Stop Yelling, Start Empathizing

One mom explained how her daughter, Megan, was struggling with many of her classmates at school. They tended to tease her or ignore her. She responded by yelling at them about their mean behavior. This only made the situation worse.

Megan’s parents recognized that they also had a role in the problem because they both often yelled at Megan at home. The behavior they were modeling was exactly what Megan was doing at school.

They all became more aware of their yelling when they started adding a sticker to a chart on the refrigerator whenever they yelled. Whoever had the most stickers at the end of the week was responsible for making the Sunday dinner and planning a fun activity for after dinner.

Soon there was a lot less yelling at home. Things started turning around at school too when Megan realized that her reaction to her classmates was adding fuel to the fire.

If you’re ready to replace yelling at your kids with empathy and accountability, check out Priceless Parenting’s online parenting classes.

How to Turn Anger into Empathy

Anger is a natural response to our children's misbehavior but often it's not a very helpful response. In this presentation Kathy Slattengren, founder of Priceless Parenting, explains how to use a tool for turning anger into empathy. This is a snippet from her presentation “Anger and Consequences vs. Empathy and Solutions”.

Rebuilding Trust After Your Child Lies to You

Mary received a voice mail message letting her know that her son Ben was late for a class that day at school. When Mary asked Ben about it, Ben explained that he needed to get a permission slip signed at the office so he missed part of class. He also mentioned that the yearbook staff was taking some pictures in the hallway so he stopped to get in a picture. Although Mary questioned his decision to spend time getting in a picture, she e-mailed the school back letting them know that she approved of his being late due to the permission slip and picture.

What really upset Mary was that the school’s principal then called her and explained there was more to the story. In fact, her son missed the entire hour of class because he was goofing around in the hallways. The school was already giving him a lunch time detention which Ben also failed to mention.

Mary was furious that Ben had misled her into believing he only missed a few minutes of class, not the entire hour. She was planning to really yell at him when he got home from school and let him know that a number of privileges would be taken away because he lied.

We discussed how exploding with anger might actually hold him less accountable for his poor decisions. If she launched into an angry tirade, his focus will be on her out-of-control behavior not on what he did wrong.

After giving it some more thought, she decided to calmly tell him how disappointed she felt because he misled her. She requested that he write down what happened, what influenced his actions, what he would do differently next time and what type of amends he thinks he should make. He needed to figure out how he would regain her trust.

She explained that she would decide on any further consequences based on what he wrote. Ben did some serious thinking that night … a lot more than had his mom just yelled at him and took away privileges.

Listening to Your Children Versus Analyzing the Situation Leaving Them Feeling Unheard

One mom reported that her son came home from school complaining about how boring his music class was. It was the first week of his new guitar class at school and her son had already taken lessons so he knew the basics.

She responded to his complaint by explaining that it might be the very first time some of the kids even touched a guitar so the teacher needed to provide some information. Her son told her that she just didn’t understand!

What went wrong? How come her son did not feel heard? Instead of reflecting back his feelings, Mom provided an analysis of the situation. This is a sure-fire way to make someone feel misunderstood!

He might have felt heard had she instead said “Wow! It sounds like you were really bored.” When we reflect back our children’s feelings, they are likely to feel heard. When we break into a lecture or analysis of the situation, they will feel that we didn’t understand what they were trying to say.

It’s so easy to accidentally shutdown conversations instead of encouraging your child to elaborate. The easiest way to make your children feel heard is to make a guess at what they are feeling and why. If you’re wrong, they’ll correct you. If you’re right, they’ll feel heard and probably continue explaining what happened.

Who qualifies as a stranger to a young child?

Lory was out in her driveway building a snowman with a couple of the neighborhood children when a 4-year-old Evan asked if he could help. Lory replied that she was happy to have him help but that he first needed to go tell his mother where he was.

Evan asked her “Are you a stranger?” Lory thought that in this case is was probably best to tell him that yes, she is a stranger. He then questioned her “Well are you a good stranger or a bad stranger?” Lory declared herself to be a good stranger and insisted that regardless he still needed to tell his mom where he was.

The concept of who qualifies as a stranger and who doesn’t is a difficult one for kids to grasp. Certainly Evan’s mom didn’t intend for him to be questioning people about their stranger status!

Instead of teaching kids about stranger danger, it’s better to give them simple rules. For example you may want to teach your kids to always let you know whenever they leave the house where they are going, who they will be with and when they will be back. The simpler the rule, the more easily they will remember it and follow it.

Finding Solutions Versus Issuing Consequences

When your kids misbehave, how do you usually feel? Most parents report feeling angry, frustrated or embarrassed. When you're feeling like that it's easy to think of consequences that will make your children pay for their poor behavior. They won't dare do that again!

When you use punishment in response to your children's misbehavior, they usually learn to avoid getting caught in the future. However, they aren't necessarily learning how to develop self-discipline and make better choices. By focusing on solutions instead of punishment, you increase the chances that it doesn't happen again - even if you're not around.

Watching a Fight Instead of Walking Away

Recently on the way home from a Seattle middle school, two boys got into a fight near the school bus stop. There was some pushing and shoving involved and other kids were standing around watching. During this skirmish, one boy took a video of it on his phone. When he got home, he posted the video on YouTube.

After seeing the video, the school officials decided to punish all the kids in the video - those watching and those fighting - with a one day suspension. The school policy is that kids should walk away when a fight breaks out so that they don't add support to what is going on. The kids have been taught this during school assemblies.

(read the rest of the article at Priceless Parenting)

Becoming the Loving Authority Figure in Your Home Before They Are Teens

When your kids are 11 or 12, they will start turning towards their friends for all things wise and wonderful instead of you. This is natural as they begin the process of separating and individuating from you.

Before this happens, you want to have established yourself as the loving authority figure in your home. Just because they are almost teens does not mean that they no longer have to follow the family rules.

It is certainly easier to influence a teen’s behavior if you’ve established yourself as the loving authority figure when your child is much younger. For example, if you tell a 3-year-old you will be leaving a friend’s house in 5 minutes and then when the time is up he puts up a fit, you can simply pick him up and take him home. If you tell a 13-year-old he needs to be home from a friend’s house in 5 minutes and he doesn’t want to leave, carrying him out isn’t an option!

If you need help setting firm and loving limits with your kids, check out Priceless Parenting’s online parenting classes. These classes can help you and whoever else is helping parent your kids get on the same parenting page.

Don't Interrupt! Teaching Kids What To Do Instead

Do you ever find your kids interrupting you when you are having a conversation with someone else? Are you tired of telling them that they need to wait?

One mom was quite tired of her 4-year-old twins trying to interrupt her whenever she was talking to another adult. She solved the problem by teaching them to put their hand on her when they wanted her attention and then to wait.

When they would fall back into trying to verbally interrupt her she would remind them “That won’t work.” They soon learned that the only thing that did work was to put their hand on her and wait their turn. They were rewarded with her full attention when it was their turn.

Fostering Growth using the Mentoring Parenting Style

What is your normal parenting style?  Do you give your kids orders?  Do you do a lot of things for them that they are capable of doing thems...