Nov 15, 2012

The Problem with Authoritarian Parenting

crazydad.jpgAs a sequel to our last post (and newsletter) about the problems with permissive parenting, now couldn't be a more perfect opportunity to summarize the problems with strict parenting. Much has been published about the negative affects of authoritarian styles of parenting, so I'll aim to outline as many broad-spectrum points about the subject as possible.
If permissive parenting is described as lackadaisical, lenient and submissive in the context of conflict, then it's safe to say that strict parenting promotes iron-fistedness, aggressiveness and dominance above all. Strict parents will often "win" or "get what they want" in any given conflict, but the visible and emotional affects on the child include much (if not all) of the following:
  1. Externally compliant, but internally depressed and defeated
  2. Compliant but internally enraged, build-up of aggressiveness
  3. Feigned sycophancy in aims to manipulate
  4. Fear of trying/Fear of failure
  5. Lying
  6. Forming "groups" in order to fight back in numbers
  7. Rebelling/Outlashing - especially after long periods of submission
  8. Withdrawing from parents and social interactions
  9. Tendency to seek out adult relationships that are controlling (acting as the controlee)
  10. Increased probability of developing anxiety disorders
  11. Tendency to forfeit and ignore their own needs
  12. Self-imposed, impossible attempts at perfection

Although this list is dismal, many of these points resonate with adults who are the product of authoritarian parenting in their childhood. It is often the case that when parents realize the affects that their childhood had on them, that they realize it is not something that should be continued through the next generation.

More on the effects of punishment and parental power can be found in Chapter 10 of the Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.) book.

by: Selena C. George

Nov 8, 2012

The Problem With Permissive Parenting

Permissive Parenting StyleThe most common misconception about Parent Effectiveness Training is that it encourages parents to "give-in" to their child's every desire. The idea that permissiveness is the alternative to power is a false dichotomy in itself. While permissiveness is, by definition, the opposite of strict, these options are not the only two that parents have. Moreover, the idea of meeting somewhere in the middle (i.e. compromise) falls on the same Strict-to-Lenient continuum, of which P.E.T. does not endorse. 

Much is to be said about the negative outcomes of using parental power, but the effects of permissive parenting are just as damaging.

In any win-lose relationship, the unbalance of power takes form in a multitude of ways. Depending on the relationship and degree of power used on the parent, the side effects on the child can include:

  • Lack of consideration for the needs of others
  • Resistance in cooperation in group dynamics
  • Lack of empathy toward others
  • Inability to adapt to new environments
  • Lack of problem solving skills
  • Difficulty maintaining healthy adult relationships
This style of parenting has effects on the parent as well:
  • Resentment/Passive Aggressiveness toward the child
  • Lack of affection toward the child
  • Emotional distance toward the child
Permissiveness can also show up in the form of becoming falsely accepting toward your child and his or her behaviors. False acceptance is a common method for parents who "don't want to deal with it" and submit to their children's demands, while simultaneously bearing resentment. One of the most serious symptoms of false acceptance is a lack of trust toward the parent which results in constant questioning, uncertainty and delinquency  It's usually quite easy for children to pick up on the non-verbal signals that their parents send them, leaving them in a perpetual state of confusion about what their parent really feels and wants. 

With permissive and authoritarian styles out the window, there lies a need for an alternative. P.E.T. teaches parents the communication methods and skills used for decades by many psychologists. By neither winning, losing or compromise, the P.E.T. method is unique in that it is the only (yes, I said only) approach that is on an entirely different spectrum—one that relies on influence, respect, and true fairness.  

Inconceivable? Check out the Parent Effectiveness Training book or find a workshop near you.

By: Selena George, P.E.T. Program Manager

Oct 18, 2012

Three Outcomes to What Happens When Parents Use Hurtful Words

We've all heard the (very old) familiar saying about sticks and stones breaking bones, but words not hurting us, right? I'm guessing that this phrase was coined somewhere around the same time that the idea of the world being flat was a logical theory. How archaic and grossly wrong they both were! 
Another age-old theory is the idea that children should be verbally "put in their place," insulted, criticized, blamed, yelled at or scolded in order to achieve one of the following:

  • Teach them learn a lesson
  • Change their behavior
  • Prevent them from doing something wrong
The underlying idea here is: say something harsh = get something done. They're just words, right? No harm done? But let's take a look at what happens when you resort to this method...

Outcome Number 1: Defensiveness. Beyond the fact that children aren't typically perceptive to "negative" comments about themselves, people (of all ages) just don't like being told that they are a different person than they like to perceive themselves as. In order to protect one's own self image and self esteem, our natural instinct is to defend ourselves! The loss of self-esteem over time as a result of the cruel words of parents is one of the biggest tragedies that a parent can be responsible for. The following possibilities after this only grow worse.

Outcome Number 2: Feigned acceptance. In order to avoid conflict, many personality types would rather just pretend that they are getting the message, submit or agree to something on the outside, while what they are really doing is "faking it" in order to end the conflict as quickly as possible. This type of response can be seen quite often when children act differently when their parents are around versus when they aren't. How effective is this really, if their behavior varies from situation to situation?

Outcome Number 3: Rebellion. Being ordered what to do only works for so long, if at all! Particularly in the teenage years (after many years of being told what to do), children's frustration and resentment tends to take a turning point. It is also during this time in their life when they realize that they are not so reliant on mom and dad to take care of their needs. "Why listen to what they say if I can take care of myself anyway?", is a common attitude. And often, their anger from this type of treatment simply turns into spite and rebellion in its pinnacle.

Keep in mind that the above list is just a short version of the most common responses to scolding and insult.

So then, how do parents express their expectations and frustrations with their children? By using a non-blameful method of communication called I-Messages. For more on I-Messages, check our website, Wikipedia or the Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.) book.

What do you think? Let us know!

by: Selena George, P.E.T. Program Manager

Oct 4, 2012

No Punishment?

Recently, we had an interested question sent to us on our Facebook page:

"Does this program promote no punishment for bad behavior? I don't get this program?"

We responded, and would like to elaborate to our readers here.

First off, to simply say "no," that P.E.T. is not an advocate of punishment would only be giving half of the answer. The use of the term "bad behavior" is a major underlying issue here. P.E.T. encourages parents not to view behaviors as "bad" or "good" because such labeling does not encourage children to change their behavior, among other things (at least, not in the long run!). Given the idea that all behaviors are simply attempts to get a certain need met, we can view things from a different frame of mind. 

For example, in a traditional sense, a screaming child would likely be seen as "behaving badly". But consider that this child is screaming for a reason. Active Listening is the way to find that reason behind the commonly misunderstood behaviors of a child, or of anyone for that matter. This child is experiencing a problem or obstacle to getting his or her need met. She might be hungry, tired, in need of attention/affection, feeling unsafe or insecure, etc. It would be absurd to think that a child could communicate these feelings in an effective manner; especially considering that many adults still struggle from doing this. The question at hand then becomes: Why punish a child for expressing an unmet need?

