Negotiation Generation: Take Back Your Parental Authority Without Punishment

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Overview

The classic power struggle between parents and children- demystified.

Nationally recognized behavior management expert Lynne Reeves Griffin offers a commonsense yet radical approach to parenting that will enable adults to win the tug-of-war with their children about what is, and isn't, acceptable behavior.

This proactive plan provides parents with the tools to reclaim their authority, establish boundaries, and cease negotiation tactics such as ...

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Negotiation Generation: Take Back Your Parental Authority Without Punishment

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Overview

The classic power struggle between parents and children- demystified.

Nationally recognized behavior management expert Lynne Reeves Griffin offers a commonsense yet radical approach to parenting that will enable adults to win the tug-of-war with their children about what is, and isn't, acceptable behavior.

This proactive plan provides parents with the tools to reclaim their authority, establish boundaries, and cease negotiation tactics such as rewards and punishments, based on the specific ages and temperaments of each child. Featuring anecdotes from more than 20 years of parental consulting, the author reveals the real struggles parents face in raising today's children.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Many parenting experts agree that spanking is never a good way to discipline a child. In its stead, they have recommended using methods like time-outs and grounding. Griffin (executive director, Proactive Parenting) goes further: parents should neverpunish their child. Yes, children misbehave, but it's probably because they don't have the skills necessary to behave acceptably. Using behavior management theory, Griffin proposes the following method: impose limits in advance of conflicts; discuss clearly with children what they can do; if the limit established is later pushed, don't argue during the conflict because children will think the limit is negotiable; instead, use simple actions to communicate the message that the behavior is unacceptable. Griffin firmly believes that parents know their children very well and can predict most of their behaviors. Therefore, parents should be proactive and build the skills their children need to behave accordingly. Although at times Griffin's message seems unrealistic, her arguments and repeated explanations will challenge parents to assert their authority differently. This book, rich in anecdotes, will make a great addition to any parenting collection. Recommended for public libraries.
—Maryse Breton

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425217016
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/4/2007
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 655,210
  • Product dimensions: 5.56 (w) x 8.16 (h) x 0.76 (d)

Meet the Author

Lynne Reeves Griffin, RN, MEd, is Executive Director of Proactive Parenting. She is a lecturer, writer, and consultant to parents, teachers, and health care professionals regarding child development, behavior management, and issues affecting today’s families. She is a frequent radio and television guest expert.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1
Children who don’t listen have parents who talk too much
Why too much power is a dangerous thing

Sam had the face of an angel from the moment he was born. His striking appearance and cheerful nature endeared him to everyone. His parents, Ellie and Chris created a world that revolved around Sam; they’d wanted a baby for so long. They fed him on demand. They let him sleep in their bed. They took him wherever they went. The sun rose and set on their beautiful baby boy. Every child should be so loved.

Until Sam was two, the lifestyle his parents created by pouring themselves into parenting was working. But increasingly, Sam tested his parents’ rules, and Ellie and Chris found it hard to set limits on his mischievous behavior. Sam’s good looks and sweet smile helped him get around the rules that seemed meant for everyone else. By three, others weren’t finding his behavior cute anymore. Friends and relatives nicknamed him Dennis the Menace, a nickname that served only to further excuse his behavior.

“Boys will be boys,” his dad said to more than a few people who began struggling with Sam’s complete disregard for rules. In preschool, he looked right at his teacher and threw a toy at her. When she tried to explain why he couldn’t throw things, he flashed his beautiful smile as he covered his ears shouting, “I’m not listening.”

By five, Sam had been asked to leave three preschools because his aggressive behavior was deemed unmanageable. Ellie and Chris repeatedly tried the suggestions teachers, pediatricians and friends gave them; nothing worked. Opposed to spanking, they tried time-out but Sam refused to sit or trashed his room. They took away his toys to which he shouted, “Fine. I don’t like Legos anyway.” The star chart with incentives worked for only one day. His parents pleaded with Sam to be a good boy and placed hope in the belief he’d outgrow this phase. And for a while he seemed to.

Sam loved school. He was bright, observant and a quick learner. His elementary teachers spoke highly of him and the promise he showed for writing and music. He was articulate and had so much to contribute.

