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Assertive Discipline for Parents, Revised EditionChapter OneTake Charge And Be The Boss
There are times I really feel like I can't handle my kids. The way my kids carry on is simply too much for me. I talk and they just don't listen. I'm lost, I'm overwhelmed, and I'm scared.
Mother of two, ages seven and ten
I've tried everything I can think of to get my children to behave. I talk to them, I listen to them, I help them express their feelings, I reason with them, and they still act up and talk back day-in and day-out. I'm just at my wits' end.
Father of three, ages four, eight, and eleven
My kids are just too strong-willed for me or their teacher to handle. It seems that every day I get a call from school about how bad one of them has been. The teachers ask me to do something with my kids and all I can honestly say is that I don't know what to do. I can't describe how frustrating this is for me.
Mother of two, ages twelve and fourteen
Every day we hear comments like these from parents we work with. Why is this so? More and more parents are expressing how overwhelmed and powerless they feel in dealing with the misbehavior of their children. At times it seems that we are encountering a generation of children who are so strong-willed that in many ways they are controlling the parents who are supposed to be leading and guiding them. The result we observe in all too many families is unnecessary stress, tension and conflict.
At the same time that so many parents feel frustrated and helpless, other parents demonstrate that they are fully capable of getting their children to behave. You mayask, "Why do those parents get their children to do what they want them to?" We asked the same question ourselves, and after years of carefully examining parent/child interactions, we found what we believe is the answer. Parents who are effective with their children possess the skills and confidence necessary to clearly and firmly communicate their wants and needs to their children. These parents are prepared to stand up to their children's misbehavior in a firm, no-nonsense and caring manner. Basically, these parents assert their authority with their children.
In Assertive Discipline we have taken the skills we have learned from these effective parents and combined them into a systematic program designed to enable parents to take charge of their children's misbehavior in a firm, consistent and loving manner.When Do You Need Assertive Discipline?
Assertive Discipline should be used when your everyday approaches to handling your children's behavior haven't worked. If talking with your children, reasoning with them or understanding their feelings doesn't help improve their behavior, then it's time for Assertive Discipline. For example:
You have visitors one evening and your four-year-old daughter is still awake at 9:30 P.m. She is overtired and irritable, but refuses to go to sleep. You understand that she doesn't want to miss the fun, but you feel it is in her best interest and your best interest that she goes to sleep. How do you get her into bed?
Your two children are continually at odds with one another. They argue, tease each other, and sometimes fight, You've tried separating them, having family meetings, understanding the reasons they feel the way they do, but the conflicts continue. You are reaching the point at which you can't take it any more. What can you do?
You have a full-time job and you need your teenage son's help with the housework. He refuses to help, saying he hates doing chores. You realize that his friends don't have these responsibilities and that he would rather play ball the entire afternoon, but you are too tired at the end of the day to do all the housework yourself. You've spoken to him at length about the issue, but he still will not do as you ask, How do you get him to help?
At times like these you need specific skills to ensure that your children listen to you. At times like these you need Assertive Discipline.Be The Boss
Through Assertive Discipline we will teach you how to take charge in problem situations and let your children know you must be the "boss." By being the boss we mean sending your children the following message:
I care too much about you to let you misbehave. Your problem behavior must stop. I'm prepared to back up my words with appropriate actions to let you know I mean business.
In addition, and just as important, being the boss means you care enough to provide your children with direct and positive feedback when they do change their problem behavior.Roadblocks
If in the past you have ever found it difficult to be the boss when your children's behavior demands it, don't fret you are not alone. Many, if not most, of today's parents are in the same position. We have found that there are two major roadblocks to assertive parent behavior.
Reluctance to Come on Strong: When a parent responds in a take-charge manner, he or she typically responds to the child with a firm, direct statement. We are well aware that many parents feel they are failures if they have to respond forcefully in order to get their children to do what they want. Many parents have been told by contemporary child-rearing experts that for the well-being of their children, no matter how badly they behave, the parents should avoid "stern" or "authoritarian" actions and find alternative psychological approaches.Assertive Discipline for Parents, Revised Edition. Copyright (c) by Lee Canter . Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.