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March
2002

Parenting With Dignity

 

Effective Parenting Skills


     
 

Dear parents, supporters and facilitators:

Welcome to the March issue of our newsletter.  There is a lot to talk about, so we hope you can take the time to read everything. So much has happened since we last wrote to you. The most immediate BIG news is that Mac will be a guest on KOMO TV in Seattle, WA this Thursday, March 14th. The program Northwest Afternoon, is hosted by Kent Phillips and Elisa Jaffe and airs at 3:00 PM. This ABC affiliate can be seen everywhere if you have satellite access, or locally in WA, OR and ID.

None of us have all the answers, and most of us are always receptive to advice, counsel, ideas and new parenting tips. The fact remains that raising kids can sometimes make us feel like idiots. One of the top parenting resources available today is a series of books called "The Complete Idiot's Guides". We are very pleased to announce that we have made a special deal with the publisher to offer these books to our subscribers for a whopping 25% off. (learn more)

For those of you who are awaiting delivery of your video order, we have good news. Our production house informs us that they will begin shipping all back-ordered video programs as of today, 3/12/02. If you have not yet received your shipment, please accept our sincerest apologies, and know that it will be arriving as soon as possible. (Please note that it can take 7-10 days to ship ground.) To see the latest production/delivery status, click here.

Thank you, and enjoy this edition,

The Editor

Message from Mac: Would you please do us a BIG favor? Right now... 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 have two boys ages 3 and 5. My children are constantly fighting over any and everything. I am unsure how to handle this. I have tried time-outs and that does not seem to work. I have tried spanking and yelling at them and that does not seem to do any good. My older son likes to have control of his little brother on most occasions. I also have a big problem with cleaning up toys. I have to ask them to clean up for at least an hour. I have to threaten that they will loose television and or snack time. I am so overwhelmed and I could really use some advice. Thank you for your time.


Dear Mom,

First of all let me say that it is great that you are taking the time and trying to take some kind of action on behalf of your children. Kids are exactly what we teach them to be and they give us just about exactly what we expect of them. You are on the right track with looking for answers because raising kids is not rocket science!

We must teach them what to do. Teach them how to negotiate, how to share, how to compliment each other. Time out teaches them that when people don't get along they separate. Spanking teaches them that the biggest gets to hit (sounds like they learned that one.) Yelling at them teaches them to yell at each other (Sounds like they have learned that one too.) The older one who likes to have control also seems to be modeling what you are doing... you want control. Rather, why don't you try teaching them to control themselves!

Most of the parents who come to us with questions arrive thinking that they want something to fix their kid(s) and what they ultimately do is wind up fixing themselves! I think that this may possibly be the case here. So get ready to make some changes in what you do as a parent because that will bring about the change in your children. (Be sure to see our article below which talks more about this topic.)

Sincerely,

Mac Bledsoe
Mac and Barbara Bledsoe

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Mac & Barbara Bledsoe

 

Today's Article
Reasons Punishment Doesn't Work

By Mac and Barbara Bledsoe

 

 

Buck Minor, the cowboy on our ranch, used to always say, "If you teach an animal a lesson by meanness or cruelty, don't be surprised if the animal remembers the meanness and cruelty and forgets the lesson!" His statement, for the first time, caused me to investigate the effectiveness of punishment as a tool for changing human behavior. Here's what I found when I conducted the investigation.

First, let's define punishment for the sake of our discussion: Punishment will be considered to be any artificially created consequence for a given behavior. (This definition would then include any spanking, grounding, sending to the bedroom, removal of privileges, withholding of allowance, timeout, etc.)

Punishment guarantees a "push-back" response in all of the following situations:
(A "push-back" response is simply the natural human resistance to change. Any time that one attempts to change a child's behavior the child will resist. Add punishment and you will insure more resistance to change.)

  1. Punishment removes the focus of both the "punisher" and "punished" from the behavior in question. When a parent resorts to punishment both the parent and the child begin to pay attention to the punishment, its fairness and its enforcement. This allows the child to stop thinking about the decision process that brought about the negative consequences in the first place. Next, the child is not engaged in creating a new thought process that will bring about better decisions and outcomes next time. A spanked child will think about how their fanny hurts and how they want to run away from home but seldom will think about how to behave appropriately.
     

  2. Punishment focuses anger on the "punisher." When we resort to punishment it gives children someone else to be mad at or someone else to blame, and when they are mad they do not have to face their own behavior and consequences. The resulting anger interrupts responsible thought for both the child and parent. A child sent to his/her room will seldom or never think about how to behave properly but rather will think about how unfair his/her parents are or some equally negative idea.
     

  3. Punishment induced behavior "extinguishes" rapidly. In the absence of punishment, the negative behavior returns. Behavior that has been shaped by punishment will disappear soon after the punishment has disappeared simply because the child has not been included in the reasoning and personal profitability in the desired behavior. A child who was spanked for running beside the pool will look around to see if anyone is watching and finding nobody will take off running. It becomes a game of not getting caught.
     