But by ten, claims resurfaced about Sam’s aggression. This time, bullying other children was the common complaint. One suspension in fifth grade became two suspensions in sixth. He skipped school, and his grades began to spiral downward. Reports of disrespectful behavior were widespread.

By high school, Sam’s love of school was a distant memory. Sam no longer dreamed of college; his parents prayed he wouldn’t kill himself with drugs and alcohol. He drove the car his parents gave him into a tree, but lived to joke about it. At seventeen, he was expelled from high school for bringing a weapon to school. Today, Sam is as handsome as ever, but he doesn’t go to school or have a job, and he no longer has contact with his parents.

Parenting now and then
It didn’t have to be that way for Sam and his parents. All along, Sam’s engaging though persistent temperament coupled with his age-appropriate limit pushing was really quite predictable. At each stage of development, Sam needed clear boundaries and consistent follow through yet was unable to find them. Instead, Sam’s ability to push boundaries and disregard rules took him further away from the person he could have become. All along, Ellie and Chris loved their son and had the best of intentions for parenting him. What they didn’t have was a parenting approach to fit his age, his temperament, and his challenging behavior. They needed an approach that embraced the belief— if you can predict it, you can prevent it.

Unfortunately, Sam’s story of unfulfilled promise is common, though considered tame compared to other stories making headlines today. In fact, every evening you tune in to the nightly news, you’ll find a story that raises the question: what’s the matter with kids today? Where are their parents? A five-year-old girl was placed in handcuffs by police because she was beating up her kindergarten teacher. A ten-year-old baseball player hurt his disabled teammate, so the team would be more likely to win the next game. A teenage boy killed his girlfriend’s parents with a shotgun because he disagreed with her father over her curfew.

Why are children increasingly out of control? The answer is a plague of negotiable boundaries. The children and the families you hear about in these stories didn’t suddenly find themselves the subject of a news report or TV talk show because of an isolated incident. The outrageous examples of bad behavior you see everywhere you turn are the result of years of permissiveness flourishing like a virus.

Once upon a time, parents were parents and children were children. Limits were clear, adults were in charge. Then the pendulum swung the other way, and parents were told to “validate” their children’s feelings, and to encourage them to use their “words.” Parents found themselves negotiating everything from breakfast to bedtime. Is it any wonder today’s parents feel depressed, demeaned and downright confused about how to do their job?

Do you feel like you’ve entered the twilight zone of parenting as compared to previous generations? You have. A day doesn’t go by that there isn’t a new pressure to understand, or a new limit to be set. Cell phones, instant messaging, satellite radio and the Internet. New rules for dating, driving, dancing and all-night graduation parties. And don’t forget more homework, more after school activities and more college applications. Your parents didn’t have these particular issues to parent through, which makes it tough to look to them for advice.

With all the benefits of communication technology and the age of information, there are also drawbacks. Though cell phones keep us connected, the Internet keeps us informed and television keeps us entertained, parents have ever more to do. Uncharted territory means setting new rules, and then being there to enforce them.

Over the years, there has been a real blurring of boundaries between adults and children. Babies get earrings, five-year-olds get allowances, ten-year-olds have cell phones and sixteen-year-olds have their own cars. No longer do children have to wait for or earn privileges. And, of course how many times have you heard, “In my day, we did what we were told,” or “kids today don’t respect anyone or anything?”

I wish the nostalgia for the respect given parents in days gone by was just that, but unfortunately it is the result of parents who are no longer the authority in their child’s life, negotiating the big and the small.

Ted, the father of four teenage boys, has always shared his love of baseball with his sons. Hats, jackets, and tee shirts with Boston Red Sox logos are everywhere in Ted’s home. It wasn’t until Ted got a phone call from his youngest child’s middle school that he saw the clothing in a new light. “I couldn’t believe the principal called me at work. She told me to come get Innis because he was wearing a Yankees Suck tee shirt. The school has a ban on what she called ‘disrespectful clothing.’ I thought I told Innis not to wear that shirt to school.”

