a special guest post from local mom Kelly Meier
Parenting is hard. When you don’t have tools in your toolbox it is almost impossible. So you fall back on what you know – what was done to you, after all, you turned out fine….right? It can’t be all that hard. Until IT IS. Until your kids won’t brush their teeth, do their homework, constantly come home late, won’t get ready for school on time or tell you what in the world is wrong.
So you start threatening, bribing, cajoling, punishing. You start YELLING! It doesn’t feel very good. It’s not really helping, but it’s all you’ve got left. You’re not happy, your partner is not happy and your kids who will barely talk to you aren’t happy either.
I’m a parenting blogger for goodness sake and I STILL needed help! I had issues. Stuff I couldn’t solve, so I took the first step; I admitted it. I admitted that our mornings were awful. I felt like I needed to go back to bed just to recover from dropping my kids off at school. I admitted that our car rides were torture in the form of sibling war. I admitted that despite all the amazing tools and resources I had I was still struggling. So I looked around a little and decided to try Parent Effectiveness Training.
I heard rave reviews about P.E.T. (Parent Effectiveness Training). It’s been around since 1962 and its founder was nominated three times for a Nobel Peace Prize so I figured it had some legs and enrolled in a class. I was hooked. Things changed. They changed so much that I wanted to spread the word. It was like I had been reborn into some magical fantasy world where parents and children cooperate and get along and LIKE EACH OTHER.
Here’s the thing: kids want to get along with you. They really do. Even the ones with the strongest of wills. I figured this out right away when my own strong willed child started wanting to help me. Other parents I knew were reporting the same – their kids were cooperating and they were solving problems on their own. It was not a fluke, this was helping. I made a few calls, took a leap of faith and got certified to teach it. Now I am a certified P.E.T. teacher. I teach with a couple of fantastic colleagues, Nikki Weil and Catherine Dickerson, and we have morning classes in Scripps Ranch starting March 16 and evening classes in Solana Beach starting April 14. If you aren’t sold yet, I’m going to leave you with three little things that I learned in class and did right away that improved my relationship with my children, and let you decide for yourself.
Give More Information
It’s our job as parents to give our children the information they need to understand the impacts of their behaviors so they can set the limits themselves. It’s not enough to say to your child. “Clean up the living room.” They are children and they need to hear from you how the mess they made things harder for you. Instead say “When there are Legos on the living room floor, I worry I will step on one and hurt myself.” Just try it. You can almost see the coin drop when they truly understand. They don’t want to hurt mom, kids just tend to not think quite that far ahead.
Listen AND Understand.
When your child is crying because someone left him out at school, he doesn’t want to hear the gazillion solutions you might come up with. He wants you to say “Oh wow, that sounds terrible. I bet you felt so left out AND you were embarrassed to sit alone.” He wants you to get him, so just pause, be quiet and listen. That’s it. Really.
Let Them Help Set Rules
So often we set up rules for our kids without thinking them through and have no idea how we impact them. So involve them. Keep your boundaries and needs intact, but instead of jumping to “no” find out what’s behind the need for the rule. Your child keeps coming home late. Instead of grounding him, perhaps you find out that a kid at soccer practice keeps hiding his shoes. (It happens, right?) At any rate, you as a parent still need him home for dinner – he still needs to go to practice. So….brainstorm. Problems that are solved mutually tend to stay solved. Here’s a great real life example of this – my kids kept waking me up in the morning demanding breakfast. Together we decided to stock a low shelf in the kitchen with things they could prepare themselves for breakfast. They helped choose and move things to that shelf. Now, instead of waking me up screaming for food, my son feels very empowered to grab his own snack or make his own sandwich…and one for his sister too.
If any of this sounds like it might change your life too….GUESS WHAT! There’s a class starting March 16. You could just click this link and jump in. I hope to meet you there!
For a story on JUST LISTENING check out this story about my son and his morning shoe dilemma http://respectfulparent.com/acceptance-solved-our-shoe-struggles-active-listening/