Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Attachment parenting - Tip to create insecure attachments

Whenever I come across a book or article on parenting I like to see  how the following issues are handled.

A)     how boundaries and limits are introduced into the family – a top-down approach with the parent unilaterally setting the boundaries or one where the parents and kids collaborate and ' work with each other

B)    How parents deal with inappropriate behavior  - ' doing to ' the kid using consequences, time out , enforcing parental will or  ' working with ' the kid using CPS – collaborative problem solving

C)    Motivation -  using extrinsic motivators like reward, punishments, stickers, awards etc to motivate kids or help kids to motivate themselves and find what they do intrinsically motivating or further important goals  ,by supporting their autonomy , competence , relatedness

 Carin Goldstein talks about the importance of secure attachments between child and adult.

If Securely attached –  kids are emotionally available, perceptive, responsive and autonomous.

Here are some of the tips.

1)   You and your partner are the ultimate example to your child of how two adults connect/communicate/bond
 , 3) The power of repair , 2) Give your child respect 

It is clear that a relationship where the parties are given a voice , that we all  can make mistakes and we are there to help each other repair and make amends with a better plan , that problems can be solved in a collaborative problem solving way is a respectful way in engaging with spouses and children. 

The alternative – using ' sanctions' , consequences , time –out is clearly not being respectful and does not foster secure attachments. 

 Gordon Neufeld in his book on attachment parenting ' How to hold on to your kids  writes that time-out and consequences make attachments insecure as the relationship is used as tool to manipulate behavior. Relationship and attachment is made conditional and contingent on good behavior.

But Carin Goldstein tells us to use time-out  and consequences to get control.

10) Set healthy boundaries and limits for your child – Boundaries and limits are fundamental for children in order for their world to feel safe and secure. As much as your child may (literally) kick and scream about a consequence, a time out or not wanting to keep a consistent bedtime, it is vital to your child’s well being that you, the parent, be consistent within the boundary frame which you set for them. Acting in control when your child is out of control, helps your child learn how to regulate their own emotional experience as they develop and grow.

I have written on the importance of limits and boundaries to give life structure  and predictability. 

limits - kids moral development

limits - do kids really want them?

structure - the way to freedom and autonomy

The question is not whether we have limits or boundaries but how do we set them , alone or together with kids. Do we impose our limits or boundaries to do we help kids use our general guidelines to help themselves create their own limits and boundaries as each different situation dictates. Boundaries and limits can be used to support kid's autonomy or can be used to justify more control , consequences and punishments.

 Using power and control to force a limit ignoring a kid's feelings and concerns , does not help a kid to regulate their own emotional experience . It teaches them that their needs and feelings are unimportant and in order to cope they must disown them.

The article is more about disinformation , distorting the principles of attachment parenting.

Carin Goldstein ends the article ' As much as your child comes into the world with his or her own "blueprint"/temperament, so much of his or her success in the world and in their future interpersonal relationships is largely dependent on their intimate relationship with you.

I ask Carin Goldstein -  what type of relationship do you have with  a kid if you can't talk with him and work with him to solve problems , would you consequence your husband if he acted not appropriately or would you sit down and try to collaborate and problem solve ?


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Chores - a Self Determination theory SDT and CPS approach

Kids are more likely to contribute to the home and do their chores when they can identify with the goals of their parents and have their needs for autonomy - see chores and autonomy support , competence and relatedness met ( Self Determination Theory ) while engaging in chores. Chores present us with many opportunities to support kids autonomy , their skills and competence , and most important a time when parents and kids can connect and spend time together. So many good conversations can take place while kids and parents are doing things together.

 It is important to always have in the back in our minds our Parenting goals  when we deal with chores and contributing around the home.

1 Discuss the benefits of an organized home with the kids. The idea is to elicit ideas and responses from them with dialog questions rather than lecturing or telling them.  We should try to 'transcend' interactions with kids and go beyond instructions or giving kids a list of chores - The kitchen can be a classroom .We should turn it into a learning experience and the acquisition of skills and more important , a time to connect and spend time with your kid.  Browse the internet. This shows kids that organizing a home is a  ' science ', something serious which requires learning. We can expose them to some of the ideas of Feng Shui  and the important concept of ' de-cluttering ' your home,  so the taking out the trash takes on a different meaning.

