Monday, July 28, 2014

Why Drill Sergeants Work in the Army, But Not So Much At Home

Why We Need to Stop Using So Many Commands

The average child hears over 400 commands per day!
And lots of commands makes for ineffective parenting. So while using commands often seems like the quickest and easiest parenting tool, it has many downfalls.
Using frequent commands:

  • Discourages your child.
  • Deprives children of the opportunity to learn to think for themselves.
  • Decreases cooperation.
  • Often invites resistance.
How, then, do we facilitate the happenings of the day? The children need to get dressed, fed the dog, come to dinner etc.
The Answer:
Instead of Using Commands:

Give information or ask a question.

I recently saw a great example of the power of asking a question instead of giving a command on a bumper sticker on an eighteen-wheeler. It read: “If I stop, can you?” The question got me thinking: “Could I stop in time?” I did what we want our children to do…STOP, and THINK. Commands rarely get us there. When we question instead of command, children respond by thinking instead of reacting.
The key phrase in the example above is, “got me thinking.” We want to come up with questions that lead children to think about what needs to happen next. Questions that are imbedded with commands are less effective.
Some examples of questions that teach kids to pause and think:

Command: “Pick up your coat.”
Question as a Command: “Could you put your coat away?”
Effective Question: “Where does your coat belong?”

Command: “Get your shoes on.”
Question as a Command: “Will you put your shoes on?”
Effective Question: “What else do you need to do before you go outside?”

Command: “Feed Fido.”
Question as a Command: “Could you please feed Fido?”
Effective Question: “Has Fido been fed?”

Effective questions get your child thinking about what needs to happen next. And children are more likely to cooperate with their own ideas, as opposed to commands. In corporations, this is called “buy-in.”

Giving information is another thing we can do instead of commands to help to keep us connected to our child – who, eventually becomes more open to our guidance.

Using the same command from the previous examples, here are some examples of ineffective and effective questions:

Command: “Pick up your coat.”
Give Information: “Coats belong on the coat hooks.”

Command: “Get your shoes on.”
Give Information: “You’ll need your shoe to go outside.”

Command: “Feed Fido.”
Effective Question: “Fido looks hungry.”

Think about some of your most-used commands and see if you can come up with a question or a statement that you can use next time to invite cooperation and “get them thinking.”

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Decrease Misbehavior and Increase Closeness When You PHIL ‘em Up

Our connection to our children colors our parenting experience more than anything else. So, it’s essential that we make connecting our number one priority. If you take the time to connect, the grocery shopping will go more easily, the power struggles will decrease, communication lines will open, and you’ll feel better about how you parent.

Few other parenting practices:
  • Dramatically increase your child’s level of cooperation
  • Help decrease misbehavior
  • Motivate your child to listen better
  • Bring you profound peace of mind
Imagine someone you feel connected to, like a close friend. If she asked you for a favor, wouldn’t you go out of your way to help? If someone you don’t feel connected with (like the relative or coworker who only calls when he needs something) asks a favor, wouldn’t you be less inclined to offer support? Children feel the same way. When they’re experiencing a strong connection with us, they naturally want to maintain that connection and harmony by listening and cooperating.

Establishing this connection starts when we become aware of children’s four emotional needs and the importance of meeting them. The acronym for the four needs is PHIL: Children need to feel Powerful, Heard, Important,and Loved

Children, like adults, want to feel the authentic Power that comes from having influence and input about their environment. We help children feel powerful when we offer choices (without rushing them), ask their opinion or allow them to lead us in an activity. Children also want to be Heard and understood, not just the words they say, but the essence of their communications. We help children feel heard when we make eye contact when they are speaking and when we get down on their level to communicate. They want to feel Important, that what they have to say matters and that they’re valuable enough to warrant their parents’ attention. Children feel important when parents take the time to ask and consider their opinion and when parents spend time joyfully connecting with them. They also need to feel unconditionally Loved. Loved simply because they exist…and not matter how they are behaving.

The Root Cause of Misbehavior

Misbehavior happens when children inappropriately seek to fill the hunger for the four core needs. Power struggles erupt when children feel powerless. Children scream for attention when they don’t feel heard or important.

In your next interaction with your child, instead of asking yourself, how can I get my child to ________? change the question to, what is my child trying to tell me? Jump at the chance to discover your child’s need then help PHIL it. This website is packed with resources that will help you do just that.

When your child knows a fulfilling connection with you is readily available, it’s like a high-speed Internet line to your heart that’s always live. They know they can easily tap into the power of your love and get connected. They feel better about themselves. They naturally feel less needy, so they often behave in a way that’s less demanding. They feel PHILed—powerful, heard, important, and loved. And you feel the peace of mind that comes with practicing peaceful, connected parenting.