Parenting With Dignity - a resource where parents learn new effective parenting skills.  HOME Sponsored by The Drew Bledsoe Foundation - see What's New See the Five Rules of Parenting and the ideas in your head will rule your world! The Foundation contacts parents through existing youth activities and agencies including Juvenile Court Services. Drew Bledsoe's dream with this foundation is to address some of the problems which kids are facing, at their source. This foundation provides a source of information for parents, giving them the tools necessary to create an encouraging, and loving home for their children Information for kids, teens, children of all ages. From proper parenting skills to substance abuse and gang activity. Mac & Barbara Bledsoe are the creators of the Parenting With Dignity curriculum. Drew Bledsoe (Quarterback for the New England Patriots). SPONSORS  

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Official sponsors of The Drew Bledsoe Foundation
and Parenting With Dignity

February
2002

Parenting With Dignity

 

Effective Parenting Skills


     
 

Dear parents, supporters and facilitators:

January was a wonderful time for our foundation. As you know, Mac Bledsoe appeared on ABC's 20/20 program and afterwards he participated in an online chat. To read the transcript of that chat, click here. There is nothing like a little national TV exposure to generate awareness. WOW, within a few days of the 20/20 program, we received more than 3000 e-mails.

To the 2000+ new subscribers to this newsletter, we would like to welcome you to our community. After you read our newsletter and familiarize yourself with our Web site, let us know if you have any questions or suggestions as to how we can improve our site.

Thank you, and enjoy this edition,

The Editor

PS: Would you please do us a BIG favor? Send this newsletter to every parent in your address book and encourage them to subscribe to our free newsletter. Thanks, we really appreciate your help!

Mac Bledsoe
Mac Bledsoe


   

In This
Issue:

   

   

Ask Mac Bledsoe your parenting question.

Ask Mac is a new feature of our newsletter. Send your questions to:
Ask Mac

 

 

 Ask Mac?

Dear Mac and Barbara,

I am a desperate mother of a 4-year-old who was an exact mimic of the child portrayed on 20/20. I need help fast. I have already raised 2 grown children, and now have 3 small children by my second marriage. Children with normal behavior problems really don't get my dander up. I am a very patient 40-year old veteran of child rearing. But, my 4-year-old's behavior is wreaking havoc on my marriage, and disrupting everything else around. I home-school my 6-year-old.

I am located in Virginia and according to your calendar, I don't think you are scheduled for any seminars or visits in this area anytime soon... and time is of the essence. We are a very-low income family. I have printed out all the workbook pages and read very carefully, but I am in desperate need of your tapes. Do you know of any resources who would graciously LEND me a set; I would be eternally grateful and return them promptly.

We have already tried Diet Modifications, many different approaches to learning and behavior correction...but we are at the point the Doctor is considering medications to calm him (I don't feel children need medication, just more creative teaching). But if I need to medicate him in the interim of obtaining your tapes, then I will -- only for his own safety.


Dear Mom,

I am sorry, we have no one in your area who has a set of our tapes for you to use. We receive so many requests from so many people to receive free tapes that we simply cannot just send out free tapes. I am sorry but we would be out of business in a couple of weeks if we simply sent our tapes for free. We make no money off of them, all we charge is the price of duplication, wrapping, packaging, and shipping.

Here is a plan used by many and I think it is great and it really works! Find five families who would like to watch the tapes with you. Get each family to contribute $10.00. then have each family recruit one more family and have each of them contribute $10.00 and you have the money to buy the tapes and have $20.00 left over to buy coffee and cookies while you watch them together!

To order a copy of the video tapes for your viewing, click here.

You will find that the video series will double in value when you watch them together with others. All will have insights that might not occur to you watching them alone and others can see things in you that you might never see alone (click here to see how to run a class). Believe me it really works! Please try it. And, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter since it contains free tips every few weeks.

Now for some possible help. Do not try to reason with your 4-year old while he/she is acting out. He/she cannot hear you or learn during such times. (It would be like me coming to your house during the night you chose to hassle with your taxes to try to teach you how to program your VCR!) Just ignore the behavior (provided it is not illegal, immoral, or life threatening.)

Then when things are calm drop what you are doing and sit down with him/her and explain the behavior that you expect the next time such a situation arises. You must describe the desired action in descriptive behavioral terms that he/she can understand. The last part of that phrase is critical... terms that he/she can understand. Often this means that you must role-play the behavior. Then have the child do what you have described right then and there to insure that he/she has understood exactly what you said. Then the next time the acting out happens; simply ask him/her to revert to the practiced behavior. If the newly trained behavior is not used simply ignore the negative behavior. Just walk away.