When kids identify with your  goals and benefits of an organized home , they will be more motivated to contribute to the home.

2 Talk in the plural  - our home , what we need to do . Kids need to see themselves as individuals but part of a family, class, school or community. We want to foster autonomy and interdependence and  RELATEDNESS

3 COMPETENCE -  check   Sarah  Ward on Executive functions  http://www.abspedpac.org/Documents/Sarah_Ward_execfuncpres.pdf

A lot of kids have problems with planning ,  how to perform  the task and monitor  their progress.

We can collaborate with kids and let them visualize the future, and make a plan. It helps to break  down the plan into its parts,  and then we need to organize ourselves  so we can achieve our goals , monitor how we are doing and evaluate our progress.  We can use Schemas or flow charts  -  that show the time , sequence, space , materials and people related to the plan. We can put these schemas or posters on the walls as prompts and reminders.

We should do this with all tasks in the home.

4 Getting started and transitioning -  competence

Having a daily routine and schedule gives a certain predictability to the day and helps kids to transition.    It is important that the kids themselves participate in making the lists.
Getting started is often a big problem.  Parents may need to help kids get started by working with them on the task. Working with someone on a task helps kids inertia and they benefit from the attention they receive from parents or connection with others. Parents can demonstrate how the job can be done and share they experience.

5 Review and monitoring progress
There should be an agreement made in advance that kids and parents will review the situation together and do some collaborative problem solving to solve any problems.

6 Because chores are rarely intrinsically motivating we need to associate them with other goals.
a)      In some cultures the home is made tidy in order to honor a festival or the Sabbath
b)      Guests and friends are honored by entertaining them in a tidy and pleasant home. If we want tidy homes  have friends of your kids come for visits or sleepovers.
c)       A tidy home is a mirror of the people who live in it.

7  Modeling -   We need to model  behavior and attitude for our children when we engage in chores. Our homes should be de-cluttered and organized , the same items stored in one place , labels abound and space is used well.  We need to do things with energy joy , song and dance so the kids can't not join in and have fun.

8 Association of fun – We can give  Chores an association with fun if we play some good music and have some goods snacks  and drink on the table .There are plenty of cleaning up and fun games that make chores more fun. When we and our kids enjoy ourselves , we not only connect with each other – relatedness  but also to our inner cores and perceive our  autonomy and self direction.

9 CPS – collaborating to solve problems
a)      Empathy stage -  out of the moment :  I have noticed …. What's up?  - get kid's concerns on the table , go slow , let him feel understood
b)      Define the problem – put your concerns on the table
c)       Invitation -  I am wondering if we can find a way  to address both concerns and brainstorm a mutually satisfying solution
d)      Agree to review how the plan is working.


Chores - associate with fun and time with parent

Chores are often not intrinsically motivating so we should try and give them an association of fun. We can have plenty of good music , song , dance , snacks and drink. There are plenty of cleaning up and fun games that make chores more fun. When we and our kids enjoy ourselves , we not only connect with each other – relatedness , but we also connect also to our inner cores and feel more autonomous  and self directed. Chores are a great opportunity to do things together with kids and give them more attention in a loving and non-judgemental way..

