Sunday, July 29, 2012

Helpful Hints For Empowering Vs. Enabling

An Excerpt from Positive Discipline for Teenagers
by Jane Nelsen and Lynn Lott.

A friend asked me if Positive Discipline was a program to teach parents to manage their children. I said, "No, it is a program to help parents empower their children to manage themselves."

You may be vividly aware of how skilled most of us are in using enabling responses to our children, and how unskilled we are in using empowering responses. Parents who are used to controlling and rescuing may have a difficult time seeing the benefit of empowering statements.

Before we introduce the empowering actions and statements, we’ll go over enabling actions and statements—just in case you aren’t familiar with them. Our definition of enabling is, "Getting between young people and life experiences to minimize the consequences of their choices." Enabling responses include:
  1. DOING TOO MUCH FOR THEM: Doing things for kids that they could do for themselves, bailing them out after bawling them out. “I can’t believe you have procrastinated again. What will ever become of you? Okay, I’ll do it this time, but next time you’ll just have to suffer the consequences.”
  2. GIVING THEM TOO MUCH: Buying everything they want, cell phones, cars, insurance, clothes you can’t afford, CDs, junk food. “I can’t believe you didn’t do your homework after I bought you a car, a cell phone, clothes I can’t afford, and gave you a big allowance.”
  3. BRIBING AND/OR REWARDING: “You can have a new CD, allowance, cell phone, if you do your homework.”
  4. OVERPROTECTING:  What to wear, when to wear coats so they won’t get cold as if they are too stupid to know or to learn, picking their friends, extreme fear of danger. “Honey, I’ve got the car warming up in the garage so you won’t be cold.  Did you see the clothes I picked out for you?  I’ll wait till you’re ready to go, cuz I’d like to drive you to school so you won’t catch a cold.” 
  5. HOVERING: Doing their laundry, waking them up in the morning, making their lunches, driving them places when they could walk or ride a bike, excusing them from helping the family because they have homework. “I just don’t understand. I excused you from chores, I woke you up early, I drove you everywhere so you would have more time, I made your lunches. How could this be?”
  6. LYING FOR THEM:  Excuses to the teacher, writing notes when they just slept in, I won’t tell Dad/Mom. “Okay, I’ll write a note to the teacher that you were sick this morning, but you’ll need to be sure and catch up.”
  7. PUNISHING/CONTROLLING: Grounding, taking away privileges, creating your agenda for them. “Well then, you are grounded and you lose all your privileges, no car, no TV, no friends, until it is done.” 
  8. WHAT AND HOW LECTURES:  Telling them what happened, what caused it to happen, how they should feel, and what they should do about it. “Well, no wonder. I saw you wasting your time on MySpace and spending too much time texting your friends and sleeping in. You should feel ashamed of yourself. You’d better shape up or you’ll be shipping out to live on the streets like a bum.”
  9. HOW, WHAT, AND WHY CAN’T YOU LECTURES: “How many times have I told you to get your homework done early? Why can’t you be more like your brother?” Why can’t you be more responsible? What will become of you?”
  10. BLAMING AND SHAMING: “How could you ever do such a thing, how come you always forget and never get your homework done, I can’t believe you would be so lazy.”
  11. LIVING IN DENIAL: Thinking your child could never do such a thing--being oblivious to the cultural mores regarding sex and drugs, and believing things are dangerous without educating yourself. “Well, honey. I’m sure you don’t really need to do homework. It is a stupid thing for teachers to expect. You are smart enough to do just fine without it.”
  12. RESCUING/FIXING: Buying new things to replace what your child loses, hiring lawyers, staying up late to help with (or doing) last minute homework. “I’ll hurry and do it for you while you get dressed and eat your breakfast. Sorry I won’t be able to fix your bacon, eggs, and waffles. I’m sure you’ll do your homework tomorrow.”
    Our definition of empowering is, "Turning control over to young people as soon as possible so they have power over their own lives."  All of the following Empowering Responses are possibilities that can be used in response to neglected homework as well as other challenges you may be experiencing:
    1. SHOW FAITH: "I have faith in you. I trust you to figure out what you need. I know that when it's important to you, you'll know what to do."
    2. RESPECT PRIVACY: "I respect your privacy and want you to know I'm available if you want to discuss this with me."
    3. EXPRESS YOUR LIMITS: "I'm not willing to go to school to bail you out. When your teacher calls, I'll hand the phone to you or tell her she'll need to discuss it with you. "A respectful attitude and tone of voice is essential.
    4. LISTEN WITHOUT FIXING OR JUDGING: "I would like to hear what this means for you."
    5. CONTROL YOUR OWN BEHAVIOR: "I'm willing to take you to the library when we come to an agreement in advance for a convenient time, but I'm not willing to get involved at the last minute." "If you need my help with your homework, please let me know in advance."
    6. DECIDE WHAT YOU WILL DO WITH DIGNITY AND RESPECT:  “I’m available to help with homework between 7:00 and 8:00 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I won’t be available to help with last minute projects.”
    7. FOLLOW THROUGH WITH KINDNESS AND FIRMNESS: “I can see you are stressed about waiting until that last minute. I’m sure you’ll figure it out. I’ll be available Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7:00 to 8:00.”
    8. LET GO OF THEIR ISSUES: "I hope you'll go to college, but I'm not sure it's important to you."
    9. AGREEMENT NOT RULES: "Could we sit down and see if we can work on a plan regarding homework that we both can live with?"
    10. LOVE AND ENCOURAGE: "I love you just the way you are and respect you to choose what is right for you."
    11. ASK FOR HELP: "I need your help. Can you explain to me why it isn't important to you to do your homework?"
    12. SHARE YOUR FEELINGS: Share your truth by using the "I feel ______ because _______  and I wish" process without expecting anyone else to feel the same or grant your wish. This is a great model for children to acknowledge their feelings and wishes without expectations. "I feel upset when you don't do your homework because I value education so much and think it could be very beneficial to you in your life and I really wish you would do it.
    13. JOINT PROBLEM SOLVING: "What is your picture of what is going on regarding your homework? Would you be willing to hear my concerns? Could we brainstorm together on some possible solutions?"
    14. RESPECTFUL COMMUNICATION: "I'm feeling too upset to talk about this right now. Let's put it on the agenda for the family meeting so we can talk about it when I'm not so emotional."
    15. INFORMATION VS. ORDERS: "I notice you spend a lot of time watching television and talking on the phone during the time you have set aside for homework." "I notice you often leave your homework until the last minute and then feel discouraged about getting it done."
    16. ENCOURAGE LEARNING FROM MISTAKES: “I can see that you feel bad about getting that poor grade. I have faith in you to learn from this and figure out what you need to do to get the grade you would like.”
    If you are used to using short-range solutions of control and rescuing, you might not realize how powerful these empowering statements are.  Empowering statements and actions are important because they turn control over to your kids so they have power over their own lives. This power often leads to mistakes and failure. When you understand and trust that learning from mistakes and failure is an important part of a successful life process, you may find it easier to use the empowering statements.  If what you are currently doing isn’t working, take a leap of faith and work on using empowering statements with your kids.

