mean it; and follow-through.

Parents who say what they mean and mean what they say do not have to use a lot of words. In fact, the fewer words used, the better. When you use a lot of words you are lecturing and children tune out lectures.

One reason you may use a lot of words is that you are trying to convince yourself, as well as your child, that what you want is okay. If what you are asking is reasonable, have confidence in your request.

Some parents lack confidence because they feel guilty. They are afraid their poor little darling will suffer trauma for the rest of his life if his every desire is not met. Children will suffer much more throughout their lives if they develop the belief that love means others should take care of them and give them whatever they want. They will suffer when they don’t learn they can survive disappointments in life—and discover how capable they are in the process.

Christine shares what happened when she learned to mean what she said and to follow-through.

“Not too long ago, my daughter knew she could get away with very little with her father. She went to bed for him like a Saint. When it came to me, she knew she could push me to the ends of the earth, and get whatever she wanted, even if the whole experience was negative. We spent hours, at night with her making requests such as, rub my back, put cream on my leg, fix my blankets—all just part of a power trip she was taking me on. I felt guilty and so I continued the long and drawn-out bed times that left me exhausted and unable to finish my nightly duties.

Since reading the Positive Discipline books, I learned that much of her self-worth comes from doing things for herself, and feeling accomplished.  That opened my eyes. I cut out all the special services knowing she can do things herself, and it was my job to encourage her to do so.

We follow the same bedtime routine every night. I read her a book and then I remind her that she is a big girl and she can put herself to sleep. If she gets out of the bed, without saying a word, I walk her back to her bed. If it happens more than once, I remind her that I will no longer put her blankets back on nor will I refill her water. She knows I mean what I say. After two nights of doing this, bedtime has changed all the way around. I am so thankful for what I learned in Positive Discipline. What was once a dreaded time, is now a nice, quiet time to wind down from the day.”


The Adventures of Grunty and Chubbs said...

My twins have really been giving me a hard time at night. They are 3.5 years old. They party like it's 1999 after we close the door! They will definitely quiet down if daddy warns them. But even if I am firm (I think) they will continue to play after I give them warnings. If the play is quiet, I'm ok with that. But if it's loud or disruptive to their bedroom (clothes all over the floor, crib mattresses being dragged around the room), I get pretty irritated. I've tried to tell them if they do that again they will not get dessert the next day or their favorite TV show the next day as a consequence for their actions. But that has had limited effectiveness. I'm trying to address the causes as opposed to the symptoms but I'm not sure what those are! Tonight they seem to be riled up and unable to fall asleep - maybe because daddy left today for out of town? I'm also considering whether it's time to end naps (we currently limit them to one hour). Any solutions/help would be appreciated!

Anonymous said...

HI "Adventures." I do not have advice regarding the topic of this blog post, but I have a few environmental ideas for you. I have two boys 22 mos apart. They slept in the same room (bunk beds) as toddlers/preschoolers. They were ridiculously silly when it was time to sleep. We went in there many many times to be "firm." Never worked. Finally, we figured out different sleeping arrangements so that they could each have a room. We made a small "den" into a baby room. My 9 year old daughter still sleeps in that room. Also, just a thought about naps. The oldest boy used to watch a video for "quiet time" so he got a reset without falling asleep. I know Jane may not approve, since it is sort of like using the screen as a babysitter, but it helped him stay in one place during rest time. He still remembers that fondly. On weekends, Daddy would sit with him and cuddle. I'm going to write another post about my challenges with bedtime for my daughter.

Anonymous said...

Hey Adventures, personally I see one red flag, the word 'warnings'. I find myself giving warnings, b/c I want the kids to have a chance to listen before experienceing painful consequences. I really try not to warn. I tell them what I'm going to do. In our house, it's "I leave the door open for girls who are quiet." and if sh is loud, no warnings, just a closed door. This results sometimes in an epic tantrum, but they usually learn pretty quick that I mean it and listen. I'd also pay very close attention to what your husband does differently than you, then copy him.

Betty said...

So, I love the idea of follow through. When I stick to my guns, and am "encouraging" as you say, by saying "We'll try again tomorrow", I'm often met with heartbreaking tearful wails, begging, "NOOOOOOOOO!!! MOM I'M SORRY I PROMISE I WILL BRUSH MY TEETH NOW". I know that we are supposed to stick to our guns to get the results that we desire, and giving in just teaches them that they can get their way. But do you have any words of support for the feelings that a mama feels when met with the heartbreaking wailing, how to power through that? I feel wired to respond when they and it is such a paradox, that to "listen" (which is really "giving in") is actually doing them harm, but in the moment it is so difficult. And sometimes I just want the sound to stop.

Anonymous said...

I think as parents we suffer guilt no matter what and for as long as we are parents. I have almost 13 year old twins and an almost 15 year old (all girls) and I still feel guilt when I follow through with discipline. But I deal with so much grief and constant repeating if I dont mean business... even at this age. Follow through sucks sometimes, but it has worked for me, with the upbringing of my daughters as well as the children I teach (Im a preschool teacher ages 2-5)I feel guilty at times and want to give in when they say "please please I wont go fast on the bikes and run down my friends again" or with my daughters promising that they will clean their room before their friends come over to hang out, but dont... Telling the 3 year old that he will just have to try again tomorrow on the bike hurts just as much as calling my daugters friends parents to let them know the "playdate" is off... I just have to remind myself that the 3 year old will think twice about racing around the track when I give him another chance come the next day, and my daughter actually does make sure her room is picked up now when her friends come over... and we are all happier when those things happen.

Its hard, but in the long run, I have learned time and time again, consistency and follow through really do work and make your life(and yours!) a little easier(but not always
less guilt free) Hang in there!!