Jan 28, 2010

Ever Wish Parenting Came With An Instruction Manual?


It's called Family Effectiveness Training (F.E.T.), a self-instructional home video program.

Family Effectiveness Training is your blueprint for building a happier, more intimate marriage and raising kids you'll be proud of.

You can use what you learn immediately to:
  • Resolve family conflicts peacefully
  • Set rules that family members follow
  • Influence others to respect your needs
  • Prevent angry arguments
  • Eliminate punishment
  • Reduce resentments
Over one million parents in 37 countries have been taught these skills by our licensed instructors of Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.). Now, parents and their children can learn directly from the creator of these scientifically proven skills, Dr. Thomas Gordon.

Family Effectiveness Training consists of 8 video-guided lessons, a comprehensive resource book, an audio CD, and skill development exercises. Family members can take the course together in the privacy of their own home.

Jan 26, 2010

What is the Connection with Maslow and P.E.T.?

Maslow and P.E.T. Theory and Skills

Maslow selected a relatively small study group, because his intention was to get others thinking about what he initiated regarding human needs. His study included both well-known people such as Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt, Albert Schweitzer, Jane Adams, Alduous Huxley, etc. as well as twelve other unidentified individuals. His material provides a good definition of the word "need" that is critical for understanding and executing Step I - Define Needs in the Method III process.

In addition to the traits mentioned in the Maslow information in section 7 of this Session he also included such qualities as: an acceptance of self and others, resistance to social pressures and a view of life's difficulties as problems requiring solutions instead of person trials. He noted that the people he identified enjoyed solitude, autonomy and relationships with a few close friends and family members and that a number of them also suffered from imperfections such as anxiety, guilt, and absentmindedness.

The connection of Maslow to the P.E.T. philosophy and skills:

Many, but by no means all, people in the U.S. have a good portion of their Level I and Level II needs met; however, growing concerns about terrorism, natural disasters and teen violence have a significant impact on how many people's feel about their Level II, security needs. Many suburban parents and teens who previously paid minimal attention to security concerns now experience fears about high school shootings, bomb threats and an overall rise in violence.

P.E.T. groups vary according to the background and circumstances of the participants. Young, single, unemployed mothers living in an unsafe urban neighborhood, will most likely be struggling to meet Level I and II needs while suburban parents in high income jobs will have most of those needs met and will be primarily focused on Levels III and IV.

In a number of other countries, large segments of the population struggle daily to meet even their basic Level I needs.

Jan 25, 2010

What Are the Essential Components of An I-Message?

This is a short, sweet and simple post for the day:


Children will be much more likely to change their unacceptable behavior if their parents send I-Messages containing these three parts: 1.) a description of the unacceptable behavior, 2.) the parent's feeling, and 3.) the tangible and concrete effect the behavior has on the parent.


*Excerpt from Dr. Thomas Gordon's P.E.T. book

Jan 21, 2010

Give the Child a Chance to Meet His Needs Himself

How To Listen To Kids Too Young To Talk Much

Certainly the ultimate goal of most parents should be to help the very young child gradually develop his own resources--to become weaned away from dependence on the parent's resources, more and more capable of meeting his own needs, solving his own problems. The parent who will be most effective in this is the one who can consistently follow the principle of first giving the child a chance to solve his problems himself before jumping in with a parental solution.

In the following illustration, the parent follows this principle quite effectively:

CHILD (crying): Truck, truck--no truck.
PARENT: You want your truck, but you can't find it. [ACTIVE LISTENING]
CHILD: (Looks under sofa, but doesn't find truck.)
CHILD: (Runs into his room, looks, can't find it.)
CHILD: (Thinks; moves to back door.)
PARENT: Maybe the truck's in the backyard. [FEEDING BACK NONVERBAL MESSAGE.]
CHILD: (runs out, finds truck in sandbox, looks proud): Truck!
PARENT: You found your truck yourself. [ACTIVE LISTENING.]

This parent kept the responsibility for solving the problem with the child at all times by avoiding direct intervention of advice. By doing so, the parent is helping the child develop and us his own resources.

