Monday, March 14, 2011

Limit setting 2 Don't kids want limits and authority ?-

It is interesting how people attribute different motives and give different explanations of the same behavior depending if we are speaking about a child or adult.

The adult has an anger problem, suffering from marital and financial stress , needs counseling and help . Kids are aggressive, defiant, oppositional , attention seeking , trying to get their own way , a difficult child  and imho the worst explanation ' testing limits '.

Our view of human nature and especially that of children will dictate our attitudes to parenting, character education and discipline.  It is usually a dark pessimistic view of kids , viewing them  as self-centered , egoistic , lack self control and  the ability to cooperate with others that focuses on rewards, punishments and consequences.  A Boston headmaster  -  F Jarvis sees human nature as "mean, nasty, brutish, selfish, and capable of great cruelty and meanness. We have to hold a mirror up to the students and say, ‘This is who you are. Stop it" Calling kids behavior  - limit testing '  may be ascribed to this dim view of the nature of kids.

This approach denies the brighter side of human nature , that kids can be intrinsically motivated and act in an altruistic way to help and care for others. In fact we adults have an ally in kids in being able to collaborate with them , solve problems and create a caring community of learners.

This approach also denies the autonomy of a child , that the child may have legitimate needs and concerns , and that we all seek attention and try to get our own way . The adult does not have to try and see things from the child's point of view .  The CPS mantra is ' Kids do well if they can ' and not that kids do well if they want to. Kids have poor coping skills or lack cognitive skills to persue their needs in  an appropriate manner.
Stricter limits won't teach skills.

The explanations we give for a kid's behavior will dictate the type of interventions. Limit testing etc is the perfection justification to set up stricter limits and give harsher punishments , ' doing to kids '.
And there is another justification  - parents and teachers  say '
But Don't kids want authority and limits '  or the kids is crying out for limits.
Kids do want parent's help in setting limits and in hindsight often wished that parents would have been stricter and stepped in.  Kids don't want permissive parenting or authoritarian parenting , but parents who give reasons and explanations, try and solve problems in a collaborative way. When parents act this way , kids are more likely to trust a parent's judgment and accept their decision despite not being so happy about it.
 Instead  ' working with them ' and supporting their autonomy so that they can in appropriate ways ensure that their needs are met and concerns addressed.
We should
“Attribute to children the best possible motive consistent with the facts.”

Says Alfie Kohn -  

10 Parenting guidelines - Alfie Kohn 

 When we work with kids – cps  collaborative problem solving we not only address their concerns , but we promote learning , cognitive skills needed to persue their interests and we enhance the relationship.

CPS is also a better way to set limits. When parents or teachers put their concerns on the table and these concerns are addressed by a mutually satisfying solution , we are in fact setting a limit which the child now also owns.

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