A common question arises from parents regarding how to use the P.ET. skills when it comes to the safety of their children.
"What about when my kids start fighting and hitting each other?""I saw my son about to ride his bike in the middle of the street into oncoming traffic. I ran out to grab him but felt confused about using my power to stop him.""I see that P.E.T. is against setting limits. What do I do when my kid is endangering himself? Isn't it my job as a parent to keep her safe?"
In P.E.T., the one exception to using your parental "power" is when your children are putting themselves in clear, present and immediate danger. By all means possible, parents should save their child from injury (or worse). No exceptions.
But parents should also be able to distinguish the fine line between their children being in "danger" versus their children doing something that the parents feel is "best" for them. We often see the word danger misused; i.e. not doing homework, not finishing vegetables but eating ice cream instead, playing games on the computer for hours on end, etc. Of course, there are rare and extreme cases in which their physical or mental health does become a serious concern. These are not the cases we're talking about.
Another aspect at play here takes us back to our favorite question: Who Owns the Problem?
If your child decides to do homework at the very last minute but it doesn't cost you any time, extra energy and/or money, then the problem is ultimately theirs. The same goes for many of the questions and concerns that parents ask us.
As a parent, you want to see your child succeed in making the right choices and turn out to become a well-adjusted and responsible adult. But getting your child to adopt your values and beliefs is done best through giving an effective three-part I-message.
As we said on the P.E.T. Facebook Page earlier this week: Cooperation is never fostered by making a child do something.
"One of the most universally accepted myths about child-rearing is that if parents force their young children to do things, they will turn out to be self-disciplines and responsible persons. They usually turn out to be persons who depend upon external authority to control their behavior. Each and every time they [parents] force a child to do something by using their power or authority, they deny that child a chance to learn self-discipline and self-responsibility."
-- Dr. Thomas Gordon, P.E.T. Book
Think about it...
We hope that this post in particular breeds more questions and comments from our readers. Please feel free to comment directly in this blog or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will do our best to respond to each and every person.
by Selena Cruz George, P.E.T. Program Manager