IN THIS ISSUE:
- Feature: “Active Parenting – Teaching Responsibility”
- Teacher/Parent Book Pick: “Go to Your Room! Consequences that teach”
- K-3 Book Pick: “Pierre; a Cautionary Tale in Five Chapters”
- 4-6 Book Pick: “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”
- Web Discoveries: “Top Parenting Websites”
- Words of Wisdom: “Courage and Fear”
- Life Skills Resources: Quick Links
FEATURE: “Active Parenting” by Ted Freedman
I have instructed more than 200,000 children in the classroom. But somehow that all changes when I come home! Experienced Mothers, please don’t laugh, but I have two boys (Teddy and Nick), and they are a handful. (-:
When the boys were first born, I had no innate ability to raise children. All I had were a few out-dated parenting skills I inferred from my own upbringing (i.e. “don’t sing at the dinner table”, “children should be seen and not heard”, “you’ll do what you’re told and that’s the end of it”, “go to your room”, “you’re grounded” and the perennial classic “don’t do that or you’ll put your eye out”).
Don’t get me wrong. My parents must have done a great job, because I grew up to be such a wonderful guy. However, one of the most significant cultural changes since my childhood is that now we focus on the emotional well being of our children. In talking with other parents and educators, it’s evident that self-esteem is now a key issue in raising happy, self-motivated children.
We all want children who are smart and successful. But we also want children who are responsible and have a positive sense of self worth. How do we achieve this? My experience is that “Active Parenting” techniques are an effective method that all parents should examine.
In my classroom experience with Life Skills 4 Kids, I’ve seen plenty of positive results from teaching children self-esteem, self-awareness and self-responsibility. Feedback from teachers and researchers clearly shows that these lessons help children make better decisions and inspire them to pursue positive, healthy goals.
Unfortunately, I realized that I was not applying at home what I was teaching elementary students, teachers and parents in schools.
I knew that if I wanted my boys to grow up happy, healthy and independent, I needed to improve my parenting skills. In my search for the ultimate parenting course, I discovered a 6-week program called Active Parenting, developed by Dr. Michael Popkin.
This easy-to-use video course first helped me discover what kind of parent I am (autocratic!). “Active Parenting” taught me the difference between natural and logical consequences. As I applied what I learned I can honestly say that it took the fear out of being a parent. My home life with my sons was improving.
Within a few weeks, I was able to frankly discuss problems with my children and to help them examine possible solutions. I learned how to let them make their own decisions about everyday things (i.e. what clothes to wear, when to do their homework, what to eat, etc.), without negative results. I also started giving them a real voice in important family matters such as where to take vacations or what kind of computer to buy.
This grew into a routine of weekly family meetings where we would discuss issues, pass along complaints and/or compliments to each other and generally enjoy our time together. As recommended in the course, everyone takes a turn chairing the meeting, so I don’t dominate as a parent and my sons learned to take responsibility, too.
The course has a great section examining the difference between natural consequences (results that follow a child’s behavior) and logical consequences (results set up by a parent to teach children what logically follows a certain action by the child). This may sound intellectual but in practice it’s an effective way to discipline kids.
Do you want to try a little “active parenting”? Try this the next time your child refuses to eat dinner.
Explain to them, that if they don’t eat they will get hungry (natural consequence) and that they will not be allowed to eat anything else later on (logical consequence). You may suggest that, if they will eat their meal, they can sit down with you afterwards and help plan tomorrow night’s dinner and can even help cook it. This really works! It also goes a long way to establishing a child’s confidence and ability to understand their world.
Giving your child a real voice in the family and allowing them to make “grown up decisions” helps them learn and grow faster. It creates a wider array of experiences and strengthens your relationship. Active parenting is a great way to empower your child, and help them to grow up with the life skills they need to succeed in today’s world. Give it a try!
TEACHER/PARENT BOOK PICKS
Ah, a classic tale of “Crime & Punishment” for parents. (-: Here’s a brand-new book (March 2000) for parents who want to help their child understand the consequences of their actions. The author, Shari Steelsmith, certainly has some experience with three children ages 2, 6 and 10! Shari discusses a variety of common parenting problems and gives real solutions that work.
GRADE K-3 BOOK PICK
A classic. In this “cautionary tale” we meet Pierre who decides he just doesn’t care about anything. When his parents need to go to town, they end up leaving Pierre home alone, because he simply does not care to go with them. While they are gone, a lion eats Pierre. Don’t worry. The doctor is called in and makes the lion cough up Pierre who now discovers he does indeed care.
Active parenting never recommends you let harm come to your child so they can “learn a lesson.” But this is a wonderfully comic view of natural consequences and how they work. Ted’s son Nick (who is “almost 10″, according to Nick) *still* enjoys this entertaining tale.
GRADE 4-6 BOOK PICK
By Roald Dahl
This is another classic book, with lessons about consequences. Like the movie, it isn’t just for kids. Plenty of adults enjoy the oddball humor and experiences of Charlie, a poor child who wins the opportunity of a lifetime; to visit Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Charlie joins several other children (all spoiled and over-indulged by their parents) and sees the wonders of the magical chocolate factory first hand.
As the tour of the factory goes on, the other children, through unrestrained behavior, get themselves into life threatening predicaments. But Charlie is made of sterner stuff! In the end, he proves himself brave and honest, and reaps appropriate rewards!
WEB DISCOVERIES: for teachers, parents & kids
Michael Popkin’s site (see Words of Wisdom below) is your best introduction to the principles of active parenting. You’ll find great resources, useful parenting links and an explanation of Active Parenting. There are new links with information on faith-based education (Christian and Jewish) as well as resources for parents with teenage children. While you’re there DON’T MISS . . .
A FREE QUIZ that helps you discover what kind of parent you are.
This is a terrific resource for parents with a selection of great books and loads of free, useful info. Each month, the site thoroughly discusses a new parental value – this month, the theme is “Caring”.
DON’T MISS this archive of parenting tips and a FREE QUIZ on values:
Parenting & Pregnancy has loads of family activities and parenting advice. It has a great search tool that lets you browse for ideas by topic or even by age, skill and location. I found recipes and a meal-planning guide, terrific vocabulary exercises and a regular parents message board that examine critical issues.
Use the Topics menu on the left of each page for easy exploration. This site does have lots of annoying pop-up ads but that’s a small price for a useful free resource like this.
WORDS OF WISDOM: Courage and Fear
Michael Popkin literally wrote the book on the Active Parenting method. His guide gives step-by-step techniques that will help you raise capable, cooperative children. The two items below are quotes from the books preface. This is an essential addition to any parent’s library.
“At the end of our lives, we will not remember how much money we made, how many ball games we watched, or how many things we possessed. What will come back to us in a brilliant and blinding light is the quality of the relationships we formed with those we loved: our friends, our spouses, our children.”
Courage and Fear
by Michael H. Popkin
Courage first met fear
When I was still a child;
Courage gazed with cool, clear eyes;
Fear was something wild.
Courage urged “Let’s go ahead;”
Fear said “Let’s turn back.”
Courage spoke of what we had,
Fear of what we lacked.
Courage took me by the hand
And warmed my frozen bone;
Yet fear the while tugged my legs
And whispered “We’re alone.”
Many have been the obstacles
Since first I had to choose,
And sometimes when courage led me on
I’ve come up with a bruise.
And many have been the challenges
Since fear and courage met,
And yet those times I’ve followed Fear,
Too often – tagged along – Regret.