I finished the book Positive Discipline: A – Z. I got quite a bit out of it, especially about specific situations, as would be expected, given the title. My major takeaways:
- The phrase “firm but kind” is now in my vocabulary.
- Act more, talk less. I put this advice to use right away. It is perfectly OK in positive discipline to simply put your kid in the bathtub or car seat. I used it when my preschooler was hitting my infant: over and over, I simply stopped him, without words, and it worked quickly.
- Allowances. The book recommends giving children as young as 2 an allowance separate from chores. It is to teach them about budgeting. Children can have a clothes allowance each school year. I really like how the children can pick out what they want, without lectures on what is too expensive or not. They gave a story of one girl who bought one, and only one, really expensive outfit for the year. The parents did not rescue her from this decision. She had to get creative all semester and she adjusted for the next semester.
- Sex information. The authors stressed giving children as young as 2 or 3 information about this topic. They need to hear it from their parents. They gave a story of a child who had a rumor spread about her when she was 5, because she said she did things that she didn’t, because she didn’t know the correct terminology.
- Routine charts. They help in mornings, at bedtimes, and other times. We did this with pictures for our 2 year old and, although we did not have much of a problem with it, it helped to improve the bedtime routine. Consider, also, putting pictures of the children doing the tasks on the chart for small children.
- Children should be expected to cover part of the cost of cell phones and other privileges. I have long supported this but it was nice to hear an expert say it with authority.
- Similarly, I was glad to read the authors say to talk about death plainly with your children.
- Family meetings are good, starting at 4 years old.
- Placing too much emphasis on your child being a “good child” can be dangerous, and, I was surprised, can even lead to suicide. From the book, “Children who get too much validation for being good cannot handle the slightest mistake without feeling like they are failures. They may lie or avoid activities to cover up their imperfections. The extreme danger of this belief can be suicide by a person who truly believes that they don’t deserve to live anymore because they have made a mistake and are no longer perfect.”
- At 10, a child should have their own room.
- Sore losers. I was happy to read this section. It recommends playing cooperative games at first to learn the game. Then let the child experience losing a game while at home with their supportive family. Validate their feelings. Then let them play games with other families.
- Teenagers have a “lecture radar.” Instead, ask if they are open to receiving information, show them how to look up the issue on their own, ask a professional, or invite conversation by simply being present and/or inviting curiosity questions.
Another variation on the “decide what you will do” method of parenting is acting instead of talking. Listen to yourself for one day. You might be amazed how many useless words you say. Or listen to parents bargaining with their kids at the grocery store, begging them at the department store, nagging them at the park, and explaining endlessly to them when it’s time to move from point A to point B. Over 75 percent of the problems parents have with young children would probably disappear if parents talked less and acted more.
Children learn naturally if parents can resist the urge to control, rescue, or punish them for their choices
Quite often adults get in the habit of picking on one kid instead of using the term kids and putting everyone in the same boat. It is difficult to really know who started “it.” You may see your older child hitting his younger brother, but you didn’t see what the younger sibling did to provoke his older brother.
“Try again” is the magic phrase that lets children know it’s okay to make a mistake and then learn from it.