the winning family book study: guidance in the age of TV

Every culture has teachings that are transmitted from parent to child.  American parents don’t usually have to teach their kids how to deal with rhinos, but they do need to guide them in many other ways.  Parents need to forewarn their children and protect from the numerous hazards that prevail in urban, suburban, and rural environments.  There are poisons under the kitchen sink and in the medicine cabinet, pollutants seeping into the water, and escaping into the air.  There are toxic waste dumps that should be avoided.  Likewise, there are mental poisons parents must be alert to, many of them running loose on the TV set.” – page 131-132, “The Winning Family” by Dr. Louise Hart

Of course, today’s parents have much more to deal with then just television.  However, screens are still a prevelant force in our society.  Many households have computers and televisions sets on all day.  The author asks the reader in Chapter 14 to think what role TV (and i would substitute screens) play in your household?  It is a family activity or passivity? Is it a companion, lifeline, babysitter? Staring at a screen is different than real-life activities, and it may generally discourage interaction or communication with others.  TV generally doesn’t intent  to teach values or skills, but children often assume what they see on a screen is what real-life is about, or are they are influenced by commercials designed to sell products. 

The author contends that the child should be looking to the parents first in order to learn values, behavior appropriate for the culture, skills.    One can ask oneself what the computer or television shows are teaching – much of revolves around consumerism and violence.

So, what can a parent do? (and I use the term “older children” a lot here, because I feel no media for little ones is best, but of course, the portal to screens opens slowly over time)

  • Monitor your children’s media and screen intake.  What are they watching?  What is the message?
  • Limit viewing time.
  • Use what you do watch together with older children as a springboard for discussion.
  • Keep guiding them in all the moral, ethical, emotional situations that your older children find themselves in.

Chapter 15 is called, “Problem Solving,” and this chapter talks about teaching our children to solve their own problems.  Problems and conflicts are natural in life, and what many of us learned when we were growing up was to either placate people in a pleasing way or to blow up in order to get what we wanted.  We need to teach our children strategies that bring about connection and resolution of conflict.  

Asking ourselves “whose problem is this?” can be very helpful; especially with those 10 and up.  Is the problem this child is having yours to carry and solve? Or can you empower your child to start to solve their own problems?  Children need to learn to deal with disappointment, conflict, problems, loss, pain – and overcome these things and be resilient. Children who have been overprotected will not function well in life. 

Let’s encourage and support our children through their struggles, but not solve the problems for them. Children need to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes.  We can share how we handle disappointment or failures in life.   When all we teach our children is to run away from a problem, throw money at a problem, threaten our way out of a problem – we are not teaching skills.  We are teaching dysfunction.

The author lists all the barriers to problem solving:  denial, drugs, distraction, storing up pain and anger and stuffing it down and then letting it explode, blaming, rejecting people and cutting them out of our lives, fighting or withdrawing, attacking someone personally, rationalizing the situation, or just feeling defeated.

So how do we solve problems?

  • We believe the problem is solvable.
  • We figure out who owns what piece of the problem.  We can dissect the problem.
  • We don’t blame because we are in it together.  No judging. It doesn’t help.
  • Is the problem certain important to you or not?
  • Use phrases like “I want” “I feel”
  • Listen to the other people in the situation
  • Express our own values and truths.
  • Read between the lines a bit – what is the other person not saying
  • And many more techniques are mentioned in this chapter!

The problem-solving steps:

  • Identify the problem
  • Brainstorm for solutions
  • Evaluate all the solutions
  • Work together and choose the best solution
  • Implement the solution and follow-up with an assessment of why the solution worked or didn’t work.

All of this sounds so simple, and we probably all know these steps, but it is so easy to lose sight of this process when emotions are running high!

What did you all think of this chapter?

Blessings,
carrie

the winning family book study: discipline without damage

This book, by author Dr. Louise Hart, was first published in 1987, but has had a profound effect on my parenting, and I am so grateful I get to share it with you!  If you want to catch up, we have been slowly going through the chapters this school year – the last post, about chapter 12 (“Parenting and Empowerment” is here)- but we will be moving through the remaining portions of the book a little more quickly so this summer we can tackle another one of my favorite parenting books.  Our new book will be “Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles” by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka and it comes in audiobook and Kindle editions, along with the traditional paperback and hardcover versions, so grab a copy to be ready for summer!

Today’s chapter in “The Winning Family” is so powerful!  It is called, “For Your Own Good:  Discipline Without Damage” (Chapter 13). The opening is a  look at the traditional saying, “Spare the rod and spoil the child” and how this has been entirely misconstrued.  The author adds:

Children need to be guided. If they are not guided – or are misguided – they will be “spoiled.”  If an adult overindulges a child without giving guidance, this will be detrimental to the child’s character. But children cannot be spoiled by too much love! They are spoiled by a lack of love and guidance.  

