Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Lying Part 2

As children get older, they indeed may consciously lie.   The lie is often the SECOND misbehavior committed in an attempt to cover up the first one.
·         A 9 year old girl disrupts her class, resulting in a teacher’s note that Mom or Dad is to sign.  She forge’s Mom’s signature and insists to the suspicious teacher that it is Mom’s signature.  
·         An 11 year old boy, having trouble with homework, promises to ask for help tomorrow.  He comes home and says he did.  Doubtful, Mom emails the teacher.  She learns he neither asked for help nor made up some missing assignments
·         A 10 year old girl has a note from Mom giving her permission to ride a different bus after school.  She forgets to take it to the office and then tells the bus driver that they simply forgot to stamp it. (School authorities spend time and worry figuring out where she is).
In all three instances lying was secondary to an initial behavior problem – disrespecting teachers, forging signatures, not getting extra help, not taking the note to the office.  While the lying clearly must be punished, these families should ALSO address the initial misbehavior. 
Children learn best when they are required to take responsibility for their actions.  In these instances, we are talking about some fairly serious issues.  A big limitation on the child’s freedom will punish the misdeeds.  But to prevent them from occurring again, responsibility must be put solely on the child’s shoulders. 
Some suggestions:
The child is grounded to his room for 1 week for BOTH the first problem and the lying.  After the week:
·         The 9 year old continues to be grounded to her room until she brings home a statement of “good behavior” signed by her teacher every day for 10 days.  If on any day, no note comes home, the 10 days start over again.
·         The 11 year old is to bring home a weekly statement from his teacher “that all homework assignments were submitted this week in a neat and acceptable manner”.  Any week that the statement doesn’t come home, he is grounded to his room the following week (beginning with the weekend!)  (Helpful hint – stop micromanaging his homework assignments!!)
·         The 10 year old loses all electronics until she has 14 days with no checkmarks on a daily chart (checks are given for either being irresponsible or lying).  If she gets a check on day 4 or 6 or 13, the 14 days starts over again.
In all 3 instances, the child receives a significant restriction on their freedom (which is NOT too harsh – he is still fed, safe, secure and cared for).  But most importantly, he is given a huge opportunity to become responsible for himself.
Just as important, the parent stays calm and in charge.  While some brief discussion about lying is acceptable, your lecture is not what will influence better behavior in the future.  Put the monkey on your child’s shoulder and let him figure out how to make it go away – it will be a lesson he will not soon forget!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Lying - Part 1

At a recent workshop, several parents were concerned about lying in their homes.  Examples included children of 5 and 6 as well as children between 9 and 11 – a horse of a different color.  In today’s blog I will focus on young children.  But first of all, the common elements of lying.
When kids lie, parents get really upset – they believe in honesty, they are upset that their child would disrespect them by lying, and they fear that the child is going to turn into a criminal!  One of the key things I recommend to parents is to “take 3 steps backward from misbehavior incidents, take a deep breath and look at the larger picture”.  That almost always results in developing a better response than jumping feet first into the heat of the moment.
Young children do not have the same sense of right and wrong that adults have.  Young children are NOT “little adults”; they do not know what you do.  Therefore, in most instances of young children misbehaving, I recommend that you don’t ask a lot of questions – don’t provide the opportunity for lying in the first place!  If you are reasonably certain that your child did something, don’t ask whether he did it – you are setting him up to say “no” and starting a cat and mouse game.  And when you play cat and mouse you do not look like you are in charge!! 
Your reaction to childish behavior problems should be to “call the foul and assess the penalty”.  If you don’t ask a lot of questions, you won’t give them the opportunity to lie!
·         “You took candy without my permission so now you are going to spend an hour in your room.”
·         “Your toothbrush is dry – go brush them now”.
·         He told you his friend hit him, but then changes the story.  “Oh your friend didn’t hit you?  Well I am glad of that” – and drop the subject.  If you keep asking “why did you lie to me”, your child may really not know the answer and he may be pressed to just make something up.
·         He sneaks into your room to retrieve a toy you had taken away as punishment, and then hides it. “You took your toy without permission so you are spending the rest of the day in your room”.  (Helpful hint: avoid the cat and mouse game in the first place – if you take something away, put it someplace he CANNOT get it) 

