Behavior Management

How to Discipline Your Child – Punishment isn’t the Way

By | February 23rd, 2018|Tags: , , , , |

by Amy Mc Creedy

original article can be located on http://bit.ly/positiveparentingsolutions

We want our children to learn from their mistakes and not repeat them. So the natural thought is to send them to the “time out” corner or up to their room to “think about what they’ve done.” Except they don’t. And they’re likely to keep up the same behaviors despite the punishment. So, how do you know how to discipline your child?

Often, we equate the term “discipline” with punishment. But the word “discipline” comes from the Latin word “disciplina,” which means “teaching, learning.” That’s the key to correcting our kids’ behaviors – giving them the tools they need to learn a better behavior. When we discipline in a way meant only to punish and have the child “pay” for their mistake, it doesn’t help our child learn how to make the right choice next time. No one likes being ordered around – punishment can lead to power struggles, and because our kids know this poor behavior gets them attention, they’ll keep doing it.

When it comes to knowing how to discipline your child, we can focus on three key areas: giving them the positive attention they need and crave, taking time for training, and setting limits and sticking to them.

1. Fill the Attention Basket

Kids need attention, plain and simple. If we don’t keep that “attention basket” full of positive attention, kids will seek out any attention they can get – even negative attention. They’ll push our buttons with negative behaviors because to a kid, even negative attention is better than no attention at all. This doesn’t mean you have to be at your child’s side 24-7 – just taking a few minutes a day to spend one-on-one with your child, distraction-free and doing something they want to do, will reap immense rewards in their behavior.

Take 10 minutes once or twice a day with each child playing a game they’ve picked or reading their favorite book. Let the phone ring. Stick the cell phone in the closet. When you fill your children’s attention baskets positively and proactively, your kids will become more cooperative and less likely to seek out attention in negative ways. Life is busy for everyone, and finding extra time in the day may be daunting at first, but think of this as an investment in your relationship with your children and in improving their behavior. When it comes to knowing how to discipline your child, giving them what they need to avoid poor behaviors in the first place can have a great impact.

2. Take Time for Training

As you think about how to discipline your child, it’s important to remember that the word discipline is rooted in meanings of learning and teaching. The best way to discipline your child is to help her make better choices. You can role play the behaviors, using a calm voice. “I’d really like to play with that tractor when you’re done.” “I’d like a snack, please.” Switch roles and pretend you’re the child, and let your little one direct you through making better choices. Be encouraging when they do make the right choices. “I see you worked hard to clean up the playroom all on your own! That’s such a big help. I really appreciate it.” “Thank you for sharing the book with your brother. How kind!”

3. Set Limits and Stick to Them

Kids thrive when they have structure and know their boundaries. Don’t go overboard with hundreds of rules, but focus on what’s most important for your family. Be clear about the ground rules and what happens when someone breaks the rules – make sure that everyone understands the consequences ahead of time and that the discipline is related to the misbehavior. If they forget to put away their dishes after dinner, they have to load and unload the dishwasher. Cleaning their room because they didn’t do their homework isn’t related. Most importantly, be consistent. Follow through every time with the agreed-upon consequence when kids push the rules.

Overall, remember that knowing how to discipline your child is rooted in helping them learn how to make the right choice, not punishment. Be firm and give them the attention, rules, and boundaries they need.

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Helpful Hints of Healing

By | February 9th, 2018|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

We all haven’t faced the easiest of lives. Unfortunately along for the ride are our little ones. As much as we try to protect them, their experience is undeniably different from that of their friends. It isn’t your fault. You might be able to look back and see things you could have done better, but isn’t that true of everyone? You do the best you can with the hand you’re dealt. As a result, your child may start to display some poor coping strategies and behaviors. There are positive methods that you can do that support your child.

The first step is Acceptance. Accept the idea that your child is acting out because they are getting attention. This is true for many if not most people. During times of trauma, it is easy to overlook everyday events. Traumatic experiences take precedence and events like growing up get overlooked. The need for attention is a result. For some people, this may only go on for a short time and long-term behaviors never emerge. For the child who experienced traumatic events over a longer period of time, they may have started to accept the role that is assigned by adults and peers, i.e., troublemaker, class clown, bully…, etc. 