Many parents are far too eager to take over their child's problems. They are so anxious to help the child or so uncomfortable (nonaccepting) of his experiencing an unfulfilled need that they are compelled to take over the problem-solving and give the child a quick solution. If this is done frequently, it is a sure way of retarding the child's learning how to use his own resources and his developing independence and resourcefulness.

Jan 20, 2010

Our Definition of Parents Who Are Real Persons

Our Behavior Window helps parents understand their own inevitable feelings and the conditions that influence these feelings to change continuously. Real parents will inevitably feel both accepting and unaccepting toward their children; their attitude toward the same behavior cannot be consistent; it must vary from time to time. They should not (and cannot) hide their true feelings; they should accept the fact that one parent may feel accepting and the other unaccepting of the same behavior; and they should realize that each will inevitably feel different degrees of acceptance toward each of their children.

In short, parents are people, not gods. They do not have to act unconditionally accepting, or even consistently accepting. Neither should they pretend to be accepting when they are not. While children undoubtedly prefer to be accepted, they can constructively handle their parent's unaccepting feelings when parents send clear and honest messages that match their true feelings. Not only will this make it easier for children to cope, but it will help each child to see her parent as a real person-transparent, human, someone with whom she would like to have a relationship.

Jan 19, 2010

Why Is Method II Ineffective?

Why Method II Is Ineffective

What does it do to children to grow up in a home where they usually win and their parents lose? What are the effects on children of their generally getting their way? Obviously these children will be different from those in homes where Method I is the principal method of conflict resolution. Children who are allowed to get their way will not be as rebellious, hostile, dependent, aggressive, submissive, conforming, withdrawing, and so on. They have not had to develop ways to cope with parental power. Method II encourages the child to use his power over his parents to win at their expense.

These children learn how to throw temper tantrums to control the parent; how to make the parent feel guilty; how to say nasty, deprecating things of their parents. Such children are often wild, uncontrolled, unmanageable, impulsive. They have learned that their needs are more important than anyone else's. They, too, often lack inner controls on their behavior and become very self-centered, selfish, demanding.

These children often do not respect other people's property or feelings. Life to them is get, get, get--take, take,take. "I" comes first. Such children are seldom cooperative or helpful around the house.

These children often have serious difficulties in their peer relationships. Other children dislike "spoiled kids"--they find them unpleasant to be around. Children from homes where Method II predominates are so accustomed to getting their way with their parents that they want to get their way with other children, too.

These children also frequently have difficulty adjusting to school, an institution whose philosophy is predominantly Method I. Children accustomed to Method II are in for a rude shock when they enter the world of school and discover that most teachers and principals are trained to resolve conflicts by Method I, backed up with authority and power.

Probably the most serious effect of Method II is that children often develop deep feelings of insecurity about their parents' love. It is easy to understand this reaction when one considers how difficult it is for parents to feel loving and accepting toward a child who usually wins at the expense of the parent. In Method I homes resentment radiates from child to parent; in Method II homes from parent to child. The child of Method II senses that his parents are frequently resentful, irritated, and angry at him. When he later gets similar messages from his peers and probably other adults, it is no wonder he begins to feel unloved--because, of course, so often he is unloved by others.

While some studies have shown that children from Method II homes are likely to be more creative than children from Method I homes, parents pay a dear price for having creative children; they frequently cannot stand them.

Parents suffer greatly in the Method II home. These are the homes in which I have frequently heard parents say:

"He gets his own way most of the time, and you just can't control him."

"I'll be glad when the children are all in school so I can have some peace."

"Parenthood is such a burden--I spend all my time doing things for them."

"I must say, sometimes I just can't stand them--I just have to get away."

"They seldom seem to realize that I've got a life, too."

"Sometimes--and I feel guilty saying this-I wish I could ship them off to someone else."

"I'm so ashamed to take them anywhere or even have friends come to our home and see those children."

Parenthood for Method II parents is seldom a joy--how unfortunate and sad it is to raise children you cannot love, or hate to associate with.*

*Excerpt from Dr. Thomas Gordon's P.E.T. book

Jan 14, 2010

What Is A Good Listener?