  4. Punishment traps the "punisher" into maintaining the punishment schedule. "You made the rules, now you must enforce them." The goal should be to let the natural negative consequences of the child's behavior do the enforcing. When you introduce punishment, the child then may turn it into a game of seeing how much they can get away with without you catching them. A grounded teen will continuously ask to go out to constantly test the parent's will to follow through. To enforce the grounding the parent is likewise grounded by the obligation to insure compliance.
     

  5. Punishment does not teach accountability. The "punisher" (parent) is responsible to see that the child's behavior changes. If you use punishment, by your actions you have accepted responsibility for your child's behavior. Your actions say loudly and clearly, "You are not in control, I am." If you accept the responsibility for your child's behavior then he/she will have to learn to be accountable when he/she is outside of your influence, and the outside world is a tough teacher! A child who is spanked for being mean to a sibling simply learns that the biggest person gets to hit and accepts no accountability for deciding to act kindly because it is a good way to act… even adults don't act that way.
     

  6. Most of all, punishment denies a child the right to experience the real consequence of their actions. The reward for good performance is... good performance. Seldom is it necessary for us to provide the reward, and the same is true for poor performance. The punishment for poor performance is… poor performance. As parents we need to point out the negative consequences inherent in their negative behavior, we do not need to create new ones. We can serve as a big help to our children if we help them foresee potential problems and the natural consequences of some of their possible decisions. The consequence of being mean to a sibling is that the child has made someone else feel bad and being viewed as mean. Point that out clearly to the child while at the same time guiding them in appropriate action. When you resort to punishment a child will simply deduce that, by your action, you are meaner than they are. (If you act in anger they might be right!) Note: There are a couple of situations where it is unreasonable to let children run into the natural consequences of their own poor performance. If it is illegal, immoral, or life threatening then we must act as the adult in their world and step in to prevent major injury, incarceration, or violation of society's rules of decency.
     

  7. If you use punishment as a tool it may work to stop a particular action. If you send a fighting kid to his room he may have stopped fighting for the immediate present. Sometimes that is necessary to do. The error comes when we think that the punishment has taught the child what to do in the next situation. It has taught the kid NOT to do something… but it has not taught them what to do! That is our job as parents… teach them what to do and how to decide to do it!

The Punishment for poor performance is... Poor Performance!
The reward for good performance is… Good Performance!

"It is not the duty of adults to create new punishments, but rather to point out the negative consequences inherent in the child's negative actions… and to suggest positive alternatives."

A closing note: If this is the first article by us that you have read, you might feel like we have advocated that you throw away one of your most often used tools for working with your kids. For tools and skills to use in place of punishment either get copies of previous articles or spend some time perusing our parenting curriculum and you will find many "replacement techniques".

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What's New?

See all the titles - click here!

25% OFF

Complete Idiot's Guides (for non-idiots)
All Books 25% Off List

We are very pleased to announce a new affiliation with Alpha Books, an imprint of Pearson Education, Inc. This is the publisher behind the "Complete Idiot's Guides" series of self-help books. We have negotiated a special deal for PWD subscribers.

As a subscriber to PWD, you're no idiot, of course. You're a modern multi-tasking marvel, packing school lunches and faxing a proposal to your boss at the same time. But when it comes to getting your little angels to behave appropriately, you feel like you might need a little help. These books may be just what you want, click here to browse our new store.


 

Warning Signs

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

www.WarningSigns.info

If you haven't already done so, you need to visit our new Web site called WarningSigns.info (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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How you can help

On January 29, 2002, President Bush said, "My call tonight is for every American to commit at least two years, four thousand hours over the rest of your lifetime, to the service of your neighbors and your Nation. Many are already serving, and I thank you."

* * *

The success of our mission is more important than our discomfort in asking you for help. The obligation to help America's kids has exceeded our son Drew and Maura's two-million dollar contribution.

From classrooms to prisons, in town hall meetings and over the public airwaves, we are trying to reach as many people as possible. 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 a result of grass roots involvement by people like you. We don't advertise on national TV or buy ads in magazines. We believe there is a better way to increase our effectiveness and to build a solid financial base of support for our mission. Won't you please donate a few tax-free dollars to our foundation's efforts? Just click below, every dollar helps! With your help we can and will build a better world for kids!

Help us help America's Kids


Another way you can help...

When you buy books and products from links on our site, you make it possible for us to help families. Whether you need a new computer or a tennis ball, a good book or to book your next trip, shop from our page and help support our foundation.

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  Family Chuckle

One summer evening during a violent thunderstorm a mother was tucking her small boy into bed. She was about to turn off the light when he asked with a tremor in his voice, "Mommy, will you sleep with me tonight?"

The mother smiled and gave him a reassuring hug. "I can't, dear," She said. "I have to sleep in Daddy's room with Daddy."

A long silence was broken at last by his shaky little voice: "The big sissy."

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March 2002