Building Character

This post is on my new blog/website  www.teachingselfgovernment.com

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This Site is Moving!!!

My Website is finally up and running.  The Website will also become my blog now.  I will continue to blog and take questions at the new address. 

I know this is annoying for any of you who have put me on your list of blogs to pull up regularly.  Sorry for that!  All of the old posts and comments have been transfered to the website.  I will continue to put the posts on this site for a week or so until I see that most people have moved to the new sight. 

One cool thing about the website is that people can buy my Audio Seminars, and other things that I am working on,  straight from the site with PayPal or a Credit Card.  This should make things easier for everyone.  🙂 

The address is www.teachingselfgovernment.com

Check it out!

Nicholeen Peck

Sometimes they figure it out themselves

Today the family did lots of yard work.  We decided that we are on vacation this week.  That means a break from the regular routine.  We usually do this a couple of times per year to get all the yard and garden stuff done.

After we had worked for many hours the three younger children went off to play.  After a while, I heard my six year old daughter whining to her brother and sister that she wanted to play the game they were playing.  They had given her a No Answer.  Her brother and sister said, “Londyn, you are whining.  We can’t talk to you when you act like that.” 

I had to smile, because that is a rule I have.  It was so fun to see that they are understanding proper communication.  I wanted to see if their kind and unemotional approach would inspire my six year old to calm down.  Soon, she was standing on the trampoline whining to me that they wouldn’t play with her.  I said, “You are speaking in a whiny  voice.  You should disagree appropriately with your brother and sister.  I am sure they will listen to what you want then.” 

If she were a little bit older, and wasn’t having such an emotional day, that would have probably been all she needed; but not today.  Today, she turned around and began whining louder to her brother and sister.  After a few minutes she started crying very loudly saying, “I’ll feel a lot happier if you play with me.”  She said this over and over again. 

I decided that I should probably check to see if she was “out of instructional control”.  I said, “Londyn, I need you to follow an instruction.  I need you to come in the house and sit in time out until you are ready to talk calmly.”  She looked at me and said, “OK”  and walked in the house to sit down.  She was not “out of instructional control.”

After about 8 minutes had passed I came to talk to my sweet little six year old.  I said, “Londyn, out in the yard you didn’t get what you wanted and so you chose to whine and cry.  What you should have done was disagreed appropriately with your brother and sister.  Do you remember how to disagree appropriately?” 

She said that she did.  We practiced different things she could have said in her disagreement.  I was going to bring up what options she has if the person she is talking to still says no when she said, “If they don’t want to play with me I could just say “OK”, or I could disagree, or I could just find something else to do.”  Of course I let her know that she is really good at problem solving and I had faith that she wouldn’t have a problem with crying and whining when she doesn’t get her way again. 

Then as she was walking out the door she said, “Mom, crying isn’t fun.  It’s not a good idea to make myself sad because then I can’t have fun.” 

I replied with, “That is so true Londyn.  I am glad you know that.  I want you to have fun.  You are so smart to think of that.”  She went back out to play, disagreed with her sister, her sister and brother said she could play with them and life was good again. 

Sometimes they figure out what lesson they need to know all by themselves.  Those are great moments.  Those are the moments that let me know I am teaching them how to think about their own behaviors.  Those are the moments of victory for me. 

Nicholeen 

Tattling Question

“I agree that there are definitely times I want my kids to tell me about what’s been happening, and you mentioned that you make sure your foster kids know the difference between the two–how do you that?  Sometimes it’s really hard for ME to tell when it’s reporting, and when it’s tattling.  Besides physically hurting one another, would you want your kids to report things like teasing, saying unkind things or rude words, not helping with a chore that everyone has been given to do together, or taking a toy from someone?”

To explain the difference between tattling and reporting I do a role playing session with the group about it when there hasn’t been a tattling problem.  I act like I am tattling and then I come and ask to report.  Then we debrief the differences between the two. 

If someone is tattling, they usually have a whiny voice tone and are telling something to get something from another person or to keep themselves from looking bad.  It sounds like this; “Mom, Porter’s not cleaning his room like you told him to.” This is the overall tone.

If someone is reporting, they come to the parent and say, “I need to report something…I saw Billy taking rocks and throwing them at the neighbor’s car.  This seems like something that needs your attention.”  Or, “I need to report something.  I was just walking by Porter’s room and noticed that he isn’t cleaning his room yet.  He seems sad.  I thought you might like to know.” 

