How does the modern parent handle bullying?

 

How does the Modern Parent handle bullying? Tune in!

Bullying is not a new problem.  It has happened over time, to all ages.  Chances are you have been bullied at some time in your life.  You may have been too big, too small, underweight, overweight, too smart, too slow, too red-headed, four-eyed, or even too friendly.  The examples are endless.

On this episode of BlogTalkRadio, Taryn Voget and I talk about bullying and discuss empowerment strategies for kids and parents in bullying situations.  We talk about the triangle of dis-empowerment and how to shift your thinking to a triangle of empowerment.  We also share great scripts to use with your children who have been bullied.

Tune in for this high impact, 30-minute radio segment.

Listen to internet radio with WiseTalk Modern Parenting on Blog Talk Radio

You can also view  this episode on BlogTalkRadio.

 

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What can a father say to his over-weight, bullied daughter?

What can a father say to his over-weight, bullied daughter?  Well, it’s not actually what my father said, it’s what he did.

Rewind back and I am 15 years old and entering my junior year of high school. I am still over-weight. Or more accurately describe, at this point I am obese. I am about 245 pounds and a size 20 women’s clothes.

My journey through school, as some of you may have read in other blog posts here, was nothing less than a torturous experience.

The teasing, taunting, and continued comments assaulted me daily.

It’s the night before school starts: I am living with my dad after my parent’s divorce. I am in my room and my father comes in to remind me that school starts tomorrow and I should probably go to bed. (By the way, he didn’t have to remind me, I was highly aware of what the next day had in store for me.)

He noticed a shift in my presence, my energy. He asked the question, the one I didn’t want to answer, especially to my father:

“What’s wrong?’

I could help it, or stop it. The tears came flowing and I moved into “the ugly cry.” I just lost it. He asked, “What is going on?”

Once I started, I couldn’t stop. I was embarrassed and wanted to keep my pain to myself, but I couldn’t.

“I can’t get on that bus one more time. They are so mean, Dad. They even offer me drugs to lose weight because I am so fat!”

(At 15, I was extremely naïve. A boy actually offered me crystal meth because he knew I wanted to lose weight. For a moment I considered it. If it could end the pain, it just might be worth it. But I decided that drugs wouldn’t fix this problem.)

My father simply said…

“What can I do to help?”

I thought about it. I knew if I got to school, free from the bus experience, I could handle the rest of the bullying throughout the day by going to the bathroom, or pretending to read, or staying late in class. I just couldn’t start another day on the bus being teased.

There was hope on the horizon. I was scheduled to take my driver’s test on October 19th, only a couple of months away.

If my dad could just take me to school in the morning for a couple of months, that would give me a break. At least I could begin my day free from bullying.

The only problem was my father was a night owl. He would stay up till 3am or so and go into work around 10 or 11am. He was NEVER a morning person. Christmas day was a nightmare for me as a child because I had to wait till 10am to open presents!

This is what I said to my dad:

“If you could just give me a ride to school in the morning, I can make it through the rest of the day. I know 6am is early. I’m sorry. I just don’t think I can take it any more. I need help. Just until my birthday, then I will have my license.”

My dad knew I was sincere and felt my desperation.

He simply said, “Ok, I will take you in the mornings.”

I felt a wave of relief. Hope that things were going to be better. Hope that I could get through this experience for another year.

He didn’t lecture me, shame me, tell me that I should “suck it up,” or embarrass me anymore than I already was. It was really hard to share my feeling with my father, but I trusted him.

So my father got up every morning for the next 2 months at 5:30 am to take me to school. He actually made the best of it, joined a gym, and used the time in the morning before work to get fit.

The day after I got my license, my father never woke up at 5:30am again.

Some might say that my father “sheltered” me or didn’t allow me to work through my experience on my own. The truth is my dad knew me: he could feel my pain in the moment. He knew that I would never ask for help if I didn’t need it. He knew that that the solution was inside of me. And he knew how he could support me most.

My father taught me a very valuable lesson that day. Sometimes all we need is someone to ask a simple question: “What can I do to help?”