Ted’s situation highlights just how much the popular culture has changed and how desensitized most teens and adults are to it. Language was once tamer and role models were predominantly our neighbors, teachers and family friends. Now, language largely goes uncensored, and role models are more likely those from the worlds of music, television, or movie stars. Pop culture glorifies anything that pushes the envelope.

Sidebar:
The first step is to understand the importance of your influence on your child’s life and how to maintain your power over it.

Negative influences are all around you, sometimes coming from well-intentioned people, encouraging your child to engage in behaviors that are disrespectful, destructive and dangerous. The Associated Press reported that parents in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio were responsible for the cancellation of an assignment in health class. The assignment, given to high school freshman, was to research Internet pornography and write about the detrimental effects pornography has on those who view it. The superintendent of schools said the teacher’s intentions were good and he’s not likely to face disciplinary action. Parents need help navigating the rough and unfamiliar terrain. The first step is to understand the importance of your influence on your child’s life and how to maintain your power over it.

Is your clock ticking?
When I ask parents why they think they are unable to parent more effectively, the number one reason is lack of time. It does take time to parent well; on some level everyone knows this. To anticipate the issues, to prepare your child for difficult situations, to follow through on non-negotiable limits, to heal the hurts, to motivate, to celebrate accomplishments: it all takes time. I don’t know any parent who says he has enough of that precious commodity.

Unfortunately, the conventional wisdom for raising children today is robbing you of precious time. Have you heard, “You have to expose your child to enrichment activities like painting and flute lessons; after all how will your child learn what she’s good at?” Or, “If your child isn’t on the travel league for baseball when he’s ten, he’ll never make the high school team.” The pressure to cram activity after activity into your weekly schedule has reached ridiculous proportions.

Sidebar:
Unfortunately, the conventional wisdom for raising children today is robbing you of precious time.

Polly gets up at 5:30 in the morning. After putting the finishing touches on a book report, she gets dressed and packs some food for the long day ahead. Polly’s parents repeatedly nag her to get going, “Get up. Brush your teeth.” After an hour where emotions are running high for both Polly and her parents, they leave the house at 6:30. Polly spends the early morning with twenty children and one adult eating breakfast and talking about the school day. During the day, she does her school work in three separate classrooms under the direction of four different adults. At 4:00 pm, Polly goes to gymnastics. After gymnastics, it’s off to a piano lesson. She arrives home after her lesson and changes into comfortable clothes. The nighttime routine includes a new set of power struggles between Polly and her parents. “Sit down and eat.” “Empty your backpack.” “Get going on that homework.” At 6:45 p.m., bedtime is only a dream. At 7 o’clock, Polly finally sits down to begin her homework. Polly is seven years old.

Are you intimately familiar with the phrase, “dine and dash?” Dashing here and driving there, skipping meals and getting your child to bed later and later each night may be how your week unfolds. A schedule like that is tough even for parents who are not holding down a paying job as well.

Survey after survey shows that not only is insufficient time a leading complaint of working parents, but so is the guilt they feel about the kind of time they spend with their children. When you come home after a long day of work related pressures and your child is behaving in ways clearly unacceptable to you, do you set limits or look the other way?

Madeleine is a single mom working hard to juggle her job responsibilities along with raising her six-year-old daughter, Tess. “A night doesn’t go by that I don’t end up yelling at Tess. Even though every morning I vow, ‘I won’t yell at her today.’ But from the time I pick her up from her after school program until I kiss her goodnight, she argues about everything. ‘I don’t want to eat that. The water in the tub is too cold and those pajamas are too itchy. I want you to sleep in my bed.’ If I give her an inch, she takes a mile. I start off being kind and nice, trying to make everything perfect but by the end of the night, I lose it.”

What Madeleine describes is a classic attempt to focus entirely on quality time because she feels she can’t offer quantity time. In the process, it’s all too tempting to overlook Tess’s clear attempts to find the limits.

When Tess pushes the limit on meal time, bath time and bedtime, what she needs is for her mother to make it clear what is negotiable and what is not negotiable. When Madeleine responds by ignoring misbehavior in an effort to keep the peace, Tess feels compelled to push another limit.

