Posts Tagged ‘bid for power’

Discipline: “We’re in this together!”

March 25, 2011

Katie’s “The Best Way to Struggle” post got me thinking about discipline responses and how the words we choose when interacting with our kids can help us to “struggle together” or “struggle against” our child.  I think responses that help us “struggle together”  towards success have some common elements.

  1. They are focused on the present and future.
  2. They are stated as positively as possible
  3. They include  some action (big or small) on the parent’s  part.

Here’s one example:

You never pick up your clothes!  Every day the pile gets higher!”  (Focuses on the past and = struggling against your child.)

Your room is a mess.”  (Focuses on the present and might be true, but isn’t very positive, doesn’t look to the future, and lacks action.)

Let’s get started on cleaning up your room.  We are both going to feel better when it is done.”  (Focuses on the present and future, and is positively stated.   This one for me = joining the struggle with my child to help them succeed.)

and another:

Isn’t your homework done yet?  What on earth have you been doing?”  (past and negative)

You are still working on your homework?!”  (present and negative)

You’re not as far along as I thought you’d be.  Let’s move to the  kitchen with that so I can help you get back on track while I make dinner.”  (This one is focused on present and future, is positively stated and includes an action.)

and one more…

“You have been whining all day!”  (past and negative)

“Stop whining!”  (present and negative—This one also sets  up a power struggle because we really can not make a child stop whining.)

“You are having a rough day!  Come walk close to me so I can help you. “ (present and future  focused, positive and includes action)

I’m trying this myself and have to say it’s a challenge (at least for me) to stay out of the past!  Give it a try yourself  during your parenting interactions today.  Listen to yourself as you interact with your child.  Do the words you choose help to create a spirit of “we’re in this together” or do they encourage more of a  “it’s me against you” feeling?

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Adoptive Parents Beware: Dr. Phil Doesn’t Know Everything!

December 7, 2010

Since last Thursday I have been stewing about the Dr. Phil episode I happened to catch.  It appears that my  disappointment and concern about the show is  not going to just melt away so I guess it’s time to blog.

Just the title of the show, Brat Proof Your Child, had me angry before it began.  Truth be told I stopped watching Dr. Phil long ago because I think he gives one size fits all  (and sometimes scary) parenting advice.  But when I heard this title on the commercial teaser I responded like a highway accident gawker.  I knew I would be disappointed and inflamed but I just couldn’t look away. (more…)

“We don’t do that!” (Yes we do.) Word Choice in Parenting

June 14, 2010

So I’m in the library helping my daughter pick out books when a commotion breaks out in the next aisle.  The sound of little feet running and little voices squealing breaks into the normally quiet environment and  as I finish my selections and walk around the aisle I see a very tired looking mom grab her preschooler’s arm with one hand and a 7 or 8 year old’s arm with her other.  As she is hustling  them towards the door she leans down to whisper loudly to them,

“We don’t run and yell in the library!”

Now I did feel for this mom.  I’ve been there and done that (and I’m sure many of you have too.)  But I couldn’t help also sighing to myself at her comment.  So often I hear parents begin their discipline with “We don’t….” and end it with whatever the child is actually doing or just finished doing.

“We don’t talk with our mouth full.”

“We don’t hit.”

“We don’t leave toys on the floor.”

The problem is that whenever we say these things just as the child is doing them we really look a bit foolish and incompetent because clearly the child IS DOING these things.   Sending poor competency messages can be a minefield for any parent, but for those of us parenting children who began life in a less than optimal environment this can be an even bigger problem.

Why is this?  Those of you who have completed Because They Waited will remember the module about promoting attachment.  Children with attachment strain need even stronger competency messages from their parents in order to move to a healthier place on the attachment continuum.  Their early life experiences have often left them with reduced or lacking trust and when a child cannot trust they often have an increased need or urge to control their environment.   This means that our children are even MORE likely to engage in challenging behaviors, especially when we respond in ways that signal we are less than able to handle the situation.

Word choice seems like a little thing but it is really powerful in sending (or not sending) messages of competency.   The following statements still make the parental expectations clear without reducing parental competency:

When we run or shout in the library we have to leave.  (Parent then leaves with the children)

Talking with your mouthful is considered bad manners.

Stop!  Hitting hurts!  (Remove child from the person he or she is hitting.)

Someone might trip over toys left on the floor or your toys might end up broken.  (Help the child pick up the toys.)

These statements are only slightly altered and yet they send  much stronger messages of competency

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Quotable Quote

June 1, 2010

A friend just posted this as her Facebook status:

If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.

I love this quote!  It reminds me so much of parenting.  How often do we find ourselves doing things that don’t work, but we keep on doing them?   In our recorded course, Managing Your  Child’s Bid for Power, we actually talk about how some parents dig themselves into a hole by engaging in power struggles with their children.  The problem?  The child starts seeing the parent as incompetent and the parent starts feeling incompetent!


Attachment Strain and Control: My Epiphany

May 13, 2010

I was at mass this past Sunday listening to my priest’s homily when I decided that I myself might have attachment strain.  I’m not kidding.  Mind you I was raised in a beautifully loving family that met all my needs.  Remember also that I know a lot about attachment both from raising my own three children (one adopted at the age of 6 from a Russian orphanage) and also from researching the topic extensively in order to educate adoptive parents in the Because They Waited program. (more…)

What Not to Do (parenting)

April 27, 2010

Although in my profession I provide adoption education and information about what I believe to be overall good parenting, I truly try to turn off the work stuff when I’m not working.  This is tough given that I live what I work since I am parenting two kids.  It’s also tough because it’s not like you can get away from other people who are parenting–at least not in the places I am likely to frequent with my own child/ren in tow.

Anyway, I really do try to just live my life and not obsess on parenting technique but something happened in Target earlier this week that made me cringe, sigh and want to immediately provide a free, live seminar in the middle of the store!  LOL (more…)

Remind me! A Recap of our Power Struggles Discussion Group

March 10, 2010

It is challenging to manage any child’s bid for power, but for those of us dealing with a child who has limited trust and therefore a heightened need to control, that challenge can be exhausting.  

A few weeks ago a group of parents got together with us online to discuss power struggles and managing bids for power with kids who have a strong need to control.   We talked about positive parenting strategies for managing kids’ bids for power and even brainstormed ideas for specific issues our group was struggling with at the time.  

Our participants on that day shared with us some things they wanted to be reminded of a few weeks down the road.  I was looking over the list today and decided that most of us could use reminding about most of these things so I decided to share the list via blog so we could all benefit.     For those of you who participated I hope that seeing the list reminds you of what you’re working on and inspires you to make today a purposeful parenting day.  Thanks for all your great input!  

Remind me: 

  • to give clear directions instead of making requests when dealing with my control seeking child
  • to maintain my competency even if it means an issue might lasts a bit longer
  • to maintain a nurturing attitude and tone while managing my child’s bid for power
  • to be on top of my game (parenting with purpose and using what I know)
  • to use actions not words when dealing with a bid for power
  • not to banter because banter can turn a bid for power into a power struggle
  • to stay on top of positive parenting now to set my child up for success now and later
  • to parent from my feet not my seat
  • that what I am doing really can make a positive difference even as I struggle through

If you weren’t part of the group but want to learn more about managing your child’s bid for power check out our recorded course.

Heart of the Matter Seminars Home

Public Tantruming

February 13, 2010

Our family was at Barnes & Noble yesterday evening.  As O. and I were making our way to the checkout we (and the whole store) heard this horrendous, gutteral screaming and crying begin accompanied by such phrases as, “NO!  BUT I WANT IT!!!  AAAARRRGGGHHH!!!” (more…)

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