Check out the previous article in this series:  What my mom said when I was bullied.  It saved my life.

 

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What my mom said when I was bullied. It saved my life.

In the late 70’s and even early 80’s bullying was not in the headlines.  It was just part of life, a right of passage, a moment to suck it up or stand up for yourself.

I was raised deep in the heart of Texas where tiny body size and Barbie doll cuteness, call it cheerleaderabilty, was every girl’s number one goal.  When I grew up, obesity just wasn’t all that common in children or adults.  So as a very overweight child, the fat girl in school, well you can imagine what I went through.  Or maybe not.

I moved to a new school in 2nd grade.  That’s where this story begins.

I was the biggest kid in my class and considered somewhat of an Amazon child.  I was just abnormally large in both height and weight.  At least that’s how I felt and perceived myself.  And what I was reminded of by my classmates daily.

One boy caught on to my insecurity and began his torture sessions (bullying) for next 7 years.   Everyday, from the moment I got on the bus, throughout class, at lunch, on the bus ride home, it was the same story:

“Heather, Heather, not light as a feather”

“Hold on everyone the bus is going down! Heather’s getting on.”

“You’re just a fat-ass.  No one likes you.  You will never have anything.”

“Fatty fatty 2 by 4, can’t fit through the bathroom door.”

“Haven’t you had enough to eat?   You could skip lunch everyday and still be fat.”

“Go home to the 3 little pigs house, you big fat pig.”
(Oh yeah – side note – my mom and dad were both overweight too.)

It goes on and on and on and on.

I had enough.  One day this boy called me a whale in line.  I decided that moment to take matters in my own hands.  I threw him against the lockers and started beating him as hard and as long as I could.

We both found ourselves in the principle’s office. This was back in Texas when you got “swats” for bad behavior. (For those who don’t know this term, a “swat” is a spanking with a large wooden paddle.)  Thank God the Dean of the school had a teenage daughter, who just happened to be my nanny.  The Dean stood up for me and my tormentor got 5 swats and a call home.  I went back to class.

I thought that this would end it.  No!  It just added fuel to the fire.  He came back to school and told everyone that his dad said, “It was worth the swats, because after all, she is a fat-ass.”

Every day, every year he reminded me that I was worthless.

I made it through school and would be happy to come home.  A place that was safe, loving, and supportive.  In moments, right before bed, my mother would notice a shift in my energy.  She would notice a sadness come over me.

She would come to my room before bed and lay on my bed to “talk”.  I didn’t want to talk about my sadness because I was embarrassed and ashamed.    She would look at me in the eyes and say, “I know something is wrong, how can I help?”

I confessed my secret.  I told her, “I am worthless, I will never have a boyfriend and I will never be anything because I am fat!”

My mom in her wisdom said one sentence, the sentence that changed my life:

“It’s not true.”

At the time I argued with her.  I told her it was true.  Why would everyone say it and laugh if it wasn’t true?

She explained.

“You are here on purpose, this I know for sure.  I was not supposed to be able to have children. Ever.  I had cervical cancer and part of my cervix was removed.  The doctors told me that even if, by chance, I did get pregnant, I would never carry a child to full term.  So your father and I decided to buy a semi-truck and be truckers across America.  Shortly after we decided to hit the road, I found out I was pregnant.  The doctors said I would never carry to full term and to be prepared to lose the baby.  You decided to hang out in my belly for a long time.  You were born 2 weeks late, 10 pounds 4 ounces.  You proved them wrong. “

“You are a miracle.  You are here on purpose and have special unique gifts to offer this world that NO ONE else has.  The boy is wrong. “

The best conversation my mom could have offered!

She reminded me of my greatness.  She reminded me that I was a miracle.  She reminded me that I matter, regardless of anyone’s opinion.

She instinctively knew to confirm and re-affirm my greatness.

She instinctively knew that confronting the bully would not solve the situation, it would likely just embarrass and humiliate me even more.  She knew she had to stand by me and be the voice of courage, reason and hope.  She couldn’t solve this one for me.  She had to inspire me to do it myself.

