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Head ’em off at the pass…

The old saying, "Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me…" applies daily to parenting (and teaching) strategies.  A fellow teacher offered this advice for how she starts her year (community college level).  "If I start seeing kids showing up late, then I will start giving quizzes at the beginning of the period."  The problem with that: the roller coaster you are now on.  The kids misbehave.  You swing into action with a punishment.  Those that get punished are upset.  There are hurt feelings.  And the lesson you were trying to teach is now lost in the red tape of 0%'s on quiz grades that reflect behavior instead of knowledge.

Same goes for parenting.  You need your child to behave while you pop into work for something.  You line up your threat: if you misbehave then you won't get to go to the park.  Begin the roller coaster all over again.

Today, try a new strategy and head 'em off at the pass.  One simple switch:  "Every time I catch you being good, I'll give you one point.  If you have earned 10 points by the time we leave my office, I will take you to the park on the way home."  See how the conversation, how the relationship has shifted?  It's no longer about them being BAD and you PUNISHING them.  It's about the children being GOOD and you REWARDING them.  If they do not earn the reward, it's on them.  You are not taking away something.  They just didn't EARN it yet.  

So when you are facing a new relationship challenge between you and your child, readjust the dialogue.  Head 'em off at the pass.  And save yourself the roller coaster ride.

Sincerely,

The Obsessive Mother's Guide to Parenting

If you have a question you'd like answered, send it to obsessivemothersguide@gmail.com and look for your answer in upcoming columns.