Childhood Assault Must Be Made Illegal

It is an election year, and Prime Minister Trudeau promised to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report recommendations.  One of those recommendation’s is to remove the legality of children being assaulted.  Ask the MP candidates what they are doing in this area to protect children who have very little self-control (normal young childhood executive function) and risk being hit because of adult’s poor understanding of normal brain development. “He should know better!” is a common statement from parents and caregivers that is created from years of myth, bias, and lack of brain capability knowledge that has been passed on from previous generations. As you can see from the above chart, by the time children are old enough to understand “consequences”, about age 6, they are old enough to problem-solve situations without being hit. They have enough self-control to not “do the deed” and really do begin to “know better.” No one would assault a child in a wheelchair for not being able to ascend a staircase, yet, we do it all the time for young children incapable of self-control.

For more help on the difference between punishment and discipline/gentle guidance, read “Discipline Without Distress.” It was written with 5 kids (3 spirited ones) in mind!

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For more help, on handling parent anger, and child/teen anger read “Parenting With Patience.”

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For more help on day-to-day non-punitive handling of all parenting challenges, consult “Attachment Parenting Tips Raising Toddlers To Teens.” 

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All the above books have up-to-date charts on child capabilities and brain development.

Check out the video help at http://professionalparenting.ca/press-media.php

Here is some information of Repeal 43, written by my friend and passionate advocate of non-spanking discipline, Kathy Lynn.

Why Repeal 43? 

Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada

Every schoolteacher, parent or person standing in the place of a parent is justified in using force by way of correction toward a pupil or child, as the case may be, who is under his care, if the force does not exceed what is reasonable under the circumstances. R.S.C., 1985, c .C-4

This is the wording in the criminal code but

The constitutionality of Section 43 was challenged in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice: then by way of appeal in the Ontario Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada. The Section appears verbatim as it did prior to the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision. However, the Court narrowed the scope of defense to assault under section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada and to set out a series of judicial limitations to assist in the interpretation of the justifiable or so-called “reasonable” limits of corporal punishment. The  judicial limitations (which again don’t appear in the Criminal Code of Canada) are as follows:

1)    Only parents may use reasonable force solely for purposes of correction;

2)    Teachers may use reasonable force only to “remove a child from a classroom or secure compliance with instructions, but not merely as corporal punishment”;

3)    Corporal punishment cannot be administered to “children under two or teenagers”;

4)    The use of force on children of any age “incapable of learning from [it] because of disability or some other contextual factor” is not protected;

5)    “Discipline by the use of objects or blows or slaps to the head is unreasonable”;

6)    “Degrading, inhuman or harmful conduct is not protected”, including conduct that “raises a reasonable prospect of harm”;

7)    Only “minor corrective force of a transitory and trifling nature” may be used;

8)    The physical punishment must be “corrective, which rules out conduct stemming from the caregiver’s frustration, loss of temper or abusive personality”;

9)    “The gravity of the precipitating event is not relevant”; and

10) The question of what is “reasonable under the circumstances” requires an “objective” test and “must be considered in context and in light of all the circumstances of the case.”

 Violence against children should be against the law, not defined by it.

Decades ago, it wasn’t a criminal assault to physically beat

slaves,

servants,

apprentices,

prisoners,

dogs,

wives and

children.

In today’s Canada, only children are still on that list.

That’s just wrong.  And it’s not who Canadians are.

This is not a child discipline issue. It’s a human rights issue.  All Canadians, whatever their age, deserve the protection of law against violence in any form.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The Government has promised to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls to action.

Call to action #6 calls for the Repeal of S43 of the Criminal Code of Canada. Of the many calls to action this is one that is simple to implement and will protect all of Canada’s children.

Research

Research demonstrates that hitting children can lead to impaired parent-child relationships, poorer child mental health, child aggression and weaker internalization of moral standards and delinquency, often carrying on into adulthood.

United Nations on the Rights of the Child

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wants to gain a seat on the United Nations Security Council.

The focus for this initiative has been on foreign policy.

But there is another issue that the Liberal Government could easily address.

On December 13, 1991, Canada formally ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Convention, which is a comprehensive statement on children’ rights, covers every aspect of a child’s life.

The presence of S43 in our Criminal Code is in direct conflict with the UN Convention. It seems to us, at Corinne’s Quest that our government should repeal S43 and come into compliance with the United Nations.