That boy never stopped bullying me.  But every day I would replay that conversation with my mother in my head.  I reminded myself, “I am a miracle, worthy, and important.  I know he is wrong. I believe my mom.”

A few weeks ago, I happened to run across that boy’s Facebook picture.  Guess what?  He happened to marry a beautiful, blonde, overweight woman.

I guess he actually liked me after all! 🙂

How can you remind your child of their greatness today? Share your thoughts in the comments section!

See the next post in this series: What can a father say to his overweight, bullied daughter?

 

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Raise A Happy Child - Parenting Blog, Book and Videos

How to set rules and boundaries that work.

“You are not going to hit your friend.”

Well, actually he did hit his friend.

Boundaries are a funny thing, especially with children.  I used to think that I needed to set boundaries for them, I am the adult and I know what’s best for you.  Draw the line in the sand, and if they crossed it, trouble was sure to come their way (cleverly disguised as a consequence)

I believed this until a little boy named Aaron enrolled in my school.  Every time I “set” a boundary, not only did he cross it, he completely erased it.   I would tell Aaron all the “rules” of the classroom, Aaron would challenge each one as a personal mission to make my day miserable.  (at least it felt that way at the time).

Aaron would head butt another child while waiting line to go outside.

My response: “Aaron, you know you are not allowed to hurt your friends.”

Aaron would simply state, “He’s not my friend.”

I added, “You are not allowed to hit ANYONE else.”

Aaron:  “Yes I am, cuz I did.”

Aaron was an amazing teacher, even at 4 years old.  He taught me that I could not set boundaries for him. He would simply outwit or defy the rule maker every time.   He did not want to be nor could he be controlled.

The valuable lesson…the only boundaries I can set are my own.  The only person I can control is myself: my response, my actions, my communication.

Aaron gave me practice everyday to master this concept.  (he wasn’t the only one to give me practice, just the most memorable) J

I can hear the response, “Are you saying that kids don’t need rules, or boundaries?”

I am saying that I need to have a clear set of boundaries for myself and communicate those boundaries in a clear, simple, and effective way.

So what does it look and sound like?

I decide what I want, communicate it simply in a matter-of-fact state of being, and create a choice that will allow both of us to get our needs met.

This is what it sounds like: “Aaron, you are welcome to hit your head on the punching bag or hit your pillow.”

Some would say, “What about teaching him that that’s not nice or to be nice to his friend, or that’s not allowed?”

I would simply say to Aaron, “ I know that you are an amazing friend.  Sometimes I get angry when I have to wait in line too.  Sometimes when I get frustrated I stomp my foot on the ground.”

Aaron needed to know that I believe he is amazing. And he need to know that I too get angry. And then I verbally model a behavior I would like for him to embrace.

My boundary was clear to Aaron without the use of shame, guilt, or anger.  Hitting another classmate does not work for me.  Here’s what will work for me: he can hit the punching bag or the pillow.

That’s it.

It’s a simple and effective formula:

  1. I hold him in a space of greatness.  He IS an amazing child.
  2. I empathize with him, I have felt the same feelings.
  3. I model, with words, a behavior that is appropriate in this situation.

Aaron reminded me that I cannot stop a feeling or a response with a rule, a boundary.  I can only give suggestions on how to handle the feeling. We shared wisdom with each other.

Aaron’s wisdom:  Miss Heather, I don’t want to be controlled, and even if you try, it won’t work.

My wisdom:  Let me offer some ways, dear Aaron, of how you can channel your feelings in situations like this.

I would rather be a mentor than a police officer.  I want to model options that are appropriate.  A mentor gives options and inspires personal growth.  I want to inspire!

Is there a boundary or rule you can re-frame to reflect your needs and offer a choice to your child?

 

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What makes a parent a good parent?

What Makes a Good Parent - Good Mom

 Tune into this BlogTalkRadio show on “What makes a parent a good parent?”

 

 

Wouldn’t it be great if children came with a manual? I recently shared my thoughts on parenting – and what makes a good parent – with Dr. Wendy Dearborn, Holistic Life Coach.