The second step is to be Available. Now its time for the parent(s) to be available and figure out what activities to do together. It could be something as simple as a card game or making dinner together. Don’t just try to be part of their lives…let them be part of yours. I’m not under any assumption that life has changed for you so dramatically that your calendar has opened up. As your child ages, they are more interested in what you do with your time. Things that you wouldn’t think of might appeal to them, i.e., the gym, your friends, your work. The trip to the grocery store could include a quick stop at the ice cream parlor. A long wait at the DMV could be a chance for them to show you their favorite YouTube video. The point is you have to make time even if it overlaps with your busy day.

The third step is Identity. You can’t shake a role assignment that your child has taken on, it is now part of their identity. However, you can add extracurricular activities to their agenda to help them discover different facets of who they are. Provide them with different groups to support a different role opportunity. Leave leaflets around the house and see which one sparks their interest. No point in pressuring them. Try to make it their idea. Some ideas are art, photography, sports, volunteering, coding, dance…, etc. Your child shouldn’t get the idea that you don’t like their identity or that you want to change them.  Remember these steps are taking care to help your relationship and grow as parent and child. Change is inevitable. 

The fourth step is Reward. Communicate with your child and discover some trouble areas. Identify them and write down positive alternatives to replace negative behaviors. Reward when they are completed. Best to identify the poor coping strategies that have been used such as yelling, hitting, ignoring, slamming, lying…, etc. If your child has experienced a lot of trauma it is best for them to experience reward on a more frequent basis until there is a level of trust. (Using a game like Vlinder, www.ourbreakthroughs.com is helpful in having some consistency and structure in your reward system.)

The fifth step is Celebrate. Look back at all you have accomplished. Go out to dinner and celebrate that you are working on your relationship and that you have made it all the way through the five steps! Think about how far you have come. Before you started you hadn’t accepted that your child needed attention and you weren’t looking at being available in a way that involved you both opening up your lives to one another. By recognizing your child’s assigned identity you opened up avenues for your child to re-invent themselves. Finally by talking about your child’s problem area’s and rewarding positive behaviors you have reinforced your expectations.

These steps should not take the place of counseling or medical attention if needed. There are different levels of trauma and we all experience them differently. I advocate for families that want to work on their family relationships and provide many tools to help them do so including Vlinder and Consultations. www.ourbreakthroughs.com

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The Safety Parent

By | January 3rd, 2018|Tags: , , , , , , |

A long time ago I had a scary conversation about child predators and how to keep our children safe. The talk progressed sharing fear-based stories heard on the news, internet and via word of mouth. We naturally helped each other as each tale got more difficult to fathom. It followed with good parenting advice on how to prepare children for such a potentially horrible world. What hit me later is that I don’t want my kids to grow up fearful. I want to instill confidence.

At the time my own fears were getting in the way. The avoidance method was in full effect. Around the same time, my oldest son had an interaction with two separate men at the grocery store. One made him very uncomfortable so he stayed clear. Another was a homeless man and they shared a special interaction. One that I would have robbed him of had I been around. I’m proud of him and I don’t have advice on how to make it safer. It was time to review how I parent, the rules of safety, and make decisions that have long-term benefits for my children.

When I think of what I want my children to be I think of words like outgoing, adventuresome, kind, brave, intelligent, and confident. I don’t think of weary or even aware. There is a question that looms over my assertion. How do you keep your children safe?

The best I can do is feed their intelligence by watching the news and discussing stories as needed. As a family, we work on confidence and self-esteem with self-defense or martial arts. We inspire adventure with travel, imagination, and books. I have had to come to peace with the fact that as ready as I think I am, there is always the unknown that I am not prepared for.

