Tuesday, May 6, 2008

More on Scream Free Parenting

Since this subject has really hit home with a lot of ladies, I wanted to post some more on it from the book Scream Free Parenting by Hal Edward Runkel. Now that we know we need to NOT be reactionary parents, how do we implement that? (Thanks for asking Thia!)

Here are the book chapter titles of his book. I've done my best to summarize the main points of each chapter as a way to expound on the subject.

Section 1 Becoming the Cool Parent Your Kids Really Need

1. Parenting is Not About Kid, It's About Parents. Emotional reactivity is our worst enemy when it comes to having great relationships. The only way to retain a position of influence with our children is to regain a position of control over ourselves.

2. Growing Up is Hard To Do, Especially for Grown-Ups
Part of being a grown-up is enduring discomfort now for the sake of a payoff later. Whenever we give in to our anxiety, we create the very outcome we're hoping to avoid. Parenting is very, very hard but we are to never stop growing and letting the hard times cause us to grow.

3. If You're Not Under Control, Then You Cannot Be in Charge
To be "in charge" as a parent means inspiring your children to motivate themselves. Why do we continually surrender control over our emotional responses to those around us? (As I pointed out in a previous post, the "CALM ME DOWN" thing).

Keeping Your Cool Means Creating Space

4. Begin With the End in Mind, but Let Go of the Final Results
Children are not machines or pets and parents are neithter their operators or owners. When it comes to relationships we cannot ever guarantee or control that end we desire. While working toward that end, we must let go of the need to achieve it. If you want your children to become self-directed adults, you have to face the truth that you cannot do it for them.

5. Kids Need Their Room
What children need most is parents who do not need them. Quote from Edwin H. Friedman, "The children who do best are the ones least essential to our own salvation." Without space to make their own mistakes, our kids live only borrowed lives.

6. Resistance is Futile; Practice Judo Parenting
Instead of always seeing a challenge to your authority (or an exertion of the will) as an impending battle, try seeing it as your child's developing growth. He is testing you to see that you are stable and consistent. And he desperately wants you to pass. The judo model of combat and the Scream Free model of relationships are very similar. Your children will try to engage you in a test. They only become battles if we accept the challenge and engage in the fight. Judo is the art of going with another's momentum (it is called The Way of Gentleness). He gives these examples:
"I'm bored." You could get angry, anxious, or blame yourself for you kid's boredom. Or you could overcompensate to solve their problem. But, a Scream Free parent would say, "What are you going to do about it?"
"Mommy, I can't do my homework." You could orbit around your child and become a homework hoverer, but the Scream Free parent is empathetic and says, "What are you going to do about it? Who can you call in your class to help you?" Your child's homework is supposed to make them struggle. It is designed to be difficult. Calm yourself down and let them struggle. Let them invite you alongside to help them through the struggle but don't try to hover and be there for them all the time. It's their problem, not yours.

"I don't wanna do it, and I'm not gonna do it!"
While most parents would yell, "Oh yes you are and you will do it right now!" the Scream Free parent learns to keep her cool and choose not to engage in this invitation to battle. She says, "You're not going to come inside huh? You have a choice. You can come inside or (consequence). I'll be back in a few minutes to see what you've decided."

7. You Are Not a Prophet (and Neither is Grandma)
Labels are among the most powerful forces that shape our relationship with the world. Whenever we label our children, even if we think they are positive labels, we severely limit their space. What you say ABOUT your kids is more important than what you say TO them. Change your vocabulary. Instead of saying, "You're always dramatic," say, "You can be dramatic." Instead of saying, "He's always been our studious one" say, "He can be quite studious." I like this quote, "Years ago, we gave our children beautiful names; let's stop there."

Section 3: Keeping Your Cool Means Creating a Place

8. Parents Set the Table by Setting the Tone (and Vice Versa)
Boundaries are both freeing and limiting. Stability and structure are necessary components in a healthy home. There is a personal side to parenting (fun, loving relationships) and a business side (rules, authority, structure, routine).

9. Let the Consequences Do the Screaming
All of our choices have consequences. The more our children are exposed to the small consequences of their small infractions, the less they will have to commit large infractions and experience large consequences. So many parents today can't let their kids face consequences. He gives examples of parents doing their kid's homework for them, fixing their traffic tickets for them, bailing them out, letting punishments slide, etc. Calming ourselves down while we watch our children choose poorly is about as difficult as it gets. We are tempted to panic, scream, get reactive and say the 4 horrible words, "I told you so!" But we need to choose to welcome consequences in our home (you reap what you sow) and walk alongside them as they struggle and suffer. Consequences are here to help us raise our children.

10. Empty Threats are Really Broken Promises
It comes down to integrity--meaning what you say, saying what you mean, and following through with what you promise. Be consistent! Kids will see an empty threat in the same way they would see a broken promise (A promise such as "I'm going to buy you an ice-cream," and then you change your mind. A kid knows that is just not right!)

1. Don't ever set a consequence that is tougher for you to enforce than it is for them to endure. If you set an impossible consequence, you will likely end up not following through with it. (Been there, done that, got the t-shirt! How many times have I threatened that we will go home from the park if she does it one more time when I really don't want to and want to stay and chat with my Mom friends?)

2. There are no shortcuts to setting and enforcing consequences. It is exhausting, difficult, and takes ruthless consistency. Keep on keeping on.

3. Only choose consequences you are willing to enforce. Know your motivations for the punishment you've chosen. If you think you ought to be spanking your child, but don't want to, then you aren't acting with integrity. If you don't want to be a spanking parent, but you find yourself doing it, then you aren't acting with integrity and your kid will pick up on your wishy-washy mindset and think you are out of control, doing things you don't want to be doing.

4. Only choose consequences you are willing to endure yourself. He gives an example of a man who was a speeder and his son had speeding tickets too. Instead of bribing his way out of the tickets, he chose to take his fines, as an example to his son, and let his son reap the consequences of his own speeding also. I think about how I need to be willing to always say I'm sorry and ask forgiveness when I wrong my kids just as I expect them to do to each other and me.

Section Four: Putting Yourself into Practice

11. Put on Your Own Oxygen Mask First
You cannot take care of your family unless you first tend to yourself. This is not advocating selfishness. When we think of the verse, "Love your neighbor as yourself" a lot of us, if we put that into practice, would be running our neighbors into the ground, feeding them junk, and keeping them up too late, etc. We need to love ourselves for others' benefit by taking care of ourselves so they don't have to. Seek to have a healthy life and be a good steward of your body. When we take care of ourselves, we truly benefit our kids without burdening them with the need to benefit us.

12. Revolutionary Relationships
In order to have revolutionary relationships, we need to start with our own reactions, our own emotions, our own choices.

1 comment:

The Three 22nds said...

His stuff sounds a lot like Keven Lemen's "Reality Discipline". I think I am going to try to find this book! Thanks!

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