Lesson 2 - Five Rules for Parents

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  1. End any criticism with a positive statement of expected behavior. ("Tell your kids what you want!") 
    The expected behavior must be stated in very specific, behavioral terms your kids can understand. Remember, just because you said something, does not mean your children heard it, understood it, and can translate what you said into productive action. Also, before you can communicate to your children precisely what it is you want them to do…. you must decide exactly what you do want.
    Once you have in mind a very specific idea of exactly what it is you want your children to do, many times your strategy to bring about that behavior will become very obvious. Always keep in mind that it helps if you will include a "sales pitch" explaining why your desired behavior will bring about positive and rewarding outcomes for your kid.
  2. Criticize performance and not the person.
    Criticism is often necessary in working with the behavior of children, but it must remain just that… a criticism of just the behavior. As a matter of fact, most of the time it is possible to give the person a compliment while the behavior is being corrected. This sounds easy, but it takes great care and planning to do it. Plan ahead.
  3. Do not assume they have heard it simply because you have said it…REPEAT it!  
    Repetition is fundamental to all learning. It is rare that we ever learn anything on a first exposure, and our children are no different. KIDS ARE PEOPLE TOO. So, remember that when you set out to teach them something and accept the fact that you, most likely, will have to repeat it a couple of times. KEEP THE ANGER OUT! Also, remember that if you have repeated something a number of times and your kids are still not doing it, then you need to find another way to say it. (Remember when you repeat it that there are many ways to "say" something.)
  4. It does not matter what you say; it is what they say to themselves that counts. 
    Self - motivation is the only kind of motivation. No matter how much you would like to motivate and control your children, the controlling force in their lives will be what they tell themselves. If I were speaking to you it would not matter what I said, if you were repeating over and over in your head "Boy, he certainly doesn't know what he is talking about." Our techniques which we use with our children must always be aimed at guiding our children to phrase positive statements to themselves. One of the most effective ways to do this is to teach your children the fundamentals of values clarification and goal setting.
  5. Send a constant and continual message of LOVE.
    We do not know how it is that humans learn language. But we do know that the particular language all humans speak is simply the language that they are exposed to... and that is the key, because love is a language! If we wish to have our children speak the language of love, then we must make sure we expose them to it on a continuous basis. There are two important corollaries to sending a message of love to our kids:

    A. Love is not just something you say; it is also something you do. (You can fake like you care but you can't fake being there. To send a message of love to your children you must show up. Love is not a spectator sport.)

    B. The time they most need to hear it, is the time you feel least able to say it. When you are at the point of sending your children out to live in the street, that is probably the time when their heart is most open to receive your message.

Assignment Sheet - Lesson 2

  1. Identify one behavior in each of your children that you would like to have them exhibit. This may be something that the child already does and you wish to replace with a new and more productive one, or it might just be something that you would like to see your child adopt. Describe the desired behavior in detail here. (If you are attempting to eliminate a particular behavior describe it in detail also.)

  2. Read through the list of "Five Rules For Parents" and pick the one rule that you feel will work the best to help you to begin developing the behavior you selected in #1. List that rule here by copying it from your notebook.

  3. Describe the specific strategy that you intend to use each day, until class meets again. This is the strategy that you will use to attempt to build your chosen behavior in your child by applying the rule you selected in #2.

  4. Keep a daily record of your actions, your child’s actions, and any observations that you have as you go through this process for a week. Remember to record both positive and negative actions, reactions and observations.

  5. Come to the next class prepared to discuss what took place in your family over the week. In this space make notes of comments that you would like to make comment about at the next class meeting.

Please keep in mind that the purpose of these exercises is to maximize the number of positive and productive ideas that are stored in your mind and the minds of your children. In order to do this you must actually try to structure effective thoughts in your own head as you plan strategies. Then you must observe the resulting behavior in your children.

Remember that unless your child chooses to tell you what ideas are in their head, the only way you have of knowing what ideas are stored in their head is by observing their behavior; so pay close attention. A big part of this process involves not only creating positive change but also observing strategies that did not work and then devising new and better ones that will work. So, as you go through this process do not be the least bit hesitant to list things that didn’t work! Sometimes our best teacher is a mistake. The only time a mistake is counted as a failure is if you let it be the last time you try.

Also, when you try something that doesn’t work remember the important phrase: "keep the anger out!" Anger rarely results in productive thought processes and effective action.


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