Common Sense 4



  Setting Limits and Boundaries with Kids

  An essential component of good parenting is creating parameters for children to live within. These parameters or
  boundaries help kids relax and feel secure. One example is the expanding corral concept. After birth a baby is
  swaddled in a blanket and this might be called the child’s first boundary. Following that they move to the expanse
  of their crib, their room, the house, the yard the ultimately the world. Through this process there are limits and
  these limits help the child to be/feel safe and to know what is socially appropriate behavior. Without these  
  boundaries the child will not feel comfortable and secure and will push the limits until the parents (or the world)
  says stop. Take for example getting a new job. On your first day your new boss says “Do a good job.” You say,
  “Please define a good job.” Your boss says “oh, you will figure it out.” Hence no limits, no boundaries, no
  definition and no way of know if you are performing your duties correctly. This would create stress and
  insecurity about your future with your new job. Likewise, kids need to have parents who will make the effort
   to create an environment where they know what is and is not acceptable. This does not mean creating a
  concentration camp setting but rather learning to live within logical and reasonable limits. Again, this is
   parenting and takes some effort, sometimes prioritizing the child’s needs over your own.

Acquiring your child’s love or respect?

  Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have both! Well often we can but sometimes we cannot. In the end, you
  will do the best parenting by falling more into the respect category. Parents who seek their children’s
  love often also want to be their kid’s friend. If that is your goal then you will not be able to set fair
  and reasonable boundaries and follow through with appropriate punishments as needed. It is a logical
  conundrum as we want a loving relationship with our kids but often confound this by not being able to
  provide structure and follow through. When we allow our child to break the rules and not have a
  consequence we are engaged in active education. By this you are educating your child to not follow
  the rules in the future. You are saying, “though I have reasonable rules for you, I will not parent you
  by administering the punishment.” If you child has half a brain they will interpret this to mean that when
  they disobey they will get off the hook by either being sad, defiant or angry. If you follow through with
  parenting, that is, you follow through with their punishment, they will learn you mean business and will
  not be pushed around. Also they will respect you and in the end love you.

Positive or Negative Parenting

  Are you a positive or negative parent? The fact is most people do thousands of good things 
  every day. They also do some not so great things. Your child most likely makes many choices and 
  decisions that are positive and productive but what we most often attend to are what our kids do wrong.
  So, Tommy gets up, goes to school, does not get in a fight or sent to principal’s office, participates in
  class, comes home and realizes he forgot to turn in his assignment. What do we focus on...? The missed
  assignment of course! Therein lies the mistake. It is generally accepted in most psychology circles that
  “whatever you pay attention to you get more of.” Thus, attending to another’s mistakes as compared to
  their successes does not promote improved behavior but rather diminishes the child and can eventually 
  lead to them giving up or becoming defiant. Do we give the child a pass for not doing their work? No!
  We thank them for telling the truth and explain that until the assignment is turned in there will not be
  any TV, video games, phone (pick one) etc. Remind them that they can remember to turn in their
  work tomorrow. We are not angry but rather respectful and matter of fact. Then make sure to pay
  attention when your child is successful! Positive attention for a job well done!

  (see Behavior Modification Techniques)

Creating a Behavior Modification Program (BMP)
  Behavior modification programs can be simple and amazing tools. They are best used as a method 
to help the child; as compared to simply a means to control them. Yet, some of both is often
necessary. Kids will push boundaries and limits. This is both normal and appropriate as it is a
means by which they learn to understand and adapt to world they live in. A BMP can be set up in
several different ways. The most common is based upon punishment, or withholding. Here,
certain behaviors are found to be unacceptable to the parent. That unacceptable behavior is
clearly defined and then specific negative/withholding consequences are connected to that
behavior. E.g. your child refuses to do her homework. After making a (failed) attempt to reason
with the child you create a plan that requires the child to have their homework done each
  evening before they can have access to their phone. Homework not completed; no phone.
There is no need for anger, yelling, condemnation etc., at least not from the parent. Your job
is simple... create the plan and follow through, cause and effect. Naturally, some kids will
say “I don’t care about my phone” and imply they will not be effected by your BMP. That is
rarely the case as whether it is the phone, the car or video games, most kids will eventually
want these “privileges” back. A second BMP involves positive reinforcement for good behavior.
Per the above example, a chart is created where the child receives a star each evening for
getting their homework done. After the child acquires a certain number of stars they receive
a reward. This could be in the form of money (allowance), a new toy, more use of the car
or phone, having a friend over, etc. You naturally want to identify what the child considers
a “reward.” The biggest problem with these programs is that it requires the parent to create
the program and then follow through. It is some work but the return on your investment can
be enormous.
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