Sep 28, 2011

How to Deal: Teens, Drugs and Alcohol

A parent sent in a familiar question to us recently, confused about how to handle the issue of drugs and alcohol with her teen. We thought we should share this with you all:

My question for you is what to do if your teenager
is doing something dangerous to their health such as doing drugs or
drinking? I don't see how we could find a common ground solution to
something like that....

Dear Anonymous,

You're confused about how to handle the issue of drinking and doing drugs with your children since it doesn't seem reasonable to come to a "common ground" or problem solve.

This is a concern that I hear from time to time. Seeing your child about to dart out in front of oncoming traffic (for example) is something that all parents should immediately prevent by any means possible. These the times when there is "clear and present danger." However, being worried that a child might participate in something like doing drugs or drinking is called a "Values Collision." This is when there is no real tangible "need" from either party. Using Method III in these conflicts of dirrerences can be difficult because both people usually have very strong feelings about the situation.

Our values are ideals or beliefs which shape our behavior and therefore, our values motivate our behaviors. Underlying the conflict that is going on between you and your child(ren) are a number of values. As an adult, our values might be that we want to stay healthy, don't want to risk our jobs, don't want trouble with the law, etc. As an adolescent who isn't experiencing the world in the same way as an adult, their values might be that they want to fit in with friends, they want independence, etc.

The P.E.T. Participant workbook says "Exploiring the needs of the child with Active Listening, being clear about your own needs with I-Language and using Method III can increase mutual understanding and produce creative new solutions. When a conversation reveals true differences of values, P.E.T. provides you with a strategy of influencing skills....The good news is that even though values ar enot easy to change, children often welcome and respect their parent's wisdom and experience in the selection of their own values. Parents can have a positive impact in this area when they use the P.E.T. influencing skills."

We break down resolving values collisions into seven differenc levels, from high-risk to low-risk. They are:
7. Using power
6. Threatening to use power
5. Problem-solving
4. Consulting
3. Confronting and Active Listening
2. Modeling
1. Modifying Yourself

Levels 4 through 2 are the most effective ways of having a REAL influence on your child; influence that lasts. These three levels include getting "hired" as a consultant by your child. This means sharing your concern, but not imposing. As a consultant, it is important to be more of a listener (Active-Listener of course) than a talker. Being prepared knowing the "facts" of the subject that you are talking about is important here as well. Having accurate information for yur child is an effective way to get them listening and engaged. This is not to be confused with using scare tactics, which will do the opposite. Ultimately, leaving the responsibility with the child without nagging and reminding is an extremely effective way to teach your child independence and self-discipline. The temptation to remind and repeat yourself might be strong, but remember what the effects of power and control have. One of the most powerful ways to influence your child is by modeling the behavior yourself. This is not necesarilly in a teaching sort of environment either, because the modeling process takes place "almost automatically." Be sure to avoid showing examples of using double-standards or hypocracy.

You can read much much more about this in the P.E.T. book, the F.E.T. Program, or best of all, the P.E.T. workshop nearest you. I hope this is a good start for you.

Sep 22, 2011

P.E.T. Reviews and Research

There have been two extensive reviews of P.E.T. course evaluation studies. The first, by Ronald Levant of Boston University, reviewed 23 different studies. The author concluded that many of the studies had methodological discrepancies. Nevertheless, out of a total of 149 comparisons between P.E.T. and control groups or alternative programs, 32% favored P.E.T., 11% favored the alternative group, and 57% found no significant differences. Levant did find three studies that met the standards of methodological adequacy. In these studies, out of 35 comparisons, 69% favored P.E.T. over the control group, none (0%) favored the control group, and 31% showed no significant differences. Levant concluded that P.E.T. appears to result in positive changes in parent attitudes and behavior and changes in children’s self-concept and behavior.

Robert Cedar of Boston University later reviewed 26 of the best designed research studies of P.E.T., using the “meta-analytic technique” of integrating the statistical findings from all the studies.