Stop trying to figure out why they took candy, didn’t brush teeth, lied about being hit or took the toy back.  Statements like “You know better”, “I thought I could trust you”, “I am very disappointed in you” are stating your adult interpretation of moral behavior.  Your young child simply does not understand right and wrong the way you do.  So use consequences effectively to address the initial misbehavior and don’t create the breeding ground for lies to start!!!  Learning right from wrong will come – albeit in baby steps – Rome wasn’t built in a day!!


Monday, November 12, 2012


Defiance is a word that strikes terror in any parents’ heart!
Defiance is scary because we conjure up terrible outcomes from defiant children.  We fear utter chaos in our homes, our own furious reactions or uncontrollable teenagers.
Many families, when learning John Rosemond parenting, tell me that handling defiance is impossible. They say that no matter what consequence they try to impose, the defiant child (especially those over age 9) simply fights back – even taking the fight to a physical level.
·         Send him to his room?  He stands there and screams even more. 
·         Tell him he can’t watch TV?  He goes to the TV, turns it on anyway and starts kicking if you come near him.
·         Send him to bed early?  He yells that “you can’t make me”.
·         Tell him he can’t go out and play with friends?  He runs out the door anyway.
Parents, the key here is to STOP playing the cat and mouse game. Take 3 steps backwards, think through what is going on in your home and come up with a plan that you KNOW you can control.
Here are 2 examples.
1.       In all of the above scenarios, you do not want to fight your child in any way.  Stay calm (I know this is hard in the face of utter defiance, but you are the teacher and your child is going to learn a lesson – sometimes teachers have a rough go!)  When you can quietly get a word in, say something like: “Well you can make your decisions, but then I will make mine”. 
Later when you have come up with a plan and he is calm, just quietly tell him “because you chose to not follow my directions earlier, you are losing your bike for 2 weeks”; or “I am not driving you to any social activity for 2 weeks”.  It must be a major consequence that absolutely gets the message across that you will not tolerate defiance.  You must carry it out completely, no changes, no backing down.  Remember, defiance is NOT EVER ok.

2.       You are using a ticket system, but when you take a ticket from your 9 year old, she continues to kick, yell, scream, and hang onto your shirt.  Instead of trying to get away from her, sit down calmly and let her tantrum continue until she calms down.  Then tell her that she is completely free to choose to have a tantrum after losing a ticket, but if she does, bedtime is right after supper (assuming that isn’t the consequence for losing all the tickets).
In both examples, you stay calm and most importantly, you stay in charge.  You act like the leader who knows what he wants and expects to get it.  You will need to be consistent and should expect to get tested several times.  Defiance is rarely created overnight and it is unlikely to go away overnight.  But in a fairly short time the words “You make your decision and I will make mine” should strike a chord in your child’s head that reminds him to rethink his choices!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Raising Kids - Looking Back

I loved raising my kids.  And I always loved each new stage even more than the last one! 

Certainly there was some misbehavior. But the misbehavior doesn’t come close to defining my parenting experience – it was just a subplot woven through the grand story. 

I think my adherence to traditional parenting methods was the key element that made discipline not a big deal.  Sometimes when I write about Rosemond leadership parenting, people get the impression that traditional parenting is a cruel, heartless dictatorship.  It is not.  It is a clear, calm set of expectations that children learn to accept.  With that acceptance, they develop more responsibility.  With responsibility comes more freedom.  As they grow through the preteen and teenage years, they often have more freedom than their friends.  They also learn to think for themselves, manage their own time and persevere when things are difficult.

Traditional parents solve many problems before they ever get started.  Their leadership guides children’s behavior from the time they leave infancy. They rarely have to implement a complicated or long term solution to misbehavior.  They use consequences thoughtfully and wisely such that their children learn that being a good citizen member of the family is one of their most important responsibilities.  But they certainly do use them and don’t apologize or fret about it.

