Jul 18, 2012

Treat Friends, Kids The Same

File:Erma Bombeck.jpg

by Erma Bombeck

On the TV the other day, a leading child psychologist said parents should treat their children as they would treat their best friend...with courtesy, dignity and diplomacy.

"I have never treated my children any other way," I told myself. But later that night, I thought about it. Did I really talk to my best friends like I talked to my children? Just suppose...our good friends, Fred and Eleanor, came to dinner one night and...

"Well it's about time you two got here! What have you been doing? Dawdling? Leave those shoes outside, Fred. They've got mud on them. And shut the door. Where were you born in a barn?"

"So Eleanor, how have you been? I've been meaning to have you over for such a long time. Fred! Take it easy on the chip dip of you'll ruin your dinner. I didn't work over a hot stove all day long to have you nibble like some bird."

"Hear from any of the gang lately? Got a card from the Martins. Yes, they're in Lauderdale again. They go every year to the same spot. What's the matter with you, Fred? You're fidgeting. Of course you have to go. It's down the hall, first door on the left. And I don't want to see the towel in the middle of the floor when you're finished."

"Did you wash your face before you came, Eleanor? I see a dark spot around your mouth. I guess it's a shadow. So how're your children? If you ask me I don't think summer school is great for them. Is everybody hungry? Then, why don't we go in to dinner? You all wash up and I'll take up the food. Don't tell me your hands are clean, Eleanor. I saw you playing with the dog."

"Fred, you sit over there and Eleanor you can sit with the half glass of milk. You know you're all elbows when it comes to milk. There now, your host will say grace."

"Fred, I don't see any cauliflower on your plate. Have you ever tried it? Well, try a spoonful. If you don't like it I won't make you finish it, but if you don't try it, you can just forget dessert. And sit up straight or your spine will grow that way. Now, what were we talking about? Oh yes, the Gerbers. They sold their house. I mean they took a beating, but Eleanor..., don't talk with food in your mouth. i can't understand a work you're saying. And use your napkin."

At that moment in my fantasy, my son walked into the room. "How nice of you to come," I said pleasantly.

"Now what did I do," he signed.

Jul 11, 2012

How to Get Your Kids to Do Their Chores

(...Without Nagging Them!)

Let us first remind ourselves of the old, straight-forward theory which tells us that generally, people don't like to be "told what to do". This absolutely includes kids. It's no wonder that kids need to constantly be reminded of what they were supposed to do - they don't want to be doing it in the first place! But with some guidance from the Gordon Model and bit of psychological insight, we think we can help.

In most households, here's how chores are usually delegated:
Mom: "I need you to wash the dishes, clean up your room, feed the dog and take him for a walk."
Child: "I don't feel like it."
Mom: "Do it!"
Child: "Fine."
There's one way to get a child to "agree" to do something! His willingness is lacking and his compliance is artificial. The mother will likely need to remind him: "You said you would do the chores I asked! Why aren't they done? Do them now - I won't ask you again." Adding a tinge of threat here might get your child to do what he's told (for the time being, at least*) but will likely entice him to resist even more. Not only are you telling him what to do without any reason or consideration of what he is needing to do, but your reminding/nagging him comes across as condescending; as if he isn't intelligent enough to remember. This holds true for nagging in all shapes and forms.

Now let's consider two important Gordon Model skills to help in this situation:

  1. The Preventive I-Message: These types of I-Messages are useful in preventing problems from occurring in the first place. They give the listener (the child, in this case) important information that they will need to know for the future. For example, you are having guests over for dinner and you would like your child to have his toys picked up off the floor before a certain time of day. Remember that the I-Message must have all three parts to increase the probability that it will be effective. Using this example, here is an I-Message that could be used: "I need to have the toys off the floor by 5 pm when the neighbors will be arriving, so that I don't feel embarrassed about inviting guests into a messy home and don't have to take up extra time that I will need to finish preparing dinner."
  2. Method III: The No-Lose Method to resolving conflicts is the perfect skill to use when it comes to chore-setting. Many things are in play here. First off, is the principle of participation, which says that a person is more motivated to carry out a decision that he has been a part of making, versus a decision that has been made on his behalf, without his consent. Secondly, Method III considers the needs of everyone involved. It could still, for example, allow the kids to watch their favorite show at the same time every night, while also lessening the burden of all the household duties on just Mom or Dad. Method III must be carried out in all six parts in order to be the most effective. More on Method III - including the numerous positive side effects - can be found in Chapter 11 of the P.E.T. book.
Parents must also remember that none of these are guaranteed quick-fixes for the conflicts in your family. But with time, practice, and a constant consideration for the needs of others, the benefits of using the Gordon Model skills are truly astonishing.

Try it for yourself and let us know how it worked for you. Feel free to always comment below or on our Facebook page.

See Chapter 10 of the P.E.T. book to read the effects of parental power on Children