Bottom Line

All that being said, it is 2019 and the culture in Canada is that of non-violence. Bullying is not acceptable in any cases and we say that domestic violence is also not accepted. However, children are not covered when we talk about domestic violence and they can, under certain circumstances, be legally assaulted.

To have a section (S43) of our criminal code which accepts, and in some cases, encourages physical punishment of children is appalling.

It is a question human (children’s) rights and when the simple act of Repeal can protect children from this violence and its unintended risks it should be done.

-Kathy Lynn

 

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When Do Children Understand “Consequences?”

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Why is it so difficult to teach children that actions have consequences?  The question might be, “Why do children not choose the best course of action?”

It is difficult because of caregiver/parent’s unrealistic expectations of children’s brain development. Honestly, I think every parent should take an online course about brain biology when they have a child! Brain growth occurs at different ages, and when parents understand the appropriate ages, they will learn when it is best to expect that children can base decisions on understanding consequences. Most parents give children “consequences” as a punishment much too young an age, when they can’t yet understand them.

The prefrontal cortex is the last section of the brain to fully develop and is responsible for behaviour control and critical thinking. Before age 6, children are pre-operational in their thinking, which means they do not have the ability to think out plans and imagine consequences of those decisions. They do not have all the information in order to make the right decision. When they reach school-aged, from ages 6–13, they get better at understanding consequences and can make decisions. However, they do not have abstract thinking skills yet. School-aged children are still operational in their thinking which means they understand what is tangible and what is in their immediate environment – things they can readily see, hear, touch, smell and taste. They can’t think conceptually until the teen years, so they don’t understand the “gray” areas of decisions, or theory or ideology. Consequences demand that the chooser understands all aspects of the decision in order to make an informed choice.

Children are able to begin understanding consequences around age 6 and are much better at it around age 13. Parents and caregivers need to adjust their expectations accordingly. And consequences should never be given to punish children for their decisions. They need an adult/caregivers help to problem solve a solution instead of “pay” for their behaviour with a “consequence.”

Consequences or Problem-Solving?

In parenting classes, I often get asked the following question:

When I give my 11 year-old daughter a consequence, she insists that I am being mean to her. I believe that it is respectful discipline. What is the difference between consequences and a punishment?

Brain development stage: Between the ages of 5 and 12, most children figure out that they are not choosing the consequence, and it is the parents imposing the order on them in the name of discipline. If the child doesn’t see the point, she may experience it as a punishment.

Here are the differences:

  • Consequences are parent imposed. The conflict is now between the parent and child. Problem-solving is the parent and child working together to come up with a solution to fix the problem. The conflict is now between the parent-child team against the problem (even if the child caused it.)
  • Problem-solving is a more real-world skill. It teaches kids how to fix things, make restitution, repair relationships and make things right.
  • Consequences are focused on the child, where problem-solving is focused on the end result; a common goal.
  • Consequences tend to be one solution. Problem-solving can be many solutions that would take care of the problem. The goal is repair, whereas the goal of consequences is to teach the child a lesson, which is punitive.
  • Consequences are almost always designed to hurt a child – either financially (pay for a broken item), socially (grounding or taking away cell phone), emotionally (time-out) or physically (hard physical labor). Problem-solving is designed to be pain-neutral. The goal is not to hurt the child, but help the situation. The goal is to fix the problem. Sometimes that is financial or physical, but the payoff is that the child feels good that they are now owning the solution and not just the problem. Children are very fair and more likely to dive into helping fix the problem when they know they caused it, because the focus is no longer on what they did, but what they can do to make it right. When they can put effort into fixing the problem, they feel better about themselves, learn real-world solutions and will make better decisions in the future.

Parents argue, “Yes, but it works!  Consequences change my child behaviour!” That may be correct, but the price is impaired communication.  Parents wonder why they don’t enjoy the open, caring, free communication that they once had with their child. They wonder why they are receiving attitude and silence. Pushback of imposed consequences comes in many forms. Ditch the consequences and use the adult method of problem-solving.

