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Strategies for Raising your Kids
I have used these basic rules & ideas myself with my three children, they work. I decided to draw up some basic information for my clients. Parents who have used these ideas invariably come back within one week to say that they now have a child that they can love again, it can be that easy. Good luck and let me know how you go.
Infants to Late Primary Age
Introduce behaviour change programs slowly, don’t try to do all of it at once. Begin with star chart and rewards first, the following week introduce consequences & jobs.
Basic Rule in behaviour change:- Rules, jobs, rewards and consequences all need to be specific (not too broad and confusing). They need to be short. Place star chart, rewards, jobs, consequences, etc. on fridge or somewhere your child can see them every time they walk past, several times per day. This provides immediate high powered stimulation to do the right thing, prevents arguments and encourages co-operation. Remember that kids understand concrete visible things, like seeing it and tasting it and touching it much better than being told about it.
Mark off daily columns for each child, have enough room for lots of stars, the more visual the better, kids love to “see” results rather than hear about them.
1st week - a star for every time doing a good thing, be flexible and generous, we are trying to win your child over to this program so reward frequently.
2nd week - stars for specific things like going to bed without arguing, cleaning room, saying thank you, having a smile, less frequent than week 1.
3rd week - reward for no time out that day, & for doing anyother things that you want changed.
Minor Reward for 10 stars, Major reward for 10 Minor Rewards.
Rewards - it is important to provide reasons for good behaviour - to win them over to the change program.
For minor rewards use things that are desirable, small, simple, cheap, treats (maximum $1). Remember the word DESIRABLE, just desirable enough to want to change. Too desirable and you can’t ‘top’ it later, then you lose them. Not enough desirability and they say, “Who cares!”.
1st week - give rewards (stars) just for being good, frequently, win your child over to looking forward to doing the right thing. Also reward for doing jobs and the very things you want to change, eg. up and ready for school, etc.
2nd week - reward less frequently.
3rd week - less frequent minor rewards, special reward for two days without grounding.
4th plus week - rewards less frequently, you can go back to week 1 if things fall apart.
** First star chart:- 10 stars to get minor reward (e.g. small pack smarties). Draw up star chart with smarties pack glued in reward space (visually stimulating and desirable). Second star chart:- each time they get minor reward they get ‘smarties’ pack glued to this chart, 10 of these minor rewards equals major reward (McDonalds, clothing, shopping for favourite biscuits for themselves, etc. desirable).
*** Change your rewards weekly, keep it fresh, imaginative and creative and it will always work.
*** Most parents don’t need to introduce consequences after this.
Ice-Cream Pigout!! Special sibling rivalry program
Mark out 20 boxes on a sheet of paper, put on fridge. Tell your kids that each time they are rude to each other, argue or fight you will colour in one of the squares. If they get less than 20 squares coloured in by Sunday night (Monday to Sunday) they are allowed to have a 2 litre Ice-cream Pigout, as much as they can eat after dinner! Each week it gets harder, Week 2 is 15 squares, Week 3 is 9 squares, then 5 squares forever. Change reward each week, what do they want? Not too expensive though. Works in one week if you are consistent and show enthusiasm.
Compliance Training - for younger kids, 2 years to 7 years (not to be confused with playing - this is a special training program).
Little children often need to be trained to do as they are told. If you can’t take your child out anywhere, like shopping, then don’t, not until you have tried this program.
* Compliance play - make time to play with your problem child (him/her only). Set up your room, preferably their own room, with five groups of toys (cars, tea set, frying pans, puzzles, blocks, balls, etc.).
* Set a clock in your sight & begin to play with one set of toys for 2 minutes (each set), every 2 minutes change toys (keeps it interesting).
* Training lasts 10 to 20 minutes each day, at least 4 days per week. Keep it up for at least one month.
* Basic Rule: While your child follows your directions you pay attention to them.
* The moment they misbehave or do not follow directions, you turn away, stop talking, fold arms and ignore. Even if they pull at your clothes, cry, scream, etc. (stand and turn away if they hit you) do not attend to them at all even if it lasts for the whole 10 minutes. You are using the ‘power of silence’, the power of withdrawing your attention. Don’t think that you are mean and cruel, getting yelled at by you is far worse than this, this is worth it.
* You may, however, redirect once, by repeating your direction, “Put the cups over there, please.”
* Do not enter into any arguments, you are the adult, don’t forget that you have the power.
* If they refuse to join in, just start playing anyhow, they’ll soon want to join you (the power of silence).
* Praise repeatedly, honest not false praise. “Well done”, “Nice work”, Good boy” etc.
* Change toys every 2 minutes - use this to train their compliance, if they won’t leave a game, wait a few seconds, redirect (“I said put the cups here, then we can play with the cars.” Keep it tight and no conversation or pleading or bribing), then withdraw attention, it is a good way to teach compliance.