There are many strategies that can be used to nurture a personality trait. As the parent, you decide which actions you take, even when if it is no action there are outcomes. If you read my blogs, you know that I am a proponent of parenting with intention. I proffer that after reading this you look at what you want for your kids with regard to their safety and decide if your actions are helping or hurting them get where they need to be.

The biggest lesson in this part of the journey was learning that I have to continue to work on my own fears. Fear is a strong emotion and impacts the decision-making process in a profound way. Children look to us for our strength and guidance. Making sure that I have enough energy saved up to offer what is needed is my goal, my mission, my work.

Thank you for reading. There is more available at www.ourbreakthroughs.com. Come visit to learn more about what Breakthrough, LLC has to offer. We invite feedback. This is a great place to start a conversation.

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Take 5

By | August 22nd, 2017|Tags: , , , , , , |

Today I’m here to help you be more mindful the next time you are angry with your child and trying to give a lesson in the moment. The problem is that we are tunnel visioned when we are angry and less rational. Why is that a problem? Your child is learning more then one lesson from you during this interaction.

First they are learning how to communicate. They may not yell at you, but they may start yelling at their siblings to express their anger. They may point their finger, ignore whats being said, shake their head, any number of mannerisms that you portray. Kids model what they see. If you want to raise a child who is respectful to loved ones, even during argument, best to cool down before preceding with the lesson. 

Second they are learning about respect. My husband tells our sons they have to respect him because he is their father. In the same conversation we teach them that respect is earned. It is a confusing message. I make every effort not to correct my husband in front of our children, so the only way that I can make sure that I am earning their respect in my conversations with them is to be sure that I am heard and then listen back.

Finally they are learning about consistency. If you allow yourself the time to think about your course of action then you are allowing yourself time to be consistent with your parenting.

It’s easy to fly off the hook when you get angry and yell at your child for something they’ve done. Im just asking for you to stop and think for a moment.  You’re providing more than one lesson in the moments following an event than you may think. It’s worth a five minute breather, to collect your thoughts, get a sip of water and then tackle the problem.

For more parenting tips or information on using positive reinforcement visit my website at www.ourbreakthroughs.com!

My Kid is a Liar

By | July 4th, 2017|Tags: , , , , , , |

I can still remember the look on my child’s face when he got caught in his first lie. It was the perfect mixture of defiance and embarrassment with neither behavior wanting to make an appearance. He wasn’t sure how to face the disappointment he had caused yet desperately wanted to find a loophole out of the situation. It was a hard lesson that day and it wasn’t the last. The fact is kids start “lying” for a variety of reasons and it isn’t until they are older that it starts to become deliberate and something that needs an intentional intervention.

There is no question that lying is a learned and even accepted behavior when growing up. I expect preschoolers enjoy believing their favorite Disney character lives somewhere in their world. I also expect they enjoy sharing their make believe adventures. Even as our kiddos get older and blame their make believe friends for spilled milk, somehow the sweetness of the story allows us to give the lesson to the friend, letting our kiddo off the hook.

I’m not saying that any of this is wrong! It is just important to understand that your kid is not inherently bad because they started lying about things that are suddenly more important in your eyes. Now it is time for your kiddo to start learning the value of telling the truth. This lesson deserves the same consistency that their previous lessons in lying received.

It is important to understand what your motivation is. In this case it is for your child to tell the truth. If your motivation is for your child to stop lying then you will be looking for and expecting poor behavior. It is not as powerful a message. Trust me…look for the positive, you and your child will be happier.

Next you want to set up a reward system. What are some of the behaviors that will show that they are telling the truth? The most obvious is a daily honesty reward. This would be on the honor system. Another could be what I call an ownership reward. There isn’t a day that goes by that my kids can’t take ownership of starting an argument, leaving clothing, etc. Finally I love creating a leadership reward. This reward is earned by showing leadership skills around the house and family.

The rewards are recognition stamps or stickers for a job well done. Its up to you to decide how many need to be earned to earn a larger reward. It is important for your child to work for something they want. If you have weekly goals and rewards then make them smaller. If you want to work towards a friend movie party, let him work at it for a while.