 

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Consequences Versus Problem-solving

Is It A Discipline Issue or Development Issue? Part 2 Problem-solving with Young Children

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Part 2 – Problem-solving with young children

In the last issue, we talked about toddler behaviour and the importance of child-proofing and distraction. For older children’s behaviour, problem-solving is now the first go-to discipline tool. But don’t forget, problem-solving still works for toddlers and preschoolers. Problem-solving is effective for maintaining open communication, and understanding development as well as formulating creative solutions for solving everyday problems of living together as a family. Mostly, problem-solving with young children is comprised of the parent doing most of the “solving” but when children reach ages 3-4, they can help brainstorm ideas too!

Punishment is “me against you.” Problem-solving is “you and me working together against the problem.” Problem-solving teaches creativity, empathy, communication and accountability.

 EXAMPLE PROBLEM-SOLVING

Your child is about to run into the road.

  • Grab and carry the child to safety.
  • Keep enclosed in the yard or house.
  • Discuss car safety and road safety rules.
  • Supervise constantly around vehicles and roads.

 Development Tip: Children do not develop the visual acuity to judge distance and timing of vehicles on a road until aged 9. Children younger than age 9 cannot be trusted to control the impulse to run into a road to retrieve an item of interest.

 Your child is about to touch a hot stove.

  • Remove the child from the stove.
  • Supervise closely in the kitchen and keep the child occupied.
  • Explain in simple words that stoves are dangerous.

 Development Tip: Children must be supervised around cooking appliances until age 12, when they can comprehend the cause and effect of safety rules.

  1. Your child runs away in the supermarket.
  • This could be a fun game for the child, but not for you. Corner and grasp the child, explain that this is not a game, and that you will not play chase in a store. If necessary, head home.
  • Distract with a toy or snack.
  • A shopping cart is harder to escape from than a stroller.
  • Re-think grocery shopping. Could someone mind your child while you shop?       Could you shop at night while your partner is home?

Development Tip: This is a temporary phase. Your child will stop running away from you by about age 5.

  1. Your child is in a whining stage.
  • Ignore the whining.
  • Request their “normal” voice.
  • Model the “normal voice.”
  • Give the desired item instantly when the normal voice is used.
  • When in a peaceful moment, ask for “inside, outside, whining, church, and
  • normal” voices so they can tell the difference in voice tone, pitch, and variety.
  • Pat your head and pretend you can’t “receive” when the tone is whiny. Pretend that the reception improves when the request is less whiny.

Developmental Tip: Most children stop whining around age 8.

  1. Your child draws on the wall.
  • Provide paper, and explain that drawings happen on paper, not walls.
  • Get two cloths and a bucket of soapy water.       Wash the wall together.
  • Collect pens and crayons until you have time to supervise drawing.

Development Tip: Childproofing is necessary until about age 4 when children understand the “why” reason behind the behaviour they are not allowed to do.

  1. It’s time to go, and your child is unwilling to leave.
  • Catch and carry them out.
  • Acknowledge feelings of unhappiness. Say “Are you sad to leave because you are having fun?”

Developmental Tip: Children learn to accept leaving a place of fun by around age 7.

  1. Two children are fighting over a toy.
  • Offer a substitute.
  • Redirect to snacks.
  • Encourage sharing, or taking turns, or flipping a coin, or picking names from a jar, or playing Rock, Paper, Scissors.       Warn that there will be a winner and a loser, and confirm that they understand and accept that.
  • Offer the first player a shorter time, and the second player a longer time.
  • Hold the toy until an agreement is worked out that both children are okay with.

Developmental Tip: Siblings will have conflicts over many issues. Teach siblings to resolve conflicts respectfully, to help them to resolve conflicts in their future family and employment relationships.

  1. Your child throws food onto the floor.
  • Say “NO! We don’t throw!”
  • Stay calm. Breathe deeply.
  • Calmly, get a bucket of soapy water and cloth, and clean up the mess together.
  • If your child is too upset to clean up the mess, postpone the cleanup until the child has calmed down.

Developmental Tip: Children are better able to manage their frustration around age 4.

  1. Your toddler has toilet accidents.
  • Keep up encouragement. Praise any tiny success.
  • Show the child how to help you clean it up.
  • Don’t punish.

Development Tip: Toilet training involves lots of misses. Most children train by age 4.

  1. Your child denies eating cookies – but his lips are smeared with crumbs.
  • Don’t ask, “Did you eat the cookies?”       Ask, “I see that some cookies are missing. Do you know what happened?” In the event of denial, say “I don’t like it when people don’t tell the truth. It breaks my trust.”
  • Reward your child for the truth.
  • Promise that you will never punish if your child tells the truth.