A good listener avoids using the Roadblocks and instead sticks to listening. As a good listener, you DO WANT to:
  • Tune out your own thoughts and feelings.
  • Turn off the radio, TV or computer
  • Face the person, give him/her your full attention and keep eye contact (if appropriate).
  • Tune in to what the other person is saying and feeling.
  • Give feedback to the other person about your understanding of what s/he is saying and feeling.
As a good Active Listener, you DON'T WANT to:
  • Talk about yourself.
  • Change the subject.
  • Keep glancing around the room or looking at your watch.
  • Tell the other person that a similar thing happened to you.
  • Act like you understand what a person is saying or feeling when you really don't.
  • Use any of the 12 Roadblocks.
*Excerpt from Dr. Thomas Gordon's F.E.T. Young Adult Resource Book

Jan 13, 2010

Are Your Values and Beliefs the Only True Ones?

While parents are obviously older and more experienced than their children, it is frequently less obvious that their particular experience or knowledge has given them exclusive access to the truth or provided them with sufficient wisdom to judge always what is right and wrong. "Experience is a good teacher," but it does not always teach what is right; knowledge is better than ignorance, but a knowledgeable person is not always wise.

It has impressed me to see how many parents in deep trouble in their relationships with their children are persons with very strong and very rigid concepts of what is right and wrong. It follows that the more certain parents are that their own values and beliefs are right, the more they tend to impose them on their children (and usually on others, too). It also follows that such parents are apt to be unaccepting of behaviors that appear to deviate from their own values and beliefs.

Parents whose system of values and beliefs is more flexible, more permeable, more amenable to change, less black-or-white, are inclined to be far more accepting of behavior that would appear to deviate from their own values and beliefs. Again, it is my observation that such parents are far less likely to impose blueprints or try to mold their children into preconceived patterns. These are the parents who find it easier to accept their son's shaving his head even though they would not value that choice for themselves; who find it easier to accept changing patterns of sexual behavior, different styles of clothing, or rebellion against school authority. These are the parents who somehow seem to accept that change is inevitable, "that life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday," that the beliefs and values of one generation are not necessarily those of the next, that our society does need improvements, that some things should be vigorously protested, and that irrational and repressive authority often deserves to be strongly resisted. Parents with such attitudes find much more of the behavior of youth understandable, justified, and genuinely acceptable.*

*Excerpt from Dr. Thomas Gordon's P.E.T. book

Jan 12, 2010

Do You Really Like Children-Or Just A Certain Type of Child?

I have known parents who profess a liking for children, but who by their behavior clearly demonstrate that they like only certain kinds of children. Fathers who value athletes often tragically reject a son whose interests and talents are nonathletic. Mothers who value physical beauty can reject a daughter who does not fit the cultural stereotype of female beauty. Parents whose lives have been enriched by music often show a nonmusical child how deeply disappointed in him they are. Parents who value academic and scholastic competence can cause irreparable emotional damage in a child who does not have this special type of intelligence.

Fewer behaviors will be unacceptable to parents if they realize that there is an infinite variety of children brought into this world and in infinite variety of ways in life for them to go. The beauty in nature, and the miracle of life, is this vast variety in the living forms.

I often tell parents, "Don't want your child to become something in particular;just want him to become." With such an attitude parents will inevitably find themselves feeling more and more accepting of each child and experiencing joy and excitement watching each become.*

*Excerpt from Dr. Thomas Gordon's P.E.T. book

Jan 11, 2010

What Are Infants Like?

First, infants have needs like older children and adults. And they have their share of problems getting those needs met. They got cold, hungry, uncomfortably wet, tired, thirsty, frustrated, sick. Helping infants with such problems poses some special problems for parents.

Second, infants and very young children are extremely dependent upon their parents for the gratification of their needs or providing them solutions to their problems. Their inner resources and capabilities are limited. A hungry infant has never been known to walk into the kitchen, open the refrigerator, and pour himself a glass of milk.

Third, infants and very young children do not have well-developed capability of communication their needs through verbal symbols. They do not yet have the language to share their problems and needs with others. Much of the time, parents are quite perplexed about what is going on inside preverbal children because babies don't go around clearly announcing that they have a need for affection or for releasing gas from their stomach.