Since cleaning up toys is one of the most common struggles, there are lots of variations of games to get this done.  You might race to see if the children can finish the living room before you finish the kitchen (and just keep finding things to clean until they win), or time their cleanup.  In Hide-N-Seek Cleanup, the children clean up some number of things and you try to figure out what is now missing.  In Relay-Hug Cleanup, the child runs, cleans up a certain number of things, runs back for a hug, and repeats until the space is clean.  These are just ideas—the real fun is letting the child come up with inventive games.
These games also offers an opportunity to talk about how nice it feels when rooms are clean and how great it feels to work together.  
Top-to-bottom cleanup—Have you ever noticed how it is more fun to do someone else's work than your own?  In this game, work together to clean the house, without attention to who made the mess.  Take a laundry basket with you to put items that belong in other rooms, and ask your child to "drive" it from room to room, putting things away as you travel.  The laundry basket can be a dump-truck and the vacuum can be a bulldozer. Blue carpet can be water and you can be dredging the ocean.  One time we were saving all the animals in the jungle from the construction.  (We had a snack of broccoli trees for that one!)  Use your imaginations!
One caveat with this game—be sure to stop before the child is tired even if he doesn’t recognize it.  It’s easy to get fired up, and then push it too far. It’s critical that everyone remember it being fun, not exhausting.
15 Minutes Each—Each person gets 15 minutes to be in control of the activity. Whoever’s turn it is gets to choose a (reasonable and comfortable) activity and make all the rules. Because often children don’t like to try new things but then loves them once they do, you can use your turn to get them to try something new.  When it is their turn, children may enjoy telling you exactly what to do—how to drive each car and correcting you if you didn’t do it perfectly—it’s an oddly reversed déjà vu feeling :)
(Note: The Playful Parenting book has the concept of “Play Time” which is child-directed play, and recommends you do this frequently (every day for little children), with no strings attached.  We’ve not played the “15-minutes each” game in a while; perhaps we’ve outgrown the need for it. I’m now ambivalent about requiring him to give me a turn, since effectively it is my turn the rest of the day.  However, at the time, this really worked well for both of us.  (Go with your gut on this one)).
A simple yet effective game that works well for children that get overwhelmed trying to figure out where things go when cleaning up.  The child is the delivery person, perhaps using a laundry basket “delivery truck” to pick up items and deliver them to various places. A variation is to use a dump-truck in the garden or yard and have the child pick up weeds you have pulled.

From the Yahoo Unconditional Parenting group –  Lynn

-"Beat the Clock" - put on a dinging timer, use an egg timer, or put on a song,
and see if you can get the floor clear before the ding/end of song
-Color by color - assign each child a color of toy to clean up ("how many BLUE
toys do you think you can find?")  - you can also do letters of the alphabet for
older ones
-Pretend games - this requires more mental effort on your part, but make up a
scenario to act out that involves getting things picked up, i.e. "We're trapped
on a desert island, and a helicopter is about to land to rescue us, but it needs
a clear spot to land!  Hurry!!  :Let's make the ground clear!"  or "A hungry
alligator/dinosaur/monster/etc. is coming this way, and do you know what he
likes to eat best?  TOYS!  Oh no, let's hide them before he eats all our toys!"
or "Let's pretend we're in Cinderella's castle, and we're the animals who help
her with her chores" or "Let's pretend this is a toy store, and we're the
owners, and we're closing up shop for the night." 
-"Follow the leader" - pick a silly way to pick up the toys ("everyone hop on
one foot while putting the next toy away" / "walk backwards to put the next one
away" / "sing happy birthday as loud as you can while putting the next one away"
/ "everyone make your favorite animal noise while putting away the next one"),
then rotate, letting everyone have a turn to pick something funny to do
-Relays - one person puts away a toy as fast as (s)he can, then tags the next
person, etc. - can do in two or more teams if there is a big group

 "hey, let's spend ten minutes and see how much we can get done." Then I start. Sometimes
they pitch in, sometimes they don't. Either way, ten minutes later it's a
little cleaner

Some good ideas below


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Chores and kids autonomy

Parents should keep in mind their Parenting goals , especially the long term ones when dealing with ' chores'

When kids act in an autonomous way , they feel self directed , connected to their inner beings and values and feel related and interdependent . The need for independence as opposed to interdependence is often extrinsic , caused by parents being controlling and kids resisting compliance.

Parents who support their children's autonomy will foster relationship, trust, intrinsic motivation and commitment to the home and the quality of their contribution. If we treat our kids like the neighbour's 25 year old kid or a friend , our language will be more respectful and not controlling.

Parents who accept ownership of their home have the attitude that upkeep of the home is their responsibility and do not force kids to do chores but rather promote cooperation in an unconditional way are liberated emotionally when kids leave a mess or are not cooperative and more intrinsically motivated to do housework.  Thoughts like …  he should be helping , he should not leave a mess make one more controlling and angry which hamper being calm and creative in getting kids cooperation. If a tidy home is your responsibility , then if you want help, you can ask. Then we treat it as help and not ' conscripted '  labour.