Boundaries can be as concrete and simple as a high chair or carriage, and as abstract as earning a privilege after doing some yard work. Clear and consistent boundaries are what children need and what parents find hard to create. I can give you this guarantee: the more you shy away from creating clear boundaries, the more discipline issues you will face.

Sidebar:
Clear and consistent boundaries are what children need and what parents find hard to create. I can give you this guarantee: the more you shy away from creating clear boundaries, the more discipline issues you will face.

What happens when children have too much power?
Ivy is the mother of four-year-old Evan and an education and training coordinator for a large software company. According to Ivy, she works part-time for the software company and overtime to parent little Evan. “I have the ability to run trainings for hundreds of staff members and I can’t get Evan to pick up a single truck when it’s time to clean the playroom. I’m too embarrassed to have other mothers and their children over because Evan doesn’t listen to a word I say.”

Ivy is one of so many parents confessing to have little or no control over her child’s behavior. With feelings of frustration running high and belief in their ability to control behavior at an all time low, parents like Ivy are engaged in what I call “feel-bad parenting.”

Sidebar:
The pressure on today’s parent to be a good provider, a “Super Nanny” and at the same time a best friend puts parents in the proverbial no-win situation.

When you’re with your child, do you feel inept or exhausted because every request is met with “You can’t make me” or “I won’t!”? And when you’re not with your child, do you feel guilty because you’re apart, maybe secretly glad you are? The pressure on today’s parent to be a good provider, a “Super Nanny” and at the same time a best friend puts parents in the proverbial no-win situation.

“I don’t understand why he won’t listen to me. His preschool teachers say he’s an angel at school. What am I to think? Maybe he doesn’t like me,” says Ivy. Sentiments like Ivy’s are all too common. Previous generations didn’t worry about whether their child liked them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for my children liking me but I recognize that quite often they will not. Sometimes they won’t like decisions I make in their best interest and I’m certain they’re less than pleased with the limits I follow through on.

In a recent study of discipline techniques used by parents, the top ranking strategy, coming in at 90%, was explanations. How many times do we have to watch Charlie Brown cartoons to notice that Charlie and the Peanuts gang, along with every child, hear adult explanations much like Charlie heard his teacher, “Mwah, mwah, mwah?”

Neither your child nor mine wants explanation after explanation. When a child is met with a lot of chatting, nattering and blathering, he’ll join in the negotiations. If you’ve got something to say, then your child’s got something to say. If you’re having a conversation about anything other than limits or rules, then back-and-forth interchanges are wonderful. But when your child is faced with requests or expectations that are supposedly not negotiable— the talking is over.

Sidebar:
In a recent study of discipline techniques used by parents, the top ranking strategy, coming in at 90%, was explanations. How many times do we have to watch Charlie Brown cartoons to notice that Charlie and the Peanuts gang, along with every child, hear adult explanations much like Charlie heard his teacher, “Mwah, mwah, mwah?”

The result of being repeatedly faced with mixed messages, rules that change, oodles of discussion, and lots of opportunity to change how situations turn out, is an increase in self-focused or entitled behavior.

Five-year-old Anna asks her dad for a yogurt. Her father gives her strawberry. Anna says, “Daddy, I want peach!” Anna’s dad says, “Sure.” He gets her the peach and she says, after he opens it of course, “Daddy, I don’t like this peach. I like the other peach.” “We don’t have the other peach, Anna. How about this peach or the strawberry? That’s a good one.” To which Anna replies, “I want the other peach, right now!” She throws the yogurt on the floor while Dad sighs and begins to clean it up.

Maybe you’ve been in a similar situation and you’re thinking how could he have known that giving Anna a choice would end in a yogurt disaster? But the dance between Anna and her father is actually predictable. She’s five: five-year-olds love to exert newfound independence. Temperament plays a big role here, too. Is Anna typically more persistent, more intense, or more sensitive? And then there’s the high probability that Dad and Anna have danced to the same song many times before. If you can predict it, you can prevent it.