** Once your child has learnt to comply you will not have to worry about going out with your child. They have learnt that you will only give them what they want (your attention) by doing the right thing. Then you might want to introduce the star charts, it works.
*** You might want to make special time to play with each of your children, it can prevent sibling rivalry.
Basic Home Rules - short, specific, no confusion or room for argument (you can make up your own)
1) No arguing
2) No tantrums
3) No shouting or swearing
4) Do your jobs when asked
Consequences - must be used in conjunction with rules, rewards and star charts
For breaking rules - be consistent and firm - NO entering into arguments or long explanations, just apply consequence.
1 2 3 magic
1st warning remind of rule they broke, 2nd warning (can sometimes do without 2nd and go straight to 3)
3 is grounding (magic!) - 1 minute time out in their bedroom.
1 minute grounding is short and breaks your child’s patterns without being unmanageable.
3rd grounding for the day = 5 minutes in room, subsequent groundings can be 5 or 10 minutes or you may wish to apply other consequences like withdrawal of immediate privileges.
You may want to place a clock with a second hand in the room so that your child does not have to call out every few seconds to ask if their time is up, show them how to tell 1 minute, etc. Do not remove Playstation, TV or stereo if they have one in their room - it keeps them quiet.
Loss of privileges = no TV that day / night, or miss one show, etc. Use this as a last resort.
Jobs - doing jobs makes your child become part of the family and responsible for its harmony.
* Washing or drying up dishes, etc. make it easy to do it successfully.
* Cleaning own room, putting clothes on the line, etc. kids love to do things that are different or unusual. Be creative and it will work.
* Wages, paid for each job - use real coins, if they can touch it, it is real. 10c coins are great.
* Affection does not work as a reward - they should get it for free anyway.
* Logic does not work, your child is too young to grasp anything but concrete concepts, rewards and punishers. They don’t understand right from wrong either, ethics & morals develop around 12 to 15 years of age.
* Anything more than 4 words is wasted, in one ear and out the other.
* Don’t get into long explanations, they don’t understand logic or reason until about 12 to 15 years of age.
* Children have poorly developed oral memory, they generally can’t remember verbal commands,
* Children have a well developed visual memory, so use this instead - e.g. write rules & directions, use pictures, etc. on white board or paper - it lasts forever, each time they walk past they see it and are reminded by it, then they will remember.
* Children react from emotions, they don’t think logically before they react.
* Be consistent and firm in your application of these principals.
Boys & Girls are Different
Boys are particularly good at manual activities, so if you need to redirect your son's attention, have 3 to 4 physical activities for this special occasion, 'life-savers' games for emergencies. This could be when visitors arrive and you need to direct your boys from the food, etc., or for when a tantrum is imminent, when there is a fight brewing with his sisters, etc.
Boys have little ability to 'name' their feelings, they feel therefore they go off. Help them by labeling their feelings, "Gee, that must have hurt, you probably feel angry now." "Gee that must make you feel sad, guilty, depressed, frustrated...". this is more important for kids that react without thinking, they need names and labels to bring their feelings into consciousness, this is where they then et to choose whether to react and hit out or to redirect their anger elsewhere in a more constructive manner.
Some boys need to learn how to play too, I suggest making flour-glue puppets: mix equal quantities of flour and water, stir and presto! you've got cheap glue. Next get a balloon and blow it half-way up; then tear up some old newspapers into squares as big as large postage stamps; then start to glue these onto the balloon. When several layers are on, let it dry for a few hours in the oven or sun; Keep applying layers and drying for two days or so, until it is quite thick. Next add bits for ears, eyebrows, eyes, lips, chin, etc. When it is thick enough, cover with toilet paper, soft.... Allow to dry thoroughly then sand-paper the surface for a smooth finish. Now you paint it and presto! a balloon face for a puppet show, OR better still, ANGER Release - when they get angry they can get a rolled newspaper and smash it to bits!! Funnily enough, just making one of these and then the opportunity to smash it usually creates the necessary STOP sign to bad behaviour, most kids will usually stop and play instead of smashing it. But this might takes several balloon faces to achieve for tough cases. If you make enough balloon faces you then have a stock-pile that can be called upon in emergencies OR enough for role playing moral dilemas and appropriate reactions in problem situations.
*Important to note that once you tell your child that they can smash their balloon faces, don't stop them, you must be consistent and give them the power to make the choice of yes or no.
Boys have a weak ability to think things through, they can't listen to logic - so model and role play problems that arise, with toys and puppets, best if they are hand made together. If it is tangible, real and visible, if they can touch it and move it, then they will learn quickly how best to respond to problems.