Parents who accept kids for who they are, appreciate that kids' attitudes to chores and tidiness depends a lot on personality traits and developmental stage will not be controlling. Some kids are ' late starters ' . Supporting a kids autonomy will help them create a positive attitude to chores .

Parents should help kids generate their own goals and how they would like their room and home to look like as well as appreciating their parents goals.

Kids should be able to generate and choose  tasks they find more enjoyable . Parents should also provide choices and options. They should try to see things from their kids' perspectives, and respect the way they would like to do things.  The home is not a work place and your kid is not your worker. You can tell your worker how to do things. If we have a problem afterwards , we can make suggestions on how to improve things. 

Children should have ' their own space' over which they have more say. If kids share rooms , they would need to problem solve and find a mutually satisfying solution. If their standards bother us , we could try some  CPS . One solution could be us asking if they would not mind us cleaning the room. We must realize that the cleaning is for us , not for them and we shouldn't expect them to appreciate it.

Everything should be ' discussable ' , even those tasks which might be a ' must'. Kids should be encouraged to ask questions, express their feelings, be open, and parents should answer questions fully , carefully and in a relaxed way so they kid feels understood and that the parent cares for him. Parents should  express confidence in the ability of the kid to do his job well and leaves things up to him.

Problems should be solved in a collaborative way , addressing the kid's concerns, their needs for autonomy , our concerns and then  looking for mutually satisfying solutions and certainly not making 'fun' contingent on doing chores.

If we have been coercing kids for years and forcing them to do chores , our change in attitude is unlikely to be magical . They could still see this as a new way to get them to do chores. When they see change is more about changing ourselves , they will change to.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Name calling - Naomi Aldort / CPS

Name calling  exists in negative relationship between kids, sibling, parents and kids, spouses etc . Name calling is symptomatic of kids lacking skills , unsolved problems or values.  To really deal with the unsolved problem , we need to engage in collaborative problem solving and share with kids values of respect , altruism and community.  

 Naomi Aldort has a video clip which deals  with name calling. Her approach is to teach kids that words do not hurt and one not need to get upset if someone expresses his opinion about me.  By dealing with the bully and reprimanding him for saying hurtful words we are not helping the victim , the victim is learning the words can be hurtful.

Now Naomi Aldort is right and wrong . She is right that when it comes to ourselves we have to be insensitive and wear a rhino skin, but she is wrong when it comes to others. We have to be sensitive to others , that words can be hurtful and disrespectful . Sensitivity is for others.

When we engage in collaborative problem solving and start with the opening statement – the empathy stage where we try to get input from the kid and put his concerns on the table , it is better to be neutral or use understatement about  ' hurtful language ' .  I have noticed when we talk about ….. ,  your language is not the most appropriate – what's up ?

If we would say  '  hurtful language '  - the kid may well reply  -  Mom , you need to learn to deal with your feelings .

As parents and care givers we need to go beyond the  words .  The idea is for caregivers   is to think about what kids need (emotionally speaking) , probably haven’t received and possible lacking skills.   That way, she can see “the vulnerable child behind the bothersome or menacing exterior.” Focusing on the CPS mantra – children do well if they can – helps us to deal with ' hurtful words ' .  If we need more protection Naomi Aldort's – Byron Katie's approach is very useful.

A lot of bullying is done by kids who are socially skilled and use bullying to establish their social positions and popularity. Here the problem is more about values and building a community of learners as well as learning how to assert one leadership abilities and popularity without resorting to ' name calling' . CPS helps to bring the victim and the bully together and help them collaborate and find mutually satisfying solutions, maintaining the dignity of both kids and building friendship and community.

Name calling  which continues for a some time ,can be a traumatic experience. Traumatic experiences are not only one time , powerful and negative experiences but the day in and day out experiences of mild abuse takes its toll.

The answer is to deal with the problem and not just with the symptomatic behavior.