In this BlogTalkRadio show I share what parents can do to be their best with themselves and with their children.

Listen in as Dr. Wendy challenges some of my thoughts. And stay tuned while I share with a teacher who called in on why we need to update our parenting strategies to work with the modern children coming into this world.  This is an episode full of unconventional wisdom and specific strategies parents can use in their families.

 

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Empowerment Technique #1 – How to turn “no” into “yes” at the store.

Empowered Kid

I was recently in Target with my husband and we walked through his favorite department:  electronics. My nightmare begins.  My husband has decided that we NEED the new iPad2.  He explains all the benefits that this device will offer our family, especially me!  I give him the time to explain.  As he finishes I say “No.”  He begins another approach: this time how it will help my business.  Sneaky.  But still “NO.”  We are in the middle of the isle and now enter into a full-blown discussion.  His position: “This will help our family.”  My position: “It’s not in the budget…really NOT in the budget.” We move quickly from discussion to heated debate!

The word “no” is not just a button for children.  It is a button for humans.  I don’t like to be told “no.”  And in this instance my husband feels the same way.

I have always done my best to give children options that revolve around what they CAN do.  Over the years, many children taught me when I offer options of what they CAN do, they will move forward instead of digging their heels in to the ground.

We want to know our possibilities instead of our restrictions or limitations.  We deeply want to feel the power to make all our dreams come true.

So here it is the simple, powerful, good feeling way to approach any situation you feel the need to say “No” to in a store.  Take a moment to ask yourself:

  1. What can I say yes to? And,
  2. How can I empower my child to come up with a solution and let them know I believe in them?

So how would I replay Target?  I would simply say “That’s a great idea babe!  I know you will come up with a way to get that iPad that will work for our family!  I can’t wait because it will help me so much with the business!  You always seem to make things work for you. I know you will create a way to get it!”

Every time I gave the power to the child to decide, think, and dream for himself…he always rose to the occasion and actually thought of better ways to accomplish their dreams than I did.

Now imagine yourself with your child in the same store.

Same script, smaller person. 

If my child asks me for something in the store – and it’s not in my budget – here is how I play it out:

“What a cool toy!  I love that toy too!  I didn’t plan on getting that toy today.  But I know if you really want it you will come up with a way to get it!  Can you think of some ways you could get that for yourself?”

If I am time starved and in a hurry, I only modify the last part.  That script goes like this:

“What a cool toy!  I love that toy too!  I didn’t plan on getting that toy today.  But I know if you really want it you will come up with a way to get it!  I’ll give you some time. I’ll count to ten and if you can come up with an answer, great!  If you can’t think of a way now, you can always think more about it tonight at home.”

The idea is to inspire my child to see the possibility for him to get the things he desires from various sources, or means beyond my credit card.   To know that great things are always coming his way if we just open our minds to other available avenues. 

 

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Who is the curfew for?

Parents and Kids Curfew

In my teens I was dating a guy that did not fit the picture of the man my father thought I should be dating.

Here’s the story:

In the early 90’s (ok really early, like 1990), I was dating my first love.  He was everything I could ask for in a boyfriend.  He loved me for exactly who I was and wanted to be with me always.

I was over at his house on a typical Friday night watching a movie.  I was truly exhausted from going to school and working all day.  We started the movie and we both fell asleep.

I didn’t have a curfew, technically.   I would just tell my father what I was doing and ask him what time he wanted me home.  If I didn’t agree with him, I would state my case, and often he would meet me somewhere in the middle.  So on this day in particular my father expected me home at 12:30am.

Well, as you can probably guess, I over-slept.  When I woke up,  I looked at the clock and it was 3:30 am!   As a quick reminder, there were no cell phones (at least for the average teenager) at this time and my boyfriend could not afford a phone in his apartment.  So, the dilemma in my mind was, “Do I rush home and deal with it then or do I stop at a payphone (remember those?) at 3:30am?”  I opted for the plan to rush home and deal with the consequences.  The only thought in my head the whole way home was, “I am in soooo much trouble!”