What to us is negative behavior is often just something that the kid has learned to use to trip our triggers and get our attention and exert control over us. If a child throws a fit and you stop what you are doing and come to him to act to interrupt the negative action... the negative action really worked! Now, any time a child is behaving properly, what often happens is the hassled adult will seize the moment of peace to go and do something and move away from the child. So the child acts up again! I think that you can see the dynamic at work here... a child who craves attention, and most do, who cannot garner the attention through positive means, will resort to negative means. Attention and manipulation are natural needs of kids.

What you are experiencing is very common when parents have a second set of kids later in life. What happens is that through the years the parent who was exceptionally successful raising the first set of kids has the second children, much as you have. When the second set of kids has arrived the parents have changed subtly but critically. They have become somewhat more set in their ways and have a much more established routine which is not as easily interrupted by the kids...so the kid or kids begin to try out some other ways of attracting attention. It is not that the children are "bad" or in some way abnormal... it is natural for them to find ways to meet their needs for attention. The fact that you are home schooling an older child says that you give undivided attention to the older child for much of the day. Seen through eyes of a younger child this means getting little personal attention during this time. Remember, a child craving parental attention will get it any way that works.

Once the child uses negative action and it works... the behavior starts to snowball. The kid acts out and the parent reacts. The moment there is peace, the parent tries to return to the routine so the child feels the isolation and acts out to get attention. Frustration sets in so the parent withholds attention and affection ("Who can love and be affectionate to this monster?) so the child feels more ignored and acts out in the manner learned for garnering attention. The cycle continues.

Here is the key... the cycle will continue until the adult in the situation acts to stop it by TEACHING appropriate behavior and then rewarding the appropriate behavior with attention and praise. So many people try to act to stop a negative behavior without teaching the acceptable behavior that should be used in its place. Kids are smart but they are not telepathic geniuses. When an adult tries to get them to stop some behavior (especially a behavior that has been used repeatedly and successfully to get what they want) the kid does not immediately know intuitively what behavior to use in place of the one being taken away! That is the job of the parent... to teach the desired behavior!

Hey, you say that you have printed all of our curriculum pages but I have included some links to some key pages on our website to guide you on a tour to find more of value.

Sincerely,

Mac Bledsoe
Mac and Barbara Bledsoe

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Mac & Barbara Bledsoe

 

Listening
The Most important Part of Communication

By Mac and Barbara Bledsoe

 

 

All too often, when people say that they can't communicate with their kids what they really mean is that they don't know how to talk so that their kids will listen. What they forget is that their own listening habits are probably more important than any thing they might say!

One of the most loving and personality-shaping things that a parent can do for a child is to simply listen to them! Kids of all ages have questions, thoughts, feelings, and observations, which will be very enlightening and instructional to parents who can learn to listen.

This behavior of listening to children can begin at the very earliest of ages. When our first son, Drew, was 4-5 months old we took him to our Pediatrician, Dr. Verne, an extremely perceptive and intelligent man. He said something to us that made great sense and ultimately saved Drew's life at the age of 8 months. While in his office, Drew began to cry after receiving a shot. We, the young parents, began to comfort our little boy by saying, "Oh, don't cry Drew, you're OK. Don't cry."

Dr. Verne interrupted us and said something very challenging and something that changed our behavior forever. He very calmly said, "Don't tell him to stop crying, he is trying to tell you something in the only way he knows how… listen to him! The shot hurt and he is telling you that! Listen, and respond to what he is telling you."

From that day on we tried our best to listen to our own children, as well as to all of the kids we worked with at school. About 3-4 months after listening to Dr. Verne's sage advice, Drew began to cry rather violently in the middle of the night. We became alarmed and Barbara called the Emergency Room. The On-Call Doctor had her describe the situation and made a diagnosis over the phone. He concluded that our baby had gas and he phoned in a prescription for a mild pain medication. Barbara thought about that for a moment after hanging up and she said, "That doesn't make sense. Drew is trying to tell us something about how he is feeling… we need to listen to him; not give him a drug that will hide the symptoms."

So, at that moment, in the middle of the night, we called and awakened Dr. Cobb, the doctor who delivered Drew. (Dr. Verne, the Pediatrician, was out of town.) He told us to bring the baby in and let him take a look at him. To make a long story short, after he examined Drew, he immediately loaded us in his car and drove us to the next town, where an internal surgery specialist operated immediately and saved Drew's life! Had Barbara not listened it most certainly would have been fatal!

Man, did we ever learn a lesson! Kids so often give us tons of information about how they are feeling and thinking, if we will just stop talking, telling, and explaining and listen with all of our intellect and understanding.

Now let's move ahead to a period that has been wrongfully labeled "the Terrible-Twos." At that age kids are attempting to establish a sense of self and they are incessantly asking "Why?" Instead of becoming alarmed, annoyed, or angered by this questioning behavior, what we need to do is listen carefully to the questions. (Sometimes the questions are cleverly disguised as tantrums or fits.) They are asking about the world and how it works, and if we respond by ignoring them or telling them to be quiet we are simply teaching them not to ask for guidance from adults. They will get the answers but they just won't get them from you. It all starts with listening to them! Once you develop a habit of careful listening, children rapidly learn that the way to get information to use in making the critical decisions in life often is to ask Mom and Dad.