Our response to the question on Facebook sums it up:

P.E.T. does not promote punishment of any kind, but the most important part of this is the reasoning behind it. Being commonly mistaken as "passive parenting", P.E.T. does not reject the use of punishment simply because "it's bad." When parents begin to look at their child's behaviors as attempts to get a certain need met, they can begin to realize that their children aren't deliberately "misbehaving" in order to upset their parents. On the contrary, children are desperately seeking approval from their moms and dads. When we look at a screaming child and think: "they're behaving bad," this is when the parent-child relationship gets into real trouble. In actuality, children are commonly seeking fulfillment of some need that they don't know how to express in any other way. 

As for the punishment factor, years of psychological and neurological research has proven that using control to manipulate the behavior of your children (or anyone) has serious consequences on the relationship between parent and child. In the short term, punishment can be a quick fix and often does work. But in the long term, it's effects turn out to be quite the opposite of what punishment aims to achieve. Case in point: teenage-hood! 
What are your thoughts on this? We'd love to hear from you. Please feel free to comment below or send us an email to:

by: Selena George, P.E.T. Program Manager

Sep 19, 2012

Has PET Been Taught in Religious Institutions?

Because the Gordon Model aligns so well with many religious values, churches have played a substantial role in making P.E.T. and other Gordon programs available. P.E.T. has been taught at the following religious organizations:

• The Uniting Church in Australia

• Presbyterian

• Methodist

• Baptist

• Jewish synagogues

• 30,000 Lutherans thru Missouri Synod (paid in part by Aid Association for Lutherans insurance).

• The Lutheran church in Finland has been a major sponsor of P.E.T. and other Gordon courses since P.E.T. began there in the late 1970’s and still is. Many thousands of parents and youth have participated in P.E.T. and Y.E.T.

• P.E.T. has been practiced in many Catholic dioceses. Instructors have been/are both priests and nuns as well as lay persons. Father Patrick Tyrrell who began in Ireland and then moved to Chicago has trained over 4,000 people in the Gordon courses—P.E.T., T.E.T., Be Your Best and Y.E.T. He’s still teaching at age 79. A Catholic priest, Robert Pereira in Canberra, Australia has taught a similar number of people. He’s also still active.

• The U.S. Army, Air Force and Navy thru chaplains—these P.E.T. courses were attended by active duty personnel and their spouses both stateside and in Germany, Italy and South Korea. (The courses were promoted in part as a way to help military personnel be combat ready).

Sep 12, 2012

To All Children, Their Parents Are First Seen As Gods

An excerpt from the P.E.T. book

This "psychological size" differential exists not only because children see their parents as bigger and stonger, but also as more knowledgeable, more competent. To the young child there seems to be nothing her parents to not know, nothing they cannot do. She marvels at the breadth of their understanding, the accuracy of their predictions, the wisdom of their judgement.

While some of these perceptions may at times be accurate, others are not. Children attribute many traits, characteristics and capabilities to their parents that are not based on reality at all. Few parents know as much as young children think they do. Experience is not always the "best teacher," as the child will later conclude when she becomes an adolescent and an adult and can judge her parents against a broader base of her own experience. And wisdom is not always related to age. Many parents find it difficult to admit, but those who are more honest with themselves recognize how exaggerated are children's evaluations of Mom and Dad.

While the cards are stacked in favor of the parents' far greater psychological size to begin with, many mothers and fathers foster the difference. They deliberately hide their limitations and mistakes in judgement from their children; or they promote myths as "We know what's best for you" or "When you're older you'll realize how right we were."

I've always been intrigued to observe that when parents talk about their own mothers and fathers, they readily see in retrospect their mistakes and limitations; yet they will strongly resist the notion that they are subject to the same kinds of errors of judgement and lack of wisdom in relation to their own children.

-Dr. Thomas Gordon

Aug 30, 2012

The Problem With Using Power

You can force your daughter to stay in college. You can insist that your subordinate dress differently.  But, as most of us know, power tactics are often a costly way to preserve relationships.  They’re also unlikely to have any positive effect on the other person’s values. In fact, the use of power practically guarantees being "fired" as a consultant.  
Using power to influence the outcome of a values collision can be tempting, particularly as a shortcut if other available approaches are complex and time consuming, and you hold most of the power in the relationship.

When you act as an influencer through modeling and consulting, you're offering people an opportunity to change by encouraging an evolutionary process.  The adaptations in their lives may be slow and gradual, but they will be lasting because they’re not imposed; they’re part of that person’s learning and growth.

By exercising your influence, you’re saying, in effect:

"I have no power over you, but here are the facts and figures that support my position. I leave responsibility for change with you. I won't hassle or nag if you don't make the changes I've suggested. I want to be influential and, above all, to preserve a good relationship with you. I accept the fact that the outcome of my consulting efforts is uncertain."

 When you use power methods in a values collision you are denying people a chance to evolve at their own pace, in their own way. You're applying a "revolutionary" approach-instant change through coercion. The message you send comes through like this:

"I don't trust you to make this change on your own. I'll use whatever power is available to me to force the change after all, it's for your own good."
Using power to alter another's values is frequently justified as being in the other's best interest. But consider what people throughout history have been forced to accept in the name of their "best interest"! That should give us pause when we set out to coerce change in others. Non-power methods that people can adapt to their own needs and experience are more likely to yield change that's desired by  you and truly accepted by the other person.

Author Unknown, Posted by Selena George, P.E.T. Program Manager

Aug 22, 2012

They're Not Teaching You I-Messages

Just yesterday we received a phone call from someone who was in the middle of taking an (unmentionable) communication skills course, and called us to ask for clarification on giving the I-Message. This extremely frustrated young man sounded relieved to be finally getting some real help and clarification on how this skill works. As he delicately approached his question, he began by explaining something that was actually very different from what an I-Message really is. Because just as common as the term is used, it is mis-used. Here was yet another example of it's misuse.

He proceeded to ask for reassurance on whether or not he should be following the formula: I feel______ when______ and I would like______ so can we _______.

I politely explained to him that we do not teach that formula and that unfortunately, I could not help him in his search for how to correctly deliver this four-part confrontive statement of sorts. After several more attempts to get me to answer him about this, I began to listen closer to his frustration. He told me that he was desperately trying to get this thing down right and that every time he asked for more questions in the class, he was accused of not doing his homework. Nobody was giving him the proper formula for how to fill in those four blanks and when he tried it at home, it was not working at all like they said it would.

I listened. (And by that I mean, I active listened.) After what I believed to be a minor breakthrough on his part, I offered to teach him the original, three-part I-Message by Dr. Thomas Gordon. He asked for examples and I provided them. He wrote down the formula and was pleased. "Finally," he expressed, "this is something that makes much more sense. It's like now I have the right equation to plug into."

