I Have Taken Away Everything That “Means Life” to My Child But They Are Still Misbehaving

Here is a great question I received from a parent:

What do you do when you have taken away everything that “means life” to a child and they still are misbehaving?

Here’s the deal, when kids misbehave it is for attention. Attention is defined for people as gaining emotional connection and/or control. So when consequences are not impacting the child there is usually a problem with how the child is feeling in the area of emotional connection and control. Think about it, I bet your child is doing the misbehavior when you are busy. Hence we as parents need to slow down and be sure we are giving our children attention.

Here are some easy ways that give emotional connection and control to kids:

  • Choices. Giving 20 choices a day is a good rule of thumb. The choices are simple and about things you do not care about. Such as, “do you want to hold my hand or have me carry you?” Or “do you want cereal or toast? Attached is a great handout from Love and Logic. It outlines the rules for Choices. Just be sure you do not give choices when there is resistance. Choices are when emotions are neutral and life is happy!
  • PRIDE skills. This tool comes from Parent-Child Interaction Therapy. Even though it is based in play therapy, it is easy for all parents to use. PRIDE stands for: Praise, Reflection, Imitate, Describing, and Enthusiasm. I have attached a handout that outlines how to use these tools for 5 minuses a day in special playtime. Special Play Time is best done with children between the ages of 2 and 7 years. If you have a child older than 7 years of age, use the PRIDE skills throughout the day with them.

The key to helping a child to have good behavior is to connect with them and give the attention they are seeking. By giving positive attention and sharing control with them, you are being a positive proactive parent!

How to Talk With Your Upset Child/Teen When They Expect You to Give Them a Solution

Here is a question I received when I spoke at a conference recently:

“How best do you work with an older kid/teen when they are getting upset and they want you to give them a solution?”

There are a few Love and Logic® tools that are useful:

First, Always Offer Empathy

Empathy helps to connect with the child emotionally without being in the solving mode. Studies have also shown that empathy helps the brain to calm, making it easier to process information. On the other hand, If the brainstem is over reactive, NO LEARNING OCCURS. Some ideas of empathetic statements.

Second, Use an Enforceable Statement

…such as “I will be happy to talk with about this when you are calm.” This type of a statement helps the parent model how to make decisions. Nothing good comes from making decisions when we are emotional. Enforceable Statements also are a soft way of setting a boundary for the child/teen. This is a challenge because generally, us parents, like to be in problem-solving mode with a child who is emotional.

Last, “Ownership of the Problem” is a Wonderful Tool!

It hands the problem back to the child and supports them all the way through the learning experience.

Here are the steps to handing problems back to a child:

  1. Offer empathy
  2. Ask the child “What do you think you can do about this?”
  3. Brainstorm ideas with the child about how to solve the situation. Be sure to not solve it for him or her, just brainstorm.
  4. Allow the child to try their idea. This is the key part. Perhaps they will solve it well – or not at all. No matter what, the child will feel connected to the parent and learn from the experience.

I also recommend this nice little guide on using choices to encourage your son or daughter to work through their problems, with your support – giving them a sense of control throughout the process.

5 Parenting Tips for a Successful Outing – Yes, Even With Young Kids

Afraid of Taking Your Kid(s) to a Nice Place?

It’s Friday night and you would love to go out as a family to a restaurant that is not fast food. Can you? The answer is yes, but you will need some key components to make it an enjoyable time.

Guidelines to make a public outing successful:

  1. Determine where a good time-out area will be. No matter where you go in public, Target, a restaurant, or a play date, you need to determine ahead of time where you will place your child if negative attention seeking behavior occurs.
  2. Set proper expectations for your child before you enter the public place. Something like: “Sam, we are going into the restaurant to eat. I need you to sit at the table, color and eat your food when the nice person brings it to us. Also, Sam, if you play with the salt and pepper, crawl under the table, or be loud in the restaurant I will put you in time-out”.
  3. Now, enter the restaurant and be sure to sit near the door. So if you need to remove your child for time-out, you don’t want to bring a screaming child all the way through the restaurant, it’s just much more stressful for everyone!
  4. Once you are at the table, begin to notice all the positive behaviors your child is doing. A good rule of thumb is a child needs attention about every 1 minute they are old. So if you have a 3 year old, you will need to give positive attention about every 3 minutes. If you don’t, your child will gain your attention via negative behavior. Example of positive attention “I like how your are using the red crayon” or “You are sitting so nicely, thank you.”
  5. If misbehavior occurs, simply give one command to stop the behavior. If the correction does not happen, take action. Remove the child in a calm manner. Wait until things are calm in time-out and then re-enter the situation.

NO lectures or emotion. Stick to your expectations and use action to reinforce.

Positives, positives, positives! If your child is obeying your rules, praise! You will get better behavior if you take the time to notice the good stuff.

I hope these tips help your family enjoy outings!

A Parenting Road Map Will Make Your Family Stronger and Happier

Parenting From My Perspective

I think a lot of parents (including me) initially find themselves just treading water in communication with their child, without any real map or guide – just sort of guessing as to what to do when issues come up, and hoping for the best. It’s not that we don’t care about our children, but rather, that we are just trying to do the best with what we know (which may not be a whole lot). I found Love and Logic® pretty late in the process of raising my 3 children, which allowed me to really see the contrast of what parenting is like with and without these tools. As I briefly mentioned in my previous post, Love and Logic® tools can serve as sort of a Road Map in understanding how to effectively communicate with your child (by the way, I am not getting paid to say this). I would like to share with you a moment I had recently where I found myself reflecting on my early experiences as a parent, and how much easier parenting can be with a road map.

A Parenting Road Map Worked

The other day, my husband and I recently cared for our friend’s 4 year old daughter overnight. As you may have guessed, the “overnight” part becomes the main problem in this scenario. Promptly 5 minutes after she was in bed, she burst out in tears and wanted her mommy. We comforted her, recognizing a need. Much to my surprise, it was my husband that she wanted to lay with her for a few minutes. After about 5 minutes he gave her a choice of staying for one more minute or two. She chose 2, and he left her at 2 minutes. But then about 20 minutes later she appeared couch side saying she could not sleep. With my “road map” in hand, I said “that’s sad (empathy) you need to stay in your room (limit)” she began to cry as she walked with me back to her room. I kept repeating “I know” (empathy). She cried in her bed, and we stayed calmly in the other room. She was sound asleep in about 5 minutes.

In Contrast…Wow

What a difference in how we handled our kids at that same age, without knowledge of these simple tools. In the early years of raising our three girls, bedtime was “game on” for them. In a similar bedtime situation, we would have laid with them to the point of frustration, went back into the room a number of times and last but not least, threaten them. Perhaps you can relate.

Love and Logic® provided us with tools that we leaned on, especially when tension was on the rise. Admittedly, it took practice and time for the tools to become a natural response. I can’t tell you how great it feels to stay calm and know you are on the right road.

Here are the tools that were some of our best road signs:

I sum up these tools in this diagram.

I have linked handouts for you to explore. Hopefully you will feel more confident as a parent just like I did!

I have some of my favorite resources posted here.