Tuesday, January 2, 2018
In Discipline with Respect, I recommend parents set goals after identifying the behavioral lessons they would like their children to learn by a certain age. Setting goals is a good idea for adults and children. When parents set goals, they also serve as role models for their children.
Anytime is a good time to set goals. So, if you are reading this at the beginning of a year or at another time, the psychological value of goal-setting remains important to helping people make achievable life-changes.
Daphna Oyeserman (USC) and her team studied the effects of measuring time on planning for a future event like saving for retirement. It turns out that the way participants “framed” time influenced their plans to take action. Instead of thinking in terms of years, it might be best to think in terms of days (Psychological Science). And its best to think in terms of months rather than years.
Parents can apply this kind of thinking to behavioral goals. For example, if you want your child to develop financial responsibility by age 16 and your child just turned 12, you might think 4-years is far in the future—and you have plenty of time. But if you think in terms of days (1,465), you might be more inclined to make a list of tasks to improve the odds your teen will have the self-discipline and other skills crucial to responsible financial behavior. Fortunately, many parents help children develop responsible financial behavior before age 12. Unfortunately, some children grow up with a limited understanding.
There are other factors to help adults and children reach their goals. As I mention in Discipline with Respect, goals should be realistic, specific, measurable, and dated. I also recommend working on only 2-3 goals at a time.
1. Realistic goals are those a person can reach with additional effort and encouragement. Most of us can increase our exercise by a small percentage of steps or minutes, decrease our consumption of sugar treats, increase our savings by a small percentage, help one additional person, and so forth.
2. Specific goals are stated in precise language such as units of money saved, pounds of weight lost or gained, words written, pages read, days of temper outbursts, or steps walked.
3. Measuring progress is easy for those goals having natural units as mentioned above. Other goals may require some additional thought. You may come up with a quality rating instead of a concrete number. For example, you could ask for feedback on the quality of a quilting project from expert quilters. I often ask for feedback on my writing projects, which helps me gauge how close I am to reaching publication quality before submitting a paper to a journal editor. The chapter on feedback can help parents give specific feedback to children on their behavior.
4. Finally, we help ourselves when we attach a date to a goal. As suggested in the research study above, we might be better to think in terms of days rather than years. Parents and teachers can help children by thinking in terms of 90 days to complete a project.
You may be able to tell from this post that Discipline with Respect is about developing responsible behavior. Although I discuss the usual principles of how to use consequences in discipline programs, I view discipline as education—all the things we do to help children become mature, responsible, and respectful adults.
Thursday, December 28, 2017
Some argue against the use of Time Out discipline strategies despite scientific evidence of its effectiveness. Some criticisms of time out are justified. Discipline with Respect involves a commitment to a long-term loving parent-child relationship.
Used correctly, time out is a brief time away from a pleasant activity as a consequence for a child’s unacceptable socially aggresive or destructive behavior. In Discipline with Respect and other programs, parents and educators learn that time out is one of many strategies to help children learn to follow basic rules in home and school settings. The emphasis in Discipline with Respect and other parenting programs is always on creating a positive setting where children are encouraged to be a part of family and peer activities sometimes referred to as “time in.”
Parents and teachers explain time out in advance so children understand the purpose of a brief time away from activities and where they will spend that short period of time. It is best not to discuss the time out procedure or the problem behavior with a child who has not responded to a warning. Discussions can lead to escalation. Discussing the misbehavior can occur after the time out consequence if there is doubt the child does not see the connection between the aggressive behavior and the time out consequence.
Most time out guidelines suggest using about one minute in time out per year of age so 5-minutes for a child age 5 and 10 minutes for a ten-year-old.
Time out is more effective when children are in a chair or sitting on a mat away from the activity where they misbehaved. Time out is more effective when children are not playing with toys or doing other fun activities.
Time out is more effective when children calm briefly before they return to their previous activities.
Encourage positive interactions when the child returns to their activities.
Researchers find time out helps reduce both physical and verbal aggression and destructive behavior in many settings. Again, time out is only one strategy and should be used in the context of an overall positive program. Like other strategies, time out will not always be effective with every child.
Time out is not a strategy for every type of misbehavior. The focus of research is on using time out to interrupt aggressive and destructive behavior, which is often accompanied by anger. The risk of not using time out or other effective strategies is that children will continue to be aggressive as they grow older. Some may be concerned about repressing anger but that concern is not supported by evidence. Parents and teachers can teach the appropriate way to express anger within their culture—for example, using words and taking constructive action.
Some parenting sources advocate holding aggressive children but this is controversial. Parents and other care givers find it difficult to safely and effectively hold aggressive children.
Those who focus only on positive approaches to discipline help engender an attitude of respect. However, most find that effective discipline needs to include consequences for severe misbehavior. For an academic review of research on time out, see the Morawska and Sanders (2011) reference.
Morawska, A., & Sanders, M. (2011). Parental use of time out revisited: A useful or harmful parenting strategy?. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 20(1), 1-8. doi:10.1007/s10826-010-9371-x
Shriver, M. D., & Allen, K. D. (1996). The time-out grid: A guide to effective discipline. School Psychology Quarterly, 11(1), 67-75. doi:10.1037/h0088921
Sutton, G. W. (2018). Discipline with Respect in Caring Relationships. Sunflower Press. Available from Amazon.
Discipline with Respect Website
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