Sunday, November 04, 2007

Choices for Children

NaBloPoMo #4: Because of the time change, we woke up early and went to get our cars washed at 8:00 this morning. Then we went to Teddy's for breakfast. Tony went to Costco to look at TVs (big time obsession of his) and gassed up my car. Maiya was a little cranky, but we colored a little and then went to take a nap. Again, I slept about 1 1/2 hours.

We got up, and took showers and then went to the Mid-City area for an Alfie Kohn Salon to talk about the book "Unconditional Parenting" with the WLA Attachment Parenting listserve group. I've been on the listserve for a year or so, but haven't made it to any of their Friday park days. It was pretty cool. There were about 9 couples, all kind of older parents like us, and there were about 10-12 kids ranging from almost 2 years to 3 1/2 years old, with the majority of kids right at Maiya's age, with parents living through the same kinds of issues that we deal with, like tantrums and trying to parent mindfully and unconditionally, without bribes or time outs, or too much praise and rewards for being "good."

The main idea of the book is that children respond to unconditional love, respect and the opportunity to make their own choices. Instead of trying to get kids to "behave," or "do as they're told," Alfie Kohn's book asks, "what do children need, and how can we meet those needs?" Then working with children rather than doing things to them. One of the things we talked about was alternatives to rewards and punishments.

1. Use the least intrusive strategy. - Be gentle and kind as possible, and avoid getting pulled into a struggle (which happens a lot with a two year old!). This works with passive resistance like when they ignore your requests to put away a toy and keeps on playing. Sometimes backing up and giving space, allows them to put away the toys when they're finished. I've tried this, and it often works.

2. Be honest. Acknowledge when you are asking them to do something that isn't much fun. Try to see things from their point of view.

3. Explain the rationale. "Because I said so" is not a reason. So explaining why we need or want the child to do something. "Let's get in the car because Daddy made dinner for us and is waiting for us at home."

4. Turn it into a game. The example in this book is about brushing teeth by turning the toothbrush into an airplane... I think I need to be more creative to make this one work.

5. Set an example. Adults don't have to follow the same rules as kids, but many should. If we're asking kids to clean up after themselves, we should too. It's easier to get kids to do something that they see us modeling.

6. Give them as much choice as possible.

I liked these 2 rules when you get big tantrums:

#1: If you're in public, ignore everyone around you. The more worried you are abou how other people are viewing your parenting skills, the greater change of you responding with too much control and too little patience.

#2: Imagine how this is from the child's point of view. The child may be afraid of their own rage and being out of control. Focu on providing comfort and using minimum control to make sure that people aren't in danger. Let the tantrum play itself out, and then later address the underlying causes.

Ok, enough parenting stuff for today. I'll close with a little plug about a Candelight Vigil for tomorrow night to support Lt. Ehren Watada for his opposition to the War in Iraq. (First & Alameda in Little Tokyo Monday, 11/5 at 5:30 pm). Peace. Out.

1 comment:

Allison said...

Ahhh....thanks for the tips. And just in time!