I couldn't help but then ask him what this class had taught him about running into resistance after you give someone your I-Message. What were you supposed to do then? His answer was painful. He was advised to repeat himself, act "appropriately" and then tell the other person something along the lines of: "You don't want to talk about this now so let's set up a time when we can talk later."

I can't say I was shocked, but there was some serious head-shaking happening on my end. The poor guy! I could tell how badly he wanted to improve his communication skills and how strongly his desire for help was. To be given a set of tools that didn't work must have been like buying a bicycle without wheels. I wondered aloud: "What are you supposed to do after your second attempt to talk with them and they respond in the same way? Repeat the cycle?"

He sighed. I could hear his shrug right through the phone.

When I explained to him what shifting gears into Active Listening was, it was like a light turned on in his head. Knowing that he had written all this new information down, he sounded eager to continue his research. He thanked me graciously and we ended our conversation.

I hope the rest of the students in that class give us a call!

Aug 16, 2012

There Is Only One Real "I-Message"

The I-Message is now a term that is commonly used. Since the origination of the I-Message by Dr. Thomas Gordon in 1962, the term has been borrowed, misrepresented and generally watered-down. While the intention still aims at effectively confronting another in order to get your needs met, there is a true science and research behind Dr. Gordon's three part I-Message. Without each necessary piece, it simply will not work.
In hopes to bring clarity to this commonly misunderstood term, President of Gordon Training International, Linda Adams, explains what an authentic I-Message really is:

"As developed by Dr. Gordon and as taught in all of our courses for parents, teachers and leaders, the I-Message has three parts:  1) A non-blameful description of the unacceptable behavior; 2) the concrete effect that behavior has on the sender; and 3) the feeling the sender has about that effect.  In short, an I-Message includes:   Behavior, Effect, Feelings.  Examples of an I-Message from a parent to a child:  “When the music is on so loud, I can’t concentrate on my work and that frustrates me” or “I was upset when the gas tank was almost on empty and I had to stop and get gas which made me late for work.”  It doesn’t matter which order these three parts are in, just that they are all there.

The I-Message doesn’t contain a request or suggestion or solution about what the child or other person should do or what concrete action should be taken. An I-Message leaves responsibility with the other person to change their behavior out of consideration for the needs of the sender.      

There’s another essential skill that’s needed with most I-Messages.  Because people don’t usually like to hear that their behavior is interfering with someone else, they often respond in a defensive or resistant way.  So the I-Message sender needs to be prepared to Active Listen to that resistance and hear the other person’s feelings in order to give the I-Message a better chance of being heard and responded to in a positive way."

Aug 8, 2012

Is It Ever Okay to Use Power Methods With Children?

  It has become a joke with those of us who teach P.E.T. that in almost every new class some parent will challenge the validity or limits of Method III by one of two questions:
"But what if your kid runs into the street in front of a car? Don't you have to use Method I?"

"But what if your kid gets sever appendicitis? Don't you have to use Method I to make her go to the hospital?"
  Our answer to both these questions is "Yes, of course." These are crisis situations that demand immediate and firm action. Yet prior to the crisis of the child's running in front of a car or needing to be taken to the hospital, non power methods can be used.

  If a child develops a habit of running int the street, a parent might first try to talk to the child about the dangers of cars, walk her around the edge of the yard, and tell her that anything beyond is not safe, show her a picture of a child hit by a car, build a fence around the yard, or watch her when she is playing in the front yard for a couple of days, reminding her each time when she goes beyond the limits. Even if I took the punishment approach, I would never risk my child's life on the assumption that punishment alone would keep her from going into the street. I would want to employ more certain methods in any event.

- excerpted from "Aren't There Times When Method I Has To Be Used" in Dr. Thomas Gordon's Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.) book


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

Jun 28, 2012

How to Deal When Your Children Are Violent

Violent tantrums: even the term is cringe-worthy. These mortifying experiences are commonly misunderstood by parents. More common still, is knowing the best way to handle these situations. Whether you're dealing with this in your family right now or think you have the best solution to cure these screaming, slapping and crying little people, consider the following:

First and foremost, parents should re-set their frame of mind. Remember that all behaviors (for children and adults alike) are attempts to fulfill a certain need. For example, your two-year-old runs away from the tub everyday at bathtime. What his behavior is saying = "I do NOT want to do that!" With a bit of Active Listening (verbal and non-verbal), you might find out why he is resistant to taking baths. Maybe he knows that right after bathtime is bedtime, and so he's trying to delay. Maybe you run the bath water too hot. A child this young might not have any way of verbalizing this to you and may not even realize that taking a bath can happen any time of day, or that the bath water can, in fact, be ran at a cooler temperature. When your children show you strong resistance, they are showing you that they're experiencing a problem.

Active Listening is the number one tool in finding out what's going on behind their behavior, which often asks as a masking agent. If your child is upset, it's not the time to cut them off and tell them to "put a cork in it." While you can explain (as a consultant) the effect that certain violent behaviors have on those around them, commanding them to stop will not solve their issue. Problems handled in this way lead to repetitive and often more passionate outburtsts. Children, like adults, want to be listened to and want their feelings to be considered. After Active Listening, sometimes the tantrum will stop right there. But other times it won't...

Particularly in families where the child's needs are rarely considered, if ever, a change in the child's behavior from tantrums to peacefulness will take some time to appear. Active Listening isn't usually an overnight fix. It takes time for the child to get used to the fact that you are actually listening to their needs and considering their feelings. In parent-child relationships which have been power based and the child usually "loses" the battle, trust will need to be rebuilt in order to have a solid foundation for Active Listening to be effective.

With time, skill, and some patience, these outlashes will begin to subside. By showing your children that you aren't going to simply "make them do something because you said so", you are also teaching your children an extremely important lesson in how to deal with conflicts. Raising children in this way will provide our society with the kind of adults who handle the needs and feelings of others in a respectable and effective manner.

For much more on this, check out the Parent Effectiveness Training book or learn about P.E.T. classes near you!

What do you think? Let us know!

Jun 13, 2012


You've probably seen this circling through Facebook by now. The re-posts, likes and supporting comments are growing in numbers on the daily. When it came around to us, we thought: Are these people SERIOUS??!! (And we can only imagine what the children of these people are thinking!)

It's sad to see parents taking pride in viewpoints like this. While we understand how charm, humor and a dose of  "tounge-in-cheek" can be appealing, I think it's safe to say that the supporters of this message are alarmingly serious!

