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Responding to Challenging Behavior in Youth: The Power of Relationship & Reframing

To foster resilience in youth, parents, caregivers, and professionals may need to start with some self-reflection. For a moment, close your eyes and imagine your 14-year-old self. You overhear two different conversations.

Destigmatize Seeking Professional Help for Your Kid as a Parent – You aren’t a Failure

Two out of three parents are saying that they are “extremely” or “very” worried about the mental health status in young people, according to a Harris poll. The youth-mental-health-crisis is a concern for most Americans, especially parents who are seeing a worsening their children’s mental health since the pandemic.

The Harm in Innocent Teasing

Teasing. What comes to mind for you? Do you think of friendly banter, affectionate, maybe even flirty teasing? Teasing to embarrass somewhat, but in a playful way? Maybe in the form of a nickname, joke, or light-hearted insult? Or Does teasing feel more like taunting, in which someone else is making fun of you in a mean way? Does your identity feel threatened due to being targeted or bullied for being different? Does teasing take the form of jokes that are inappropriate or offensive [e.g., racist, sexist, homophobic]? How is your sense of self impacted?

What is PCIT?

Parenting can be hard. There are good days and not-so-good days, however when the good days feel few and far between it can have a big impact on our mental health.

“Your Kids Aren’t Too Young to Talk About Race: Resource Roundup”

Don’t let tech safety slip

The group of parents now raising tweens is the last to grow up — basically — without the Internet.

The good news is that, having received our first email addresses on dinosaur systems as college students, we DO know how the web works.

We all have Facebook (well almost all of us), plus most of its cousins. We’re hooked on getting answers to questions instantly as well as the ease of texting versus calling or — oh, please — talking face to face.

We know, too, of the web’s dark corners — limitless pornography, angry gamers, false information, lurkers and trolls.

This puts today’s parents in a crazy sort of limbo: I get it, I use it, I’m scared to death of it when it comes to my kids.

There’s also inappropriate content, predators, cyberbullying and technology addiction. And that’s not to mention the risk of growing up without knowing how to communicate verbally and always needing to know an answer or order that product — instantly, now, yesterday, if possible.

What’s a parent to do?

While you can and should limit use of the Internet in a way that’s age-appropriate and encourages other activities — such as participating in sports, reading books and playing outside — you can’t keep your child from going online forever.

In fact, complete avoidance could do more harm than good.

“Parents shouldn’t focus on instilling fear of the Internet in the child. Instead, start a conversation about technology and the Internet in today’s world,” said Karina Hedinger, a training and education coordinator for the Minnesota Crimes Against Children Task Force, a group led by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

Much like your family rules for exploring the neighborhood, true online safety comes from preparation and communication. (Check out the AAP’s new screen-time recommendations in this article’s sidebar.)

Tips for parents

Don’t freak out. Teaching your kids to fear the Internet isn’t going to keep them safe.

Do talk. Discuss the proper use of websites and what behaviors are inappropriate. Discuss the dangers in a non-threatening way.

Ask. Get your kids talking, too, so you’re not just in boring lecture mode. What do you most like to do online? What if someone online asked you to meet?

Befriend! Sure, you can have a Facebook or Instagram account … if you make me your first friend.

Be a watchdog. “Monitor, monitor, monitor. Monitor what your children are doing on all technology. Have daily conversations about being safe and keeping information safe,” Hedinger said. Be aware that you can set up “restrictions” on various devices (under Settings) to block or allow specific websites or types of content. You can also set blanket permissions based on age ranges. Also know that the top three internet browsers — Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome and Apple Safari — offer settings and add-ons to help make your kids’ online experience’ more age-appropriate. There are even kid-safe browsers for a variety of age ranges. (See Page 33 to learn more.)

Limit locations. Keep the family computer in a communal space in the home. Insist that all phones go to charge or “rest” in a designated location at a certain time each night (not your kid’s bedroom).

Get an all-access pass. Though most parents wouldn’t read a child’s diary (at least not without cause for concern), many parents today reserve the right to read their kids’ phones each night after they’re placed in a designated “rest” location. Why? A diary is private by nature, and one might argue that everyone is entitled to his or her own private thoughts. But when it comes to living life on Instagram — where children can easily “go public” with things that perhaps should be private — the rules are bit different. Phone reading not only keeps parents involved, but it also helps kids practice better behavior (or self-censoring) if they know Mom or Dad might take a peek.