Because my kids were reasonably well behaved and enjoyable for family and friends to be around, they had a lot of fun experiences.  They really didn’t spend a lot of time in time-out or being grounded or having privileges withheld. 

Within the traditional parenting framework, we had a rich and fun family life.   Family vacations – from cottages to Disney World.  And the birthday parties!  Not the most creative person in the world, I somehow was a wiz at giving parties that kids loved – treasure hunts, face painting, dramatic skits, making masks, painting t-shirts and a wonderful afternoon at the beach for 13 year old boys – I worried they would be bored but all had a ball!  And the daily routine that went with dance lessons, ball practices, scouting and school musicals.  We insisted on a calm balance when the kids were in grade school, but as they got older, more independent and had more individual interests, they did get very busy.  But by then, the planning and logistics were on their shoulders, not mine.

In the meantime I had a busy career and many other adult interests.  That is another key to traditional parenting – you are available to your children when they truly need you, but you are actively involved in your adult interests and not at your child’s side every minute of every day.  I did not have time to micromanage them, so they had to do it themselves if they wanted to pursue their interests.

Many people feel that parenting is the hardest thing they have ever done, but with traditional approaches, I found it generally easy and generally calm.  No wonder I loved my parenting years! 


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

New Workshops Scheduled

Upcoming parenting series will be held at:
Sheridan Hill Elementary School - Oct 17th & 24th
Ledgeview Elementary School - Nov 7th & 14th

Email me for further information!!!

The Prince and Princess


Some children believe they are the center of the universe.  They can be demanding or adorable -whatever behavior is needed to get what they want; right now, immediately. 

Their parents allow these behaviors to keep the peace or protect their child’s “fragile” self-esteem.  But one day they wake up with defiant, disobedient children and wonder how they got into this mess.  Parents report children who tell them: “I make the rules, not you”; refuse to do what they are told, defy authority at school and throw tantrums long after “the terrible twos”.

Most parents don’t consciously seek this outcome!  They enjoy treating their children, their friends raise children the same way, they want their children to have things they didn’t have when they were kids.  But all that focus on ME with no regard for others teaches kids that they deserve whatever they want.

The very first thing I teach parents, is to simply become the adults in charge – to use leadership speech, to assume their legitimate authority, and to absolutely mean what they say when giving directions.  Don’t explain yourself, don’t bargain, don’t threaten, don’t give second chances. 

Some very simple things that parents have implemented:

Tantrums – Give your child permission to scream whenever he wants; but only in one location – such as the bathroom!  Tell him tonight about the new rule and start it tomorrow.  Two families I worked with were sure it wouldn’t work – said the child would come out of the room repeatedly, or destroy the room.  But in both of those instances, simply telling the child the rule (very calmly, very clearly) stopped the behavior.  Neither family ever had to use the room!!!

Unbuckling the car seat – What a neat skill when your child first figures this out.  He is proud of himself and utterly delighted with the ruckus he can create! Take your child for a ride when you have spare time.  As soon as he unbuckles, pull over and calmly tell him you can’t continue until he buckles.  Turn on the radio, read a magazine and ignore him.  When he buckles, continue on.  When he unbuckles, pull over…..  You may pull over 5 or 6 times, but if you mean it, he will get the message.

Chores - Set a time for them to be done and then walk away; don’t remind, don’t nag.  Come back at the appointed time to check if it is done.  For several parents, just walking away looked SO different from the usual nagging and micromanagement, that the child accepted the leadership and followed the direction.  Others had to impose a consequence for chores that didn’t get done.  But the point is leadership skills ALONE often do the trick!!!!

Well led children learn they are not the most important people in the world – and that lays the ground work for becoming good citizens, both in their home and the world around them!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Second Chances

An important John Rosemond principle is don’t threaten, bribe or give second chances in response to misbehavior.

A parent recently asked me; isn’t it a second chance when you use a behavior management plan that gives the child 5 “free passes” for misbehavior before being confined to his room?