Here are just a few of the reasons why this is awful:

  1. Threatening - need we say more?
  2. So because you love me, you're going to scare the heck out of me? Is that what you do when you love somebody?
  3. It's a parent's job to invade their children's privacy? Ahem...sure...that'll be a real trusting relationship!
  4. Wait I'm still confused, so the person who "loves me the most" is going to treat me the worst and it's okay for them to do that?
  5. Parents want their children to hate them? Careful what you wish for!!
Intentionally creating fear and resentment in the relationship with your children is one of the most terrible things you can do to them. If the intention is to create discipline and obedience, these methods actually create the very opposite.

Have anything to add to our list? Please share with us what you think and SPREAD THE WORD!

Jun 7, 2012

Do Schools Deny Your Children of Their Civil Rights?

Excerpted from the Chapter "The Other Parents of Your Children" in the Parent Effectiveness Training book, by Dr. Thomas Gordon:

      In most schools, students are blatantly denied civil rights - the right of free speech, the right to wear their hair as they prefer, the right to wear the clothes they like, the right to dissent. Schools also deny children the right to refuse to testify against themselves, and if kids get into trouble, administrators seldom follow the customary procedures of "due process of law" guaranteed to citizens by the judicial system
     Is this a distorted picture of schools? I think not. Many other observers of the school system are seeing the same deficiencies. Furthermore, one need only ask youngsters how they feel about schools and schoolteachers. Many kids say they hate school and that their teachers treat them disrespectfully and unfairly. Most kids come to esperience school as a place where they must go; they experience learning as something that is seldom pleasant or fun; they experience studying as tedious work; and they see their teachers as unfriendly police officers. 
     When children are assigned to adults whose treatment of them producessuch negative reactions, parents cannot be expected to shoulder all the blame for the way their kids turn out. Parents can be blames, yes, but other adults must share the blame.

 How closely do you think this relates to your child's school or learning environment? Let us know your thoughts. Please feel free to comment here or on our Facebook page.

May 31, 2012

Should You Make Your Child "Finish What They Started"?

So your kid gets excited about starting a new hobby or sport and she begs you to sign her up for classes. Proper attire or equipment has been bought and lessons have been paid for. But a few sessions in, she tells you that she doesn't want to do it anymore.

You're now at a crossroad - do you "let" your child quit and lose out on the money, not to mention the apparent opportunity to teach them a lesson in making commitments? Or, do you accept the fact that she is no longer interested and don't want to force her into doing something unwillingly?

Your needs:

  1. To teach your child the importance of commitments
  2. To not lose out on money that has already been spent and could have possibly been used for something else 

Here's where most parents would tell their kids something along the lines of:
"I already paid for it and I don't want my money going down the drain. You've got to finish what you started!"
The question is, how do you deal with this situation to get yours and your child's needs met?

A Quick Lesson in Discipline:

When motivation in doing something comes in an external form (like the parent forcing a child to do something), they usually will simply do the bare minimum to finish the job at hand. When problems are resolved this way, parents often have to nag, remind and constantly check in on their child. One of the most important factors in place here is that children do not learn discipline and the consequences of real-life decisions in external forms. You might be able to "make" your child eat broccoli, but that doesn't mean that you are making them actually enjoy it. You might scare your child into not giving up on something that they started, but what you're really doing is just making the child scared of you -- not scare them about how the real-life consequences on giving-up may affect them. Your forcing her won't make her interested. Almost always, when the parents needs "win" over the child, the child will bear hate and resentment.

Three "Gordon Model" Methods To Use:

Preventive I-Message - Tell your child ahead of time that the money spent on their activities is something that you cannot get back whether they decide to continue or not and how losing that money could affect you. Explain to your children (as an informant, not a disciplinarian) the importance of making commitments and how they affect other people that are involved in the commitment.

Modify The Environment - Here's an easy one! Don't sign your child up for classes that are non-refundable. Wait to purchase necessary materials and see if you can have your child sit in and participate in a few classes before they make the commitment. Or find a place where you can pay per session, instead of for a whole month, for example.

Method III - In this situation, we are in the area of both people owning a problem (you and your child). Go through the six-step process and begin by finding out what your child's needs are in this situation and what the underlying reason is behind his or her feelings. Maybe she isn't comfortable taking karate in the same class as boys or maybe her skill level is more advanced than the rest of the kids, leaving her un-stimulated.

Before jumping to the first conclusion you can think of in these types of situations, consider the option that both you and your child can get your needs met and resolve conflicts in a respectful and effective way.

May 16, 2012

Do Kids Really Need to be "Toughened Up" for the Real World?

Some parents believe that their children should be treated with the use of punitive power in order to prepare them for the "real world".

This belief leans toward the idea that in the crass adult world, kids need to be "toughened up" in their childhood in order to survive as grown-ups. Those who belong to this school of thought believe that this tough love should be shown in form of punishment and the use of punitive, parental power. 

Here's why this theory is amiss:

Let's start with the general idea that parents want their children to grow up to become responsible, capable adults. They raise their children to show them the differences between "right and wrong" and the skills needed to fulfill their basic needs. Growing up, children learn a language for communicating with others, how to use numbers, how to drive, etc. Very few of these children take a course that teaches how to communicate effectively with others in order to get their needs met, especially during times of conflict. They learn how to talk with people and how to problem solve by mimicking what their parents do. After all, "modeling" is the most powerful way to teach anyone, anything.

In a world where most of us grow up with the use of punishment and parental superiority, it's no wonder that the "real world" we are planted in is so tough. Imagine millions of crying, whining adults scolding each other, telling each other what to do, striking out in anger and stepping on the heads of others; all of this in attempt to get some need met. The inadequacy of trying to solve problems this way is monumental.

Let's delve deeper into the mind of a child raised this way. What happens to the human psyche when our needs are met with threats, commands, blame, judgement and name-calling (just to name a few)?

These common reactions to children produce a countless number of side-effects. When a child begins to fear a parent, they are also hearing a threat of getting hurt by someone bigger and stronger than they are. While the power might work to modify the child's behavior for the moment, the child will almost ALWAYS fester resentment, which will trigger hostile responses in the future. Alternatively, this may cause a child to become submissive and fearful. 

Parents' use of demanding or ordering their children to do something communicate to the child that the parent does not have faith in the child's own judgement or capability. Patterns like this create reluctance in decision-making and an inability to problem-solve on their own, simply because they haven't been given the chance to practice using their own judgement. The common thought here would be, "I always do it wrong so why try?"

Criticizing and name-calling have some of the worst effects on children. Dr. Thomas Gordon wrote, "A child's self-concept gets shaped by parental judgement and evaluation. As the parent judges the child, so will the child judge himself." Like adults, children will respond with defensiveness even in cases disguised as "constructive criticism." In order to protect their own self image, children can become very hostile in the face of blame, ridicule and disagreement.

Stepping out from behind the microscope, we know how and why punitive parenting causes hostile and apprehensive adults. The failure of many marriages, business partnerships and friendships can be found as a result of "how you were raised" versus "how he/she was raised." It's important to know that the true test of a relationship isn't how many conflicts occur, but rather, how each conflict is handled. Gordon said conflict to be the "true test of a relationship."