Remember, the word discipline has the same root as the word disciple, meaning pupil or learner.  Discipline is about teaching and guiding children, not punishing. We guide children until they can take it over with their own internal system of guiding themselves.  This is the tallest order in parenting and comes little by little over the years, beginning with the small things.  We protect our children from hurting themselves and others, and help them develop resilience and problem-solving skills.

When children misbehave, they are showing an expression of how they feel about themselves (or, I would add, the circumstances and how they deal with circumstances). Children need adults involved in their lives in  order to learn this through adult guidance and natural consequences.  If an action doesn’t have a natural consequence, then we use a logical consequence.  The consequence needs to be respectful, related, reasonable.   The goal is mutual respect, mutual responsibility for all parties, not just the child. 

However, in order to do this we must develop reasonable expectations. In today’s fast-paced world, we often expect far too much of tiny children.  So our expectations and our logical consequences must fit a child’s age.  We also must not rescue our children from situations that are appropriate for their age and the maturity level of the child.

There is a whole section regarding “Creative Family Management,” and I love this section as it has healthier options for working with children.  There are pages of options in this chapter!  My top three favorites in working with my own children or other people’s children are  offering alternatives, planning ahead, and choosing my battles carefully.

Tell me your favorite positive discipline guiding techniques! I would love to hear them!

Blessings,
carrie

Book Study: “The Winning Family: Increasing Self-Esteem in Your Children and Yourself”

“When I was a child myself, however, I was told and thus believed that my purpose in life was to be a nice little girl.  When I grew up, I found I was a very nice lady.  By being “nice” I avoided situations that called for much power and yielded to others to avoid power struggles…..Luckily, my children have taught me differently.” – page 105

This chapter is all about empowerment and the need for all human beings to feel confident and competent. Power comes from the Latin word poder meaning “to be able.”

We cannot have a winning family if it is constantly about power, in a negative sense, where there are attacks and counter-attacks so someone in the family wins and someone in the family loses. This is essentially what the author calls “power taking”- when people try to dominate or disempower others.  If this happens within a family, someone in the family will be victimized.

A winning family will “power share” – power is cooperative, mutual,nurturing. People share power within the family, and with this everyone’s personal power is expanded.

Power plays out in four different personality types:

  • Powerless – the person is helpless, dependent, insecure
  • Powerful – confident, capable, in control,
  • Empowering – supportive, encouraging, challenging
  • Overpowering – dominating, manipulative, arrogant, pushy

The author asks the question that if these were four people standing in a room, who would be attracted to each other?  Who would avoid each other?  This sort of reflection can help one look at the balance of power in the home, and look at the power distribution between the adults in the home and the relationship between the adults and the children.

The author  also talks about how in general society has become a place of disconnection and competition and how the easiest way to reclaim the power by being divided and conquered is to unite with others who share the same common experience. There is a section about violence and how this impacts women and children as the primary victims and how children who are raised in violent homes also become victims. Instead of wounding our children and perpetuating the cycle of violence, we can learn to heal ourselves.  The end of the chapter tackles gender and violence, and then has a section on “Family Empowerment.”  Under family empowerment, the author lists things to teach our children:

  • To be respectful of themselves and others
  • To be responsible for their behavior
  • That they have personal body rights
  • To be assertive
  • To be sensitive
  • To be nonviolent
  • To avoid dangers but to fight their battles
  • To have high self-esteem – people who value themselves and others do not tolerate abuse

The chapter ends with, “Our homes can be a refuge – a haven of love and safety, a source of strength and support.  You have the power to create a supportive and peaceful family where people are for, not against, each other.  Children need to feel safe at home. So do you.”

The next chapter is about discipline without damage, and you won’t want to miss it!

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

 

 

Book Study: “The Winning Family: Increasing Self-Esteem In Your Children and Yourself”

This is a fantastic book by Dr. Louise Hart with lots of solid advice for creating a peaceful and productive family life.  You can see back posts regarding Chapters 1-10; today we are looking at Chapter 11, which is entitled, “Parenting Leadership Styles.” One of the very first blog posts I wrote in 2008 back when I started writing was about gentle discipline as authentic leadership, so I was excited to delve into this chapter.

The chapter begins with asking the basic question:

  • Were you raised by tyrants?
  • Were you raised by not being raised?
  • Were you raised by leaders who balanced their powers with freedom and caring?