Research and explore. The list of apps you should know (and perhaps even know how to use) is honestly too long to name and goes beyond what you might think (SnapChat, Tinder, Musical.ly, Kik and the like). Did you know there are actually apps to hide apps? Yep. And there’s also a whole language developed to keep parents clueless. Deep breath. It’s going to be OK. But do study up! Talk to other parents as often as you can (ideally with kids a bit older than yours) and make friends with commonsensemedia.org, an indispensable website and app for evaluating all media.

Think beyond your home. Which friends have smartphones? Which friends use SnapChat? Would your child’s friends be willing to create an account in your child’s name to get around your rules? What are the rules at the neighbors’ house, where your kid spends half his time?

Make your expectations clear. Setting up formal house rules can help you stand firm in your decisions around digital media. Check out the new, free Family Media Plan tool from the American Academy of Pediatrics — at healthychildren.org — for help creating written guidelines for your entire family. If your child is receiving a smartphone this year for the holidays, you might want to customize one of the many mobile phone contracts online such as those at connectsafely.org and joshshipp.com as well as Gregory’s iPhone Contract written by author Janell Burley Hofmann for her 13-year-old son. Hofmann is the author of iRules: What Every Tech-Healthy Family Needs to Know About Selfies, Sexting, Gaming and Growing Up (janellburleyhofmann.com).

Tips for teens and tweens

Be discrete. The saying goes, “If you would feel uncomfortable with something plastered on a billboard, don’t share it on the Internet.” Personal information should never be shared in public forums. Turn off location services for most apps, and set them to “On While App is Running” for things that make sense, like navigation programs.

Be private. Gaining scores of fans and followers might feel like popularity — but it’s really just broadcasting a bunch of stuff that could embarrass you someday. Would you invite your whole block over to watch you lip sync in your pajamas? If the answer is “no,” reevaluate your public social media “brand.”

Know real people. You should be friends with someone in real life before being friends online. And you should spend screen-free time with your real-life friends.

Trust your gut. If something feels scary, weird or inappropriate, it probably is. If you feel tempted to hide something on a technological device from your parents, you probably shouldn’t.

Tell. If you see something inappropriate, violent, suspicious or mean online, talk to your parents or another adult you trust.

Be skeptical. It might be normal for an adult to mentor a child or teen, but it’s never normal for an adult to seek a relationship as a peer or romantic partner with a child or teen. Also note that online, a person can say they’re anyone or anything. An adult can easily claim to be 15.

Shut it down. In cases of cyberbullying, be a heroic bystander and report bad behavior when you see it. If you’re the victim of cyberbullying, shut down your device, walk away and talk face to face with someone who cares about you.

 

SOURCE

How To Reduce Screen Time In The Digital Age

By Nina Schroder, MSW, LCSW

Smartphones have transformed modern life in more ways than anyone could have imagined. They enable 24/7 access to infinite information and tools that help us stay organized, track our fitness, express ourselves and be entertained. However, easy access to these digital devices and their habit-forming qualities has led to high screen time for both children and adults and emerging research suggests that such high screen use can have a negative impact on mental health.

Since the rise of the smartphone, indicators of mental “wellness” such as happiness, self-esteem and life satisfaction have decreased while serious mental health issues like anxiety, depression, loneliness and suicide have increased significantly, particularly among young people. A possible reason for this might be that more time on screens, particularly social media, leads to increased risks of stressors like social isolation, cyberbullying, social comparison, decreased life satisfaction, reduced productivity and distraction from personal values and goals.

Increased time on screens also means there’s less time available for positive real world experiences that promote mental health, like exercise, quiet reflection and quality, in-person social connection. With all of this in mind, it’s not surprising that research suggests that less time on social media leads to better well-being.

While more research is needed, it certainly appears that less screen time bodes well for mental health. So, consider the following tips to keep screen time in-check, leaving more room for healthy, positive real-world experiences.