When one learns how to deal with their own feelings AND the intense feelings of others, while accomplishing the common goal of each person getting what they need WITHOUT having to compromise, our work here is done.
 By now, you might be wondering: "How can I do that?!" Well, ahem, there are half a dozen books that can explain it all! Check out the work of Dr. Thomas Gordon and Linda Adams here.

And as always, let us know what you think.

written by: Selena George

May 9, 2012

What's In a Tantrum?

As toddlers everywhere are screaming bloody murder, destructing living rooms, attempting to escape car seats and harassing their siblings, their frazzled parents are on the verge of experiencing meltdowns of their own. After "trying everything," parents still can't seem to put an end to their children's exasperating behaviors. Difficult as it may be, understanding what lies behind these actions is the key to finding the solution that will help bring peace to everyone within earshot.

Dr. Thomas Gordon said that "all behaviors are solutions to human needs." When parents begin to understand and accept this basic principle, things might start to get a bit clearer. If all of our behaviors are expressions or attempts to fulfill an inner need, then what's in a tantrum?

Gordon wrote: "Children don’t misbehave. Their behaviors are simply actions they have chosen to meet these important needs. These principles suggest that all children’s actions are behaviors. Viewed in this way, all day long a child is behaving, and for the very same reason all other creatures engage in behaviors–they are trying to get their needs met. 

This does not mean, however, that parents will like all the behaviors their children engage in. Nor should they be expected to, for the children are bound to do things that sometimes produce unacceptable consequences for their parents. Kids can be loud and destructive, delay you when you’re in a hurry, pester you when you need quiet, cause you extra work, clutter up the home, interrupt your conversation, and break your valuables.

Think about such behaviors this way: they are behaviors children are engaging in to meet their needs. If at the same time they happen to interfere with your pursuit of pleasure, that doesn’t mean children are misbehaving. Rather, their particular way of behaving is unacceptable to you. Don’t interpret that children are trying to do something to you–they are only trying to do something for themselves. And this does not make them bad children or misbehaving children. But it may cause you a problem.

An infant cries because she is hungry or cold, or in pain. Something is wrong; her organism needs something. Crying behavior is the baby’s way of saying, “Help.” Such behavior, in fact, should be viewed as quite appropriate (“good”), for the crying is apt to bring the child the help that is needed." 

When seeing children as a fellow human being who is doing whatever means necessary to get his or her needs met, you might be inclined to find out what the child's need really is. Your child is not throwing a fit in order to frustrate you. On the contrary, your child inherently wants your approval and acceptance. Since children are dependent creatures who rely on external assistance in getting their needs met, denying them of such would simply be cruel. 

Could it be that they refuse to wear shoes because they're causing pain? Might they stretch and pry out of their high chair because they want their bottle they see sitting at the other end of the table? Do they hate taking showers because it reminds them of the time that they slipped and fell?

Let them be the ones to tell you. How? Start by Active Listening.

More on Active Listening to very young children can be found in Chapter Five of the P.E.T. Book.

What do you think? Let us know!

Click here to learn more about our once in a lifetime P.E.T. Instructor Training this year.

May 2, 2012

P.E.T. Working With Religion

One of the reasons why Parent Effectiveness Training is so widely accepted is because of its versatility in any culture or family no matter race, creed or religion. P.E.T. is adaptable in any relationship without sacrificing in its effectiveness.

In Earl Gaulke's book "You Can Have A Family Where Everybody Wins," he takes a Christian approach on utilizing the P.E.T. skills with religious teachings. Perhaps his introduction described it best, being appropriately titled "Needed: Skills for Christian Parents."

In his book, Gaulke cross references Dr. Thomas Gordon's P.E.T. with biblical scripture and explains in detail how to be a P.E.T. parent and a Christian parent synchronously. In doing so, Gaulke outlines many real-life conflicts that arise between parents and their children, like drugs and alcohol, doing homework, watching TV, decision making, etc.

To learn more about this book, click on the photo below which will take you to it's page.

You Can Have a Family Where Everybody Wins: Christian Perspectives on Parent Effectiveness Training

"Parents want to help their children grow up successfully, but too often end by harming them instead. This book tells how parents and children can grow together."
-Dr. Paul Popenoe

Apr 18, 2012

Is the PET workshop worth the time and money?

We'll let you decide.

Here's what a few recent P.E.T. graduates have said about it:

"I loved the course. Meike's presentation of the material made it easy to understand and apply immediately. I couldn't imagine parenting without it. I have so many wonderful changes in myself and in my two toddlers that I can't begin to list them all. I am very grateful to have found the course and completed it." 
"Excellent instructor. Very enthusiastic, professional, compassionate, practical and knowledgeable!" 
"Before the course my husband and I were thinking about parent counseling to resolve so many issues. We even considered separating, but this course is helping us to communicate better, not only with our child, but with each other." 
"Love it! It's working. My daughter is happier and communicating her needs more. My listening skills are better. I notice quite a few changes particularly that I am a better communicator. I'm expressing my feelings and needs more effectively." 
"This course gave me so many more tools and ideas to positively express myself and resolve conflicts in a pleasant way" 

- from graduates of P.E.T. Instructor, Meike Lemmens:

To sign up for one of Meike's P.E.T. workshops (in the Los Angeles, CA area), please send an email to for more information.

~ follow P.E.T. on Twitter and Facebook for tips, promos and giveaways ~

Apr 12, 2012

Become a P.E.T. Instructor

It's been years since we've done this, but since so many have been asking, what better year to schedule an Instructor Training Workshop than the year of our 50th Anniversary?

The cat's out of the bag - We've officially scheduled a P.E.T. Instructor Training Workshop for anyone interested in becoming one of our Certified Instructors.

This P.E.T. ITW will take place over the course of five days from October 29th - November 2, 2012 and will be held on the bay of the historical downtown San Diego, CA. This five-day intensive workshop will give you all of the skills and materials necessary in order to become one of our Certified P.E.T
Since 2012 marks the 50th Anniversary of P.E.T., this celebratory workshop will hold a few extra special events, including a cocktail hour and a meet-and-greet with the President of Gordon Training International who was the wife of the late Dr. Thomas Gordon.

The tuition for this workshop is $1,795 and includes your new P.E.T. Instructor Kit. The Instructor Kit contains all of the learning materials that you will need for the training itself, as well as the Instructor Materials necessary for holding your future P.E.T. workshops. Special room rates are available at the hotel where the ITW will take place.

It will likely be another few years until we offer this training again and on top of that, this special edition P.E.T. workshop will not be held again until...our 100th Anniversary? :)

Don't miss out on your opportunity to hold this prestigious title, and teach others the truly life-changing skills of Parent Effectiveness Training.

