Parenting With Dignity

Five Rules for Educators

1. End any criticism with a positive statement of expected behavior

The expected behavior must be stated in very specific, behavioral terms kids can understand. Remember, just because you said something, does not mean children heard it, understood it, and can translate what you said into productive action. Also, before you can communicate to children precisely what it is you want them to do…. you must decide exactly what you do want. Once you have in mind a very specific idea of exactly what it is you want children to do, many times your strategy to bring about that behavior will become very obvious. Always keep in mind that it helps if you will include a "sales pitch" explaining why your desired behavior will bring about positive and rewarding outcomes for the kid.

2. Criticize the performance and not the person.

Criticism is often necessary in working with the behavior of children, but it must remain just that… a criticism of just the behavior. As a matter of fact, most of the time it is possible to give the person a compliment while the behavior is being corrected. This sounds easy, but it takes great care and planning to do it.

3. Do not assume they have heard it simply because you have said it

REPEAT IT! Repetition is fundamental to all learning. It is rare that we ever learn anything on a first exposure, and children are no different. KIDS ARE PEOPLE TOO. So, remember when you set out to teach them something you, most likely, will have to repeat it a couple of times. KEEP THE ANGER OUT! Also, remember that if you have repeated something a number of times and the kids are still not doing it, then you need to find another way to say it. (Remember when you repeat it, that there are many ways to "say" something.)

4. It does not matter what you say; it is what they say to themselves that counts

Self - motivation is the only kind of motivation. No matter how much you would like to motivate and control children, the controlling force in their lives will be what they tell themselves. If I were speaking to you, it would not matter what I said if you were repeating over and over in your head "Boy, he doesn't know what the heck he is talking about." The techniques we use with children must always be aimed at guiding them to phrase positive statements about themselves. One of the most effective ways to do this is to teach them the fundamentals of values clarification and goal setting.

5. Send a constant and continual message of LOVE

We do not know how it is that humans learn language. But we do know that the particular language all humans speak is simply the language they are exposed to... and that is the key, because love is a language! If we wish to have children speak the language of love, then we must make sure we expose them to it on a continuous basis. There are two important corollaries to sending a message of love to our kids:

  1. Love is not just something you say; it is also something you do. (You can fake like you care, but you can't fake being there. To send a message of love to your children you must show up. Love is not a spectator sport.)

  2. The time they most need to hear it, is the time you feel least able to say it. When you are at the point of putting your children up for adoption, that is probably the time when their heart is most open to receive your message.

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