Connect For Real
Despite opportunities for online “connection,” loneliness is at an all-time high. Indeed, quality face-to-face social connection is critical to mental wellness. So, make it a goal to have screen-free, in-person social connections with friends, co-workers and loved ones on a daily basis. Consider making it a standard to power down whenever there is an opportunity for conversation such as in the car, standing in line and during meals or social gatherings.

Commit To A Screen-Free Bedroom
Screen time within an hour of bedtime can negatively impact sleep, which can contribute to physical, mental and cognitive issues. However, the lure of a screen in a quiet bedroom is hard to resist. It’s difficult to ignore texts, resist a Netflix binge or mindlessly scroll through social media. Eliminate the temptation by keeping phones out of the bedroom entirely and reach for a book or magazine instead.

Avoid Multitasking
Put away your phone when you need to focus on a task, particularly related to school or work. Research on multitasking shows that it causes distraction, reduces productivity and increases errors. One study showed that subjects whose phones were in a different room performed better on a cognitive test compared to those whose phones were in front of them—and set on “Silent” mode. In addition to reduced productivity and cognitive impact, media multitasking also has been linked to lower wellbeing.

Notice Motives And Feelings
Ask yourself if being on your phone is what you really want to be doing at that moment. By using mindfulness, you can identify if you’re trying to avoid negative feelings or a necessary task, or whether you’re truly enjoying your digital experience. This exercise can help with getting in touch with your emotions and improve purposeful decision-making around screen use.

Pursue Healthy Interests And Activities
Making time for hobbies or activities that promote health, personal growth or connections with others can help to reduce screen use and provide a sense of meaning and purpose. Some examples are: reading books, hiking in nature, taking mindful walks, prayer or meditation, joining a club, practicing yoga, cooking, volunteering or learning to play an instrument.

Practice Reflection And Gratitude
A daily practice in quieting your mind and counting your blessings can boost positive emotion and improve psychological wellness. Research suggests that gratitude may protect against social comparison and envy—common experiences with social media. Reflect on what is good and right in your life. During quiet, screen-free time, write down five good things from each day. Savor simple pleasures like a sunny day, a good cup of coffee or a friendly exchange with someone.

Clarify Your Values
Take time to mindfully consider what you value most in life. What do you want your life to be about? Quality relationships? Physical and emotional health? Spiritual growth? Professional growth? Regularly consider whether screen use is moving you toward or away from your values. If you notice that your screen use is moving you in an unwanted direction, give yourself grace, hit the figurative “reset” button and get back on track.

Nina Schroder, MSW, LCSW is a mental health therapist at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA. She specializes in the treatment of anxiety and depression and researches the effects of high screen use on mental health, emotional resilience, and overall wellness. Nina is passionate about helping others increase wellness and emotional resilience in the Digital Age and delivers lectures and workshops both locally and nationally. You can reach her at nina.schroder@yahoo.com.

https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/August-2018-/How-to-Reduce-Screen-Time-in-the-Digital-Age

How to Teach a Child About Being Grateful

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Recently I received a question on Twitter: “Do you have any suggestions for teaching a preschooler appreciation for [a] gift given to him, even if he doesn’t like it?”

When a child says “please” and “thank you” during the early years (18 months to age 3), it’s pretty much a rote expression, automatic and mechanical. If you think about it, you probably had to prompt your child by saying, “What do you say?” so he would remember to express thanks. At that age, most young children don’t fully understand the social graces behind saying “please” and “thank you”; they just know they’re supposed to say them.

At around ages 4 to 6, when a child begins going through the developmental phases that ignite independence and assertiveness, is when refusing to say “thank you” can rear its head. Not saying “thank you” isn’t really about misbehaving, it’s more about the fact that the child doesn’t have a fully formed habit of saying “thank you” when he receives something he doesn’t like. They’re not old enough to understand all the complexities of using social graces. They need to be taught, without punishment, so they can learn.

Proactive Ways to Teach Appreciation

Teaching a child to be grateful, like most things in parenting, is not a one-shot deal; it’s an ongoing process. Most parents are embarrassed when their child doesn’t say “thank you,” and rightfully so. However, if all you do is correct and punish after your child hasn’t said “thank you,” then the teaching moment easily can become a power struggle, not a lesson.