For more information, please email us at
50th Anniversary - Gordon tRaining International

Apr 2, 2012

Answer to Last Week's Parenting Question: Safety

Greetings all,

Here is the question we chose to answer from last week's invite to ask us a parenting question:

While reading P.E.T. I had many a-hah moments more so when I remembered going on L.E.T. years earlier. But I'm still frustrated in implementing some of this with low verbal toddlers. I'm working on it though, making mistakes but still trying. Any extra information would be appreciated even better if it helps me deal with twin toddlers with different base personalities (which is a good thing) and different levels of verbal abilities.

My specific question revolves around those things that are direct safety issues. No, they don't "have" to hold my hand while crossing a road but they can't dash across the street on their own. Yes, they can fill and turn on the kettle but they can't play in the water that comes out of it (no matter how much they scream). How do I get across that something is dangerous without demonstrating the consequences (fire burns, sharp knives poked into your brother will cut him etc). I want them to question things but there really are some things around safety where mommy does know best.

Dear  Selmada,

Thank you for submitting your question here on the P.E.T. blog. It's cool to hear that you've taken L.E.T. as well! It sounds like L.E.T. gave you a good foundation before reading the P.E.T. book.

First, your question about toddlers with different speech levels and personalities is relevant to two things: (1) the behavior window and (2) using I-Messages with young children.

You might notice your level of acceptance change between both of the children. Each child is an individual as well, and just as our acceptance levels change from person to person, so do they with our own children. More on this is outlines in Chapter One of the P.E.T. book.

As for using the skills with very young children, you will learn that there are ways of listening to AND talking to kids this young by using nonverbal messages and the like. As Thomas Gordon wrote in the P.E.T. book, "It is a misperception that Active Listening is useful only for children old enough to talk." By showing or "acting it out" instead of using speech, you can help determine what your child needs or what he might be saying to you. More on this is in Chapter Five of the P.E.T. book.

Lastly, you sound confused about how to use P.E.T. with safety issues. It wounds silly to send your children an I-Message right before they are about to seriously injure themselves. Here is the only exception to using your parental power to interfere before your child gets hurt. When safety is a concern, do whatever means necessary to get them out of danger. You might want to preface these things by using Preventive I-Messages (before an incident occurs), Confrontive I-Messages (during or after an incident), or even by modifying the environment to prevent any accidents from occurring. Of course, there is much more on this throughout the P.E.T. book.

I hope this helps answer your questions and please feel free to follow up.  :)

(P.S. Please email us to give your shipping information for your free book and sticker:

Mar 21, 2012

Submit Your Parenting Questions to P.E.T.

Happy Spring and Hello to all,

We've shared many stories of "others" here - now's the time to talk about Y-O-U. (Don't worry - we will keep you anonymous if you'd like!)

For the next several weeks, GTI would like to offer this blog as a platform for you to send us your parenting questions, concerns or any issue that you're "stumped" on how to deal with.

All questions can be submitted in the comment box below and your name can be left anonymous if you prefer. We've changed the settings here so that you don't have to sign in anywhere in order to comment.

Just remember - if you do choose to ask us a question anonymously, you will have to come back and check to see if your question was answered. And to receive your book and sticker, send us an email with your shipping info to

Questions will be answered once per week, and those whose questions are used here will receive a free P.E.T. book and this bumper sticker:

Tune in next week with the first Q&A post and giveaway!

Mar 14, 2012

Children of Divorced Families: Response

Two weeks ago, I blogged about the effects on children of divorce. If you missed the post, you can read it HERE.

That post was inspired by a question we received from a soon-to-be stepmother who was seeking help about her soon-to-be stepchildren and their unacceptable behavior. To paraphrase, the children had been brought up with little-to-no "rules" and were now acting out terribly. She described that her and the father of these children (her future husband) were now using punishment with them, but that when the kids were with their mother, they weren't punished at all. The mother "let them do whatever they want and gave them no structure." When it was time for the kids to visit her and their father, they would display extremely violent tantrums.

She mentioned that some of her punishments were working, but that she needed additional help with P.E.T. to figure out how to get them under control.

Here was my response:

These children are going through some very intense emotions during this time in their life. They have lost the comfort of having one home, are conflicted between having to choose which parent to be with, being forced into living part-time with a woman who is not their mother, having to compete for their father's attention, and on top of it all they are not having a say in any of these things that affect their lives directly. Children in this situation often will act out in other areas, like it sounds they are doing. 
It sounds like you are trying to, or have already implemented some big changes in the style of parenting with your soon to be stepkids. It is working somewhat well while the kids are in your custody, but when they are with their mother, they go back to acting out. Their mother caters more to her children's feelings (whether rational or not) and you're having a hard time trying to implement the consistency of your parenting style. They really don't want to go back over to your house and every time it's your "turn", they have to be physically forced into the car. That sounds like some very unhappy children! 
You mentioned that you are using some punishments in order to modify their behaviors. Please be aware that P.E.T. is NOT an advocate of punishment whatsoever. The use of punishment does not promote self-discipline, creates fear and long-term resentment, and usually it only works when the parent is around. Once parents are out of sight, the children go right back to their unnaceptable behavior. This sounds like something that you experienced first-hand, with the kids reverting right back to their ways once they were with their mother. And let's face it - like adults too, children don't like to be forced into doing anything. 
At the same time, P.E.T. does not promote permissiveness either. This is a very common misconception and must be addressed here too! Permissiveness creates children that are spoiled, ungreatful and often careless with the feelings and needs of others. How will a child be able to grow up to be a responsible and self-sufficient adult if they are never given the opportunity (and practice) to make their own decisions and promote the kind of discipline that comes from WITHIN? Children brought up with permissive parents usually have a difficult time when entering the adult world. 
With punishment AND permissiveness ruled out, most parents don't realize that their is a third choice. They do not have to pick one or the other. That's where P.E.T. comes in. The P.E.T. skills are too detailed to explain in an email here, but I assure you that a P.E.T. Instructor or any of our parenting materials will give you detailed "how-to's" on everything, as well as explain to you the REASONS why they work.
Please let me know what area you are located in. Hopefully, we have a Certified Instructor in your area who will be able to work with the entire family.

What do you think? Let me know...

by: Selena George, Program Manager

Mar 8, 2012

Win a Trip for Two to Lake Tahoe, NV

Here's how to win:

  1. Go to
  2. Browse
  3. Be the first to buy $200 worth of goods
  4. You win!
The lucky winner will be contacted by someone at Gordon Training International who will give you all the details on your Lake Tahoe trip!

Please note the "fine print": This voucher is valid only from Sunday - Wednesday before April 2,2012. Must be 21 or older. Does not include airfare or other travel expenses. Subject to availability and reservations are required. Gratuity not included. No cash value.

Happy shopping!