    Monday, July 16, 2012

    Decide What You Will Do



    The Jones family is very excited. They have just finished planning a day at the beach. Seven-year-old Jason and five-year-old Jenny have promised that they won’t fight. Mr. Jones, has warned, “If you do, we’ll turn around and come back.” “We won’t, we won’t,” promise Jason and Jenny again.

    The Jones family haven’t gone two miles when a loud wail is heard from the back seat, “Jason hit me.”

    Mrs. Jones says, “What did we tell you kids about fighting?”

    Jason defends himself, “Well, she touched me.”

    Mr. Jones threatens, “You two had better cut it out, or we are going home.”

    The children cry out it unison, “Nooooooo! We’ll be good.”

    And they are -- for about ten minutes. Then, another wail is heard, “He took my red crayon.”

    Jason replies, “Well she was hogging it. It’s my turn.”

    Mr. Jones says, “Do you want me to turn around and go home?”

    “Nooooooo. We’ll be good.”

    And so the story goes. Throughout the day Jason and Jenny fight, and Mr. and Mrs. Jones make threats. At the end of the day, Mr. and Mrs. Jones are angry and threaten never to take the kids anywhere again. Jason and Jenny feel bad that they have made their parents so miserable.  They are beginning to believe they really are bad kids—and they keep living up to their reputation.

    Now let’s visit the Smith family. They have just planned their trip to the zoo during their weekly family meeting. Part of the planning included a discussion about limits and solutions.  Mr. and Mrs. Smith have told Susan and Sam how miserable they feel when they fight. The kids promise they won’t. Mr. Smith said, “I appreciate that, and I think we should come up with a plan for what will happen if you forget.” The kids keep insisting they won’t fight. Mr. and Mrs. Smith know their children have good intentions, and they are also very familiar with the pattern of good intentions gone awry. So, they have decided what they will do and they will follow through.

    Mrs. Smith says, “Well then, is it okay with you if we stop the car if you do forget? We don’t think it is safe to drive when you are fighting, so we’ll just pull over to the side of the road and wait for you to stop. You can let us know when you are ready for us to drive again. How do you feel about that solution?” Both kids agree with innocent enthusiasm.

    Typically, it doesn’t take them long to forget their promise, and a fight begins. Mrs. Smith quickly and quietly pulls off to the side of the road. She and Mr. Smith take out magazines and start reading. Each child starts blaming the other while protesting his or her own innocence. Mr. and Mrs. Jones ignore them and just keep reading. It doesn’t take long for Susan to catch on that Mom and Dad must mean what they said. Susan says, “Okay, we are ready to keep driving.” Mr. Smith says, “We’ll wait until we hear it from both of you.” Sam says, “But, she hit me.”

    Mom and Dad just keep reading.  Susan hits Sam, “Tell them you are ready.” Sam cries, “She hit me again.” Mom and Dad just keep reading. Susan realizes that hitting Sam won’t help, so she tries to reason with him. “We’ll have to sit here forever if you don’t say you are ready.” Susan follows her parent’s lead and starts to color. Sam holds out for about three more minutes before saying, “I’m ready for you to start driving.” Mom says, “Thank you very much. I appreciate your cooperation.”

    About 30 minutes later another fight starts. Mom starts to pull over to the side of the road. Both kids cry out in unison, “We’ll stop. We’re ready to keep driving.” There was no more fighting for the rest of the day, and the Smiths enjoyed a wonderful day at the zoo.

    What is the difference between the Jones family and the Smith family? Are Jason and Jenny really “bad” kids?” No, the difference is that the Smith family is helping their children learn cooperation and problem solving skills while the Jones family is helping their children learn manipulation skills. Mr. and Mrs. Smith demonstrate that they say what they mean and mean what they say by using kind and firm follow through. Mr. and Mrs. Jones don’t. They used angry threats. This had a temporary effect, but the kids would soon be fighting again.

    Mr. and Mrs. Smith stopped using words and instead followed through with kind and firm action. It took a little longer for the kids to catch on, but once they did it had a longer lasting effect. Because they are kids, they just had to test the waters one more time. When their parents started to follow through again the kids knew they meant what they said. They were left with the feeling, not that they were bad kids, but that they were clever enough to figure out a solution to the problem and that cooperation was the most effective alternative.

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