Developmental Tip: Denial at the toddler age is not serious, since toddlers are in the developmental stage of “wishful” and “magical” thinking. Most children understand the abstract concept of lying by the age of 6.

  1. Your toddler rips pages from a valued book.
  • Substitute a magazine that you don’t value.       Get the child’s attention on the substitute and then gently pry away the valued book.
  • Childproof – don’t leave books lying around.
  • Work with your toddler to repair the book together.

Developmental Tip: Children are more respectful to items around age 4.

  1. Your toddler hits, pushes or bites a sibling or another child.
  • Provide attention, cuddles and comfort to the other child.
  • When the other child has calmed, say to the toddler: “No! We don’t hit people!”
  • When the toddler has calmed, take the toddler to the child, and demonstrate how to make up – give a kiss, hug, say “Sorry”, or offer a toy.
  • Acknowledge toddler’s feelings and say “You seem to be angry. We love you both, and you will always be with us.”
  • Give the toddler a teething ring and say, “We don’t bite our friends. Here, bite this.”
  • Give the toddler extra attention every day, though not right after the “hit”. Take her out on “dates” and lavish special attention on her so she can acquire attention in positive ways.
  • Notice and praise when you see the toddler doing something nice for the other child.
  • Don’t leave siblings together unsupervised until the youngest child is 6.

Developmental Tip: Biting, pushing and hitting are typical impulses up to about age 4. As children grow up, they become less inclined to use violence upon each other. By age 7, hitting becomes rare, and by age 12 should end, as verbal skills improve.

  1. Your toddler runs away when you try to change diapers.
  • Catch and scoop up your child.
  • Provide an entrancing toy.
  • Don’t waste time – be fast!
  • Change with a movie.
  • Talk, sing, tickle and make diaper-changing a fun time.
  • Keep a box of interesting toys by the change station, to keep his hands busy.

Developmental Tip: Some toddlers are patient, and some are not. Children become more cooperative around age 4.

 Your child smashes another child’s sand castle.

  • Say “No! We don’t break other people’s things!”
  • Ask your child to apologize to the other child. If your child refuses, say to the other child or parent: “I’m very sorry, but my child doesn’t have the words right now to say sorry”. Model an apology that you give to the parent.
  • Take your toddler away to calm down.
  • When your toddler is calm, offer to re-build the castle together. Encourage an apology, but don’t force it.

Developmental Tip: Children handle anger more effectively around age 4, especially if encouraged with positive alternatives for expressing frustration and anger.

  1. Your preschooler ignores your requests to pick up toys.
  • Make pick-up a game in which you both participate.
  • Assign one task instead of the entire clean-up: “You collect the blocks, and I’ll collect the crayons.”

Developmental Tip: Until about age 12, most children require some direction, instruction, encouragement and help for most tasks.

  1. You are trying to work, and your toddler pesters you to play.
  • Play with your toddler for 15 minutes of your full attention.
  • Interest the toddler in a toy, movie or activity, and get back to work.
  • Join or build a network of parents of similar-aged children. Arrange play-dates.
  • Rotate and pack away toys. Bring out a “new” toy box for each day.
  • Postpone your work until naptime.

Developmental Tip: By age 3, children can play well with other children on play-dates, which can free up your time.

  1. Your toddler says “NO!” to your requests.
  • Offer choices between two or three acceptable options.
  • Reduce your use of the word “No”. Alternatives include “later”, “not now, but you can have…”, “Let me think about it”.
  • Acknowledge feelings. “You seem angry and don’t want to try this?”
  • Don’t expect a child under age 3e to share possessions.
  • Childproof your surroundings for safe exploration and discovery.

Development Tip: The “no” stage lasts from about age 1.5 to 4 years. This is a normal developmental stage for healthy children. Children naturally become more cooperative during the preschool stage.

  1. Your toddler is upset that you are leaving.
  • Acknowledge feelings: “You are sad that Mommy is leaving?”
  • Leave a special item for your child to take care of while you are away.
  • Develop a leaving routine: a special hug, wave.
  • Kiss goodbye, and leave your child in the arms of the caregiver. Don’t sneak out! If you sneak out, your child will feel insecure, and will become clingy.
  • See if your caregiver can come to your house.
  • Try to establish a routine: the same time, same place, same caregiver.
  • Choose childcare arrangements with consistent caregivers, for development of attachment (and don’t worry, you will never be replaced!).

