Tag Archives: effective discipline

What Kids and Teens Are Capable Of! (Greg Warburton)

Greg Warburton, counselor and author, believes strongly that kids and teens have great capacity to be self-reliant if given the opportunity. He shares here what he has observed, learned and encouraged.
Every Tuesday, Greg posts, through his website blog (link), an inspiring story about a self-reliant youth and their contribution to others. He also invites your questions and input on how we can best “set the life stage” for self-reliance building in all youth.
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Ask yourself this question, as you consider if you are open to having your beliefs challenged:

What do I truly believe kids and teens are capable of in the arena of self-reliant action and contribution from the earliest ages?

In my most recent book, Ask More, Tell Less: A Practical Guide for Helping Children Achieve Self-Reliance, I explain how I hold an unshakable belief in the capabilities and wisdom of young people, knowing that they can indeed manifest their “I-am-a-one-of-a-kind-human-masterpiece” status!

A FIRST STEP

As a counselor, I strive to see that my work stays rooted in dignity, respect, and compassion. In turn, I’m frequently privileged to watch the process of self-directed change begin to take place in my office. As an example, consider the day when a 12-year-old said this to me:

I was sitting in church the other day and started thinking, if I don’t start acting different I’m going to have a miserable life.

That was a first step on a remarkable journey of self-empowerment for that child. I wish for you, also, a part in a inspiring and fulfilling adventure like this one.

Raising self-reliant children is more important than ever. Change and confusion are constants; there’s no doubt this modern world is increasingly difficult to navigate. Unfortunately, our culture provides little in the way of a tangible, practical, and comprehensive road map for the child traveler. Honestly, that was my mission with this book … to provide a kind of road map.

Rebecca

I had not been counseling long when I met a small, freckle-faced, nine-year-old girl named Rebecca. She did something during our first meeting that I will never forget, and I want to share her story as a way to introduce the power of these ideas.

To begin the conversation about the trouble at home, I said:

Rebecca, your mother is calling the trouble “crying and tantrums.” Is that what you call it or do you have a different name?

“I call it ‘having the fits,’” Rebecca said. From then on, we used Rebecca’s words to describe the trouble.

To gauge her willingness, I asked Rebecca:

Do you think having the fits has taken over your life, or do you think you can still fight against the fits?

Ask More Tell Less, Greg WarburtonIn the next moment, only about ten minutes into our first meeting, Rebecca jumped out of her chair, stood up straight and announced:

I’ll just get rid of the fits and grow up!

Just as quickly as Rebecca had made up her mind, I began to get in her way with my doubt. I thought how my professors didn’t teach me about the possibility of change occurring quickly … and certainly not instantly!

I wondered how this nine-year-old girl had figured out what to do about her very troubling behavior within the first few minutes of our first meeting. I began asking her, in a variety of ways, if she was sure that this is all it would take for her life to be better. Within a few minutes, I could see that she was certain.

Fortunately for Rebecca, I had the good sense to stop asking her more questions and just be quiet.

Interactions like this launched my What Kids and Teens are Capable Of! blog-post series. Content also will be related to taking some pressure off parents, teachers and counselors by providing a box full of practical tools as they engage in the adventure of “creating” self-reliant youth that can contribute to the world all along the getting-on-with-growing-UP pathway.

It is my hope you will find this resource helpful and inspiring, and that you will tell others about it. ###

Greg Warburton is an experienced mental health professional who believes that children and parents grow as they become more self-reliant. For more information about his work, his book and the blog mentioned in this article, go to his website, selfreliantkids.com.

 

Self-Reliance: What Are Our Children Capable Of? (Greg Warburton)

The Changing Behavior NetworkIn this article, Greg Warburton, experienced counselor and author of Ask More, Tell Less: A Practical Guide for Helping Children Achieve Self-Reliance, offers great insights into redirecting behavior problems by encouraging youngsters to become more self-reliant. This account comes from the book.

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Children instinctively want to do things by themselves at very early ages. Remember the “I CAN DO IT MYSELF!” call of the toddler?

Self-Reliance: What Are Our Children Capable Of? Greg WarburtonHow can parents foster rather than diminish their children’s early interest in self-reliant action and lead them toward a life of positive contribution? You will read in this story how self-reliant thought and action emerges for a six-year old when I set the stage with creative language, curiosity, quality questions and a belief in their capabilities.

Mary

I had been asked to meet with six-year-old Mary because her crying and inconsolability were increasing as her mother left for work each day. Mom had recently gone back to work because the family needed the extra money, but she was thinking of quitting her new job so she could again stay home and take care of Mary.

Three Special Questions

At our first meeting, Mary looked so small she almost disappeared as she sat on the edge of my office couch, feet dangling far above the floor. She earnestly listened to my three foundational questions. These quality questions, in which I used word-picture language, put the light of attention on Mary’s getting-on-with-growing-up challenge and instantly provided some practice for self-reliance, as viewed in her responses.

(Question #1) Have you made up your own mind about whether you plan to get on with growing up or growing down?

Growing up.

(Question #2) Are you the kind of child who likes to do your own thinking, or do you let others think for you?

Do my own thinking.

(Question #3) Are you the boss of your own life, or do you let others boss you?

(appearing amused): I’m the boss.

In an effort to understand Mary’s interpretation of the behavior trouble at home, I asked, “What do you call what you are doing that has your mother so upset?”

