"It's not control or compliance that you are looking for;
it's calm and cooperation."
it's calm and cooperation."
As I stated in my prior post about compliance vs cooperation, I feel that it is more important to teach our children how to think and problem solve by themselves than it is to just boss them around all the time. This is more or less the mindset behind this book.
The author, Barbara Coloroso, makes three basic points:
- Kids are worth it. It is worth the time and effort that it takes to raise our children. We are glad that we have them. We want them. We love them.
- "I will not treat a child in a way that I myself would not want to be treated." Because children are people too, and deserve to keep their dignity intact, including when they make mistakes or do something wrong.
- If it works, and leaves my dignity intact, and leaves the child's dignity intact, then it is a good solution.
Show kids what they have done ~ If the child doesn't realize what he did, then no consequence is going to be useful. Especially with younger children this step may involve helping them to understand why the behavior was a problem (eg, hitting is not ok because it hurts people)
Give them ownership of the problem ~ this is not my problem, it is the child's problem. It's not about me being embarrassed or frustrated, it is about something that the child did and about something that he needs to learn.
Give them options for solving the problem (as they get old enough to begin thinking--I think by age 3 or so--they should participate in the thinking of options. Remember that the goal is to teach them to do this themselves, not to just boss them around! "Plan B" is a great methodology for this) ~ Come up with several possible courses of action. If you are not willing to actually do it, then don't suggest it! Once the options are on the table, the child should choose which course to follow--remember, this is his problem, not yours.
Always leave their dignity intact ~ the goal of consequences should never be to embarrass or shame a child, but merely to teach them.
Coloroso also offers a guide ("RSVP") for what constitutes a reasonable consequence:
Reasonable ~ it makes sense to both parent and child, and is appropriate (natural/logical)
Simple ~ (does this one need to be explained?!)
Valuable ~ the child will actually learn something from this course of action...oh yes, and they will learn what you were hoping to teach!! (in other words, they learn how to make a better choice next time, rather than "I'll be more careful to not get caught next time!")
Practical ~ this also seems obvious, but some people forget about it anyway...one time we were problem solving together and Wolf proposed a solution that might have worked except it involved my micromanaging his life over the coming two weeks. I have other children and *gasp* other responsibilities! I told him that I was happy to help him, but that that particular proposal would not work because I could not do that much. He understood that it was not practical, and we choose something else.
I think that my favorite part of the book was where she talked about finding alternatives to 'no.' Her point was that if you are yelling "No!" at your child every 5 minutes, he will begin to tune it out, and in the moment when it really matters (eg: as he's running into the street) he will neither hear nor respond to you. So, instead of always saying no, Coloroso proposes using alternatives like "yes, but later" or "give me a minute [to think about it]" or (my favorite--for older kids) "Why? Talk me into it!" (Children can come up with a variety of fascinating reasons why they should be allowed to do this or that, and frankly I think a lot of them are valid!)
I find the overuse of 'no' to be a very interesting topic, and I have discussed it in more depth in a separate post.
Here are a few bullet points from my notes:
- A child is a person--an individual. Let them be independent when they need to be. Let them--or help them--discover who they are, and then let them be themselves (so long as it's not physically, mentally, or morally threatening).
- When you give a child a choice, there should be no strings attached. Present choices that are all equal rather than some that are "better" or "worse" than the other. Do NOT get upset if the child's choice is not your own!!
- Good parents neither smother their children's feelings nor steal them. They acknowledge their own feelings and take responsible and purposeful action about them. They allow and teach their children to do the same. They do not judge the feelings of another.
- When encouraging children to find solutions, have them define what they WILL do rather than what they WON'T do. For example "I won't hit" vs "If I'm upset I will go out of the room." (It's much easier to do something than to not do something. Remember this post?!)
My post was featured in the Gentle Discipline Fair!
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