  1. Model, model, and model some more. Let your kids hear you say “thank you” a lot. When you’re given a gift or someone does something nice for you, say “thank you.” Say “thank you” to the cashier or the dry cleaner. Let your child know that when normal things happen, you express gratitude.
  2. Point out details. Make a habit of pointing out the little details you like about things. Share what you like in the pictures they draw, and compliment how nicely they’re eating, how quickly they got dressed, and how they stopped what they were doing so they could listen to you. This not only builds rock-solid self-esteem, but it also helps a child understand how to pick out one detail he does like from a gift he didn’t like so he can genuinely say “thank you.” After all, no parent wants to hear, “Saying ‘thank you’ for something I hate is lying!”
  3. Donate. We had a rule in our house: about a week before each birthday or holiday, the kids had to survey their toys and clothes and pick out a few things to donate to those who were less fortunate. To avoid possible last-minute hesitation about giving something away that was theirs, the kids were in charge of packing up the stuff and I was in charge of delivery. We also made sure to praise them for their generosity so they could see how the whole process worked.
  4. Practice makes perfect. This is especially true when it comes to teaching appreciation. Give your child opportunities to do nice things for others in the family. This teaches him about learning to extend kindness and about receiving appreciation in return.

If your goal is to release a respectful, well-mannered child into the world, then please know that refusing to say “please” and “thank you” does come up over and over again as they age. If you’re embarrassed, try saying, “Please excuse her, we’re working on social graces, again.”

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

 

https://www.popsugar.com/moms/How-Teach-Child-About-Being-Grateful-27334476

Talking To Kids About Mental Illness

By Kathleen Boros | Nov. 16, 2018

 

In my children’s book about mental health awareness, Binky Bunny Wants to Know about Bipolar, Binky Bunny sees Mama Bunny sleeping a lot and wonders why she won’t wake up and play with him. When he asks his mom what’s wrong, he learns about bipolar disorder.

Binky learns that Mama Bunny loves him very much, but she needs her naps to function from day to day. It’s not that she’s avoiding Binky, or the chores that need to be done around the house; she wants to work and play, but she was born with an invisible illness in her brain that slows her hop.

Binky learns that he needs to work with his father to help Mama Bunny feel better. He doesn’t want bipolar disorder and its symptoms to keep her from experiencing life’s everyday gifts. Now educated and engaged, Binky is determined to help his mom live in an environment where she can heal.

This book is my way of showing how important it is to talk with our children about all aspects of mental health—including mental illness. As a parent with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, I’ve already started a dialogue with my 8-year-old son to help him get a better grasp of what’s going on with me. I believe I was given my illness for a reason, and I’m not going to keep quiet about it, especially with my son.

I don’t believe in hiding behind stigma and just telling him I’m tired. I’m upfront and honest, because I believe if we want to live in a society free of stigma, we have a moral obligation to educate our children.

Keep Your Kids In The Loop

As soon as children are old enough to understand that mommy or daddy isn’t “like the other mommies or daddies,” it’s time to have a talk. It’s OK if they don’t understand right away. Every day is another opportunity for more education. Have a recurring family meeting or a set, consistent time when you all sit down and have a candid conversation about mental health. This will provide repeated opportunities for discussion and for your children to ask questions.

My family does this pretty informally. When my husband and I are together at the end of each day, we ask my son how his day was. This is a perfect opportunity to let your child know if you’re having a good day or if you need a little extra help. For example, on a day when loud noises might be bothering me, I might ask my son to keep it down for me and explain why.

Also use this time to explain how your mental illness is currently affecting your daily routine. If you’re a parent with a mental health condition who needs to be alone or take naps to recharge (like Mama Bunny and me), kids might be worried there’s something wrong with you, or worse, that you don’t want to spend time with them. Make sure they know nothing could be further from the truth. It might not be every day you have to sleep in or take naps, but if you have a particularly sleepy week, reassure your children it’s not something you’re doing to avoid them. Taking a nap is sometimes like taking a shower—just a part of daily hygiene.

Answer Their Questions

I know I don’t have all the answers, so if my son asks me something I’m unsure about during our talks, I’ll seek resources from my doctor or local library. If I need to explain something about mood, depression, mania or hospitalization, I’ll try to find something age-appropriate I can read to my son. But there really isn’t a lot of reading material about mental illness for children. So, I’ll often write down his questions and bring them to my next appointment so my doctor can give detailed, kid-friendly explanations I can bring home.