Fourth, infants and very young children frequently may not even "know" themselves what is bothering them. This is because so many of their needs are physiological--that is, problems caused by deprivation of their physical needs (hunger, thirst, pain, and so on). Also, because of their undeveloped cognitive and language skills, they may not be able to figure out what problems they are experiencing.

Helping very young children meet their needs and solve their problems is therefore somewhat different from helping older children. But not as different as most parents think.*

*Excerpt from Dr. Thomas Gordon's P.E.T. book

Jan 7, 2010

Why Has Power Persisted in Child-Rearing?

This question, raised so often by parents, has puzzled and challenged me. It is difficult to understand how anyone can justify the use of power in child-rearing or in any human relationship, in the face of what is known about power and its effects on others. Working with parents, I am now convinced that all but a small handful hate to use power over their children. It makes them feel uneasy and often downright guilty. Frequently, parents even apologize to their children after using power. Or they try to assuage their guilt with the usual rationalizations: "We did it only because we have your own welfare in mind," "Someday you'll thank us for this," "When you are a parent, you'll understand why we have to keep you from doing these things."

In addition to having guilt feelings, many parents admit that their power methods are not very effective, especially parents whose children are old enough to have begun rebelling, lying, sneaking, or passively resisting.

I have come to the conclusion that parents over the years have continued to use power because they have had very little, if any, experience in their own lives with people who use nonpower methods of influence. Most people, from childhood on, have been controlled by power--power exercised by parents, schoolteachers, school principals, coaches, Sunday School teachers, uncles, aunts, grandparents, Scout leaders, camp directors, military officers, and bosses. Parents therefore and experience with any other method of resolving conflicts in human relations.*

*Excerpt from Dr. Thomas Gordon's P.E.T. book

Jan 6, 2010

Does Acceptance Need To Be Demonstrated?

Acceptance Must Be Demonstrated

It is one thing for a parent to feel acceptance toward a child; it is another thing to make that acceptance felt. Unless a parent's acceptance comes through to the child, it can have no influence on him. A parent must learn how to demonstrate his acceptance so that the child feels it.

Specific skills are required to be able to do this. Most parents, however, tend to think of acceptance as a passive thing-a state of mind, an attitude, a feeling. True, acceptance does originate from within, but to be an effective force in influencing another, it must be actively communicated or demonstrated. I can never be certain that I am accepted by another until he demonstrates it in some active way.

The professional psychological counselor or psychotherapist, whose effectiveness as a helping agent is so greatly dependent on his being able to demonstrate his acceptance of the client, spends years learning ways to implement this attitude through his own habits of communication. Through formal training and long experience, professional counselors acquire specific skills in communicating acceptance. They learn that what they say makes the difference between their being helpful or not.

Talk can cure, and talk can foster constructive change. But it must be the right kind of talk.

The same is true for parents. How they talk to their children will determine whether they will be helpful or destructive. The effective parent, like the effective counselor, must learn how to communicate his acceptance and acquire the same communication skills.

Parents in our classes skeptically ask, "Is it possible for a nonprofessional like myself to learn the skills of a professional counselor?" Thirty years ago we would have said, "No." However, in our classes we have demonstrated that if is possible for most parents to learn how to become effective helping agents for their children. We know now that it is not knowledge of psychology or an intellectual understanding about people that makes a good counselor. It is primarily a matter of learning how to talk to people in a "constructive" way.

Psychologists call this "therapeutic communication," meaning that certain kinds of messages have a "therapeutic" or healthy effect on people. They make them feel better, encourage them to talk, help them express their feelings, foster a feeling of worth or self-esteem, reduce threat or fear, facilitate growth and constructive change.

Other kinds of talk are "nontherapeutic" or destructive. These messages tend to make people feel judged or guilty; they restrict expression of honest feelings, threaten the person, foster feelings of unworthiness or low self-esteem, block growth and constructive change by making the person defend more strongly the way he is.