If you teach them the difference between the two, and practice, they will know how recognize when something needs reporting about and when to stay out of someone elses business.  For a while you might have to say, “Right now you are tattling.  To report something important, ask yourself if this is something that mom needs to know to protect her child from harm, or if this is something that could take the spirit away from our home.”  This is our rule for reporting. 

Then I would say, “If you have answered yes to one of these questions, then come to me and tell me you need to report something.”  Then I would show them how to report and have them practice. 

It is also a good idea to tell them, “This is the kind of thing that you should report to me…”  When you have been told something important.  You will be surprised how knowing the language makes all the difference. 

To answer the second part of your question, I would almost need to live at your house, but I will try to do my best here.  Every family is so different. 

Everyone teases differently.  Some teasing is harmless, and other teasing takes the spirit from the home and ruins the environment that I have tried so hard to create.  The second kind needs to be reported.

With the being rude, taking things away from other people, and not helping with group chores I would say it is good to report those things.  But, if a report sounds like a tattle then it is not a report.  If something is reported out of concern for someone or the family atmosphere then it is a report.  If someone tells something just to make things seem fair or to look better than someone else, then it is a tattle and is doing just as much harm as the person making the first bad decission, because they are acting out against a family member. 

Practice the tone of reporting.  Teaching them to tell you they need to report something.  Tell them what kinds of things need to be reported and what kinds of things would be considered tattling.

Lastly, it is so imortant to teach your children what to do if someone is talking rude or mean, or if someone takes something away.  Teach them to be assertive in the situation.  (See the blog on being assertive.)  Then teach them when it is time to remove themselves from uncomfortable situations.  These things would be good to practice as well. 

We can’t fight all of their battles for them.  We need to give them the skills to fight some of these battles on their own.  I still remember a time from my childhood when some of my friends were talking bad about someone else.  I felt so uncomfortable knowing that they were being so mean.  I knew that the only way for them to know they were making a wrong choice and to keep my friends was to walk away.  I did and they recognized they had been wrong to be mean.  Our children will have similar experiences.  We need to simulate for them how to handle things when other people make bad choices. 

Simulation is a great teacher.  I use it in all of my teaching.  Role play or simulate as many experiences as you can, so that your children are ready to govern their own behaviors during the actual situations. 

Nicholeen

Sunday, Family Meeting Day!

Problems Praising?

A reader said that praising doesn’t come naturally for her.  In fact, praising seems fake and annoying to this mother.  She asked:

 I don’t want to be a cheerleader, always saying “Good job” no matter what—I want to say things that really matter, that I really believe, that are true.  I guess what makes it hard is when I know (or think I know) that I’ve taught them how to do something better than they have done it, or that they should be capable of doing some things without always having to be praised for it.  I know you said in your presentation that we could never give too much praise, but how do you stay real?  How can I change my mindset from being critical, to seeing the positive, while still helping my children improve and expecting them to behave well and do chores and other things well?

I wasn’t raised by parents who praised me all of the time either.  I mostly remember trying do anything I could to keep my parents from knowing I did anything wrong, because I dreaded all the negative comments.  Yes, I learned a survival skill; dishonesty.  From my experience and observations, if people are not praised enough, they usually start to hide many things about their lives from people who love them to avoid negative attention.  This is significant to me. 

Years ago when I started doing foster care we were told to praise 6-10 times for every correction to the youth.  This was overwhelming to me.  Praising didn’t come naturally for me either.  I would often remember to praise, but stumble over the words.  I would think of praising and let the thought pass, because I didn’t want to appear weird to the foster youth.  During this time of no praise, I noticed something.  I was making a dark cloud hang over my home.  I was all about expectations and not nurturing.  I was driving away the Spirit. 

Even though I recognized it, I was slow to change.  Praise just didn’t roll off my tounge smoothly.  I think most of society is like this.  Too bad too, because freedom comes from praise.  I made myself praise each child 20 times per day.  I kept track.  After a few weeks I was doing better.  After a month I noticed that my whole family was happier, and I was by far the happiest.  I was looking for the good in the people I love, how can that not make you happy? 

Training yourself to look for the good in others, especially those closest to you, frees you from the bondage of pride and selfishness in your relationships.  I have also noticed that it only takes one critical person to make a home full of critical people.  Likewise, it only takes one person to start praising to change the whole mood in the home to love and support. 

As to the fakeness of some people’s praising.  The praise could seem fake to a person not used to praising, or it really could be fake praise.  Some people do fake praise.  I don’t like fake praise.  If you praise, mean it.  A normal praise for me is a lot more than a “good job”. 

