You need to find something that he does really well and highlight that strength in him and find a way for to use that strength in a meaningful way. Here is a part of a newsletter I recieve from this wonderful person named Kirk Martin. He helps parents and teachers deal with these types of issues. It's long but it gives you step by step tools to help you. I hope this helps you, please keep us posted!!
Which battles should you choose?
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This is one of the most important newsletters we have written. It is long, but that's because I just don't want to share some glib answer--I want you to have the relationship you've always wanted with your child. And that takes time.
Please forward this to friends, family, co-workers and others who may find it helpful. Feel free to post this in blogs, online forums, chat rooms and support groups--just be sure to provide attribution and our website: www.CelebrateCalm.com.
Which Battles Should You Choose?
One of the most commonly held parenting axioms is, "You just have to pick your battles." I vehemently disagree with the assumption behind this statement because it has disastrous consequences.
Let me be emphatic. NO, you do not have to pick your battles! The assumption is that there are some good battles and some bad battles; that you and your child are fighting or battling against each other. There are no good battles and I refuse to be drawn into a fight with someone I love.
Let's use a very common question as a beginning point and learn a different way to approach children and students.
Q: "What is your advice on getting my son to [wear his pants around his waist as opposed to below his butt] [substitute here: get my child to do anything]? I know we have to pick our battles, but this one we are both on him for."
I want to use this as a launching point to teach a completely different way to motivate children. Please substitute in the brackets above any non life-threatening/non-safety issue such as getting your child to clean their room, cut their hair, do their homework, etc. (We can deal with safety issues separately).
(1) What is your goal? Do you want your child to change his behavior, or do you want to teach him to make good choices?
Please think about this because it's a critically different approach. We can change the behavior easily if that's the only goal. For some kids, just give them a consequence so onerous they make the right decision (although most of our kids aren't moved by external consequences). But then we haven't really changed their hearts-we have just coerced them to make the decision we wanted them to make.
In the short term, the child does what you want. But it begins a pattern of resentment, defensiveness and opposition. He will pull up his pants, but then will choose to defy you in another way. Because you haven't changed his heart-you've just changed an outward behavior.
(2) Who do you want to be responsible for your child's behavior? You? Or your child? If you consistently "make" your child do things, then YOU are being responsible for their behavior. That's against everything we want for our kids-to learn to take responsibility for themselves. You are making them weak and ineffectual because you need to achieve an immediate, expedient objective.
Of course we need to set clear rules, boundaries and expectations. Of course we have to make sure our kids are safe. But in the case of cleaning their room, cutting their hair, taking a bath, doing homework, pulling up their pants and myriad other non life-threatening instances, there is a better way.
(3) Stop reacting and giving your child power over your emotions and actions. If you are constantly "getting on" your child or harrumphing each time you walk past their messy bedroom, you are giving your child complete power over your emotions and actions. You are most likely lecturing and reacting every time your child doesn't do what you say. You have become your child's puppet. You are setting up a power struggle and your child will always win that.
(4) What kind of relationship do YOU want with your child? I can guarantee you that if you are "getting on" your child consistently, you are building a defensive, oppositional relationship.
I am going to be stern here because I care about you and want you to have a different kind of relationship. Parents routinely say, "But my child..." before explaining why the relationship is so strained. Here's the truth. We are the adults. We need to grow up and act like it. How I treat my child has NOTHING to do with what he does and everything to do with how I CHOOSE to deal with him.
Listen to the perspective of my 15-year-old son, Casey, on this:
When I heard that you were "on him," my first thought was that it's now "us against him" and that never works. That always made me feel trapped and like my parents were against me. It made me fight them more. That's why I only liked being with one parent at a time because it felt like they were teaming up on me, which caused me to push back and be defensive. Once my Dad calmed down, we were able to have a good relationship.
(5) What if your child won't take responsibility for himself?
Then we have an internal motivation issue. We will deal with that in the solutions phase in a moment. I do, however, love natural consequences. If we jump in and make our kids make the "right choice," they will never learn how life works. We need to let our child experience the natural consequences of their actions.
But has its limits. Some kids will NEVER respond to consequences because they are external, not internal. I have a teenager like that and I very much prefer his approach. Yes, it's more difficult. But it is more meaningful and when your child is internally motivated, then he will own his decisions. And that's what we want.
So let's transition here and follow this plan to change relationships, motivation, hearts and, ultimately, behavior. But notice the sequence. This is powerful.
(6) Rebuild your relationship. This is a very important principle: you can't have rules without a relationship. In this case, it seems clear that trust has been broken and replaced with a battle mentality. So the first order of business is NOT to lay down the law, but rebuild the relationship.
In the first interaction each morning and evening, are you saying hello/establishing a relationship or are you just getting on your child about things? When was the last time you relaxed and laughed together as a family? If you cannot enjoy time together, then rules and threats will only produce more defiance.
Plan some agenda-free time together when there are no lectures, no deep talks, no agenda. Just enjoy your child and appreciate his good qualities. Take time to be interested in what your child is interested in.