Temperament is explored in detail throughout this book. But for now it’s important to know that the yogurt example shows us how “It’s all about me” thinking is taught. It’s called precedent-setting parenting and it will surely create behavior that looks self-focused, out-of-control, demanding and beyond what you’d expect to see given your child’s age and temperament. Our parents called it “bratty behavior”. But it’s unfair to blame your child for behavior that looks entitled and spoiled. You gave your child a voice, so now she thinks she has a choice. Once again, you’ve got to know when your expectations are negotiable and when they simply aren’t. More on changing entitled behavior later, I promise.

Sidebar:
It’s unfair to blame your child for behavior that looks entitled and spoiled. You gave your child a voice, so now she thinks she has a choice.

A second by-product of too much negotiation with your child is escalating behavior. When your child is looking for a limit— and your child is looking for one— and he doesn’t find one, he will misbehave in bigger and bigger ways until he does.

Seven-year-old Mark is working with his mother in the garden planting bulbs. Mark tosses a bit of dirt in his mother’s direction. His mother’s response is, “Let’s not throw the dirt, okay?” Mark’s mother thought she imposed a clear limit. But Mark heard a question which made him think the expectation was negotiable. So, Mark threw more dirt, this time a bit closer to Mom. She said, “Mark, I said don’t throw the dirt, okay?” Mark’s mother, now frustrated with him, tried using stronger language but the limit remained soft. Posing limits as questions and asking a child if a rule is okay with him is not a clear boundary. Mark’s behavior will persist until a clear firm limit helps him make the right choice about behavior.

You can probably guess what happened next: Mark threw the dirt directly at his mother. Only then did she become more forceful. Mark was not met with a clear limit with appropriate follow through the first or even second time he tested the boundary. Predictably his behavior would escalate until a real limit was imposed.

Have you ever found yourself with dirt on your face? Every parent has tossed out a soft limit now and again, but the child met with soft limits on a consistent basis will exhibit escalating behavior routinely. This is your child’s attempt to find your limits. Your child needs clear non-negotiable limits to make sense of the world around him. And though he may not ask you for limits verbally, I’m certain his behavior is crying out for them.

Deciding what is and what isn’t negotiable along with making things clear to your child, is the very heart of parenting. The child who doesn’t learn to respect that which is not negotiable will have great difficulty behaving; first, perhaps just at home, but later in the neighborhood, at school and in the community.

Sidebar:
Deciding what is and what isn’t negotiable along with making things clear to your child, is the very heart of parenting.

When a parent tells me her child has difficulty behaving more at home than at school, this is valuable information. Inherent in school are some very clear limits. If a child behaves well in one setting and not so well in another, it says a lot about the clarity of what is and is not negotiable in one place or the other. Be careful, though. The child who is not finding clear non-negotiable limits at home may have behavior that starts to trickle over into the school environment as the child begins pushing limits any place he can.

Here is the bottom line. The child with too much power feels unsafe, insecure and at times even unloved. When one child in your family has too much power and control over others in your family, everyone is negatively affected. As dramatic as this may sound, the child without limits is a child at risk for behavioral issues. When your child is young, perhaps boundary pushing is nothing more than an annoyance. But when your child is older, the consequences of ongoing boundary pushing are much more severe, sometimes life altering. There are some decisions your child simply can’t make. Assuming she can may be setting your whole family up for more negotiation than anyone is prepared to handle.

Sidebar:
Here is the bottom line. The child with too much power feels unsafe, insecure and at times even unloved.

Parent or Friend?
On a bright spring morning, Nora takes her three children to the playground. When they arrive she says, “Let’s play a little and then we can have lunch.” Two of her children happily run off to play on the swings. Her middle child, Ben says. “No, Mommy. I want to eat now! And I don’t want to eat at this picnic table, I want that one,” he says pointing to an occupied picnic table where other mothers have begun to stare. “But there are other people at that table, Ben. I think we’ll eat here, okay? Now, eat your PB and J and some grapes and then you can have your cookies.” Ben, stomping and yelling says, “I don’t like peanut butter. I want my grapes and cookies now!” Nora quietly starts to play Let’s Make a Deal. “Ben, just have three bites and then you can have the cookies, okay?” To which Ben hurls the sandwich at Nora and throws himself to the ground, howling louder than a pack of wolves.

