March 27, 2007

A “Quick Fix for Misbehavin’ Kids” ?

The "Fiction" of a Quick Fix?

Ever since I began teaching parenting skills almost 30 years ago, one of the most common fallacies that I have encountered is the mistaken idea in the heads of so many parents that there is some great “Quick Fix” for raising kids that are well behaved, self-assured and well adjusted. There is no short cut! Raising kids who are self-assured, well adjusted, self-directed and well behaved requires that parents make permanent and reasoned changes in the way that parents relate to their children!

Just Like Fad Diets

In the same way that fad diets help people to lose weight, only to regain it immediately; “Quick-Fix” parenting techniques usually result in failure to bring about long-term and meaningful changes in the behaviors of children.

The key to making the Parenting with Dignity Program (or any other parenting program) work lies in permanently changing the manner in which parents communicate with and relate to their children! In our program there are assignment sheets that go with each lesson. To make the program work in your family and in your community, every parent in class must do the assignments with their own children during the week between classes. There is no short cut.

There Will Be Difficulties!

Then, after actually doing the assignment, in class the following week, the parents must begin class by discussing the results of their attempts at using the skills taught in the last lesson. It is obvious to me after years of working with parents that there will be some difficulties in these attempts at changing family interaction and family communication. Most often the parents in the class will find that they learn more from the things that they try and that don't work than they learn from the things that do work! In the process of correcting the things that don’t work they will be internalizing their own skills and thoughts.

Permanent Change Is the Real Time-Saver!

In addition, many classes find that as their class reaches the second week, the discussion takes so much time that they postpone some or all of class two in order to discuss the results from the first lesson. In doing this they may find that it takes longer to complete the course, but... in the long run the permanent changes that they make will ultimately save time as they move into using what they have learned in their lives with their children.

The key to changing the behavior of children lies in the ensuing weeks, months, and years. The changes that parents make in their thinking, actions, and behavior must become permanent. There is no short cut to permanent change. The new way of thinking and acting must become a way of life.

Now, over the months and years, parents will save lots of time for themselves if they take the time to permanently change their behavior early in their lives as parents but there is no short cut to that saving of time. A child who is taught to feed herself with regard to acceptable manners and a well balanced diet will be much easier to live with at seventeen. Ther will be a considerable saving of time over the years, but it si not a quick fix. Once the idea of appropriate manners and eating healthily is well established in both the mind of the parent and child, it will only take occasional reminders and reinforcement spaced over time to maintain the desired behavior in later stages of maturation and development.

Remember this simple adage: “It takes no more time to develop a good habit than it takes to develop a bad habit!” However, there is one thing to remember about bad habits… to erase a bad habit takes lots of time; and then… you still must spend more time to develop a new and desirable habit. If there is a “Quick Fix” to use in raising children it lies in making permanent changes and developing good habits as early a possible! Often, it takes more time to teach children the desired behavior at the very beginning; but if you start immediately developing good habits in your children those behaviors will last a lifetime!

Now, if you have waited until your kids are in their teens to begin to teach effective decision making skills, it may take more time to develop the good habits in your children; but, every day that you put off starting means that it will just take that much longer when you actually do begin!

In closing, what I am saying is that the only “Quick Fix” for effective parenting lies in starting right now, TODAY, to make permanent change!

The quick fix in parenting lies in not waiting to start making permanent change!

No comments: