THE PEOPLE SOLUTIONS NEWSLETTER
VOLUME #1, FOCUSING ON:
COACHING FOR BETTER PARENTS AND STRONGER KIDS
© Dr. Carol Renaud Gaffney
Originally printed September 1996 - reissued November 2003, All Rights Reserved
1. IN THE NEWS
2. BETTER PARENTS
3. STRONGER KIDS
4. COACH CORNER
6. COACHING TIP
IN THE NEWS:
The Dallas Morning News ran an interesting column regarding a mother of twins at the store who was unable to manage, control or otherwise keep her kids out of the potted plants. Eventually the plant became leafless and the floor was holding the dirt instead of the pot. During the scenario, mother was heard to utter concern, but did not intervene, chastise or find an effective way of coaching her kids.
This is an apparently simple dilemma but probably one most of us have faced at different times with kids of all ages when we are not able (or willing) to say "no" to the breaking of plants, bopping the dog on the head, getting something at the store to, "I'm taking the car and I'll see you tomorrow" (not an exaggeration).
What makes it so hard for loving parents to say "no". Two major causes of closed mouths are guilt (I've done something wrong and now I owe them) and fear of loss of affection from the child (if I make him mad, he won’t like me anymore). Ever feel either of those? If you have join the club. But loving our children often means doing something that is difficult for us and best for them. What is definitely best for our kids is for them to learn that certain behaviors are acceptable and when they act otherwise there will be appropriate consequences. Saying "no" to unacceptable behavior and supporting what is value-based are the beginning of our kids learning about respect for their own and others boundaries.
Food for thought. At what times has it been difficult for you to be firm with your kid's unacceptable behavior?
Parenting does not have to be all that complicated and having a few simple techniques for organizing information and strategies can go a long way toward making your day much easier. Simply, if you know who you are and what makes you tick, if you know each of your kids and what makes him/her tick, and you know the ropes (some specific skills for what to do), being with your kids can be fun for everyone concerned.
Upcoming newsletters will have numerous ideas about figuring out who you are, who your kids are, and what to do with yourself when trouble is brewing. When times are easy, take the time to let them know that you love them, that you are proud of them, that just being with them is enough for you. Kids thrive on parents' attention and sometimes we as parents like to keep from rocking the boat so when they're not making a fuss we leave them alone. When kids learn that we attend to the problems and leave the rest alone we can end up with kids who have some pretty miserable behavior because they know that we will pay attention to that.
As parents and professionals finding balance and taking care of yourself may be difficult tasks. What do you do for yourself that is self-caring? Self-caring is often confused with selfish. A distinction is in order. Selfish is when you do something for yourself that neglects or ignores the needs of others who have reason to rely on you for their well-being. Self-caring is when you do something for yourself that meets a need or a want and that doing so does not compromise the well-being of someone for whom you have an appropriate responsibility. Note - I said appropriate responsibility. Many of us get stuck doing stuff that really isn't ours to do.
Self-care is essential for parents for several reasons, not the least of which is that self-care is the basis of health. Another very important reason is that our kids really do learn from us and the more self-caring we are the better chance they will have to be self-caring as well.
Every time we give our kids opportunities to solve problems that are their own, their knowledge base and self-confidence grow. There are appropriate tasks or problems for kids of every age, from learning to walk, tying shoes (or pulling the velcro strap), cleaning their rooms, helping around the house, selecting clothes, taking care of a car, responsibility for grades, choosing friends, handling problem teachers and kids at school, etc. Every time our kids learn to solve a new problem, with our support and encouragement, they learn that we are on their side as they become independent, healthy individuals.
School is just around the corner and many issues of problem-solving and independence will be coming up. Some opportunities will come up even before the school doors open. One of these will be what kids want to wear to school and how that may differ from what parents want them to wear. (Note: Comments I make regarding this are for kids who are generally doing okay - they are reasonably responsible and respectful. If kids are belligerent, into serious trouble at home, school or in the neighborhood some of the rules change because these kids can not be counted on to make decisions that in their own best interest.)
Friends, social comfort, and having a sense of belonging at school are important to set the stage for learning. First things first and most kids are going to have friends rather than academics as the number one priority in their lives. Clothes are personal choices and I've heard many complaints from kids of all ages (but especially emerging adolescents) about their parent's shopping skills and poor taste. "She doesn't know what I want," "He only shops what's on sale," "I feel stupid, like a baby when I have to wear what they buy for me," "They really don't want me to grow up. That stuff is ugly." I don't know of any parents who have successfully persuaded their kids to change their minds about what they like, even though they have persuaded them to wear what's in the closet.