I say things like, “I love the way you walked into the kitchen just now and saw what needed to be done in order to get dinner done on time, and chose to just start doing what needed to be done.  You are a great problem solver!  I think that I will probably have time to hem that dress you needed to have hemmed because you saved me so much time.  You are an incredible help to me.  I don’t know what I would do without you.  Thanks.” 

To avoid being fake, just tell them how you really feel.  The problem comes if you have conditioned yourself to not feel like people deserve praise. 

Should people ever get to a point where they don’t get praised for every thing?  Yes!  I am not suggesting that we parents praise things not worth praising, or praise for brushing teeth every day as long as they live in your home.  My children know that as they get older they will not get praised for the same things younger children get praised for.  Some people have the belief that children should be babied by praise, and never be expected to behave like an adult; who doesnt’ get praised very often.  I am not one of those kinds of people.  I would never recommend enabling people. 

That said, most parents I know expect perfect adult behavior from their children before the child has an understanding of how to control their body or emotions like an adult would.  Basically, we are impatient.  It takes more talking, teaching, patience, and energy to keep teaching our children what they need to behave like in all the many different situations.  My rule of thumb  on this is: If they keep making the same bad decisions, then they are not ready to graduate from being praised when they perform the behavior correctly. 

To change your mind from seeing only negative to seeing things to praise about you must see your family through different eyes.  When you are negative you are looking through your own selfish eyes.  I often sit and watch my children interact with each other and try to pick out what their intentions are for all the things they choose to do. 

My daughter was given an instruction to clean her room.  About 15 minutes later she was found cleaning her brother’s room.  Her room had barely been touched.  I went to my daughter and told her that she didn’t follow instructions because she was supposed to be working on her own room, so she had earned an extra chore.  She immediately asked to disagree appropriately.  She said that she heard her little brother crying in the next room because he was overwhelmed by the mess he had to clean up in his room.  She told him that she would help him clean his room to ease is anxiety.  She was planning on going back to her own room. 

Of course I accepted her disagreement and she earned no extra chores. 

She showed me that she was really governing herself by deciding what would be the best thing to do at that time.  I decided then that I needed to give her more credit.  She was doing what I would want her to do.  I just didn’t understand the situation enough to know it.  Seek to understand them.  Give them credit for being the good child that they are. 

Praise as often as  you can.  Praise brings the spirit into your home, it unites your family, gives the children a reason to care about choosing the right, and it frees you from all of those feelings of dissappointment that can ruin a day or a life.

Blessings,

Nicholeen Peck

Ending Tattling

How do you end tattling? 

Tattling is telling on someone with the purpose of getting that other person in trouble.  This is different from reporting.  Reporting is when someone sees that something happening needs adult attention or someone will end up hurt.  I encourage reporting.  I also make sure my children know the difference between the two.  When I had foster children I was really glad sometimes that there was another youth around to report things about the other youth that needed my attention.  Reporting is good, praise it and ask for it.  Tattling is bad because is puts one family member against another.

 

First realize that most children believe that telling on someone either helps you parent, helps someone else make a good choice, helps themselves look good in your eyes, or get something they want.

 

Since this is the reason they are tattling, then you should acknowledge their good intentions first. 

    -Thank you for trying to help in this situation.  However, when you come to me just to tell on someone else, I worry just as much about you as I do about your sister. 

    -I worry about your sister, because I think that she might not feel very loved when people are trying to get her in trouble instead of being her friend and motivating her to clean up her room.

    -I worry about you because I feel like you are worried about something and don’t know how to solve it except to get someone else in trouble. 

    -What you should have done when you noticed that your sister didn’t clean up her room when asked was ask yourself if this is any of your business, and then ask yourself if she is hurt or could get hurt from not cleaning her room?  Could anyone else get hurt from her not cleaning her room? If the answer is yes, then you should tell an adult, because we don’t want any of our children to get hurt.  If the answer is no, then you should do nothing, because we want our children to make their own choices and earn their own consequences, so that they can learn and grow.  The other option is to gently remind your sister that it is almost time for rooms to be clean so that she doesn’t earn a negative consequence.  This kind of reminder would be the most loving option, if the sister is open to reminders. 

    -Do a pre-teach and tell what consequence will be earned if he still chooses to tell on his sister with the intent to get her in trouble.   

Loosen Up! It Makes Life Fun!

This comment was made by a blogger.  My comments are in red below.

“Our family has serious lack of enjoyment issues.  I think we just don’t know how to have fun because we are afraid to spend any money on frivolousness when we have debts to pay, and we have not done anything for so long, we don’t know what to do to just get away and have fun together.” 