When they become teens they enter into the next period which so many parents wrongfully label annoying. What kids are doing in the teen years is asking more difficult questions. Listen carefully to the questions and listen completely. They are just like 2-year olds only, "Why can't I have a green Popsicle?" and "Why can't I wear pajamas to the store?" are replaced by, "Why do you believe in God?" and "Why can't I stay out with the gang until 1:00 in the morning?" The key here is to listen carefully and only give answers that are carefully thought out. At these times it is imperative to stop what you are doing and give the child absolutely 100% of your attention and listening ability. Put down the paper, turn off the TV, stop working and look them in the eye as they speak. So many parents miss this critical moment for input into their children's stockpile of ideas that will rule their world. Rather than listening and answering many parents wait until the child has asked elsewhere and gotten a different answer from another source. Then they try to express their disapproval and try to change it after the fact.

We learned later that there were six key words or phrases that we could use to listen effectively. They are: "Oh?", "Really?", "Wow!", "Uuummm!", "I didn't know you felt like that!" and "Tell me more." These particular words are not magic and you can devise some of your own, but you must have some key phrases like that, ready to offer at the drop of a hat anytime a child begins to talk to you. These phrases must be non-judgmental evidence that you have heard what is said, without interrupting or offering your own thoughts before they are asked for. In that kind of atmosphere kids can, and will, openly express themselves and you, the parent, will begin to learn what they are thinking, feeling, and wondering about.

Another key element of effective listening says that, at times, a parent must simply bite their lip and not say anything. Kids may not be seeking advice but rather simply looking for a sounding board. (This would never apply when a child is sharing thoughts about something illegal, immoral, or life-threatening!) By simply listening, the parent leaves open the lines of communication so that a child's thoughts can be safely and confidently shared.

In closing, it is important to note that a critical offshoot of this approach is that listening to them clearly says something very important to the child, "You are a valued person with valid ideas and I like to hear them." It builds confidence in a child's thinking, reasoning, and decision-making abilities. Listen carefully and constantly to your children.

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What's New

Please support our premier sponsor, Prince Pasta, visit them online - click here.

We are extremely pleased to announce that Prince Pasta and Creamette, two of the largest pasta companies in the nation, have become major funding sponsors of the Drew Bledsoe Foundation.

 

This is no ordinary sponsorship. Prince Pasta and Creamette are well known for their active role in sponsoring community building programs. As an example, Prince's Anthony Fund provides dinner and fundraising kits, and has significant involvement with various Food Banks, churches, clubs and teams. Prince Pasta works hard to help you and your efforts to make a difference in the community. You must visit their Web site and see the interactive pasta gallery and recipe database.

 

Warning Signs

Parents, learn the "Warning Signs" of Drugs, Alcohol, Gangs and Computer Addiction.

www.WarningSigns.info

This is a brand new Web site (although it is still under development) to help parents and educators understand and help their children. Kids telegraph signals to us when they are engaged in activities in which that they shouldn't be involved. Learn the Warning Signs about drugs, alcohol, gangs, computer addiction and much more. BTW, we'd really like your comments and suggestions about this new resource.

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If Parenting With Dignity™ is to continue...

There's an old axiom that says . . .

"If it is going to be, it is up to me"

The significance of those words is self evident; our actions determine the course of our lives. As a foundation with such an important mission, our collective actions determine the ultimate success or failure of this undertaking.

If it is going to be, it is up to "us".

Since this foundation was established, last month was the first time we publicly asked you for help. Asking you to share your hard-earned money is something we’ve just not been comfortable in doing. But, this foundation and our mission have grown to be much bigger than our comfort in asking for help. The opportunity to make a significant difference and help America's kids has even grown beyond our son Drew and Maura's two-million dollar contribution.

We have taken our message to people in classrooms, in prisons, in town hall meetings and over the public airwaves. Many of the families and organizations we visit can't afford the cost of our videos let alone pay the travel expenses for us to visit their communities.

The secret to the popularity and success of this program has been based in grass roots involvement by people like you. We don't advertise on national TV or buy ads in magazines. We can't afford it and we would not advertise that way if we could afford it. We believe that there is a better way to increase our effectiveness and to build a solid financial base of support for our mission.

We count on the people we are trying to help to contribute to our efforts. We have proven that our mission can be fulfilled because Americans are a people who will help each other in time of need. We really need your support. Won't you please donate a few tax-free dollars to our foundation's efforts? Just click on the icon below. Every little bit helps! With your help we can and will build a better world for kids!

Help us help America's Kids

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February 2002