 Developmental Tip: Separation anxiety begins around age 1, peaks at age 2 and fades by age 4.

  1. Your toddler won’t try new foods
  • Provide healthy foods from the four groups.       Offer three meals and three snacks per day, about two hours apart. Leave the food out for twenty minutes and then clean up.       Do not punish for not eating.
  • Offer water \between meals and snacks. Serve milk at meals.
  • Allow toddlers to explore food with their fingers. If your toddler starts throwing food, meal time is over.
  • Food jags are normal, in which the child eats only peanut butter and jam sandwiches for three weeks. That’s okay. As long as it’s a healthy food, don’t worry about nutritional intake.
  • It takes 15 tries to accept a new food. Have a one-bite routine. If the child spits it out, don’t worry, and don’t make it a power struggle. Children have sensitive taste buds, and their preferences will change as they develop.
  1. Your toddler won’t stay in bed.
  • Develop a routine – snack, bath, pyjamas, teeth, book, prayers, bedtime snuggle.
  • If your child keeps getting up, consider two “bedtime excuse” tickets. Two tickets can be used for requests such as a drink, extra kiss, a cuddly toy.
  • Each time, lead the toddler back to bed without talking, and close the door.
  • Spend extra time to talk, read, cuddle and listen as part of the bedtime routine.
  • When you find a routine that works, keep it up.

Developmental Tip: Most children under age 12 try to put off bedtime, because they don’t want to separate from their parents, or to end their day. Parents find that a regular bedtime routine develops cooperation. Some families choose co-sleeping – however the safety of children under the age of one might be a concern.

 

For more ideas on non-punitive discipline for all stages of childhood, check-out Discipline Without Distress.

Purchase Discipline Without Distress on Amazon

For more information on Judy Arnall’s suggestions for effective discipline, click Webinars at http://www.professionalparenting.ca to register.

Next Free Webinar on Discipline is Thursday January 21, 2016   8 pm Register Here for the Discipline Webinar

 

Are consequences a discipline tool or a form of punishment?

CONSEQUENCES AS A DISCIPLINE TOOL

By Judy Arnall

 

Consequences are the natural outcome from our behaviours.  Every action that we humans do has a consequence. For our children, consequences are a powerful learning tool that tells them if their decision was a responsible one or a careless one. Experiencing the consequence from their action helps them to modify their future behaviour to enjoy better outcomes. Natural consequences are those outcomes that happen without the intervention of parents. Sometimes, letting children experience the natural consequence is too dangerous, such as letting a two-year-old experience the traffic in the street, because traffic may hit them. Logical consequences are arranged by the parents to teach a child the probable outcome of their behaviour and how to solve the ensuing problem. For example, a two-year-old is confined to the back yard because he runs out on the road when he’s in the front yard. This solves the safety problem for the parent and the child.

 

There are several guidelines when using consequences as a respectful and effective discipline tool.

 

Consequences must be related to the behaviour.  For example, a messy room might mean that the floor is too cluttered for Mom to put away the child’s laundry so the child must do it himself. An unrelated consequence would be Nintendo confiscated for a week until the room is cleaned up.

 

Consequences must be reasonable. If a parenting makes the child pay 10 times the cost of an item that he has broken, it could be seen as unfair by the child. Realistically, the child should only pay for the replacement cost. Often, we issue consequences in anger and they are often unreasonable. To ensure that consequences stay reasonable, calm down first, and then ask yourself if the consequence is something that you would expect from a spouse or friend.  If it is, then it probably is reasonable. If a friend breaks your item, an apology and a replacement is something that you would expect. Teach your child the same solution.

 

Consequences must be realistic and you must be comfortable doing it.  Mom telling the child that the play date will end if the child acts up one more time, may not be enforceable, if Mom is enjoying chatting with the other mom on the play date, and unwilling to cut the time short.

 

Consequences must be consistent. Leaving the store in the middle of grocery shopping because of bad behaviour is very inconvenient, but if done consistently, the child soon learns that if they act up, the shopping trip is over.