Family Activities don’t have to cost.  I bet if you sat down with your children and made a list of family activity ideas that were low cost or free you would be surprised how many things there are to do, and how many things your children wish you did with them.  Start with pulling one idea off this list per week and then go from there. 

Some of our favorite family activities are flying kites, playing games, doing puzzles, making cookies together, singing around the piano, jumping on the trampoline together, dancing in the dark with someone being the spot light  (they hold a flashlight), having puppet shows (the children love seeing mom and dad’s shows best), painting together, slip and slide, and playing basketball or kickball.  Water fights are always cheap too. 

Anything that Mom and Dad do with the children and really get into = fun times for the children.  Parents need to loosen up.  We take life too seriously.  If we let ourselves have fun and be crazy, then the children will have fun. No, they will have a blast! 

Teaching the children that it is OK to act silly and have fun also helps them develop self confidence.  Family life was meant to be fun.  If parents let loose, then life will be more enjoyable for the whole family. 

Nicholeen Peck
 
 
 
 

 

Poopy Pants and Tantrums

Nicholeen,

 

I went to your seminar a while back in Herriman and have had great success implementing things with my kids.  I have one problem I have not figured out how to resolve though.  My ds (6) is a great kid, but there is one thing that sets him off every time to the point that he hits, kicks, screams, says unkind things, and basically acts like the whole world is against him so why try.  This happens every time without fail when he is caught with poopy pants.  And that happens almost every day.  We have tried pre teaching before we ask him to go change, verbal SODAS with him since he can’t read and write well yet and they get him thinking straight after the fact and he always decides he doesn’t like being this way and won’t do it again.  We have tried giving him extra chores for every disrespectful thing he does, we have tried just plain giving him chores when he has the accident in the first place.  He is always willing to do the extra chores, but as soon as we approach the subject of changing the poop, it’s a battle again. 

 

Can you suggest a way to maybe approach this the right way from the start?  I don’t know why, but he always catches me off guard and I feel haphazard about how I handle this.  I need a solid protocol so he knows exactly what to expect every time..  It usually goes, “DS, can you please go take care of yourself- you smell really unpleasant.”  This is followed by “I don’t have a stink on!” and the argument and physical bullying by him ensues.  Sometimes hours later, after he has accumulated room time for a while, extra chores, and many days of “no screen time” privileges, he finally gets to the point of admission and then will lay in the bathroom and dawdle more time away until it is finally bed time and he is threatened with the end all in our house, which is sleeping in the tub.  This usually gets him moving.   Last night it took 6 hours to get to this point, and he went to bed at 10:30 (in the tub).  I know I am obviously missing an important step.  Please help!!!

 

Sincerely,

The bullied mommy

Bullied Mommy,

 

It sounds like you are doing a good job on being consistent with what you say.  That is a good thing.  I really sense your frustration.  I also sense his frustration in what you tell me.  I am going to tell you my impressions.  I don’t know the complete relationship or situation, so please keep that in mind. 

 

You are definitely being bullied.  If he ever has control over you, then you have to change the interaction.  You should give instructions and if they aren’t followed then start with the rule of three.  It is OK to take him to loosing all of his privileges for 24 hours.  He needs to experience what he has earned.  Since your system has been sleeping in the bath tub it is right that he slept there; even though I am sure it was hard on you. 😦 

 

It sounds like he has a negative association with pooping in the toilet.  It also sounds like you are caught in a power struggle.  To win this power struggle you can’t engage in the struggle.  Instead you have to fall back on your system of government in the home.

 

I need to ask you a few questions.

 

Why does he poop his pants?

 

This is important, because I know there are medical conditions and diet issues that cause problems such as these.  If he has a medical or dietary issue, it needs to be handled differently. 

 

Are all of your teaching moments about negative things?  Make sure you are mostly positive when you talk to the children.

 

Do you ever praise him when he goes to the bathroom?  Sometimes it is more effective to think of a positive consequence for learning a skill or choosing a correct behavior.  You could have a special heart to heart talk with him about a reward for two days in a row with no poopy pants or for him looking at the time and planning to go the bathroom at certain times during the day and following through. 

 

Does he know how to follow instructions?

 

You should go over this one if not.  At certain times during the day you might say, “Son, I need you to take a potty break.  OK?”  He has to follow the instruction.  Or if you find out he has had a problem, you might say, “Son, I need you to go change your underwear and wash the dirty ones out.  OK?”  He needs to be able to say OK or ask to disagree appropriately. 

