Welcome friends...thanks for coming by. We're seeking beauty in all of creation... in our faith and our families; our art and our music; our crafts and kitchens, and even in our own backyard. We'll share a poem or a recipe, a picture or a memory; maybe a dream of how we wish our life could be. And though we acknowledge that the world can be harsh, we're keeping it pleasant in our little corner; endeavoring to keep the words from the Book of all Books: ...Whatsoever things are lovely; think on these things.

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Photo: Bee and thistle: Taken high in the Cascade Mountains where there is a bee buzzing on every thistle. by Debora Rorvig

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Grandma Debbie's Child-rearing tip #1: Keep Your Promises and Follow Through with Your Threats

Someone recently asked me to post some ideas for child-rearing on my blog. While I am the first to say that I am not an 'expert' on this subject; I suppose that raising five children, having 10 grandchildren,  a bunch of psychology, and working in a Special Ed classroom has given me a few insights that I'd be more than happy to share. Most of what I will share are ideas for helping your younger child when he/she is acting out in an unacceptable manner. (You don't need my help if they are acting like angels, now do you?) I will try to limit my comments to simple, concrete solutions for everyday situations. As every child is different and every situation varies; these are just tools I use at work or with members of our family. (From time to time; try them on your husband--you'll be amazed at how well they work!)

Tip #1:  Keep Your Promises and Follow Through with Your Threats

I believe this is the biggest mistake I see parents and even educators make. And if you don't get this part right; nothing else you do will really be effective with your child. Why? It's quite simple;  if you are random, your child's behavior will be random.

So here's a  scenario:
Johnny is throwing a tantrum because he wants you to buy him a Transformer at Target. But you're shopping for the neighbor boy's birthday present-not for Johnny. You start by saying, "No honey, we're buying a present for Bobby today." Of course this doesn't work for Johnny. He wants the toy. He starts to yell and cry. You are mortified because people are giving you and your child dirty looks. You feel like his behavior is a bad reflection on you as a parent. So you say loudly, "If you don't stop shouting we are leaving the store." (But you can't leave because the birthday party is in half an hour and you need to get this gift and get outta here!)
Here's the deal...if you say it...do it! Be late for the party if you need to. Miss the party if necessary. Your word is more important than arriving on time for the party. However, many parents cave in and end up bartering with the child..."If you're good we'll buy you a candy bar at the check-out..."  UH OH! Now you have just taught your child the art of negotiation. He's learned that his tears will  at least get him something he kind of likes, and maybe what he really wants! Just like when you sold your first home; you asked for more; hoping to get slightly less. Think about it...if  you cried every time you went into the jewelry store because you really really wanted that gorgeous $2000 sapphire and diamond ring; and your husband felt so bad that he bought you a nice $400 tennis bracelet to placate you-wouldn't you cry every time you went looking at jewelry? I would!

 So, if your child is in the habit of whining and crying in the store...try this:
Before you go inside, say calmly but firmly,  "Honey, we are shopping for Bobby's birthday. We are only going to buy a toy for Bobby. You will not be getting a toy today. There will be no crying or misbehaving in the store today, OK?" Now whatever you do... keep your word. Do not buy your child anything today. But if you manage to get out of the store without tears or a battle, praise your child. Praise him to dad, to his siblings, to everyone who will listen!  Say, "Oh Auntie Linda, did you know that when we went shopping today for a birthday gift for Bobby; Johnny didn't ask for anything! He's so awesome!" But if he does cry, just get the gift and let him cry all the while you are shopping. If you are with another adult, give them the money with instructions to buy the gift and take Johnny to the car. Do not respond to his tears with a reward. And do not respond with threats, shouts or emotion equal to your child's. What you can (and should) do though, is later that night when all of the drama over toys has subsided; take Johnny aside and calmly say: "Johnny, do you remember how you cried in the store today? Well I just want you to know that I didn't like shopping with all of that crying...so next time I go shopping, I will have to have daddy (or auntie, grandma, or whoever) babysit you." Johnny will protest, but you must keep this promise and go shopping very soon without him. (Even if it's just to the corner store for milk.) And when you go, be sure to say (very sincerely and without any sarcasm), "It's too bad that I can't take you this time. Bummer. Next time we go, I know you won't cry!"  And of course, take him next time. The same rules should apply with every trip to the store until Johnny know that tears will not work and that he cannot negotiate with you for a lesser treat. It might take a few trips to the store (with and without Johnny) to get your point across. That's OK. Just stay with it. It'll get better sooner than you might imagine!

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