Excellent question!  I think the difference is that in the principle, we are talking about your child’s direct refusal to do as you ask.  So when you tell him to pick up his toys and he just sits there, many parents start bargaining – “look, Brian if you don’t pick up those toys I am going to send you to your room (threat); if you pick up just a few toys, we can go have a cookie break (bribe); there, good job, now if you keep going I won’t send you to your room (2nd chance).”  These actions weaken your authority and confuse your child, because he isn’t sure if you mean an instruction or if it is negotiable.

On the other hand, in the behavior management plans, we are addressing major, ongoing patterns of misbehavior such as children who constantly, daily talk back to their parents, jump on the furniture, tease the dog, leave their rooms and toys in a mess, hit other children, etc, etc.  So we create a plan with 5 free passes. When behavior starts improving, we reduce the passes to 4, then 3, then 2.   

The passes are a parental decision that has been thought out ahead of time, rather than a weak response to an instruction that is being ignored.  It is parental wisdom to know that when you have an ongoing pattern of multiple misbehaviors, you are not going to solve it with a single event of sending your child to his room after supper.  Therefore you need a plan that gradually, assuredly retrains your child while at the same time firmly establishes the parent as being in charge.  Behavior management plans that are implemented calmly and with absolute assurance that this is the way it is going to be, do exactly that.

The principle is to lead with authority and make sure your child understands that authority.  Parents who successfully establish their authority with clear, concise communication, generally won’t need behavior management plans. 

But if things have gone amuck, the behavior management plan will get your child’s attention so that he learns you are in charge.  Once this particular era of misbehavior is under control, the parent will be able to correct occasional misbehavior by following the general leadership principles!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Parenting your Preschooler Workshop

There are still a few slots available in this workshop.  This is an interactive, often humorous workshop that will focus on preschooler problems such as bedtime hassles, food fights and tantrums.  Funded by Still in One Peace Crisis Services, there is no cost to participants.  We will meet on Wed May 9th and 16th at the Clarence Youth Bureau, 10510 Main Street from 6:30-8:30PM.  Call the Youth Bureau at 716-407-2162 for registration

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Do What You Can Do, When You Can Do It!

People often question me when I suggest that they delay consequences.  For example:
·       Didn’t wash the car when asked on Saturday?  Parent says no to the movies on Friday (because you didn’t wash the car when I asked you to)
·       Didn’t stay with you in the store?  Parent sends the child to bed immediately after supper (because you didn’t stay with me in the store).
·       Didn’t get ready for school on time? Parent tells the child on Saturday morning that he can’t play outside for the whole day (because you weren’t ready for school on Wednesday by 8AM)

Parents’ major concerns seem to be:
1.     The child will forget what the event was all about.
2.     The child will think he got away with the misbehavior if punishment isn’t immediate.

To the first, let me illustrate how long children can remember.  Last week, our 3 year old grandson discovered the ice machine on our freezer.  He busily went about getting water and ice for everyone – needed to “help all the very thirsty people”.  He was so cute!  But then his Dad said “enough”!  And 2 minutes later he asked me for the “purple sippy cup” – which he has used maybe 3 times in his life and not since Christmas.  Of course, when he got it, he could put water and ice in one more time!  The point is, he easily remembered something that happened 3 months earlier.

To the second point; the purpose of consequences is not so much to punish past behavior as it is to deter future misbehavior.  Most parents are in the mode of punishing behavior as soon as it happens.  You feel like you “did something”, but while you may win the encounter, you hardly win the war!  If you wait for the right moment and make the consequence relatively agonizing to your child, he will start choosing better behavior in the future.

Finally, if you begin disciplining this way, your child will soon understand your approach.  The first few times he may feel he got away with something, but he should get the picture once he understands that great big consequences are going to fall sooner or later.

As a rule of thumb, children can remember their misbehavior events for 1 day at age three, for 2 days at ages four and five and for seven or more days after age 6. 