Feb 29, 2012

Children of Divorced Families

Lest we forget, I feel it is long overdue to remind ourselves of the sinking fact that more than half of all children come from divorced parents. For those who've never been a child of divorce or have children with someone who you are no longer married to, let's take a short trip into the typical mind of such a child...

Mom and Dad don't like each other anymore.
What did I do wrong? How did this happen?
I can't be with them at the same time.
They always talk bad about each other to me and I don't know what to say.
I feel like I have to pick one or the other.
I want to see Dad more than just the weekends.
Mom spends more time with her boyfriend than me.
Why is he/she spending the night at our house all the time?
Dad acts different towards me when his new wife is around. I wish she would leave us alone.
She isn't my mom so why should I listen to her?
Why does she get to have her own things and now I have to share more?
Dad likes his new baby more than he likes me.
I don't want to spend Christmas apart.
I'm not as important as I used to be. My days are over.
I want Mom and Dad back together.

Parents would be lucky to hear these kind of thoughts uttered aloud from their children, but it's more likely that they are too afraid or confused to even be able to pin-point what it is they're really feeling. Still, there are some parents prepare for these kinds of questions and address their children accordingly:

"It's not your fault. We both love you very much."
"I don't want you to feel like you have to choose."
"She lives with us now and you have to respect her because I said so."

But as the saying goes: talk is cheap. The Gordon Model - along with countless other respected studies on parenting - shows that one of the strongest ways to teach a child something is to do so by modeling your behavior. Not only will parents' verbal cues often clash with their behavioral messages (in many contexts), but this type of confusion creates strong distrust among children towards their parents.

Top this off with the average growing pains of parenting, and families will be having one heck of a time trying to create a loving, peaceful and respectful household.

How do children deal with such emotions and how does this affect their behavior? How do parents respond to this and what can be done in terms of  "damage control"?

I recently received an email from one of these parents who seemed to be in the dark about what the real problem was to begin with. Next week, I'll share my response here. In the meantime, what do you think? Please, respond below or start a conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

Until next time...

Feb 22, 2012

What Do You Say to Get Through to Your Teenager?

Through each passing generation, there remain only a few socio-cultural constants that repeat themselves through the decades. Rebellious, overconfident and stubborn teenagers are one group that has stood the test of time. We've figured out ways to video-conference from around the globe, send 3-D images from deep space back to Earth and even locate our own global position from the screens of our handy cellphones. Yet it seems we haven't come a lick closer to shrinking the defiant teenager epidemic.

In a recent conversation with a friend, I realized that I'd personally heard his exact questions asked by parents over and over throughout the years...
"But what do I need to say to get through to him?" 
"How can I reach him so that he realizes the consequences that this could have on him later in life? 
"What do I say to make him care?"
Most people think they have an answer for this. How about talking to the kids in their "lingo", try to have a close family friend of mentor talk to them instead of mom and dad, or explain to them the worst-case scenario to make them scared? Surely, these ways would work right?


The fault lies within the question itself when parents and family members ask: what can I say to them? (Keyword: say)

Without a crucial first step, we may never get to have influence on teenagers. We may talk and lecture until we're blue in the face, but it's high time we start listening to what's really going on inside the hearts and minds of our budding young generation.

Active Listening has proven to be the most effective way to begin a conversation surrounding the conflict at hand. Ordering, advising and sympathizing might be some of our knee-jerk reactions in responding to our teenagers. But let's face it, they don't like to be told what to do just as much as we don't. Asking more questions about the details of their problem only alludes to your segue in finding them the "right answer" for their given problem.

When others feel truly understood, they can begin to move towards a solution to meet their needs. Understanding teenagers on the deepest level can be done shockingly well through active listening. It is then that we can uncover what their own hidden needs are that are navigating their behaviors.
For example, 
  • They don't want to seem like a "loser" at school by wearing old clothes
  • They are tired of not being "allowed" to make their own decisions
  • They are going through something heavy at home, and make drastic attempts to get attention at in other areas
 After which, teens might begin to re-steer the direction of their choices. In some cases after active listening has been done, a new, more trusting relationship is built. This trust sets the scene that can move you into an advisory/teaching position. But be careful, teaching and advising only gives the facts, not our opinions. Under these circumstances are we truly able to have a real and lasting influence on our teenagers.

What do you think? Let me know! Please share and comment below.

For more on Active Listening and to learn how to practice this skill effectively, please see this article:

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook -- you'll be glad you did!

by: Selena Cruz George, Program Manager

Feb 9, 2012

The Debate Continues

Or can we really even call it a "debate?"

It's been several days since John Rosemond's antagonistic article about P.E.T. was published, and we are still seeing plenty of buzz about it.

Letters to the editor have been sent by the dozens, several of which have already been published. Thank you to all who have contributed to this - we're flattered!

And wouldn't you know it, when there couldn't possibly be a more perfect time, a recent study on the effects of spanking children just came out. (You can read the article by clicking here: ) I can't help but wonder what he would have to say about this...

To most, it seems that Rosemond's article is filled with nothing but opinion, which he calls "research." To many savvy individuals who are familiar with him, it seems that Rosemond's untruthfulness is a reputation that has preceded him anyway.

In any case, of the floods of "Letters to the Editor" that we've been given a copy of, I thought it the right thing to do to share the "Best Of" with you all.

For your reading pleasure, enjoy:

Letters to the Editor - Snippets
It would be hard to exaggerate what a profound misinterpretation of, not only Thomas Gordon's Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.), but of the overwhelming evidence on good parenting, that is found in John Rosemond's baseless attack published in the article. Even a rudimentary understanding of Gordon's model, or in fact, the work of Diana Baumrind whom he mistakenly uses to "refute" P.E.T., reveals striking similarities in their advice to parents. Baumrind advocates the "Authoritative Parenting Style," (not to be confused with authoritarian). If Mr. Rosemond had actually bothered to read Dr. Gordon's work, he would have found many similar recommendations and conclusions. One of Rosemond's many incorrect assertions is that Dr. Gordon encourages parents to give in to their children because the child doesn't like being told what to do. This is utter nonsense. P.E.T. certainly encourages parents to be assertive with their children. Dr. Gordon promotes the idea that children are human beings and that, as such, deserve a chance to respond to their parents needs in a responsible way.
 While it may be trendy to talk about the failure of professional psychology, in fact many of Rosemond's assertions are just plain wrong. I cannot tell from the article if he says these things out of spite or shoddy research but this sort of self-indulgent diatribe is damaging: to parents, to children and to our society as a whole. Maybe he is upset about something. As he says, "People who are ruled by their feelings say stupid things…." (Parenting: Children should be taught to control, not be controlled by feelings 
If you want children who are respectful, thoughtful, caring, independent, assertive, creative, and engaged in the world in a constructive way, listen to Thomas Gordon. If you want more bullies and tyrants, listen to John Rosemond.
-Bill Stinnett, Ph. D.