 

Consequences must not be used as a punishment. How to tell? If you threaten a certain outcome to get compliance, then the consequence is probably being used as a punishment, which could invite a power struggle, resentment, rebellion, shutdown of communication, etc.  The consequence of parents imposing a consequence on children is that children decide to stop talking to parents. Children know that the consequence arises from the parents imposing it, not from the fact that they may have “chose” the outcome.  For this reason, avoid threats.  Just impose the consequence matter-of-factly. If you get push back from the child, then go to problem-solving to remedy the situation. The best consequences focus on teaching restitution, solving problems and making amends. If a child spills a drink because she was careless pouring, she wipes up the mess. A child who hits another child needs to be separated, calmed down, and told the rule. The restitution part might be to offer the other child a toy, hug or an apology after the emotions have been dealt with.

 

Consequences won’t work when the underlying feeling/need of the child is not addressed.   In those cases, a consequence is the wrong discipline tool to choose. For example, a child who consistently refuses to wear a bike helmet even after having the bike locked away several times may have a good reason for not wearing it. Perhaps he is being teased because it looks babyish. Locking away a child’s bike for a week for not wearing his helmet might be too severe and the child could perceive it as unfair. A sit down problem solving talk to find out why the child is not wearing his helmet, can help to get buy-in from him to find a solution to the problem. He must wear a helmet, but there are many alternatives available when child and parent get together to brainstorm. Does he find the helmet too nerdy? Does he wish to pay half on a new one? Can he borrow his siblings? Can he buy a cool second hand one?  Either solution will mean that the bike still doesn’t get used without a helmet, but brainstorming provides other options.

 

Listening and mutual parent-child problem-solving are better tools used to uncover and address the underlying need. When used properly, consequences teach children appropriate behaviour in a positive way and should be in every parent’s discipline toolbox.

 

Judy Arnall, BA, DTM, CCFE is a professional international award-winning Parenting and Teacher Conference Speaker, and Trainer, Mom of five children, and author of the best-selling book, Discipline Without Distress: 135 tools for raising caring, responsible children without time-out, spanking, punishment or bribery and the new DVD, Plugged-In Parenting: Connecting with the digital generation for health, safety and love as well as the new book, The Last Word on Parenting Advice http://www.professionalparenting.ca, jarnall@shaw.ca, 403-714-6766

The Myth of Parenting Consistency: It’s Okay to be human

By Judy Arnall

When I became a parent, I read more than 494 parenting books. I discovered that most books promote the concept of parental consistency. Rules must be set, and strictly enforced. Children want limits and parents must provide them, whether they are useful for the family or not. Parents must never waiver. Mean what you say and say what you mean.

However, life is not consistent. With seven people in our house with different needs, interests, and moods, I’ve tried to establish consistent ground rules, and then found myself breaking them just as much as the children.

For example, we have a white berber carpet in the playroom, (don’t ask me why I was insane enough to get a white carpet), so one of my rules was: NO FOOD IN THE PLAYROOM. I soon found myself serving the children dry crackers or cereal in the playroom while they were watching cartoons, because it helped us all get out the door faster when we needed to go somewhere. Then, I decided to change the rule to NO WET FOOD IN THE PLAYROOM. However, the toddler had her juice in a spill proof cup and as hard as she tried, she would never get liquid on the carpet. The rule changed to WET FOOD ALLOWED ONLY IF NONE WAS SPILLED, which worked until the babysitter was not as careful monitoring spillage as me. The rule changed to WET FOOD ALLOWED ONLY IF NO BABYSITTERS OR DAD IS HOME. Eventually, the rule changed daily depending on what the food was and who was eating it and how tolerant I was feeling that day if mishaps occurred.

It hit me one day trying to explain the rule variations to the kids when they asked, “What EXACTLY IS the food rule in the playroom?” The rules had changed daily but not my underlying NEED, which was to keep the white carpet somewhat clean. This was only one issue of many in our family. It occurred to me that parenting is not a consistent endeavor and I sought to find a parenting program that endorses my feelings! Surely, I’m not the only parent struggling with this.

I finally found a book that teaches that all my children’s behaviour falls into two basic categories: acceptable to me and unacceptable to me. Spaghetti on the rug is unacceptable. Dried crackers on the rug were acceptable because they are easy to vacuum up. In addition, the acceptance level we feel towards our children’s behaviour is dependent on three factors: The parent, the environment, and the child. First, let’s look at the parent. How I feel about food on the rug is dependent on how tired I am that day, how stressed I am, or how elated I am. On a day that everything is wonderful and going well, I could probably even handle lasagna spills. On a day that I am sick with the flu, a few cracker crumbs would send me to the madhouse. Secondly, the environment is a factor: spaghetti spilled on the patio outside is less of a problem than spaghetti on the rug. And lastly, the particular child is a factor: I am much more forgiving of a two-year-old spilling food because they are learning eating skills, than I am of an eight-year-old that was carelessly watching Nintendo more than where his fork was going.

