Kids- Nobody Likes To Admit It- But When It Comes Right Down To It- The Tail Waggeth The Dog.

teenagers

My second youngest daughter is 8. That age when she starts to be aware of ” stuff” like Iphones, make up and the like. My boys are 21 and 18 and I think things went pretty well with them, discipline wise. They did something wrong, they knew a consequence was coming.
Somehow I seem to have more difficulty issuing consequences to my little princess, or ” poca” as I call her after pocahontas. I am still totally 100% in control, dont get me wrong.
It just seems that she has a certain way of tearing up that makes my heart weak I know she couldnt be doing it on purpose. She must really be taking this hard, poor kid.
The thing is, about 15 years ago I spent 5 years as a live in foster parent for teenage girls, 6 at a time. I do seem to recall it being a common source of manipulation for them to turn on the tears when they didnt like the answer they got…
Surely those girls had deep troubles. My baby girl is as innocent as they come.
Until yesterday, that is. My little princess pushed it over the ” my daddy loves me” line. It was a simple thing really, we were all doing a little cleaning up, and I asked her to bring the dust pan from the room she was in, into the room I was in. First I thought I heard a little complaining, but I assured myself it must be the television. Just then, around the corner she flew, stopping at the door and tossing the dust pan right at my forehead.
Something snapped in me. I am not sure what exactly, but it ended with no television for the night and she was a few years younger it would have been much worse. After a few minutes I began to pace around and question myself. I used to teach on this! I taught teachers on this! Parents too. Now I found myself stuck in an uncomfortable position. Not having to issue a consequences, but having to ask my the question ” Why would my daughter ever feel comfortable throwing anything at anyone”- that was my real issue.

The answer in case this has happened to you, is not that you are a bad parent, necessarily. The real answer lies within the circle of role models the child is surrounded with. Especially adults, the teachers, parents friends parents etc..You are the first line for your children. The old saying ” the apple doesnt fall from the tree ” is right on. Many hundreds of times I sat in meetings at schools, whether IEP or another type. During these meetings I would hear a parent cussing his teen up and down for acting out. The child realized at a much younger age what is acceptable in his home, by the modeling of his parents.

We could go on about this subject for hours, but for now, let me throw in one other critical topic that will help you understand how and why your child has to have postivie and negative reinforcement. I taught parent training for Orange County Public schools, and several other large parenting groups for years.The one thing that was always the biggest surprise, and the most difficult for for parents to change, was what we call ” ratios”. Ratios happen all day each day to your child. They come from you, teachers, and other adult instructors.

During the trainings, I would ask the class , if they had to guess what the ratios of postive to negative comments or negative to comments would be in their house on the average day. Most smirked because positive comments were not all to common..so when we finished the average for each class was about 15 negatives for every positive comment. Why is this important? Because psychologists have proven over and over that positive reinforcement is the only way to actually change patterns of behavior. Sure, if people are yelling and screaming you might get them to stop for the moment by yelling negative comments at them. but that is just a band aid.

Here is one way to start seeing changes in your childs behavior and it doesnt require doctors or counseling -just parents and their kids. The idea is to reverse the thinking which on the average is about 15:1 and try to eventually reverse it. You may be thinking ” YOU ARE NUTS” but I promise you if you try the ” catch -em being good” method you will not be dissapointed. The trick is to forget about what you dont want to see. Look for the behaviors you do want to see. Take a small behavior issue like a child looking down when you speak to him. When you repeatedly ask him to look you in the eyes you get nothing. Now, lets say a week has passed, and you are talking to him, when all of the sudden he glances your way for a second. This is your chance to start turning the behavior around. You stop everything and praise the boy for making eye contact. After awhile he will look at you just for the praise. You can apply this to any type behavior, school work, whatever it may be. 15:1 positive to negatives. If you are chuckling at this, imagine if your boss started praising you 15 times a day. Wouldnt that make you likely to continue it? Of course.
Well, I have to go and clean my daughters room now. We made a deal if I did that I could watch the sports channel tonite.

tj

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