A few times, I’ve set up appointments for the two of us or our whole family to visit my doctor. My family finds this very helpful because no matter how much research we might do on our own time, bipolar disorder is different for everyone who experiences it. No two people with the same diagnosis have identical symptoms or express their illness in the same way. So, it’s great when my family can get together to talk to my mental health professional, who helps me with my illness, about how we can all cope together as a family. When we leave, we feel like we’re all on the same page.

Be Honest About Medication

This might not be a popular opinion, but I think children should also be informed of the medications their parents are taking. Medications for depression cause certain side effects, while medications for psychosis cause other side effects and medications for anxiety cause different side effects still. I think it’s important for children to know what to expect.

And it’s OK to tell children that having to take medication for your illness is something not under your control. Just like how they need shots to stay healthy or take antibiotics when they get sick—with mental illness comes medication. We might not like it, but we need it.

Keep The Conversation Going

Teaching kids about mental health should not stop once they leave the house. School is an important place for them to learn more, and school counselors and teachers should have resources about mental illness and suicide. It’s also beneficial for a child to have a non-biased counselor to talk to if they have questions they don’t feel comfortable asking you, or if they’re having mental health concerns about themselves.

A great resource for schools is NAMI Ending the Silence, an in-class presentation in which students learn about mental illness from someone with lived experience. Having conversations and learning about mental health in school will only reinforce the information you share with your child at home. The more education your child receives about mental health, the more important it will seem.

As parents, we’re not mind-readers, and we can’t afford to pretend we are. That’s why it’s so important to communicate with our children about mental illness—even if it’s difficult to talk about or explain. We never know what they might be thinking, and it’s only fair to you and your children to be honest about your mental health.

I wrote my children’s books about bipolar disorder because my son was starting to ask questions, and I’d rather he learn from me about mental illness than the callous things he might learn from those who aren’t educated.

I’ve seen amazing ripple effects since starting our talks: My son now educates others on the topic. He has tools in his toolbox to use if someone says something about mental illness he knows isn’t true.

To help end stigma, we need to start with our own children. So if you’re a parent living with mental illness, fill your house with love and mental health awareness. Don’t procrastinate, educate. And feel free to use Binky Bunny. Together, we can all hop to stop stigma!

 

Kathleen Boros is originally from Massachusetts and was brought up in Florida. She’s been married for 15 years and has an 8-yearold son. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 19 and is now 41. She received a bachelor’s in behavioral science and a master’s in special education. She enjoys writing to educate children and their families about mental illness. Join her efforts to educate children on mental health with Binky Bunny.

https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/November-2018/Talking-to-Kids-About-Mental-Illness

How to Peacefully Teach and Set Clear Limits, Boundaries and Consequences with Your Child

Kids do all kinds of things that we don’t like, things that drive us nuts. Sometimes they do things that are dangerous, things that scare us half to death. They cross lines and test boundaries. My oldest son climbs on everything. My second son is overly aggressive with his affection, especially with his baby sister. My third son struggles with hitting, pinching or biting when he becomes angry.

This is all part of growing up. This is all part of being a parent. These little people we call our kids are trying new things and trying to figure out the world around them. In order for them to do this successfully requires that we set and help them understand limits, boundaries and consequences.

I love the way that Genevieve Simperingham explains our kids process of learning how to interact appropriately and empathetically with the world around them. She says,…

“Children mostly learn that they’ve crossed a line through the feedback of others. The image comes to mind of travelling in another country, there’s a lot of strict cultural rules about what’s okay and not okay and we only learn that we’ve been inappropriate when we get the feedback – how scary! We’d truly hope they had compassion for our lack of prior immersion into their culture and see our clumsiness as lack of awareness rather than lack of care or respect.

Children learn about empathy mostly through the direct experience of being empathized with and feeling how that helps them feel better.”(Setting Limits with Love, Genevieve Simperingham, www.peacefulparent.com )

Limits, Boundaries and Consequences, Oh My!

Limits, boundaries and consequences all work together with love and empathy to teach and help our kids perceive and interact with the world in positive ways. In this article I’ll address each concept of limits, boundaries and consequences and some practical ways to understand and utilize them in positive, peaceful ways.