In an autocratic (tyrannical) parenting style, children often want to be told what to do because they are trying to avoid punishment and they want to please their parents. Children raised in this style often lack a sense of personal responsibility and distrust their own feelings.  They may be compliant or they may become rebellious and defiant over time.

In a permissive parenting style, parents give up any power at all and may be checked out due to substance abuse problems, their own baggage and woundedness, illness, or disinterest. In these families, because there are no rules, children don’t learn any boundaries at all, have trouble with limits, feel they have the right to do whatever it is that they wish, or may take on a role reversal with the parents.  They may eventually become violent toward their parents or seek out highly structured groups as an adult.

In a democractic leadership style, everyone’s needs in the family are considered important. Parents offer choices and treat their children as capable beings who can make decisions. They teach children how to take responsibility.  They provide structure.  Children learn to respect rules and become responsible, and how to become capable.

Some families have a mix of styles between parents – one may be very permissive and the other very autocratic and rigid.  This happens frequently, but by realizing this and talking about this, even by employing family meetings, different choices can be made.

When children are small, we have to assume control and provide boundaries and as children grow, we can provide a framework for freedom with responsibiity and good choices at the forefront.  We provide a sense of teamwork and empowerment. In Appendix C of this book there is a helpful table summarizing the information in this chapter.

More to come!

Blessings and love,

Carrie

 

Book Study: “The Winning Family: Increasing Self-Esteem In Yourself and Your Child”

How is everyone doing reading along in this fabulous book?  We are up to Chapters 9 and 10, and these are great chapters.

Chapter 9 is entitled, “Parenting Responses That Affect Self-Esteem” and it gives a number of different scenarios with responses from a nurturing parent, a structured parent, a marshmallow parent, and a criticizing parent.  I think this could be really helpful to parents new to different developmental stages.  If you are curious about the differences in these responses, I refer you to the scenarios but in a nutshell:

Nurturing Responses – based on respect, love, support, encourages self-responsibility, parents help children, children are seen as having capacity to grow and succeed, warm

Structuring Responses – also based on respect, but offer more set limits and sometimes demands a performance outcome; expects children to be capable and responsible.  This kind of response can work well WITH a nurturing response.

Marshmallow Responses – grants freedom but doesn’t make a child accountable or responsible.  It sounds supportive, but in reality views children as inadequate and incapable.  It blames others, or the situation for a problem.  Views children as fragile.

Criticizing Responses – based on disrespect, ridicule, blaming, fault finding, comparing, labeling.  Humor is often cruel, touch is not warm but instead punishing.

What style do you use the most?  The good news is that it is possible to change your response style!  You can catch your children being good, you can find the things they are doing right, you can give up blaming and fault finding.  Mistakes can be fixed, and children can learn responsibility!  

Chapter 10 is about parents being leaders.  I love this, as it was one of the first topics I ever blogged about when I started this blog 10 YEARS ago!  So, if we are going to be leaders, we need

1- Vision, direction, goals.

2- We need to communicate our vision, direction, goals.

3.  We need to keep focused

4. – We need to consider the needs of others  – we are team as a family!  This is the FIRST place that children learn teamwork.  Team sports are awesome, but the family is the first team!

5. – Support the progress – support over the obstacles.

6.- Expect success!

If you are a REACTIVE parent, you are reacting, usually with threats, force, criticism, humiliation, ridicule, punishment.  We can, instead, be proactive!  What are the biggest sticking points for the day?  How could thing flow smoother?  What is our big vision as a family and how are we communicating that?  If you want to see more, here is a post I wrote some time ago about writing a Family Mission Statement.  Pages 93-94 of this book also talk about crafting a vision of a Winning Family.

A closing thought from page 94:  “If you live your life from your highest values, you will bring peace and compassion to your family, community, and world.”

The change begins with us!  Please leave me a comment and if you have a link to your Family Mission Statement, I would love to read it!

Blessings and love,
Carrie

Book Study: “The Winning Family: Increasing Self-Esteem In Your Children and Yourself”

(For those of you following along with this book study, we are on Chapters 7 and 8 today).

Chapter 7 opens with this statement, which I love so much:

Everyone is born with a full deck of capabilities – physical, intellectual, spiritual, and emotional.  We need to learn to play them well in order to become healthy, fully functioning adults.

The author goes on to write:

In our society we learn that certain feelings are approriate and fitting for males, others for females.  But emotions are neither masculine nor feminine; emotions are human.  We need to experience a full range of feeling to be fully human.  When this does not happen, we unconciously may pass on our own emotional limitations to our children.

What emotions are you allowed to express in your family?  What about in your childhood? All feelings are okay, all actions are not.  Was that something you were ever taught?  How do you teach this to your children?

