“Thanks for your post on Parents can prevent violent behaviors. I think I understand your teaching, but I have two jobs and two active children. I need a plan and I’m not sure how to design one. I know it has to be unique for my family – but could you just get me started?” Tanya
I would be happy to do that. First you need to fill in the following chart with all the unique thoughts about your family. Extend each arm and write your own unique answers to the ideas I’ve included. The positive side of your family is on the left and the negative on the right. That should give you an overall picture of how to proceed with each child. For example your chart might include “Children enjoy playing outside.” This clue will help you to realize that “burning” off some aggression may be more pleasant if your child engages in a taxing physical activity. The extensions of that arm might be that one child likes competitive sports while the other child likes non-competitive sports. If a child is not into competition with others – he/she will become frustrated – even more angry – with a physical activity that forces them to compete. For that child you might want to choose an activity that only pushes for personal excellence. (And yes….some children are more agitated when they don’t get proper exercise. Their bodies have to eliminate excess energy in order to calmly navigate situations.)
While you are filling out the chart generally – for the family as a whole – Make sure you personalize each arm with facts about each person. Allow your chart to be as big as it needs to be. Once you can see the “big” picture it will be easy to take each arm and design a solution for the problem you see.
(Click to enlarge)
In order to take your chart a little deeper, add “Truth Time” to your discipline technique. Truth Time is a method I used to put my child in a safe space and allow them to open up. I assured them there would never be any consequences for truth. Truth should always be awarded. Even if you are personally hurt by truth – it’s imperative that you find out where you child really is. You will never know the root cause of any problem – especially anger – unless you are willing to listen to your child’s inner thoughts without reprimand or consequences.
You might want to purchase my book, Discipline Exposed – surviving fried worms and flying mudballs, in order to study a longer version of this tool.
When my children were young, I developed a detective tool I called “Truth Time”. I only used it when nothing else worked and I needed to find the root cause of a problem. If I couldn’t get the information I needed, I asked my child if he/she needed a “Truth time”. I gave them a few minutes to get ready and then I met them in their own room. I was on their turf. They were in control. I came in, closed the door (no one else was allowed in the room) took my seat and smiled. They knew they had my full attention.
For as long as it took, they could rant their feelings and say whatever came to mind. It could be on target about the problem or it could extend into other areas. They were allowed to talk about anything. They were allowed to express all opinions and views related to whatever was upsetting their day.
I was not allowed to talk. I was not allowed to make faces or gestures. I couldn’t express opinions, thoughts or disapproval in any way – especially not with my eyes. No smirking, no smacking, no rolling eyes….nothing. I stared straight ahead and tried to be a fly on the wall.
They were NOT allowed to destroy anything in the room. They could NOT hit me. They were NOT allowed to call me names or say they hated me. They were allowed to scream, stomp the floor, or hit unbreakable items. Truth time was a time to let it all out.
When they were exhausted with the process and silence filled the room, I quietly and calmly asked one question: “Is that all?” If they said yes, I gave them a smile, a hug and I left. I made sure they didn’t receive differential treatment from me for Truth Time. We ate supper together, laughed, talked and went on with our day.
Here’s the clincher: They had one day to resolve all conflicts brought up in Truth Time. We met in their room exactly twenty-four hours later where I was to be presented with their solution. If they had a fair and balanced plan, I would accept it with no discussions. Several times my children surprised me with those types of plans. How wonderful to know that their wisdom and reasoning powers were growing.
If they could NOT come up with a fair solution, it was my turn. I was then free to have my say and implement my plan for resolution.
The surprising reality of Truth Time was that most of the time the child came to me within hours of a venting session, asked for a hug and asked forgiveness. Most of the time children don’t want a solution, they only want to be heard. There are times when a child doesn’t know why he’s acting out. Giving him the chance to voice his opinion without comment allows him time to work through the problem on his own. Sometimes (like adults) a child craves validation for his pain. In those times I gave them as much validation as possible and the problem was never brought up again. When they did need a solution, it was easier to be fair knowing I had all the facts. Truth time helped me to understand my child. It pointed out differences in their thinking and allowed me to parent each one differently and more effectively. One child may need to be restricted to his room while another child might respond better to a long talk on the porch. Being aware of their different needs and the way they processed information helped me find even more ways to help them grow.
It is very important if you use Truth Time that you promise whatever is said in the room will be private and not shared with anyone. Don’t ever break your promise or your vow of silence. If you do, you will lose your child’s respect forever! It is also important that once you leave the room you agree never to bring those issues up again. In other words, don’t ever judge your child or accuse your child based on his Truth Time. If all he needed was Validation, you will lose the ability to have a successful Truth Time in the future. He will feel unsafe and as if he is being punished for his honesty.
Don’t ever judge your child by what is said during a fit of anger. Give him the chance to change. Don’t cause him to lose faith in you or regret talking to you because you won’t let him forget what was said in a moment of frustration.
Once your chart is complete and you have installed a way to get to the truth (Truth Time), you may want to consider a few other ideas that will curb rebellion and anger. Again all these are explained in detail in my book Discipline Exposed.
- Make a chart. Learn all you can about your child and their needs. Hidden problems may reveal why your child is angry.
- Try Truth Time to uncover even more facts.
- Children want to please their parents. Don’t believe the contemporary lie that they instinctively dislike you. They want to please you, but may not know how. The following tips will help you build a home with less stress and less anger.
- Children take their clues from you. If you are angry, they will be too. Try to sing, hum and laugh your way through the day. Bite your tongue and don’t react angrily to situations. Try to find positive solutions for everything you do. Make your home a place your children love to be. While they should follow some rules and instructions – make your number one goal to love them and to build your relationship with them. Instead of saying – “You are such a slob. Pick up those dirty clothes.” Try saying, “Do I need to explain why we can’t have dirty clothes laying around? Did you know your brain will work better in a clean environment than a dirty one? When your room is organized you will feel better and your brain will organize your homework easier. Cool huh?” If you strive to have a pleasant, happy and positive home – your children will follow your lead. And on the days when their frustrations get the better of them, you will be able to give positive solutions and help them learn to be – “just like mom”.
- Always explain everything. If you don’t have a reason for “why” you need the action completed – don’t ask your child to do it. It may come down to a personal reason like – “I’m trying to help you learn the joy of being compassionate. I need a little help with chores so I can sit down and rest with you tonight. I would like to watch some TV together but if you don’t help me, I can’t. Helping me is a great gift from you. Thank you so much.” It’s a little hard for anyone to be angry when they have good information and a grateful attitude.
- Never treat your child like a slave. There’s a big difference between “convincing” your child that the action you require is the right thing to do and demanding that they do it regardless. Demands without explanations can feel like slavery. “Do it my way or else!” Anyone would rebel with that type of treatment.
- Make sure your home is fair. Anytime a person (child or adult) feels they are living in an environment that is unfair – they will become angry or rebel. The only reason an employee continues to work for a boss that makes harsh demands is because they need the paycheck. Yet, they fuss, ridicule and pitch fits behind that employers back. Once you feel beaten by another person the relationship is never the same. You have lost your trust in that person and you will always be afraid of them. Don’t let unfair demands break your relationship with your child.
- Never show partiality with anyone in the family. I’m probably the only parent who let her child put her on restriction. I insisted that our home would be fair. If it was good for my children it was good for me. At age seven, Jamie caught me breaking a rule and I admitted to him that he was right. I asked him to put me on restriction. I proved to everyone that day that no one – not even me – would be treated unfairly.
Again…get my book for more details about how to prevent anger and rebellion. You can instill a form of discipline that works!