 I find the tone of John Rosemond's "Parenting: Children should be taught to control, not be controlled by feelings" to be regrettable. For example, his judgmental labeling of Dr. Thomas Gordon and other experienced educators and likeminded professionals as "progressive parenting pundits" pollutes the climate within which constructive public discourse needs to occur when the nature of effective parenting is being discussed. 
Furthermore, when referring to Dr. Gordon's and others' methodologies and conclusions, claiming that they are "pulling this baloney out of thin air" discounts the hard-won discoveries and insights that have come from years of research and practice, and constitutes a form of expression whose usage we typically associate with someone who is being "controlled by feelings" - ironically, a state of being that Mr. Rosemond argues we should teach children to avoid.
- H. Tucker Upshaw, Ph.D.
All but a few parenting advisors (Dr. Rosemond included) have one thing in common: they teach parents to try control their children. This can be attempted either by trying to think for children, or physically restraining them. The former is impossible, the latter grows more difficult every day. Both techniques teach children what parents want, but neither teaches children how parents make decisions.  
But children are ravenous to know how the world works and how achieve their values! They urgently need parents to involve them in the process of gathering and assessing information, including information gained from emotions, and making thoughtful decisions. Effectively expressing intense emotions uncovers the thoughts behind them, allowing reasoned assessment and action. 
- Catherine Dickerson, L.C.S.W., M.Ed.

Gordon believes, as does Rosemond, that permissive parenting is ineffective and Gordon spends one-fifth of his book, Parent Effectiveness Training, explaining what is wrong with permissiveness and associated behaviors. Oddly, Rosemond states in his “Bill of Rights for Children” that children have the right to scream as much as they want. To me it seems contradictory to make your children control their emotions while allowing them to scream ... Gordon’s Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.) teaches communication skills that helps children express their thoughts and feelings respectfully, and helps parents respond to a child’s unacceptable behavior while preserving the child’s self esteem and their relationship with the child. There is a reason Gordon’s P.E.T. program is used every day in 44 countries all over the world and why it continues to influence so many parenting programs over time. P.E.T. works.
-Meike Lemmens, Certified P.E.T. Instructor

Dr.John Rosemond says it is not complicated to deal with feelings. Adults simply need to teach their children to control them. So, you would think that adults must already know for themselves how to control their feelings, right? Here is the problem: You would rather not think of feelings because many of your feelings are quite scary. We are so unfamiliar with "feelings"!  We don’t know their strength or how to calm them down. Rosemond calls them "unruly and destructive beasts". However it is not the feelings or the emotions that are the beasts; it is the pain that we (un)consciously have attached to them. This pain can become so heavy that we would rather kill ourselves than feel it. By suppressing feelings and not acknowledging them, the pain expands and grows bigger. What you suppress expands. What was at first an insignificant event, becomes heavier and heavier. And there is where it becomes scary: when the pain is too heavy to bear, we don’t know what it will develop into or when this pain will be triggered.
Dr. Thomas Gordon was in his time looking for causes of filled up psychology and psychiatrist offices as well. But he made a daring change: to open up feelings and emotions to work with, instead of suppressing them. In promoting his belief and findings, he was the first one who understood that the parent should work on themselves first. Dr. Thomas Gordon incorporated working with feelings, making a training that works for all parents and making it accessible to the general public. This indeed brought him the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Psychological Association and got him three times nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
- Cielja Kieft, Certified P.E.T. Instructor 

'Nuff said. What do you think? Let us know! Please respond by commenting below or chatting with us on Facebook or Twitter.

Feb 1, 2012

Standing for the Truth Against Bad-Mouthing P.E.T.

Recently there was a very anti-Parent Effectiveness Training article written by John Rosemond, which was published here: (Warning, this may cause your blood to boil).

Linda Adams, the President of Gordon Training International, wrote a reply and sent it to the editor. 

We strongly encourage you to share your comments with the editor as well. We'd like to bombard them with supportive comments and rebuttals against this, well, ridiculous and unfounded article he has written--will you join us?

Here's Linda's reply (which we hope they publish!): 

From: Linda Adams 
Sent: Wednesday, February 01, 2012 1:46 PM
To: ''
Subject: Response to John Rosemond's Column entitled "Parenting: Children should be taught to control....

Dear Lifestyle Editor:

Last week I read a column by John Rosemond in which he made some statements about Parent Effectiveness Training and Dr. Thomas Gordon with which I take issue. Dr. Gordon was my late husband and I am the President of Gordon Training Int’l, the organization he founded. I have written a response to Mr. Rosemond’s piece and hope that you will consider printing it, especially in light of the negative remarks he made about P.E.T. and Dr. Gordon.

If you wish to contact me, you can do so at the email address or phone no. listed at the end of my response.

Thank you very much,
Linda Adams

Response to John Rosemond Article of January 23, 2012

This letter is in response to John Rosemond’s recent article entitled “Parenting: Children should be taught to control, not be controlled by feelings” in which he declares that it has now become obvious that Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.) and other programs of its kind do not and did not work. In fact, he blames parents’ use of P.E.T. and similar programs over the last 40 years for what he terms the “child mental health crisis in America”. 

Mr. Rosemond states that when children are allowed and encouraged to talk about their feelings, they become ruled by them instead of by reason. His belief is that parents should raise their children the same way they were raised with a heavy reliance on traditional authority where the parent is in control and expects complete obedience. 

There is a great deal of evidence, knowledge and experience to refute these statements. Over the last 50 years, we have learned a lot about what helps children grow up to be psychologically healthy or unhealthy. Chief among those is the emotional climate in a family or simply put, the way parents treat their children and each other. P.E.T. offers parents the communication and conflict resolution skills that are essential for having a family in which both the needs of the parents and the children are respected. A key element is listening with empathy. When parents learn to listen to their children’s feelings with acceptance and understanding, Instead of getting stronger, these feelings dissipate so that the child can be rational and logical once again. Just because a child is told to control his/her feelings and not express them, doesn’t mean those feelings will go away, quite the opposite. Unexpressed feelings, especially strong ones, tend to fester and intensify. Listening with empathy helps children to learn to identify, understand and regulate their emotions. It helps them grow, learn to solve their own problems, make constructive changes—signs of emotional competence. And studies show that emotional competence is the best predictor of a child’s well-being and success; it’s even more important than his or her IQ (see research on social and emotional learning). 

With 50 years of experience in offering parents the P.E.T. skills both here and in over 40 countries around the world, it is clear that they have made and continue to make a significant difference in the lives of millions of people—parents, teachers, leaders and youth who have the skills of emotional competence. It is the absence of these attitudes and skills and the continued reliance on authoritarian parenting and teaching that cause such difficulty and pain for children.

Linda Adams
President, Gordon Training International
(Dr. Gordon was my late husband)

Please join us in standing up for what is right.  

-the GTI Staff