I run up the stairs to our apartment, I swing the door open and see my dad with the yellow pages in his lap, on the phone, crying.  He drops the phone, looks at me and starts crying harder.  This is so not what I expected! I had only seen my father cry one other time, when my parents decided to divorce.

I look at him and instantly feel his pain. I know that he was so scared that something had happened to me.  He adored the ground I walked on and could not imagine life without me.

I started to explain. “Dad, I am so, so, so sorry!  I was over at John’s house and we were watching a movie and I fell asleep!  You know he doesn’t have a phone and I knew you would be worried so I drove home as fast as I could!”

The Wisdom of Alan Robie (my father):

His response: “I knew that you would never do that to me, so I figured you were in the hospital.  I am just so glad you are ok.  You know how much I love you and I can’t imagine my life without you in it!”

I cried and told my dad I was so sorry to worry him and I would make sure it didn’t happen again.  And from that point on, I set my boyfriend’s alarm clock, just in case.

So here’s the million-dollar question….

Did I learn my lesson without punishment??

Absolutely!

My father knew in his heart that I would never intentionally make him worry about me.  He held me in a space of greatness.  He believed in me and came to the conclusion that I had to be in the hospital.  It was the only reason he could see why I didn’t keep my word about my curfew.

This situation opened a door for understanding – an understanding that my father was not my authority.  He was someone who loved me beyond words.  After seeing the truth of my father, his tears, his fears, and his concerns for my well being, I made a decision to make sure my actions reflected the respect and love I had for him.  I was offered the gift of seeing my father as a human who loved me so much that he never gave into the idea that I would purposely do this “to” him.

I learned from the experience, not a punishment.

This was one of the most defining and inspirational moments in my life.  It taught me that if you hold the ones you love in greatness, they will rise to the occasion and be great.

 

 

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Why Ignoring Undesirable Behavior is the Best Thing You Can Do

Parents Ignoring Behavior

When I was taking Child Development classes, I was taught that when you ignore “bad” behavior in the classroom, “bad” behavior would multiply.   And eventually your students will have you tied up, gagged, and take over!

As I worked with children from around the world at the MGM Grand Hotel youth center in Las Vegas, I learned quickly to ignore a lot of behavior.  I did this not because I wanted to, but simply because I could not understand them.  When I was faced with children that were upset or angry and expressing their feelings in a foreign language, the only choice I had was to ignore or re-direct them.  It actually taught me that addressing the anger by talking or reasoning would not work.  And in fact it just made both of us more upset and frustrated.

After I opened my pre-school, I soon realized that I could not possibly address every child’s undesirable behavior.  If I chose to go this route, my entire day would be reprimanding child after child.  That would be a terrible day for me, and an even worse day for the children.

I learned that the more I stayed out of the way, the more they would work it out on their own. The more I ignored, the happier we all were.

I want to be clear: I had “deal breakers.” My deal-breakers were situations that needed to be addressed due to safety or general concern for the child’s well-being.  But overall, these situations were limited compared to the everyday stories of pre-school misbehaving.

In most schools you will hear teachers say over, and over, and over again:

“Share your toys with him.”

“Be nice to her.”

Stop talking like that.”

Use your nice voice.” Or, “Use your inside voice.” (Which by the way makes no sense to a child.  To them their voice is their voice, inside or outside.)

“Stop throwing your toys.”

The list can go on and on and on!  I decided early on to pick out my “deal breakers,” the behaviors that I needed to address anytime I witnessed them.  And when I came across a deal breaker, I needed a plan of how to re-direct the child towards the desired behavior.  (Note: all other mildly undesirable behavior, I ignore.)

So how does this look at home?

My daughter is not as “tidy” as I would desire.  My house is my sanctuary and I feel really good when it is clean, organized, and in order.  My daughter doesn’t feel the same way.  She likes, or actually doesn’t care about, walking through a pile of clothes to get to her bed.  Nor does she mind digging through a box full of make-up to get what she needs for the day and leaving the remaining pile on the floor next to the clothes.

