sponsors of The Drew Bledsoe Foundation
and Parenting With Dignity™
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
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,
Thank you, and enjoy
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
is a new feature of our newsletter. Send your questions to:
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.
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.)
Mac and Barbara Bledsoe
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
(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.)
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
and you will find many "replacement techniques".
Complete Idiot's Guides (for
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,
here to browse our new store.
If you haven't already done so, you need to visit our 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
Signs about drugs, alcohol, gangs, computer
addiction and much more.
BTW, we'd really like your
comments and suggestions about this new resource.
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
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.
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
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