Summary: to convince your child that you are in charge, don’t make a big deal out of misbehavior when it occurs, don’t yell, stay calm and wait for the moment when you can calmly, but authoritatively levy a great, big consequence that really matters to your child.  Do what you can do, WHEN you can do it.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Homework Beast

Last fall a friend received a “Homework Tip” sheet from their 7th grade daughter’s new school.  Parents were directed to check the homework memo book nightly, supervise the homework and provide all needed help.  If books were forgotten, the parent should come to school – access to lockers was available 24/7! 
Makes you wonder whose responsibility the homework is, doesn’t it?!  Many parents take school expectations on homework way too seriously.  They sit with their children, coaching, nagging and hand holding night after night.  And the more they do, the less their children do.  Families are held hostage by the nightly homework battle – nerves get frayed, bedtimes get later and later, and homework takes center stage for the whole family.  Parents feel that it is a “good parent” requirement to make sure the homework is done and done correctly.  But all this help only builds dependency and actually, lowers self-esteem as the child feels increasingly incapable.

Under these conditions, the child is learning absolutely nothing about becoming a responsible, resourceful human being – and isn’t that a MAJOR component of the homework experience?

I would suggest that the proper parent role is to MINIMIZE their involvement.  Inquire and be aware of homework assignments, show interest and an expectation that it will get done.  Provide a quiet place AWAY from family activity to do homework and basic supplies such as pens, paper, crayons, and pencils.  If the child needs assistance, tell him to pick up his work from his quiet homework place and bring it to a parent with his question.  After a couple minutes discussion, send the child back to his homework haven to continue on his own.  If the child truly doesn’t understand the work, it is a good sign that he needs more help from his teacher and should ask for it the next day in class.  But very often, once sent back to continue his work alone, the child gathers his wits about him and figures it out.  And perhaps most importantly, there should be a rule about when homework must be done. 

In our home it was 8PM at which time the pre-bedtime routine began.  When this rule went into effect, my 8 year old daughter did indeed cry hysterically when homework wasn’t done.  I stood absolutely, calmly firm; the kids faced the consequences in school the next day of not having finished their homework; and suddenly homework started getting done by the deadline.  I am sure my children said fun things like “my mom wouldn’t let me finish my homework” and I am sure teachers had a few raised eyebrows.  But once we got past these couple of incidents, homework forever and always became my children’s’ responsibility and was nearly always done and done well. 

They learned their school lessons, but they also learned responsibility, resourcefulness, time management and perseverance – traits that will follow them throughout their lives!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

School Volunteer

I am volunteering in a local elementary school this year.  Each week I work with several kids who need extra help in math.  I usually do one on one sessions with first, second and third graders.

All works really well, except…..my 2nd grade group of 3 or 4 kids.  The group changes week to week depending on who most needs help.  And frankly, after the first couple weeks of being polite, they pretty much stopped listening to me.  The kids liked this half hour of special time out of the classroom and took it as an opportunity to squirm, wiggle and giggle.  I could not control them for the short 30 minutes I had with them!

I normally get to their classroom about 5 minutes early and could easily see how well behaved the entire classroom was.  The teacher is pleasant but firm and a lot of work is getting done.  My dilemma was that I had absolutely no authority or consequence over these little people that could inspire them to follow my directions.  Hmmm….what to do???

A few weeks ago at the end of our session, I asked the kids what happens in their class if they talk and giggle and wiggle when they should be working.  With big eyes and complete seriousness, they told me the teacher takes one of their 3 sticks.  They carefully explained that losing 1 stick is a warning, losing 2 sticks loses 5 minutes of recess and losing 3 sticks means losing all of recess.  BINGO!  With a serious look on my face, I calmly announced that from now on, when they misbehaved with me, I would ask their teacher to remove a stick.  Problem absolutely, completely solved.  They do not want to lose a stick!!!

Now each week I remind them of the rule at the beginning of the session (because the kids in the group often changes, I need to make sure they all know it).  But then I do not remind, threaten or give second chances.  So far, I haven’t needed to take a stick. They are really delightful and we get our work done!  I may need to take a stick in the next couple weeks but I am betting it will only be once.  So, kudos to a great teacher who knows how to be a leader in her classroom and make it easy for volunteers like me to actually accomplish something!

That’s it parents – figure out the consequence that matters to your kids and let them know that misbehavior will “earn” them that consequence.  While you will have to levy the penalty a few times, they will likely soon be following your directions!