If you have more questions about setting up a reward system visit my website at www.ourbreakthroughs.com. You can also reach out to me at jenn@ourbreakthroughs.com 

This is a good blog to help you understand the difference between a bribe and a reward.

Angry in a Flash

By | June 4th, 2017|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

There is more in a moment of anger than we credit; many different internal and external factors are at play. We have little control over some, but, we always have control over our reactions. We need to remember that when it comes to our children. Everyone has experienced when spilled milk one day is just an accident and the next day it is clumsiness and cause for a stern talking to.  It’s confusing to be a child.

Anger is the result of three things, something happening, how we experience it and ultimately how we react. The parent who experienced the spilled milk and was angry one day but wasn’t the day before had other internal and external things that affected their response. Lets take a closer look at the difference between internal and external factors and how they affect a person’s anger.

As we progress through life events go through our experience filter. It’s this filter that helps us decode how we feel about everything based on past experience, culture, upbringing, gender, race, or religion. Those feelings ultimately direct our reactions, impacts how we respond, even to something as simple as a glass of spilled milk. How would a glass of spilled milk impact you? If it makes a laud noise? If it breaks something? If you are embarrassed in front of friends or family? These are all examples of internal things that provoke anger because it is how we respond to external stimuli. These events alone are not a common trigger. Even though the events are external they are going through your experience filter and your internal belief structure that is impacting how you are relate to an incident.

Other internal factors that are easier to relate to are fatigue, pressure, conflict and insecurity. These have direct impact on how we choose to respond to an event.

When thinking about external factors one must think about the events that he or she experienced and the circumstances under which they occurred. For example think about the things in your life that caused you stress. Did you come up with any frustrations, annoyances, abuses, injustices, harassments, hurts, disappointments, or threats? These are all stimuli that activate your anger. It is clear that not all of us react the same way. A bully might see an insult as humorous from someone smaller; however, if threatened his response would be quite different. External factors are different from internal in that they alone can cause anger. They don’t need to go through your experience filter to stimulate a reaction.

It is understandable that people have different reactions to the same event. No two days are the same and our experiences throughout the day have an impact on how we treat those who cross our path. Understanding the factors that go into anger gives you a tool set to make different choices. Knowing that you are walking into a situation when you are tired and feeling vulnerable should warn you to go easy or to schedule a better time to have important conversations. If your child spills a glass of milk and you feel your temperature rise ask yourself some very important questions.

    1. Where is my stress gauge?
    2. Do I already feel anger about another incident?

These questions might help you from making saying and doing things that you will regret later.

If you have any questions or you would like to look up more information on behavior management, please visit our website at www.ourbreakthroughs.com. Vlinder is a behavior management game created to encourage communication, cooperation and connection in the family. To learn more visit us here.

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Out With the Old

By | May 2nd, 2017|Tags: , , , , , |

One of the great things about any good behavior modification system is that you can watch the undesirable behavior slowly correct itself. With games like Vlinder you often see change occur quickly. Please note that it takes time for it to have a lasting affect. Poor habits do not form over night, nor do the remedies. Once you choose negative behaviors that you want to focus on, it is important not to overstimulate or overburden the child. Pick one at a time that you can slowly integrate into your plan.

With Vlinder there is a list of responsibilities or expectations that your child has already set to accomplish each morning. By using the two-three extra spaces at bottom of the Task Sheet you can add your positive goals. 

As an example, if your child is hitting their siblings at home, two replacement behaviors may be, not hitting their siblings and showing acts of leadership. Generally you have one behavior that is the exact opposite and then one behavior that is doing an act to replace their time in a positive fashion.

Another example is if your child is still wetting the bed. The first replacement would be not wetting the bed and the second could be keeping their bed made.

A behavior modification system works because of the positive and negative reinforcers that are in play. A driving force in a game like Vlinder is the idea of earning stamps, thus earning the reward cards. For those who have played the game, you know that there is as much value in the stamp as there is in the reward itself. It is something that is earned. The tears never come from not earning the right reward, but they do come from not earning a stamp. Find your motivators and you have found the leverage to help you turn any negative behavior into the good behavior that you are looking for.

