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Hilber Psychological Services

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Posts tagged defiance
Parenting 101: Discipline, Part 1

Parenting can already be difficult, and it does not help that children always seem to know just how to push their parents’ buttons. According to psychologist Dr. Thomas W. Phelan there are three roles of a parent: 1.) Control Obnoxious Behavior, 2.) Encourage Positive Behavior, and 3.) Build relationships with your child. Today, we will discuss how to effectively discipline based on Dr. Phelan's research to tackle those problematic behaviors. In discipline, among the biggest mistakes parents make are talking too much and expressing too much emotion. Often times, a child can easily pick up on a parent’s frustration, giving the child power and control in the situation. The more a parent reacts to a child’s misbehavior, the more likely the child will continue to engage in the negative behavior. Furthermore, when a parent is feeling frustrated, the parent is likely to talk more. Some parents have the misconception that children are like little adults who can be rational. Parents who believe in this are more likely to try to use words and logic when dealing with young children. However, often times children know that their behavior is wrong, and therefore they do not need reasons and speeches on their behavior. Trying to lecture to a child can be unproductive. As such, it is crucial for parents to stick to a “No Talking and No Emotion” rule. When disciplining a child, parents need to be calm and consistent.

One of the first things parents must discuss before implementing a discipline plan is to agree on what the rewards and consequences might look like. For discipline to be effective, it is important for children to know the consequences ahead of time. Therefore, having a short conversation with your child about new rules can be beneficial. If children are older, they can be a part of the discussion regarding what behaviors may warrant a consequence.

As a parent, you may want to incorporate role playing various scenarios into your initial discipline conversation. This allows the child the opportunity to be a part of the process, and provides examples of rewards and consequences in a way children may better understand. Incorporating an art project may also be helpful in this discussion. One idea may be to have the child create a “Rules” list to hang up on the wall as a reminder for unacceptable behaviors in the home.

Parents may also discuss consequences with the child before a specific event. For example, if the parent does not have to count past a “2” (a parental technique discussed next week) for misbehavior while grocery shopping, the child may be rewarded with ice cream.

Parents should recognize that children may respond to new parenting changes in two ways. 1.) the child immediately cooperates, or 2.) the child begins to test the parent. Children who test their parents gain perceived control by providing parents with an ultimatum: Give me what I desire and my bad behavior will stop immediately. Children will test parents via threats, tempers, badgering, buttering-up parents, and physical tactics. It’s important for parents to keep cool - children may continue to jump from tactic to tactic, but be strong and be consistent!

Tune back to this blog next week as I discuss the specific parenting technique “1-2-3 Magic” based on the research of Thomas W. Phelan, PhD. And don’t forget, as a parent you are not alone! If you feel that you would like to begin therapy to discuss parenting or personal stressors, please contact us to set up an appointment. If you have any general questions about therapy, you can visit FAQ at Hilber Psychological Services.

Passive-Aggressive Behavior

Have you been accused of being passive-aggressive? Have you told someone else that they're being passive-aggressive? We hear these terms quite frequently. Some of the time they are often right on the mark and other times this term just does not fit. What is Passive-Aggressive Behavior?

Passive-aggressive behavior is indirectly being aggressive to get what you want or don't want, while still appearing like you're easy-going and trying to please others. Using passive-aggressive statements is seen as a way to resist and still appear like you're complying. Passive-aggressive behavior can also be defined as a "deliberate and masked way to express covert feelings of anger" as stated by Whitson in Passive Aggressive Diaries. Many times people may want to appear likable, easy-going and happy, yet they are actually angry or resistant. These people may believe that they're not allowed to have or show their feeling.

What can I do instead? 

As the term states, this is a combination of two extremes: Passive behavior and aggressive behavior. Passive behavior and communication tends to be wishy-washy, indirect, and hints at the point we want to make. Aggressive behavior is typically attacking, mean, and hurting someone else to get what we want. Neither extreme helps you achieve what you want to accomplish.

Instead of passive-aggressive behavior, we can be assertive. Assertiveness is being firm but friendly and using our words to mean exactly what we want to say. To be assertive, you can state the exact message you want to get across without hiding your emotions or being hurtful. For example, instead of saying, "Fine, whatever. I don't want to finish this anyways." You could say, "Can we stay for 10 more minutes? I just want to finish this first." By using this assertive statement, the other person is unlikely to feel bad, hurt, or angry, and you get to finish your task. Being assertive still means you both "win" and you still get to have your feelings and be friendly.

You can also talk to a professional to help guide you through these behaviors and be more assertive. This can help you feel better about yourself and increase the connection in relationships.

To discuss this and other behaviors in detail, contact us at Hilber Psychological Services.

Finding the Open Door (or Window)

One way to be happier and find more balance is to find the open door (or window) of the conversation or request. If you feel like you say "no" too many times, this is the perfect opportunity for you. It doesn't even take extra time!

The open door (or window, depending on the options available) is giving another option of when that person or child can do something or have something, even though you're telling them no.

For example, your son asks you if he can have his sucker and it's ten minutes before dinner time. Instead of saying "no, you can't have a sucker before dinner," you can find the open door and say "you can have the sucker after dinner" or "you can have this glass of milk right now." Another example is when your partner wants you to run an errand - instead of saying "no, I don't have time today," figure out when you do have time and say "sure, I'll do it after work tomorrow." In both examples of the open window, you've provided opportunities to say yes, or options where the person or child is able to have something they asked for or want.

Providing an open door or window means saying "no" less often and giving options that make it easier for the person to accept your decision. This concept also allows the word, "no" to remain important for those times that require a firm no. You'll find that over time finding the open door becomes easier for you and your family will be happier with all the positive options you're giving them.

We can assist you with other parenting questions or concerns. Contact us at Hilber Psychological Services.