Sunday, June 08, 2008

Parent Effectiveness Training

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts...
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
- From The Prophet by Gibran-

P.E.T. Parent Effectiveness Training by Dr. Thomas Gordon is a classic book on parenting written in the 70's and yet the ideas seem so new! How I enjoyed reading it!

Using Active Listening to Help Infants:
"Those early years require the almost constant presence of the parent... Yet being around is not enough in itself. The critical factor is the parents' effectiveness in listening accurately to the non-verbal communication of the child so that she understands what is going on inside and can effectively give the child what he needs when he needs it... Numerous research studies have been launched to demonstrate the superiority of one method versus another - bottle feeding versus breast, demand feeding versus scheduled... For the most part, these studies have failed to take into account the wide differences in the needs of various children and the extreme differences among mothers in their effectiveness in receiving their children's communications."

Why "I-messages" Are More Effective:
"Think of the significant difference in a child's reaction to these two messages, sent by a parent after a child kicks him in the shins:
"Ouch! That really hurt me-I don't like to be kicked."
"That's being a very bad boy. Don't you ever kick anybody like that!"
The first message only tells the child how his kick made you feel, a fact with which he can hardly argue. The second tells the child that he was "bad" and warns him not to do it again, both of which he can argue against and probably resist strongly.
"I-messages" are also infinitely more effective because they place responsibility within the child for modifying his behavior. "Ouch! That really hurt me" and "I don't like to be kicked" tell the child how you feel, yet leave him to be responsible for doing something about it.
Consequently, "I-messages" help a child grow, help him learn to assume responsibility for his own behavior... tells a child that you are leaving the responsibility with him, trusting him to handle the situation constructively, trusting him to respect your needs, giving him a chance to start behaving constructively.
Because "I-messages" are honest, they tend to influence a child to send similar honest messages whenever he has a feeling... It takes a certain amount of courage to send "I-messages," but the rewards are generally well worth the risks. It takes courage and inner security for a person to expose his inner feelings in a relationship... The parents can have the joy of being parents to a real person-and the children are blessed by having real persons as parents."

The "No-Lose" Method for Resolving Conflicts:
"Much of the literature in parent education has been "solution-oriented"... Parents have been offered "best solutions" for the bedtime problem, for a child dawdling at the table... My thesis is that parents need only learn a single method for resolving conflicts, a method usable with children of all ages. With this approach, there are no "best" solutions applicable to all or even most families. A solution best for one family-that is, one that is acceptable to that particular parent and child-might not be "best" for another family."

In the "No-Lose" Method the child is motivated to carry out the solution, there is more chance of finding a high quality solution, it develops children's thinking skills, there will be less hostility and more love in the parent-child relationship, it requires less enforcement, eliminates the need for power (work with each other to find a solution acceptable to both parties), gets to the real problem, treats kids like adults and is 'therapy' for the child.

The Six Steps of The No-Lose Method:
1. Identifying and defining the conflict
2. Generating possible alternative solutions
3. Evaluating the alternative solutions
4. Deciding on the best acceptable solution
5. Working out ways of implementing the solution
6. Following up to evaluate how it worked.

"You have created a life, now let the child have it. Let him decide what he wants to do with the life you gave him."

Other interesting reads:
Punished by Rewards: the trouble with gold stars, incentive plans, A's, praise and other bribes

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