Setting Limits: A limit is an imposed request or restraint on our child, and is most often coupled with stating a clear consequence. Sometimes the natural consequence is simply built into the limit itself. Some examples may include…

  • Lead with a positive, empathetic response: “You may go play as soon as your room is clean.” In this example, play is limited on conditions of the child completing his chore. The natural consequence is that he may choose when he will do the chore and thus postpone or move him toward his playtime.
  • Set limits with love and firmness: Tell them how you feel and what you don’t like as well as what you do like. Then reassure them of your unconditional love and regard for them. An example might include, “I know you’re frustrated right now. I don’t like when you hit me. I like it when you ask me for the things you need.” When your child asks to do something, for example, “Mom, can I go to Jimmy’s house?” You could respond with, “That sounds like a great idea another day. Right now we are getting ready for dinner.” If they continue to protest and ask why simply and empathetically say, “I know you really want to go. Sorry that’s not going to happen tonight.” If it still continues, just state the famous Love and Logic phrase, “I love you too much to argue.”

[Tweet “Set limits with love and firmness”]

  • Don’t limit emotions, limit behavior: Stop the behavior through direction, separation and redirection. It’s okay for your child to be upset about it, but it’s important to separate the emotions from the negative behavior we wish to limit. For instance, it is okay to be angry, but hitting is not okay. “No throwing toys, because that hurts people and the toys.” It may require that we take the toy or separate our child from the situation, but no punishment or further action is required.

Setting Boundaries: A boundary is a statement or action of personal limits. It communicates, “This is where I end and you begin. This is what I am willing to do and what I am willing to allow you to do or not do to me. Dr. Henry Cloud describes it like your own fence around your personal property that keeps the bad stuff out and your personal treasures in. This doesn’t mean we never let anyone inside our boundary, it simply means that there is a clear boundary and a gate by which you can let others come and go in a way that is comfortable and wise.

  • When kids make demands or requests of us. My kids often make demands at the dinner table. They say things like, “Dad, get me some water” or “I want a different glass or plate or utensil.” These demands are often made of my wife or me when we are busy preparing one of our small children’s food or finally sitting down to eat our own meal. Sometimes, parents respond simply by not responding. They ignore the request. Sometimes parents snap back at the kids, “Can’t you wait a minute? I’ll do it, just wait!” Sometimes parents just give in to the demand against their will. There is a better way that acknowledges the child’s request but asserts our own personal boundaries as well. We can say, “I would love to get that for you as soon as I done fixing your sister’s plate or after I am done eating. If you don’t want to wait, you are welcome to get it yourself.” If you are not willing to do the task for your child at all you can say, “Thanks for asking. I’m eating right now. If you would like water, you are welcome to get it yourself. Thanks.”
  • Use “yes” as a boundary setting tool. When a child asks you to buy something for them at the store, say “Yes, you are welcome to buy that with your own money if you would like to earn the money and bring the money with you when we come to the store.” In essence we are saying, “no, I’m not going to buy that for you with my money” but we are not putting a limit on what they can do with their own money. This can artfully place appropriate boundaries out of what we are willing to do while also teaching them and motivating them to do things for themselves.
  • When a child hits or is aggressive. We can firmly state our own personal boundaries. “I will not let you hit me.” This may include backing away to get out of arm or leg range, putting a hand out to stop hits and kicks or gently holding a child if they are receptive and need you to help them calm themselves.

Establishing Consequences: A consequence is simply the effect that follows any given action. Consequences are inevitable. They are natural and constant. There is no action that does not have a consequence. Kids sometimes struggle to see and understand the natural consequences of their actions and definitely struggle to anticipate consequences. It can be helpful for parents to teach kids about consequences and help them anticipate consequences that will arise, whether natural or imposed consequences.