The division of acceptable behaviour and unacceptable behaviour is altered every hour, every day and every minute just as circumstances, and moods, and priorities change. So I’ve discovered that what is important is not setting rules or limits. It’s important to judge each incident on its own merit. My need was to keep my white berber carpet clean and my children’s need was to avoid missing their favorite shows during meal time. That was what we had to work around. Each day, we negotiate what can and can’t be eaten in the playroom. Everyone agrees to a solution on a daily basis according to needs rather than unyielding rules.

Negotiation has taken the place of many of our rules and limits. That way, everyone’s needs and interests are being met. We have become more loving, open, honest, and happy. Negotiation is saying to your child, “Honey, I know you can usually eat your lunch in the playroom, but I’m feeling a little under the weather today and really don’t want to clean anything up if it spills. Would you mind eating upstairs today?” With an approach like that, I have not been refused yet. Negotiating to meet needs so everyone is happy is a lot easier than setting a rule, waiting until a child breaks it and enforcing a punishment. As one child said, “We don’t have discipline problems in our house. We have conflicts that need to be negotiated.”

Children don’t need limits to feel secure. Children really want to feel accepted, and they frequently will go along with a limit or rule in order to gain parent’s acceptance. This doesn’t mean children want limits or rules. Actually, they would prefer complete freedom from them. That’s why so many power struggles erupt over rules. What is truly important and what children really need is to know what exactly their parent’s expectations and needs are. And these change daily. The problem with limits is that they so often do not take into account the child’s needs. Negotiation and problem-solving does, however.

The times that we do have specific rules, it really helps to involve the kids and bring them on board while setting rules that work for them too. It takes account of parental and child’s needs and finds a way to meet both. Can children adapt to the inconsistency? Of course! They know every subtlest detail of difference in rules between their house and their friends’ houses. As young as eighteen months of age, they know the difference between Mom’s needs and Dad’s needs. They know the difference between church expectations and playground expectations. They know and accept that you must wear a seatbelt in a car but don’t have to on a city bus, school bus, or even a taxi. Knowing the specific expectations of each situation makes a person more secure than knowing the general rule that tries to cover all situations. My children know I need my carpet to stay clean. They now make better choices to meet that need. And that’s what growing up is all about: making good choices in differing circumstances.

Life is about change and inconsistency. It’s about having different feelings, moods, and needs from one day to the next. No parent or child should feel guilty about being human.
Negotiation allows us to live together harmoniously.

Excerpted from “Discipline Without Distress: 135 tools for raising caring, responsible children without time-out, spanking, punishment or bribery.” by Judy Arnall

Faceoook Parenting for the Troubled Dad of Teen

It would be interesting to see what led up to the daughters frantic posting. I wonder if teens are being more disrespectful these days
because most parents punish their kids in disrespectful ways? Which comes first, rebellion and then punishment or punishment and then rebellion?
As a child, my parents would react like the video dad did (not with a gun, but destroying my treasures) and to this day, I find it hard to
communicate with them as adults. I remember so well the intense anger I felt and left home at 17. When I look back, I wished that they had
taken parenting courses (all they had back then was PET) because there are so many better ways to deal with children’s disrespect.
The memories of my childhood have faded … yet, that video will be around until that daughter is in her sixties. Does her Dad want her
to relive that over and over and over again? I think that yes, she was disrespectful and stupid to post it, but Dad could just quit paying
for her cell, internet and all the million other things he probably does for her. As the mom of two teens and two young adults, I have never
punished them, ever, in their teen years, and they are in no way disrespectful to me or others. We have a problem – we talk. If they have a
problem with chores, they talk. It’s the adult way. Respect must be mutual in love relationships. I would treat them as I do to any other adult.
I certainly wouldn’t blow away my husband’s laptop. Why would I do it to my other love relationships? Posted by Judy Arnall, author of the bestseller “Discipline Without
Distress: 135 tools for raising caring, responsible children without time-out, spanking, punishment or bribery.”