(7) Show you trust your child. Many of you will bristle at this notion, but it is critical. IF you have continually hounded your child and are always "on him," I believe you should apologize. Apologize for trying to control him, apologize for not showing you trust her, apologize for not staying calm.
I'd go out for pizza or have a relaxing time together, then have a casual conversation. "Jacob, I just want you to know that I've been on you all the time because I want the best for you. Unfortunately, I've been sending the message that I don't trust you. I've been taking responsibility for YOUR life and that's wrong. For that, I apologize.
"Because you know what? You're a smart kid and you have a good future ahead of you. And the fact is, it's your life. Your decisions affect your life, not mine. You have a good head on your shoulders and you know right from wrong. So I'm leaving the decision to you because it's time that we allowed you to own your choices. We trust you to make good decisions. If you need help, we're here to help. But YOU make your decisions."
Try that and you will begin earning trust and respect. And you will put the choice where it belongs-squarely in your child's court.
(8) Give your child tools. Our kids don't want to fail. Whenever I see a child failing or reaping consequences that don't change behavior, I ask, "Does the child need some tools to be successful?"
In the case of pulling up pants, this isn't an issue. But many times, kids need tools in order to do homework, clean their room, etc. because it can often be overwhelming. Our entire curriculum is packed with very practical tools, so take advantage of that.
(9) Build internal motivation. Change your child's heart, not just his behavior. This is the crux of the newsletter.
Ultimately, don't you want YOUR CHILD to make the decision so he or she can own it, rather than being coerced to do so? Do you want your son to pull up his pants because he has self-respect and cares how he looks, or because you made him do it?
Here is my hunch. In most of these cases when a child is being resistant, it is because the child is simply not motivated. External motivation will not work with these kids-it must come from within.
We cover internal motivation on Parenting CD #5, Brain Boosters CD #2 and on the Defiance & Disrespect CDs so please listen for more ideas. The guaranteed way to ignite a child's internal motivation is to use his gifts, talents and passions to help others. When using your passion to help others, you begin to develop a vision for the future; you become accountable to other adults (not just your parents); you have purpose and begin to care about how you present yourself.
So find ways for your son to use his gifts and passions at school, in church, in the community. You will notice them begin to care about their homework, appearance and attitude. It always, always works.
Here is one success story:
"I approached you because my son didn't care about anything except Civil War guns and fighting. It concerned me because he was so apathetic. We were on him about everything and took away all his Civil War videos, thinking that would motivate him to do homework, his chores, etc. But you challenged us to use his passion for the Civil War. So I did what you said even though it seemed opposite of what everyone else was telling us to do. One morning, I told Alex we were skipping school. Instead, we went to a Civil War battlefield and talked for a long time to various National Park Rangers about their jobs. It turns out they all had similar backgrounds and interests, and ended up going to college to get history degrees. Do you know what Jake told us? He said, 'Now that I can see how I can use school, I'm good with college.' He noticed how proper the Park Rangers were; he's taking care of himself and seems to have a new outlook. This works! Now we're working on a business idea doing battlefield tours and getting an internship."
(10) Enjoy your child and praise. My last piece of advice is to enjoy your child and replace your verbal weapons with praise. Look for ways to compliment your child. Here's a challenge. I want you to find something, anything to praise your child for first thing in the morning, in the afternoon or evening, and at bedtime. Just try it for a week and watch these battles begin to disappear.
Your kids and students need to understand how to harness these leadership traits and use their energy in positive ways. So by all means, listen to the CD's with your kids so they can be empowered to make changes. Pop them into your spouse's car CD player.
MOVING SALE: FILL YOUR TOOLBOX NOW.
Because we are going to be moving in a few weeks, we want to offer some special incentives. You are only receiving this special email because you have invested in our program before (this is NOT for the general newsletter list) and we want you to have this option as a bonus or reward. So take advantage of these offers--we'd rather ship these than load and unload them :)
Click here to purchase ALL 15 CDs/ All 4 Sets for only $199. This is $300 less than the price of one set. If you have purchased the CDs before, give the extra sets to friends, school or church. If you are an educator, use these at home and put them in the school lending library. Pass them around to other educators. If you are missing just one set, this enables you to get that set for 60% OFF and still have others to share.
This includes the following CD sets:
Calm Kids Parenting Program
Brain Boosters CDs for School Success
Stop Defiance & Disrespect Now w/ CD "Straight Talk for Dads"
Calm Couples Marriage CDs
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Want to give your child tools to write better, make friendships and build confidence? We provide these and other tools in our 10 E-Courses. For a limited time, we will automatically email to you, for free, the following E-Courses with any order:
(1) Writing tips--keys to getting thoughts from head to paper.
(2) How to improve social skills.
(3) 3 keys to motivating your child.
(4) Guide to discipline.
(5) A form for completing a Family Agreement together.
(6) How to calm an angry child.
(7) 7 alternatives to punishment.
(8) Why our kids lie.
(9) A special letter to Dads.
(10) 10 ways to build confidence.
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If you found this helpful and encouraging, please feel free to forward this to friends, family and co-workers; post it on message boards and online forums.
Keep enjoying your kids and students!
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