I can honestly deal with her rolling her eyes at me when I say something about her lack of tidiness.  That really doesn’t phase me.  But the mess?  It is beyond anything I can deal with.  I did my best.  I shut the door and I ignored it as long as I can.  Now I can’t take it anymore.  It has become deal-breaker for me.

I address her with a simple conversation.  I say, “This room is not working for me.  I know that we have different styles of living.  I am willing to work with you.  We need to move somewhere in the middle so we can both live together under one roof.  Here’s what I am willing to live with:  I need to be able to see your floor, see your bed spread, and see your table.  Is that something that will work for you?”

We have a conversation, defining our needs, and how we can come together to make it work.  I treat her with respect, the same respect I offer my friends and even strangers, and we figure it out.

I have my “deal-breakers” established early on so when I see a behavior that is on that list I address it.  If it is not on the list, I let it go.  It is such a relief because I know that I am not the only person in the world my child will learn from or grow with.  I can’t imagine a boss or even my own parent nitpicking on every single little thing I do “wrong” or not to “expectation.”  I don’t want to be under that kind of microscope and neither does my child.  I honor what is important to me and let go of the restAnd we are all a lot happier.

 

 

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Why No Punishment is Your Reward

Parenting and Punishment

I am cruising down the highway, minding my own business, going around 70 mph in a 55 mph zone.  I hear the sirens, look in my rear view mirror, and I realize the highway patrol is not happy with my choice to go a little faster than recommended.  He pulls me over and I comply with his requests: license, insurance and registration.  He proceeds to ask me a very condescending question. “Do you know how fast you were going?”  (Of course I do! I have to go that fast to get to my meeting on time!)  I say, “Around 65 mph.” His response: “No, actually you were going 71 in a 55 zone.”  I am thinking to myself, “Really?  You couldn’t say 70?  You had to say 71????”

He proceeds to issue me a ticket and warn me of all the dangers of going 71 miles per hour on this highway.  He tries to scare me into being “good” and following the rules with a story of a recent fatality on the highway.  The story was of a driver going 71 mph or so!  Anyway, he gives me the ticket and says, “I hope you have learned your lesson.”

I immediately think, ”Yep, I need to pay more attention to where you guys hide so I can slow down and avoid a ticket!”

This officer sparked a thought in my mind…

Does punishment really work?

The ticket does not detour me from ever speeding again.  The officer shaming or fearing me into not speeding has no effect on my choice to speed in the future.  I actually look to find ways to “beat the system” instead of working together.

What if we could come to an understanding between each other?  What if we were able to communicate our needs and desires to each other, respectfully, and have it result in collaboration – an understanding of what works for both parties?

For me, it feels better to leave out the punishment with any child.  Tell me what you need, ask me what I need, and let’s come to an understanding together.

So you say, “That is a great thought, but not possible with a 16 year-old!”  And I say, it is possible, and actually works really well! (It really works with any age, teenagers just make the story better.)

So my 16-year old came home late on a Saturday night.  Not just late, really late.  Like 2 hours past the time he said he would be home.  I am angry.  But under the feeling of anger I am really worried that something terrible has happened to him.  I am sitting, waiting, and playing the worst-case scenarios out in my mind.  When he finally rolls in the door, he acts like nothing has happened.

I am angry and my first thought is, “What can I do to him to make him suffer as much as I have suffered tonight?”  The punishments in my mind range from taking his cell phone, taking his computer, grounding him, or all of the above.

I take a moment to remember my conversation with the patrol officer and instantly decide to change my approach.  As my son walks in the door, I ask him to come sit down for a minute.  The conversation sounds like this:

“I have to tell you first, I am glad you are at home safe.  I am not feeling good about this situation because I thought we were on the same page when you left the house earlier.  I thought we agreed for you to be home at 12am.  When the clock hit 12:01, I instantly started worrying that something terrible had happened.“

My son interrupts, “Mom, I am fine, I just was late.”

