Thursday, May 14, 2009

Recently Read: Have a New Kid by Friday

Have a New Kid by Friday by Dr. Kevin Leman

I don’t actually want a new kid by Friday. On the contrary, I quite like the two sweet children I have. However, I often find myself lamenting the fact that neither of my children arrived with an instruction manual. So instead I spend a lot of my time reading books and blogs about parenting. This book is my most recent read, and it gave me some things to think about and implement in my home.

Here are my notes from the book:
-If you want your child to take you seriously, say your words once. Only once. If you say it more than once, you're implying, "I think you're so stupid that you're not going to get it the first time, so let me tell you again. (p. 33)
-Today's children need guidance. They need accountability. They need to be taught that there are consequences for their actions (or for their inaction). (p. 35)
-The key to changing your child is changing your attitude (p. 39). The parent should stay calm and in control.

1. Say it once
2. Turn your back on your child
3. Walk away

-Decide if the behavior is a mountain or a molehill. Every child will fail, make mistakes, and embarrass you. But you don't need to hold those failures over your child's head for a lifetime. Correct the behavior and move on. What is most important, in the long run, is your child's character (p. 44).

1. Let reality be the teacher
2. Learn to respond rather than react
3. B doesn't happen until A is completed
(ex. You asked your son to mow the grass. It hasn't been done yet. Two hours later your son wants you to take him to a friends house. You say "We're not going". Then turn your back and walk away. (p. 50)

-Use consistent action, not words. You don't embarrass the child on purpose, you correct the behavior. There is no harassing, no threatening, no warning. There's no reminding, no coaxing. There are no put-downs.

Be an authoritative parent who:
-gives the child choices and formulates guidelines with him.
-provides the child with decision-making opportunities.
-develops consistent, loving discipline.
-holds the child accountable.
-let's reality be the teacher.
-conveys respect, self-worth, and love to the child and therefore enhances the child's self-esteem. (p. 59)

One thing I really appreciated about this book was the author's use of real-life examples to illustrate the principles in action. Your child says he doesn't want pork chops for dinner. As an authoritative parent you would say "I know pork chops aren't your favorite, but that's what I made for dinner tonight. If you want to make yourself something else afterward, that's fine. But thanks for sitting with us at dinner anyway. Dinner as a family is important". (p. 59)

-What's most important is your relationship, and that it is based on respect and unconditional love. So much has to do with you and how you treat your children. (p. 62)

How to Respect Your Children
-Never do for them what they can and should do for themselves.
-Don't repeat your instructions.
-Expect the best of them.
-Don't praise them.
-Encourage them.

3 Pillars of Self-worth
1. Acceptance
2. Belonging
3. Competence

Praise links a child's worth to what she does. Encouragement emphasizes the act. See the difference: "You're so smart. You built that Lego tower all by yourself!" vs. "I love what you built with your Legos. It's very creative and fun, and you did it by yourself. What are you going to build next?"

Top 10 List for getting a new kid (p. 84)
10. Be 100 percent consistent in your behavior.
9. Always follow through on what you say you will do.
8. Respond, don't react.
7. Count to 10 and ask yourself, "What would my old self do in this situation? What should the new me do?"
6. Never threaten your kids.
5. Never get angry.
4. Don't give any warnings.
3. Ask yourself,"Whose problem is this?"
2. Don't think the misbehavior will go away.
1. Keep a happy face on, even when you want something else

The entire second half of the book is devoted to specific action plans for solving typical tough spots from A to Z. He covers a lot, from allowances to chores to music lessons whining.

The biggest take-home message I got from the book was to develop a positive relationship with your child, be consistent, and allow for natural consequences. So...

1. Say it once
2. Turn your back
3. Walk away