So, you’ve heard of baby boomers and you’ve heard of Generation X. But have you heard of Generation N? Could you be part of the Negotiation Generation? You might be if you find yourself in Nora’s shoes hour after hour, day after day.

Many parents like Nora put enormous energy into parenting, taking their role quite seriously. Yet this age of parents as friends has brought us to a place where limits are soft, boundaries unclear, and negotiations taking place at every turn.

Sidebar:
So, you’ve heard of baby boomers and you’ve heard of Generation X. But have you heard of Generation N? Could you be part of the Negotiation Generation?

One reason for this generation of parents as negotiators is the age at which parents begin having children. According to recent census data, the average age at which an American woman has her first child has reached an all-time high of 25 years old. This is because of a drop in teenagers having babies and an increase in the number of women having their first child during their thirties and forties. Why does this translate into more negotiating in parenting? The older you are when you first experience parenthood, the more time you’ve spent concerned first and foremost with your own needs. Older first-time parents have spent more time in the work world and have spent more time negotiating the complexities of adult relationships which certainly have different nuances than the parent child relationship.

Older parents have enjoyed more leisure time, without the responsibilities of parenting. This may all add up to a rude awakening of enormous proportions. Creating boundaries, setting limits and following through can be even more difficult for the parent who has experienced greater independence prior to having a child.

Hank, a first time father at 40 says, “Why can’t we take our two-year-old son out to dinner on a Friday night? So, he runs around a little and maybe tomorrow he’ll be a little cranky, big deal. Why should I have to make the sacrifice to stay home? And how will he learn to behave in a restaurant if we never expect him to learn?”

Hank said the dirty little word—sacrifice. Perhaps the most universal element of parenting across generations. Making sacrifices for your child has always been part of good parenting and it always will be. It’s just part of the job description. As a parent, you are called upon to put your child’s well-being ahead of your own. I’m not talking about being a doormat. I’m talking about respecting the fact that your child is not a little adult. I’m talking about putting your child in situations certain to be met with success, not met with a high likelihood of misbehavior. You’ll find if you can respect your child for the child that he is, he’ll be able—and willing— to respect you in return.

The age of Hank’s child is the answer to his questions. At the age of two, his child will behave poorly in the restaurant because he has neither the developmental capability nor the life experience needed to behave well. Hank’s son wants his jammies and a story more than any restaurant experience Hank has to offer. And Hank has plenty of time in the future to teach the social ins and outs of going out to dinner.

It comes down to a choice. Would you prefer to create situations where your child can behave well? Or to put him in a situation that gives him every opportunity to behave poorly, leading you to ask, “What do I do when he does that?”

Sidebar:
As a parent, you are called upon to put your child’s well-being ahead of your own. I’m not talking about being a doormat. I’m talking about respecting the fact that your child is not a little adult. I’m talking about putting your child in situations certain to be met with success, not met with a high likelihood of misbehavior.

Information is power—unless there’s too much of it
In the 1960s, when everyone gathered around to discuss what Dr. Spock had to say, a revolution began. The parenting information revolution. Prior to Dr. Spock’s sage advice, parents relied on their parents, grandparents and neighbors for up-to-date information on parenting. Though professionals know so much about how children think and learn, most have yet to successfully translate that research into practical everyday ways to parent. Parents tell me they struggle with having the right behavioral expectations, and struggle even more with the conflicting advice they get.

The popular approaches of the past focused on punishment, which leaves a child either fearful of future punishment or angry and resentful toward authority. Discipline today is weighted heavily on the side of talking and negotiating boundaries, which gives a child more power to make behavioral decisions than she is ready for.

Sidebar:
Most parents tell me time-out typically creates new issues to negotiate. “Sit in that chair.” “No! You can’t make me!” And how about grounding? Today, when you send your teenager to her room, it’s a wonder she doesn’t send you a thank you note. With TVs, iPods and Internet access bedside, don’t you wish your teenager would send you to her room?