This chapter gives strategies for dealing with feelings – accepting and acknowledging, intervening at the level of the thought or the behavior or granting the wish in fantasy. This chapter goes through all the different emotions – trust, guilt and shame, grief, anger, resentment, forgiveness,  gratitude, and then coping skills and ways to handle all of these emotions.  It is a lovely chapter, probably the one I have loved the most in this book!

Chapter 8  talks about The Power of Words. The way we speak to our children breathes life into them (or despair).  This chapter talks about ‘killer statments” (things one should never say); “crooked communication” where things sound positive first but really are quite negative and damaging, and then self-esteem builders.

The author also talks about the use of “thank yous” and how this simple phrase helps to relieve burnout and makes one feel appreciated, especially is one is praised not just for the final outcome, but for the effort.

When we say negative words to our children, we can correct them. We can apologize; we can say that we would like to say that differently or that we would like to take it back.  This helps in the phase of switching over to stopping so much criticism of our children and our family members.  Increasing appreciation, compliments, and support only helps improve the entire family atmosphere.

Blessings and love,

Carrie

 

Book Study: “The Winning Family: Increasing Self-Esteem In Your Children and Yourself”

For those of you following along with our book study, we are looking at Chapters Five and Six today.  This is an incredible book by Dr. Louise Hart that I feel gets at many of the issues affecting parents and how they discipline their children today.

Chapter Five begins with the baggage that many of us lived through – the era of “children should be seen and not heard.”  Dr. Hart points out that with this style of parenting, many children were “deprived of the opportunity to express their thoughts and opinions and to gain confidence in their own abilities.  Many of them came to believe that what they had to say wasn’t important, that they weren’t important, or even that no one cared about them.”

I personally think this may have led to some of the present problems I see with the number of narcissists on the rise.  If it was never about them when they were children and there was a severe lack of attachment, and everything was shut down communication-wise as they grew older, I think perhaps many of these people never received the guidance or ideas as to how to integrate into a family grouping.  Of course, some people withstood this and grew up to be amazing, sensitive and fabulous communicators.  The author points out she didn’t feel really listened to until she was seventeen years old, and then by a friend, not her family.  That just seems a shame!

“Real listening expresses interest and caring.  It is a powerful and intimate experience that enhances self-esteen and friendship.” Parts of listening are listed on page 35-36  in my book and I urge you to look at this list.   Good communication also involves taking turns (so no interrupting or going completely off the topic in order to be an effective communicator on either side), and it involves giving feedback.  It involves practice to really be able to communicate in this way!

Chapter Six is about asking and refusal skills, and talks about the three simple ways people to try to get what they want:

Monster Ways – shouting, venting anger, hitting, manipulating, intimidating others.

Mouse Ways – crying, whining, begging, pouting, hinting, hoping someone will read your mind.

The author points out that stereotypically, males are taught aggressive ways of communicating and females are taught a very passive way of communicating.  I am so happy about this generation of parenting, because I think the parents that are teaching communication skills to their children are teaching their girls and boys assertive communication skills.  It involves knowing what you want and asking for what you want, with a timing that is SENSITIVE to the other people in the household or group (the last part may be the most  left out part when we teach our children).

We also need to teach children to ask questions when they don’t know the answers or understand.  This is especially important in tweens and teens that believe they know all the answers, and therefore have no need to ask more deeply. This is especially important to teach childen who have special needs, so they can advocate for themselves the older they get, but I think it is important for all children.

The other side of this asking, though, is the answer.  If someone is consistently wishy-washy and without boundaries, that can also be frustrating.  In this age of teaching children to say “no” to various things, we also need to be on the lookout for ourselves as to what we need to say “no” to as well.  “No” is a perfect word all by itself, and parents have to be able to say “no” in order to set boundaries for children.  If you can’t say no to things without couching it with a paragraph, why?  What negativity does no mean to you? How you say no makes a difference, of course, but no is important as it helps us develop our own freedom, our own power, our own control, our own self-definition.   A simple no in parenting works better than threats (“I’m going to do x if you don’t stop y.”)  How much better is just “No!  You may not do that!”   The flip side of this is that if you are saying “no” all the time, then perhaps you need help with your environment, your support network, your own baggage.  If your toddler is touching everything in the house, and it’s a constant “no”, maybe you need to re-evaluate what kinds of things are out in your house for a toddler to get into.  If you say “no” to every request from everyone, maybe you need some support.  If you can’t say “no” at all, maybe you need to explore why you can’t.

Next up, dealing with feelings!    It’s a great chapter full of insight.

Blessings,
Carrie