Breakthrough, LLC is the proud distributor of Vlinder. Please visit us at www.ourbreakthroughs.com for more information at behavior modification, our game Vlinder or other parenting information.

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Finders Keepers – A Mother’s Search for Reasonable Rewards

By | March 16th, 2017|Tags: , , , , , |

Kids are given so many “things” nowadays. It seems as though when it comes to Birthdays and Christmas I’ve run out of gift ideas because of all the giving that I’ve already done. I know I’m not the only one. So when it came to creating my behavior modification program it was important to me to find rewards around the house that involved time spent with family, friends, and other social ingredients. Knowing how hard it was going to be to find enough rewards to make up my program I wondered if all of them would hold enough value to motivate.

It proved no easy task. I sat on my couch for hours, with eyes closed, mentally roaming my home, pretending to be my kids and thinking of things they like to do. Different times of day. Different people to associate with. Different animals to play with. I would use all of my senses to imagine what they could earn as a reward that would motivate them to want to earn it again.

The funny thing is a lot of the things I came up with, I would let them do regardless. I decided to do a test run. I was curious how they would respond to rewards like “play with a pet” compared to “30 minutes of electronics on a school night”. Would one reward hold more value and make them work harder than another?

The answer was they all worked the same. Initially I wondered if it was the newness of working with Vlinder, the name of the program. Families that were part of a pilot project reported similar findings, however. Although some rewards held, what were considered a higher pay value, they did not make the kiddos work any harder during the day then cards that had a lesser pay value. Kids reported enjoying the process. They liked understanding what was expected of them (which is part of their task sheets), they liked picking out of a bin, not knowing what reward they were going to get, even if it was a bummer card. They enjoyed carrying out the reward or having the anticipating of being able to carry out the reward. Overall it is a win-win.

Vlinder found the kids motivation to complete any tasks that were put before them on a task sheet. The added bonus is the amount of valued family time that comes with the rewards. I was pleasantly surprised that my kids often choose cuddle time as their reward. I always love it when they get to pick the meal, not only do they pick but they often help with the meal as well. Daddy loves it when they pick Daddy Day as their special Weekly reward. Again we would gladly do it without the game, but with the game we make sure to set aside the time to do it in a timely fashion. The kids have a strong feeling of accomplishment and pride.

It continues to be important for me to bring up to participants and friends that one of the largest learning experiences for me has been that no matter the pay-value of the reward, kids want the recognition. One of the things that Vlinder does an excellent job of is explains to kids what they need to do to get that same recognition. The rewards make it fun, the game pieces make it fun.

If you would like to learn more about Vlinder, Behavior Modification and other parenting advice please come and visit us at www.ourbreakthroughs.com. You can also call us at (707) 773-7654.

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Helping our Children to Understand One Emotion at a Time

By | March 3rd, 2017|Tags: , , , , , , |

Feelings are typically difficult for a child to understand. When you ask a child how they feel they will often refer to the event that caused the stir of emotions. Rather then say, “I’m angry” a child will exclaim, ”Johnny won’t let me have a turn.”   It is important to identify one’s emotions. All the more reason for parents to make sure that they are allowing their child to have and to experience their emotions as they occur.   

As parents we often work as problem solvers for our children making sure that they keep the status quo.   That usually means that we like to see them happy. So when our child comes home from school angry with his teacher, we make him feel better by talking about how smart he is. Perhaps they feel sad about a lost relationship so we remind them about their other relationships. The problem is that we are stifling his ability to experience his own emotions and problem solve his own life experiences. What can result is a child that looks to others for their emotional needs to be met.   

There are a few things that you can do as a parent to help your children experience his feelings.   