I continue. “Please let me finish my thoughts and then I will hear yours.  When you were late, I automatically thought something was wrong.  You are respectful, considerate, and caring, and I know that when you have run late in the past, you call.  You are one of the most important people in my world.  I know you are growing into your self and soon you will be out of this house, able to stay out as long as you want without feeling like you need to “report” to someone.  I appreciate and honor your independence.  I am asking you to work with me until you do leave so we can both feel good about our remaining time together.  Do you have any suggestions about how we can both get our needs met?”

The alternative?  I punish him. He is angry and resentful.  And honestly he just finds a way to get around it the next time, much like my speeding story.

I look at this as an opportunity for both of us to practice communicating what we need and practice getting both of our needs met, free from anger, shame or punishment.  I can promise you that having an honest conversation is more effective than a punishing one.  When I state clearly what I need and ask my child to clearly state his needs, we work together to come to a solution that offers us both a feeling of respect, power and success.

 

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How Modern Parents Use “Time-Out”

As I started writing this blog post, a thought came across my mind: “I wonder who invented Time-Out and what was the original purpose behind it?”

A few clicks and I arrived at Wikipedia!

Time-Out was actually a concept invented by Arthur Staats in 1958.  (Quick thought….50+ years seems like a very long time ago – two generations ago to be exact.)  His idea and work revolved around the principle of:

“…conditioning responses using extrinsic reinforcers.  It was a way to separate a child from an environment where inappropriate behavior has occurred, and intended to give an over-excited child time to calm down, thereby discouraging such behavior.”

I love the modern age we live in with information at my fingertips!  AND I am so thankful I did not have this information as easy to access when I started working with children.  I may have believed this more punishing version of the Time-Out.  This version is sort of the home Dunce Cap approach for bad behavior.  “Extrinsic Reinforcers” is a fancy way of saying “I, the adult, am going to enforce obedience by banishing you from an activity until you straighten up.”

When I started working with children, my natural response to negative behavior was Time-Out.  However MY Time-Out was structured more along the lines of a sports definition of time-out.  As I refer back to Wiki I find the definition, a perfect match!  Wiki defines a sports time-out as:

“A halt in play, allowing the coaches to communicate with the team, to determine a strategy or inspire morale.” 

LOVE IT!!!

So what does Modern Time-Out look like? What is the 2012 version vs. the 1958 version?

Let’s say I come home a little stressed from my day.  Okay…a lot stressed.  I start making dinner and my son says, “What are we having for dinner?”  I answer quickly, “Spaghetti.” He begins to go into a meltdown over spaghetti, which of course is not really about spaghetti.  He is just feeling the stress of the situation and mirroring back my own vibe.  But I go with spaghetti being the problem.

He is screaming, “I DON’T WANT SPAGHETTI!” And now I am ready to throw the spaghetti on the floor!  At least the dog wants spaghetti!  I know this is only going to get worse.  So I decide to insist on a Time-Out.

Here’s the twist…. the Time-Out is for me.

I say to my darling little man, “Mom needs a take a minute.  I am angry and I need to take a minute for myself to feel better.  I am going to go to the bathroom to give myself a moment to remember what I love about me, you, and dinnertime as a family.  When I feel better, I will come out.  I know you will give me the time I need to feel happy again.  Thank you.”

I go to the bathroom and move myself from anger, to frustration, to hope, to knowing that this is not about spaghetti.  This is a moment for me to practice.  Practice feeling better.  Practice being the mom, the person, I am in my heart.

What am I giving my child?  Amazing gifts!

I am taking responsibility for my feelings, and modeling how to handle these moments in life.  I am freeing my child from the responsibility of behaving a certain way to make ME feel good.  I am giving my child a chance to model a strategy for himself (which is how to handle spaghetti night and feel good about it) and I am inspiring morale!

In the end, it’s not about spaghetti.  It’s about the energy I brought to the conversation.  I was stressed, and my child just mirrored that right back to me.  When I take a moment for myself, get in a better space, my son has the opportunity to do the same for himself, and spaghetti is no longer going to the dogs.

(Note:  The topic of punishment, behavior and Time-Outs is a rich one!  This is just one of many Time-Out examples.  Subscribe to Blog updates to get more techniques on working with your kids.)

 

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