Buying clothes, whether at K-Mart, Goodwill, garage sales or Neuman's, is a wonderful opportunity for kids to learn about themselves' the real world and the value of a dollar. As parents, set them up for success: don't give them - the money and send them off saying "good luck", and then say "El told you so" if they completely blow the shopping trip.
If your kids have no experience with money or shopping, let them earn some of their clothing allowance' or give them a portion of what you would ordinarily spend so they can practice before they go for the big time. If this is something entirely new, ask if they want some help with shopping. If they say no, respect that and let them know you will be available if they change their mind. If they buy something really terrible, you won't have to say a word, their brothers or sisters or friends will say it. Engage cooperation, support them in their experience and be available to consult. Make it a win, win.
The Coach Corner is where we get to talk to each other about questions we have, what has worked and what has not. If you have a problem you can't get through, bring it here.
Recently, a stepmother or 3 teenage boys asked how she could get her 16-year-old stepson to do his chores when asked. "I ask him to empty the dishwasher and he say's I'll do it in a minute. I know he'll never get around to it on his own so I keep bugging him. What makes me really mad is that he's just like his father. I've been asking him for two year to get the house painted and he keeps on saying he'll get to it. It makes me so mad because their dad says that I'm too hard on the kids and they're just doing what teenagers do."
WOW! Lots of stuff going on here but to get to the question - how do I make him do the chores when asked. As I listened, I realized what a helpless position she is in because of the lack of support by the biological parent and you can't make anyone do what he doesn't really want to do.
My advice is to continue to say what her values are: kids will be kids, but they need to be accountable for their behavior and that includes helping around the house. This mom does need to get realistic on how likely a change is to occur. She can wish for a change, but realistically it is not going to happen. I don't think anything is going to change until dad starts expecting accountability from this boy and if dad does not have a history of follow through, even if he does ask for accountability he won't be able to follow through with appropriate consequences.
Kids love being like their parents and this kid is modeling his father's behavior. One principle of parenting we need to keep in mind is that we can only take our kids as far as we have been. They may learn other things about life but if we don't have a particular behavior, they won't learn it from us. Hopefully there are enough positives going on in this family to make it an overall valuable experience for everyone.
Please share the resources that have been most helpful to you. I will review them and include them in this spot. Until then, I have a few to recommend for you.
Gesell Institute Series on Child Development
This series of books has been my "Baby Bible" since 1970! I've had plenty of questions about what is normal and what is not. This is where I go to find out the difference and to calm my adult nerves about what to expect from my kids. This is available at most books stores and 4/~ price books. There are individual books for each age and books for groups of ages. Prices will vary with the particular source you find.
The Relaxation and Meditation Companion
Every person needs time in the day to recover. This is a 28 page booklet and 1 hour audio tape that I have written, recorded and produced to provide essential and sufficient information for beginners and practitioners of relaxation and meditation. The booklet is designed to accompany you wherever you are. Available through bookstores but most easily from me - You may order with e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1 -888-drgaffney. Cost is $12.95 (plus tax in RI and shipping.)
How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk
Faber and Mazlish worked with Haim Ginott for a number of years and wrote this book which is now a classic on communicating with your kids. The material is timeless, well presented in both words and pictures and has summaries at the end of each chapter. Highly recommended. Available at most book stores.
Dr. Gaffney's Coaching Guide for Better Parents and Stronger Kids
This is expected to be available for purchase by 9/1196. You may order your copy in advance: (carol~drgaffney.com or 1-888-drgaffney). Cost 14.95 (plus appropriate tax and shipping)
Too often when the stressors of the day pile up we end up reacting rather than responding. If you notice this happening to you:
STOP whatever you are doing,
BREATHE, a big sigh out and then a spontaneous in-breath, continue this breathing until you can
THINK at which time you can evaluate your options, and then
RESPOND, not react.
That's it for today. Please be free with feedback. What I want is for your needs as parents and adults working with children to be met, so think about what you need and what you want and speak up. Please forward the newsletter to anyone you think might be interested.
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BACK ISSUES and OTHER GAFFNEY RESOURCES
You may access back issues through my website (http://www.DrGaffney.com) which also has content and ordering information about the Coaching Guide for Parents and the Coaching Guide for Relaxation and Meditation. Please e-mail for details on weekly telechats as well as on-line chats that I host.
COPYRIGHT & DISTRIBUTION RIGHTS
This information is copyrighted by Dr. Carol Renaud Gaffney, people SOLUTIONS, and DrGaffney.com and may be only forwarded if done so in its entirety and as long as no changes or edits are made. Also, it must include subscription instructions. Please contact Dr. Gaffney for permission for excerpting and general distribution.
Dr. Carol Renaud Gaffney
32 Cole Street, Suite 5
Warren, RI 02885