Focus on Long-Term Results
When you use “discipline,” consider what your children are learning from your methods. Are they learning communication skills, problem-solving skills, social interest, to feel capable? Or are they learning that the one who has the most power can treat others disrespectfully?
I thought this would be a good time to take a look at the tool cards I have chosen the first quarter of this year and review how well I have done with them. It will also be a chance for me to renew my commitment to improving my parenting skills. So let's get started.
Week One - Routines
My daughter really thrived under the system of routine charts. She was very motivated to create her own routine chart and has now memorized her routine so well, she no longer needs the chart. My son has resisted this every step of the way. During our family meeting this morning we discussed routine charts. Gibson said "I don't need a routine chart. You can just remind me every morning and eventually I will do it without you reminding me." Okay...so clearly he isn't grasping the point of a routine chart. I challenged him to come up with his own method of creating a routine. I will be following up with him to see what he comes up with.
Week Two - Listen
When I asked my children if I was doing a good job with my listening, they both shouted in unison "NO!". I guess I could use improvement in this area. My daughter pointed out that just yesterday she said "Dad, Dad, Daaaaad, Dad" before I finally acknowledged her and listened. I think a big key to this tool card is stopping what I am doing, so I can focus my attention on my children. Even if I am listening while I multitask, they don't perceive that I am listening.
Week Three - Encouragement vs Praise
I was listening to Parenting Unplugged Radio the other day, and Laura quoted Jane Nelsen as saying "Encouragement is the main course and Praise is the dessert." In other words, we don't need to completely give up Praise. I can still give my daughter or son the occasional "Great Job" and then maybe afterward I can ask them "How did that feel to hit the ball so well in your game today?"
Week Four - Limit Screen Time
We have completely failed on this tool card. The NCAA Basketball Tournament can take part of the blame for this, because I didn't set a very good example of limiting screen time. And then of course, The Masters coverage started the following week. But I also get so busy that I am happy to have the television keep my kids occupied. But we are making a new commitment to try and limit screen time. For the next month, we are going to try and use a time stamping method. So the kids can clock in and clock out for their screen time. This may not limit screen time, but at least we will have a good measurement of how much screen time we are using.
Week Five - Put Kids in the Same Boat
I still struggle with this tool card a bit. When my daughter lets out a blood curdling scream from down in the basement, I can't help but rush down there to see if she has just been attacked by the creature from the black lagoon. Of course when I get there I find out that the blood curdling scream was caused by her brother taking the T.V. remote. Not exactly a threat to our national security. So I believe this tool card can be effective if I use it. I just need to be consistent and realize that 99.9999999% of my children's battles can be solved without my assistance.
Week Six - Validate Feelings
First let me explain how guys validate feelings. When we are on the golf course and somebody is upset about hitting a bad drive we validate his feelings like this "Nice drive Jim...does your husband play golf too?" My point being, guys are not very good at validating feelings. In fact, we thrive on finding new ways to belittle each other. But I realize that I need to be able to set that testosterone aside when dealing with my kids and their feelings. That's why I like the next tool card so well because I don't need to say anything except "How about a hug?".
Week Seven - Hugs
This has become a favorite in our family. We are giving hugs all the time now and it really does work.
Week Eight - Family Meetings
If nothing else, going through the Positive Discipline Tool Cards has helped us have consistent family meetings. That has been a big help to our family and my kids actually look forward to our weekly family meeting.
Week Nine - Special Time
I cannot emphasize enough how important this particular tool card is to my kids. In our family meeting today when I mentioned this tool card, my kids let out a cheer of approval. It doesn't have to be anything elaborate. This week I am taking each of my children out for ice cream. The weather has finally improved and they both like that idea. Having that one on one time is priceless.
Week Ten - Small Steps
To be honest, I haven't really found a way to use this tool card yet. It is really targeted more to younger children. But I believe it can be helpful with older children as well, I just haven't used it much.
Week Eleven - Encouragement
A child needs encouragement like a plant needs water. Need I say more?
Week Twelve - Winning Cooperation
This tool card works best when combined with the "Listen" tool card and the "Curiosity Questions" tool card which we haven't gotten to yet. Although I think Tiger Woods is an arrogant ass, the commercial below is very powerful. It captures the very essence of this tool card.
Week Thirteen - Decide What You Will Do
I think I do this on a regular basis without even realizing it. It is a big part of the respectful nature of Positive Discipline. We can be respectful to our children and respectful to ourselves when we use this tool card.
Week Fourteen - Control
Control your own behavior and set an example for your children. This is pretty self-explanatory and reminds us that we still need to be the adults in every situation.
Week Fifteen - Teach Children What To Do
This tool card takes a little bit of creativity. It is so much easier to say "Don't do that!" than it is to think of an alternative. I love how comedian Brian Regan illustrates this point.
I am totally envious of your success with family meetings.
We have had some good things come out of our meetings but for the most part they end disastrously and my husband and I end up pretty discouraged.
After our meeting today I reacted to my 8 year old son in a not-very-nice way and immediately apologized but I had hurt his feelings. He came downstairs a few minutes later and after looking on the fridge door, pulled off the "hugs" card and gave it to me.
That hugs card has been a really important one for all of us too.
You've encouraged me to do our own quarterly report and revisit some of the other cards as well as focusing on the long term results.
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