  1. Be prepared with a list of emotions with explanations or drawings that describe what the feeling means. This isn’t just for the little guys. When we have strong emotions it can be difficult to associate a specific emotion to the event. Especially when there are feelings of sadness and anger combined.
  2. Come up with a sentence that you can use as a family. An example is…I feel angry when Johnny won’t give me a turn because I love to jump rope.  The sentence states the emotion, briefly describes the event and explains why it caused the emotion.
  3. Allow your child to have their own emotions. Your child needs to experience the feeling that he identifies and how to identify them. 
  4. Don’t pass judgement on your child’s emotion no matter how difficult that may seem at the time. Feelings are natural and the ability to express them appropriately is a gift.
  5. Set appropriate boundaries. Remind your child that you will not judge his feelings but his behavior is a different matter. It is ok to be angry, but the actions that are a result of that anger may not be.   
  6. Don’t be afraid of your child’s feelings. Help them to explore what the emotions do to both emotionally and physically.
  7. Ask probing questions to help your children understand their experience.
  8. Help your child to brainstorm ways to manage their emotions and be their to support them as they follow through with their plan. Give them the space to learn.
  9. Lead by example. Remember that your child learns the most by watching you.

Take a moment to explore your own experience with emotions and remember what a confusing time it is for your child. I, for one, don’t know if we ever quite master them. But, if you follow the guidelines above you will be on the road to allowing your child to have the kind of emotional maturity that will serve him well as he continues to age.

For more helpful information please come and visit us at www.ourbreakthroughs.com. We offer parenting support, a behavior modification program as well as other much more. 

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Are You Listening?

By | December 19th, 2016|Tags: , , , , , |

Kids constantly complain that their parents don’t listen.  How can that be true?  We navigate our children through danger and away from harm.  How can we do that without hearing their stories and demands?  Of course we listen.  We listen to the same story endlessly.  We listen at the injustice of elementary school.  We listen and listen and listen.  The fact is they are right, we are not really listening! 

What many of us consider to be the traits of a good listener, in fact, turn out not to be. How many of these listening habits do you fall under? 

  1. Trying to commiserate with similar stories of your own.  How can this be a bad thing?  All you are trying to do is share with your child that they are not alone and that you have been in the same situation.  Well, fact is that you have shifted the conversation to be about you rather then keeping focus on your child.  Better to repeat the feelings that are being shared and let your child know that they are heard.  Who knows what other details they will divulge as the conversation stays about them. 
  1. Shifting the mood of the conversation to be about happier events or times.  I know you are just trying to cheer up your child.  Parent hates to see their child in distress.  Because of your discomfort of seeing your child sad, stressed or angry you are not allowing them to fully express their emotions.  Sit with them in their sadness, stress and anger.  You will gain more insight as to what drives their emotions by practicing good active listening skills.  Repeat what you hear and allow your child to correct any misunderstandings so they feel fully heard. 
  1. Provide solutions or suggestions on how to make things better.  As parents it is part of our job description to help direct our children through life.  That includes allowing them to learn from our mistakes.  WRONG!  If we are to be good listeners then we need to put the teacher hat away and listen to what is being said.  The fact is while we are coming up with solutions we are missing a lot of important information that is being shared.  Problem solving and working together will come in later steps of the conversation, preferably when your child asks for help. 
  1. Correct misunderstandings or misinformation.  Our children have been telling incredible stories all of their lives.  That includes times of high emotion.  As they are sharing their troubles, no matter how misinformed, without allowing them their truth, their reality, you are not truly listening.  You are putting a stopper in their sharing and telling them that their feelings are not valid.  Listening without correcting is truly a gift and one that your child will benefit from in the long term.  After you finish listening to your child they will have a good example of what to do when it is your turn to share your frustrations.  It shouldn’t be about who is right it is about the gift of listening. 

If you begin to listen to your child focusing purely on their needs are as a communicator, then you will be amazed at what you learn about your child.  Good listening skills include repeating what is heard and keeping quiet you feel some of the above habits creeping in.  Sometimes the only solution to your child’s problem will be to have someone who listens to them 100%, just for them. 

For more information on parenting and behavior modification visit us at www.ourbreakthroughs.com or call at 707 773 7654.

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