While a very small number of parents possess this therapeutic skill intuitively and hence are "naturals", most parents have to go through a process of first unlearning their destructive ways of communicating and then learning more constructive ways. This means that parents first have to expose their typical habits of communication to see for themselves how their talk is destructive or nontherapeutic. Then they need to be taught some new ways of responding to children.*

*Excerpt from Dr. Thomas Gordon's P.E.T. book

Jan 5, 2010

Any Research Confirming the Benefits of P.E.T.?


Cedar, Robert B.
A Meta-Analysis of the Parent Effectiveness
Training Outcome Research.

Twenty six studies of P.E.T. were analyzed, using the "meta-analytic technique" of integrating the statistical findings from all the studies. The results showed the P.E.T. training to have strong positive effects on parent attitudes and parent behavior significantly greater than the effect of alternative training approaches. This effect endured at least up to 26 weeks after the course was completed.

Coopersmith, Stanley
Antecedents of Self-esteem.

Mothers whose children had a high self-esteem when compared with mothers whose children had low self-esteem were found to use more reasoning and verbal discussion and less arbitrary punitive discipline.

Strauss, M., Gelles, R. and Steinmetz, S.
Behind Closed Doors: Violence in the American Family.

Nearly 50% of children whose parents employed frequent physical punishment to control them were found to have used retaliatory physical violence (hitting) against their parents, while less than one out of every 400 children whose parents did not employ physical punishment had hit their parents.

Only 20% of children whose parents did not use physical punishment were found to have severely assaulted a brother or sister, while nearly 100% whose parents did use physical punishment were found to have severely assaulted a brother or sister.

Baumrind, D.
Child Care Practices Anteceding Three Patterns of Preschool Behavior.

Children who related high in self-control and self-discipline were found to have parents who refrained from punitive punishment, using instead a reasoning approach - that is, messages that told the children the negative effects of their behavior on others (P.E.T. I-Messages).

Baldwin, A.L. Kalhorn, J. and Breese, F.
Patterns of Parent Behavior.

Children of democratic parents, as compared with those of autocratic or permissive parents, received higher ratings from teachers in originality, planfulness, patience, curiosity. They also held more leadership positions in school, scored higher in emotional adjustment and maturity, and showed an increase in I.Q. over the years.

Parke, R.
Effectiveness of Punishment as an Interaction of Intensity, Timing, Agent Nurturance and Cognitive Structuring.

"Cognitive messages" (P.E.T. I-Messages) were more influential than punishment in preventing children from playing with prohibited toys, even in the absence of the researcher. The effects of I-Messages as a deterrent continued over time, whereas the effects of punishment wore off.

*Excerpt from P.E.T. Participant Workbook

Jan 4, 2010

Does Parenting Have to Be Scary?


Parenthood need not be a different and demanding experience that brings problems, worries and anxiety. One survey by parent trainer, Dr. Harold Minden, found that the responses of hundreds of parents to the question, "How would you rate your parenting experience?" was as follows:

22% answered "fulfilling and positive"
37% answered "moderately fulfilling"
41% answered "frustrating and negative"

Dr. Minden also found that 69% of the satisfied parents said they would enroll in a parent training course, but only 37% of the frustrated and negative parents said they would do so. It appeared they did not recognize the need for assistance in parenting. Those parents typically think that how kids turn out is outside their control--a matter of luck.

We now know without a doubt that parents who take training and learn how to create democratic, non-authoritarian, partnership relationships with both their spouses and their children will build happy marriages and create a "new species of children." Here is a list of the characteristics of this new species:

--> They make sure their own needs get met, yet are sensitive when others may be affected negatively.

--> They are very sensitive to all forms of unfairness they see in their world.

--> They treat their friends the way they have been treated at home--they are good listeners, good counselors, good confronters, good problem-solvers.

--> They are mature for their age, fun-loving, playful.

--> They want their needs met, yet are unselfish, altruistic and giving to others.

--> They have less need to be dependent on other people--yet they have friendships and make friends easily.

--> They are less afraid of being laughed at, less afraid of what people will say, more individualistic.

--> They are relatively unfrightened by the unknown, and they don't just cling to the familiar.

--> They have a high degree of self-acceptance--accepting the way they are, yet this somehow frees them to change and improve themselves.

*Excerpt from Family Effectiveness Training (F.E.T.) Adult Resource Book