 

Do you know how to effectively calm him down when he has a problem?

 

When he is kicking etc he is out of instructional control.  You should do the rule of three and forget about the pants for a little while.  Go back to it when he is in control.  He will never learn to control himself until he is in control and can calmly talk about the situation with his loving parent. 

 

Is there a reason you use the bath tub consequence?

 

Is it because he is really gooey etc?

 

That consequence seems like it could distance the relationship between you and your son.  The tub gives a message of you not having concern for his basic need of a bed.  I would recommend using loss of privileges for 24 hours as your big one if there isn’t a big mess involved. 

 

Do you pre-teach him about how to follow instructions before you give him one to change his pants?

 

Do you pre-teach him how to accept a consequence before you tell him what he has earned?

 

Is there something he may be insecure about?  Sometimes potty problems are a result of feeling unsafe.  Good calm communication at home could give him great comfort. 

 

In your question you called his bad behavior an accident.  It seems like you are really frustrated with the issue and might not be treating it as an accident.  I feel your pain, I have been there.  I have found that showing no emotion when something goes wrong is best. 

 

Does he get overwhelmed about cleaning himself up?  Does he really feel capable to do the job?  If not that could create anxiety.  That anxiety could be why he doesn’t want to follow the instruction. 

 

If you lovingly offered to help him what would happen?  When my children have an accident, I simply say, “Oh, we better go clean you up.”  Then I help clean them up with almost no words.  I don’t want them to get lots of attention from me because of the bathroom problem, but I also don’t want them to think I am mad about it and get anxiety.  In the home there is a spirit of helping.  Be the example of this by helping him even when you don’t like it (if he allows that at his age, of course). 

 

As far as a system goes, I would:

 

Make sure he knows how to take care of accidents and doesn’t need help.

 

Be sure you have the spirit on acceptance.  Poop doesn’t kill you.  You might need to pray to love him even more than you feel you do now, to have the patience to handle this problem.  He won’t necessarily remember pooping his pants, but he will remember the feeling of not being accepted by you. 

 

Arrange “Set Potty Times” during the day—and then praise and reward for keeping track of those times.

 

If there is a problem:

 

Pre-teach that you are going to give and instruction

 

Give instruction using the words “I need you to…” instead of “Will you please…”  (This is a question not an instruction)

 

If he doesn’t follow the instruction, do an intensive teaching or the rule of three and follow through with what he earns.  Make sure it is done in the spirit of love.  Don’t teach unless you feel that calm spirit. 

 

Bullied Mommy, I hope this helps. Remember, this problem is only for a short time.  He won’t always do this.  He will grow and you will smile when you think of how frustrated you got.  It will seem silly then.  Let yourself smile at your daily struggles.  You are not drowning; you are just at a time when you have to change your stroke to keep moving forward. 

 

Blessings,

Nicholeen Peck

 

 

Don’t …

      A lot of children have selective hearing; have you noticed?  Some of this selective hearing is planned and some isn’t.  They really don’t hear us correctly sometimes.  We can do something to make sure this doesn’t happen as often. 

      Have you ever said don’t run down the hall, and the first thing your child does is run down the hall?  My mom used to say to me, “Don’t talk back to me.”  The first thing I did after this instruction was talk back to her.  Strange. 

      It is never a good idea to start an instruction with the word don’t, because whatever you say after don’t might be the part of the instruction that they think they have to follow.  Here is a classic example.

      I saw a grandmother tell a little boy, “Here is the dirty diaper.  It needs to go out.  Don’t put that diaper in the middle of the garage this time.” 

      About a half an hour later the grandmother opens the garage door and says, “Why is the dirty diaper in the middle of the garage?” 

       The grandson responds with, “You told me to put it in the middle of the garage.  I tried to find the exact middle.  Did I do okay?” 

       Amazing!  He really only remembered the last part of the instruction.  The grandmother should have said, “I need you to take this dirty diaper and put it in the garbage can in the garage.” 

       Likewise, we should say, “Talk softly”  instead of, “Don’t yell.”  We should say, “Walk down the hall,”  and “Speak respectful to me.” 

       It is so much easier for our children to understand how to follow instructions if we tell them what to do instead of what not to do.  Whenever I start thinking of the things I don’t want my children doing, I ask myself how I can phrase my thought as a straight forward instruction instead of a don’t instruction. 

       Try this today, and see what happens.  When I first altered my language I was pleasantly surprised at how much better my children followed my instructions.  We understood each other better, and this made everyone happier. 

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