Did you apply any of the “better” approaches I shared with you in my Emotion Coaching – Part 2 post? I’d love to hear about your experiences! When I began this journey last month, I thought I’d do it on my own to see if there would be a difference in the way the kids would respond to me versus my husband but I realized that I shouldn’t have all the fun! It’s been great being a team in this!
As promised, here are the remaining two obstacles and examples of how my husband and I applied them with my kids!
Obstacle 3: Using External Motivation and Rewards
The title alone had me thinking “oops” and my head immediately replayed all the times I said “if you eat your broccoli, I’ll give you ice cream” or “if you pee pee in the potty, I’ll give you a quarter and if you poo poo I’ll give you a dime” and “if you sit still and wait for your food, we’ll get you a nice cookie after dinner”.
The potty training example was the first one that Kimberly Blaine provided in her Go-To Mom’s Parents’ Guide to Emotion Coaching book. She says that giving a child a sticker or other reward for going potty is “an example of rewarding a child for a developmental process. Did you give her a sticker for walking? For talking? For being born? Then why give her stickers for controlling her bladder?” TOTALLY MAKES SENSE. Do I completely agree, no, but I had to continue reading to figure out her reasoning for this. Then bam! Her explanation “…if she does not yet have physiological bladder control and can’t make it to the potty, she can’t earn a sticker…she decides not to value the sticker or prize anymore!”
Blaine believes “that asking your child to behave a certain way for a treat is manipulative” <– kind of harsh, I think. Her recommendation is to give your child your attention. Her example in the book: you’ve returned from grocery shopping and your little one wants to play in the car. Your immediate response may be “if you get out of the car, I’ll give you a cookie” or “if you don’t get out of the car, you won’t get dessert or get to watch your show”. The better approach: “I see that you want to play in the car and I know you’re upset that I won’t let you. We have to go inside. Can you help me?” Then ask her to help you carry something into the house.
My real life example. My daughter is ALWAYS saying she doesn’t want to go home. We used to laugh and or say “we have to go home” without exploring the reasons why she doesn’t want to go home. Now when she says she doesn’t want to go home, we ask her “why don’t you want to go home?” She has responded “you know why? Because there isn’t anything to do!” I responded to her “sweetheart, I understand you don’t want to go home because there isn’t anything to do. But we have to go home because it’s late. Would you like to play with your kitchen and read books with me?” My daughter thought about it for a second and said “yes” then ran into the house. No crying. No tantrums. No bribing. SUCCESS!
Obstacle 4: Using Negative Consequences as Punishment
Have you ever said “you don’t get to watch TV tonight because you didn’t finish your homework” or something similar (depending on age). This may sound obvious but it’s good to still state it: “kids thrive best when parents provide support, guidance, and solutions…negative consequences breed resentment, not accomplishment”. That’s a really STRONG statement. Blaine believes that it is more effective to teach children to share and make better choices, for example. If a child is playing with a toy and another one comes over and takes it away, the emotion coaching mom will say “I see that you wanted the hose, but she was using it. Please give it back to her and ask her if you can use it when she’s done”. Blaine does not believe in time-out because putting a child in time-out for not sharing does not teach the child why it is important to share.
In addition, “with shared responsibility instead of negative consequences, parents teach their children what to do next time – or at least brainstorm solutions with them”. Parents should empathize, discuss the situation, “neutralize negative feelings” and talk about what to do next time.
My real life example. We’ve stopped putting our daughter in time out (my son is too young). Last night she was playing with my husband in the kitchen. They were practicing identifying letters using the magnets on our fridge. She got bored and super excited so she started throwing the letters all over the place. Some went underneath the fridge. My husband stopped the playtime, pulled up a chair, sat her in it and sat down next to her. He asked her if she knew why she was sitting in the chair. She said “no” because she was mad so my husband explained what had happened. He explained the consequence – “now the magnets are under the fridge. What should we do to get them back out?” She didn’t say anything and he offered a solution and she tried it. It didn’t work. So she sat back in the chair. My husband sat with her and encouraged her to come up with a solution. I think he asked her something along the lines of “do you have any ideas?” and she responded “no” to which he asked “why not?” Her response, for a 3-year-old, made so much sense ” you know why? Because I don’t think my idea will work.” WOW! My husband said “well, we can try your idea and if it doesn’t work, we can try something else”. So she shared her idea: “how about you pull out the refrigerator and when I see the letters, I’ll pick them up really quick?” Guess what? It totally worked and she gave us all a high-five! She felt so proud – “MAMA! I DID IT!” SUCCESS!
Amazing, right? What improvements are you going to make this week as it applies to these obstacles?
Until next time!