For more details about this study, read the rest of this article by following the link here:

Sep 14, 2011

Method III in Action, with Three Children Under Six

This is the story of a recent P.E.T. graduate, who has three boys - aged 6, 4 and 1. Before attending the course, bath times at her place were a real issue, causing tension and arguments. This is her story:

“During the weeks of the P.E.T. course, I used the Method III approach to solve my ‘bath time’ problem with the boys.

I sat down with my older boys (while the little one was playing around us) and explained the Method III approach to solving problems. The boys were quite enthusiastic to try this approach.

We used the Method III template in the workbook and followed it step-by-step. Defining the problem was easy, and so was coming up with solutions.

My needs were 'getting the boys clean, in a reasonable amount of time, which
then allowed mummy to get dinner ready'. My children’s needs were to play and relax after school.

Brainstormed solutions from my boys included:
Take a toy into the bath (acceptable by all)
Play for half an hour before bath time (not acceptable by mum)
Have a bath, then a shower, then a bath (suggested by Mr 4)
Have a shower one day, then a bath the next day

The final solutions agreed were:
Boys get to take a toy into the bath (not a wooden toy)
Timer would be set for bath time, so that bath time would last for 11 minutes (yes this was negotiated back and forth a few times)

This worked very well for a few weeks, but then stopped working - the novelty must have worn off. So we revisited the problem (Step 6), and sat down again to do Method III. I must admit that Mr 4 was delighted to watch his suggestions being written down.

This time, the new agreed solutions were:
Play for 11 minutes after afternoon tea, and before bath. Timer is set
for 11 minutes, then boys go straight to the bathroom
All boys to have a shower in mummy's rather large shower, together.
Plug up drain with face-washers and fill up base of shower until full.
Face-washers get pulled from drain when alarm goes off at 11 minutes.

This is currently working very well. Mr 1 gets taken out first (he usually doesn't last 11 minutes) and the older boys come out fairly happy at the 11 minute mark.

Bath (shower) time is a now largely a happy time in our household rather than being filled with stress and shouting. I am confident that when these solutions stop working, I can revisit it again using Method III, and the boys will be happy to be involved in solving our problem together.”

This article was shared by Larissa Dann, our P.E.T. Representative in Australia

Sep 7, 2011

True Parent Sightings, Part One

I wish I were here reporting glorious sightings of P.E.T. parents in action, but this series will be the opposite of that. For the purposes of reinforcement, conversation-starting and sharing, I lament on these real-life stories of parenting...gone wrong (or non-P.E.T. in our case).

Between the hours after work and before bed, public places can be a zoo of parent-child arguments. While at the drugstore last night, my peaceful meandering down the greeting card aisle was curtly interrupted by a woman's voice that sounded exactly like my car's GPS system.


"But mom can I-" replied the tiny little girl behind her.



"No. Whatever it is, no."

"Mom, I reall-"

"No." She began to repeat herself before even allowing her daughter to get a syllable in. Monotone and seemingly without reason, this mother kept denying her child of something that I am still not sure of. It was totally unclear what she was asking for.

The mother continued, without so much as making eye contact with her daughter, "No because I said so, so don't ask me why. And if you aren't following me now then I'm ignoring you."

(No exaggeration here. This is what she actually said.)

The daughter straggled behind her, whimpering. Her mother never once looked in her direction the entire time I witnessed this episode.

My sympathy goes out to the little girl, of course. In part, I feel sorry for the mother as well because I don't think that she knows any other way. Was this the way that she was parented perhaps? At the same time, I don't think she wishes to psychologically damage her daughter either. My guess is that she hasn't a clue on the impact that this kind of parenting will have on her daughter for years to come.

What I do wonder is who this mother will blame when her daughter reaches teenage years (or sooner) and starts to rebel against her.

It always takes me a moment to get my bearings back and realize that this is not my problem, although the speech has been mentally rehearsed many a time. Suffice it to say, my only chosen audience for this kind of story are P.E.T. parents and readers here on our blog. It is our every intention at GTI to spread the word of P.E.T. not just to parents who are already followers of ours, but more importantly, to those who aren't.

Have a story like this to share? Please post it here, on Facebook or mention us on Twitter.

By: Selena Cruz George, Program Manager