  • Educate them about positive and negative consequences: Consequences are not necessarily something we have to impose upon our children. It’s not something that I do to my children but it’s just part of living. Consequences are best learned as they are woven into our limit and boundary setting. It’s important to teach our kids that consequences are not just negative things, but that all of their choices have consequences. Positive choices also provide positive consequences. I’m not referring to rewards that parents give but just regular everyday benefits of making good choices.
  • Allow natural consequences: Too often parents jump in and either overshadow the real life natural consequences of a situation by either giving a harsh punishment or unnecessary reward instead of simply letting them experience the natural consequences. If they choose not to complete their homework, poor grades or other consequences at school may follow. If they refuse to get shoes on before it is time to leave the house (when age appropriate), they get to carry their shoes with them to the car or go without shoes. When they refuse to go to sleep, they get tired. On the other hand, they feel good when they do something kind for a brother or friend and they get to move on to play time when they complete their chores. We all experience consequences in our everyday lives and we learn from them without any lectures or punishments.
  • Follow through with realistic, rational consequences: When people think of consequences, they most often think of groundings, taking privileges away, spankings, lectures and other punishments, but these are neither necessary or effective for teaching positive skills and values. The more natural, realistic to life and related to their behavior the consequence is, the more effective it is in teaching the desired lesson. When a child makes a mess, the logical consequence is that he cleans up after himself. When a child damages something, a natural consequence is that they replace it. As referred to in the limits section, the natural consequence of a child refusing to do chores is that they postpone their own play time. When we follow through with natural consequences and show empathy we take the focus off of us and allow our child to learn from the consequence. It give us opportunity to help our child learn to solve their problems rather than causing them to blame us and see us as the problem.

5 Important principles to remember when setting TRU limits, boundaries and consequences:

It can be helpful to evaluate the limits, boundaries and consequences we set and how we set them in accordance with the principles of TRU parenting. Do our limits and the way we deliver them teach our child what we want them to learn? Do they build on our relationship? And do they allow me to upgrade myself and improve my own boundaries? The following are 5 specific guidelines to help set limits, boundaries and consequences that meet the principles of TRU parenting and promote positive ongoing cycles rather than simply demanding immediate compliance only.

1. Lead with the positive and with empathy: The connection and relationship between parent and child is one of the most important elements of setting positive, clear limits, boundaries and consequences. When we approach a limit with understanding and with words that ignite positive, agreeable feelings, we find that kids are much more cooperative. My wife’s cousin recently shared the following story with me about my wife and second son. She reported…

“Eli (my 6 year old son) was teasing and upsetting Emma (my 2 year old daughter). Camille (my wife), was watching and recognized what was going on. Instead of saying “Eli stop” or “Don’t tease your sister” she kindly said “Eli, I don’t think we have hugged today come over here and give your mom a big hug” He happily jumped up and gave her a big hug for a few seconds and then magically he went about playing and NOT teasing his sister.”

I thought this was so awesome! This is such an incredible example of empathy and my wife recognizing my son’s underlying need. She set a limit by redirecting his behavior to a more appropriate avenue and left the formal teaching for a later time. The need was met and the behavior stopped, all in a way that taught positive principles, built the relationship and Upgrading my wife’s state of mind and being. I know, my wife is amazing!

2. Don’t be afraid of “NO” but don’t overuse it: Sometimes the best way to define or set a limit is with a good old fashion “no.” However, I’ve found that when “no” is overused on every nitpicky little irritation, it loses its value and creates a negative atmosphere.

3. Don’t set limits while sitting: Be actively engaged. When we sit back and bark out limits and orders from our arm chair, our limits have no power. Move toward your kids and reach out to them. Deliver limits and boundaries at their level both physically and developmentally.

4. State what you will do or not do and do or don’t do it: Try to focus on what you will do rather than on what they should do. Mean what you say and say what you mean. Be a Mom or Dad of your word. For example, if your child wants a different color cup than was placed on the table you can say, “I would love to get it when I’m done eating if you would like to wait. I’m fixing food right now and eating my dinner. You are welcome to either get it yourself or wait for me to be done with my dinner.”

5. Teach and plan during the good times: Use weekly family nights, play time or other fun and positive times to be together to teach and plan appropriate social boundaries and show them what consequences might come in different situations. Use role plays and games to help them learn limits, and cause and effect relationships. It doesn’t have to be a struggle to set clear limits. It really can be fun.

Other great resources on setting limits with our kids…

Aha Parenting: How to Set Effective Limits for Your Child

Peaceful Parenting: Setting Limits with Love

http://truparenting.net/peacefully-teach-set-clear-limits-boundaries-consequences-child/