Girls, love to play, with dolls and lots of other toys - you can role play problems by gathering the toys together and giving each a name and personality. Then you set them out in the way the problem presented, like a play setting on stage. Next role play with voices and actions, how to avoid conflict or teasing etc. I use a and tray with my children patients, and it is a great way to get through the tough stuff.
Special Rules and consequences for Adolescents
Our teenage children are much more difficult to train that toddlers, but with some imagination and creativity we can succeed at anything, even changing adolescents into the adorable children we used to know.
Specific Rules for specific Teens:-
Design specific rules for those things that annoy you the most, e.g. smoking in the bedroom, coming home late, swearing, arguing, etc. Then determine specific rules for them, and specific consequences (don’t negotiate consequences or rules, but do negotiate rewards).
- Rule 1 :- no swearing. Warning - one only. Consequence - grounding for two days.
- Rule 2 : turn down music when asked. Warning - one. Consequence - stereo removed for two days.
- Rule 3 : get up at 7:00 am each morning. Warning - one. Consequence - grounded two days.
- Rule 4 : no smoking in bedroom. Warning - nil. Consequence - grounded two days.
- Rule 5 : do jobs when asked. Warning - nil. Consequences - no wages, grounded one day, and your job will still be waiting for you.
* Grounding must be spelt out:- no visitors, no telephone, no TV (unless already has one in bedroom), straight to bedroom after school.
* If they have TV, video, playstation, stereo, etc. in their room, don’t remove them, because when they are in their bedroom they are giving you a break too, so enjoy it.
* Do not ground for more than 5 days, it becomes meaningless, and besides they begin to say those dreaded words - “Who cares!”
* Once you hear, “Who cares!” you need to immediately be creative and imaginative, “What can I do to improve this program?”
* This program works best when you apply it consistently with rewards (but negotiate rewards first, e.g. earn 20 points for shopping, playstation game, video hire, etc.) remember that word DESIRABLE?
Example: Wages for jobs (per week - pay needs to be desirable enough to want to change)
$3 - boys, keep room clean and tidy, vacuum once per week
$3 - wash and /or dry up and put away (by 8:00 pm)
$2 - feed pets
$2 - collect water from rain water tank as needed (if you are lucky enough to have one)
$5 - folding of clothes - to be done on a daily basis,
$5 - weekly ironing
$15 - cooking, organise weekly menu, prepare and cook 5 evening meals per week, pack dishes after cooking and eating, preparation for washing up, to be done by 7:30 pm.
1) If is work not done to satisfaction $ will be deducted.
2) Washing up and drying up/putting away must be done by 8:00 pm.
3) Any arguing or refusing to do jobs as stated above, like happened yesterday, will mean that you will lose TV rights and $ if it continues.
Pay day = every Saturday. Payment means that they have complete control of how they spent it, this is important.
Rewards instead of money
For each job completed without argument you score one point. 10 points earns a video hire of your choice, a playstation hire of your choice. 100 points earns purchase of desired object to $20, 1000 points earns purchase of desired object to $100. (you can adjust these prices).
* Draw up chart and score with your signature, something that they can’t cheat with, (trying to get the better of an adult, even a parent, is a teenage game, so don’t be disappointed if they cheat).
* Discuss this program and why you need to do it first, but don’t negotiate away your needs for peace and harmony in the home. Discuss and negotiate rewards, not consequences & rules.
* Remember that you are the adult, not them.
* You do need to write these all down (rules, jobs, consequences, rewards, etc.) make them visible to make them REAL. Give a copy to each child and stick one on the fridge. Just having these rules and rewards does work, you may never have to actually apply your consequences. Don’t forget to include rewards, we all must have that ‘carrot’ to look forward to, not just the ‘stick’ to be afraid of.
* Do not enter into any arguments, no more than 4 words, especially with teenagers.
* I was once told by an old teacher that you will be disappointed by even the best child. It is true, we are all human and given to human impulses, don’t be too harsh if your child disappoints you. Learn to flow with the winds and storms, but be firm when you need to be. Too firm at the wrong time and you will either break them or your relationship with them, it is sometimes not worth it.
** Severe problems demand special programs, there are lots of problems not covered here, please talk to me so that we can work one out.
Homework - an evil word!
Don’t let homework destroy your relationship with your child, you are mother or father, not teacher. Get a tutor instead, a local teenager, next door neighbour, etc. to help your child complete projects or homework. Don’t be afraid to pay them too, either in money or a cake, meal, mow the lawn, etc. Homework can be the death of a family.
Check with me if you get confused or something didn’t work, always seek support if it is available, don’t try to do the impossible by yourself. It is also wise to follow up with me for the first few weeks of starting these programs.
Also visit www.addbiofeedback.com for more information on treatment for childhood problems
© Noel Eastwood 2001
Copyright © 2003 Astral Connections