Traditional experts often tell you to use time-out for your younger child and grounding for your older child. But few parents find success with these techniques. Most parents tell me time-out typically creates new issues to negotiate. “Sit in that chair.” “No! You can’t make me!” And how about grounding? Today, when you send your teenager to her room, it’s a wonder she doesn’t send you a thank you note. With TVs, iPods and Internet access bedside, don’t you wish your teenager would send you to her room? Some experts say, “Encourage your child to use his words.” But most parents claim one of the biggest issues they face is dealing with back talk. Encouraging talking about non-negotiable limits simply grooms your child to push more limits. So much so, that once he starts pushing, he’s relentless until you finally give in. Do you feel powerless to stay in the game long enough to outlast your persistent child? This goes for giving your child choices, too. Giving a persistent child choices in conflict will fuel the conflict, not put the fire out.

Consequences, taking away privileges, spanking and naughty chairs. Perhaps it’s been your experience that these and other means of strong arming your child meets with success— when you follow through. But these techniques are negative, fear-based and while they may extinguish a certain behavior for the moment, they teach your child nothing about how to behave differently in the future.

Or how about the more positive, yet equally ineffective, feeling-based approaches to discipline? Star charts, rewards and incentives. I’ve rarely seen a child who will behave well in the heat of the moment because his smiley face sticker is waiting in the wings. Parents put tremendous energy into star charts when they could be putting that energy into teaching their child how to behave differently. And do we really want to raise a generation of children who will only behave because there’s something in it for them? I certainly won’t advocate buying good behavior.

No time-outs, groundings, or spankings. No privileges to take away, no choices, no star charts, no rewards or bribes. What else is there to propose? What could I possibly offer you?

Fences.

Fences come in all shapes and sizes
Fences is my metaphor for creating solid boundaries and expectations that focuses on building skills for behaving well, not punishment. Creating fences will involve learning when to talk and when to act. You’ll learn how to create age-appropriate boundaries with clear and specific strategies to use no matter what your child’s age or temperament. You, too, will come to believe: if you can predict it, you can prevent it.

If you wanted to learn to speak a new language, say French, you would immerse yourself in all things French. You might take a class, listen to tapes, read some books or visit a French-speaking country. You would study. You wouldn’t expect to be fluent in French for quite some time and only after you’d worked at studying quite a bit. But when it comes to parenting, most parents assume it will just come naturally. You either get how to do it or you don’t. This simply isn’t true.

Parenting is learned. You begin to learn how to parent when you’re a child by watching how your parents parent, through babysitting and taking care of your brothers and sisters. And if those experiences were positive ones you were fortunate. But if those experiences were negative or hurtful, what your role models taught you was ineffective parenting. You can’t expect to know how to parent well if you’ve never been taught. But you can learn now.

You need a simple plan. One that you can rely on no matter what you’re childhood was or was not. You need a plan that will stand the test of time and new research. You need fences.

There are three factors that shape your parenting experience. Your parenting style which determines how you create fences. Your child’s style or temperament, which affects the way your child accepts certain fences. Let’s face it, some children have more difficulty accepting limits and this book will help you plan accordingly. And finally your lifestyle, which, if more adult-driven than child-friendly, will make your child’s behavior simply more challenging than it ever needs to be.

Examining these three factors and making simple, practical changes to all three will help you make unnecessary negotiation a thing of the past. You’ll step out of the Negotiation Generation and step back into control.

Stuck in the middle with you
For parents the pendulum keeps on swinging. I won’t suggest it go back toward the so called ‘good old days,’ when parents ruled and children kept quiet. I won’t suggest it swing toward a place where children are happy at all cost to the rest of the family, including the parents. What I will suggest is a mid-level position where parents are parents and children are encouraged and allowed to be children. Where parents are in charge and children respect this. Where parents know the difference between conversation and negotiation. Where children know what is negotiable and what is not negotiable. When the pendulum falls right in the middle, children will behave because it’s the right thing to do, not out of fear or for reward, but because it’s the natural, easy thing to do. Let me show you how.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2013

    A must read for all parents!

    Every parent should read this! Gives great ideas how to manage situations with your kids without yelling and punishment kids seem to get so much more these days and sometimes parents need way to keep them in check and this book really works!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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