Mary’s word for the troubling behavior that was jeopardizing the family’s financial plans was CRYING, so I asked, “Can you be the boss of crying, or is crying the boss of you?”

“I can be the boss of crying,” Mary said.

Her answer was one indicator that, although this was only our first meeting, this young lady was starting to make up her mind to get on with growing up.

Another Question

As we began our second meeting, however, it was clear that the troubling behavior was continuing. Mary sat in my office with her head down. I asked her a very challenging question:

Mary, how much longer do you plan to practice crying when your mom leaves for work?

She was silent, still looking into her lap.

Ask More Tell Less, Greg WarburtonBelieving that she heard my question, I waited beyond the point of comfortable silence, yet she remained silent. I was getting ready to check in with her when she suddenly looked up at me with bright eyes, then clearly said, “I know I can’t keep crying for my whole life. I know I can’t always have my mom.”

At our next meeting, I asked Mary if things were better, the same, or worse with the crying trouble. Mary told me that she had stopped crying when her mother left for work, adding, “It didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would.” Telling herself the truth and admitting to herself what she had been experiencing led her to life-changing awareness at age six.

Recording “Growing Up” News

During a follow-up meeting with Mary’s parents, Mary and I had put her big ideas on big paper. (I playfully use chart-pack size paper to record growing-up news.) One of her parents took the big paper filled with her growing-up news out to their car, because Mary had said she wanted to put it up at home.

As we were discussing her progress with her parents, Mary announced that she had another idea to write on her paper. Neither of Mary’s parents were eager to go back out to their car to get the paper and bring it back into my office. They suggested they could just add the idea when they got home. But Mary stood firm and convinced us that she was serious and wanted to add her idea right then.

Given her insistence, we were all quite curious about why this was suddenly so important to Mary. Her father went out to the car and brought the paper back into my office. When we were all resettled, I asked Mary what idea she wanted to add.

“Do My Own Thinking,” she exclaimed.

I still remember feeling excited and emotionally moved by the fact that Mary knew that she could take charge of her life. No one asked her to do her own thinking about adding “Do My Own Thinking” to her list of big ideas; rather, she had begun taking charge of her life at age six! She now had a road map for how to help herself get on with growing up.

Children have the resources and innate abilities to handle whatever comes along. A parent’s task, then, is to assist children in getting clearer about their capabilities and practicing, practicing, practicing “I Can” thinking. They develop self-reliance when they are allowed to practice thinking and deciding for themselves, plus the successful completion of the tasks and activities they choose. ###

Speakers Group MemberGreg Warburton is an experienced mental health professional who believes that children and parents grow as they become more self-reliant. For more information about his work and this book, go to his website [link].

Respond to Your Child’s “Getting on with Growing Up” Responses (Greg Warburton)

The following article is excerpted from Greg Warburton’s book, Ask More, Tell Less: A Practical Guide for Helping Children Achieve Self-Reliance.

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Greg Warburton, Ask More, Tell Less

I can live for two months on a good compliment. —Mark Twain

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Responding to the child’s response is a dynamic, interactive process between parent and child. Begin your continuous praise practice now. Children behave in myriad ways; sometimes what they do is troubling, and at other times it is positive, exciting, and transformative.

Getting Out of The Compliment Desert
Unfortunately, our busy, attention-fractured world can lead us into a compliment desert because we often take our children’s positive behaviors for granted. Or parents may believe that their children just know how to do certain things and behave in certain ways and no longer require any recognition for their positive ways of being. Vigilantly practicing responding (verbally and nonverbally) to your child’s getting-on-with-growing-up behavior response, and no longer taking good behavior for granted, can quickly put your family on a positively different pathway and provides an esteem-boosting oasis. Begin right now to consider how you too can move your family onto this pathway as you review the story below.

Greg Warburton, Ask More, Tell LessThe Meeting
I had been asked to meet a family with four children, ages five, seven, nine, and 11 who had been removed from an abusive home while living with their father and stepmother. They were now living with their mother, she seemed frantic and overwhelmed. She started our meeting by telling me that the children were not behaving for her and she didn’t know what to do to “bring them back into control.”

Picture me sitting in a room with all four children and their mother to talk about troubling behavior and adjusting to their new home, when all the children really wanted to do was play. How do I begin to engage them, to cause them to become attentive, curious, and active participants and, most importantly, begin to change the direction of their lives?

I started by noticing all of the growing-up things I saw them do or heard them say from the moment we began our meeting, and told each of them about what I was seeing. The instant anything positive happened, I responded with verbal praise.

Early in the meeting, I heard seven-year-old Abby say, “I have an attitude.” I immediately asked, “Did you notice the growing-up thing you just did?”

She shook her head to indicate that she didn’t know what I was referring to, but she seemed curious and engaged by my language and my excitement.

Me: Well then, I’m sure glad I saw it so I can tell you about it. Are you ready to hear what it was?

Abby: (Nods her head to mean “yes.”)

Me: I just caught you telling yourself and your family the truth about how you act sometimes.

To help her identify how this behavior connects to successful growing up, I continued:

Me: Does telling the truth help kids grow up or grow down?

Abby: Grow up.

Once I had acknowledged and reinforced her positive behavior with verbal praise, I moved on to externalizing the problem (from Chapter 13):

Me: How big does this attitude seem to be?

When she didn’t answer right away, I suggested candidate sizes:

Me: Does it seem bigger than you, as big as the room, as big as the world?

Abby (seeming amused): As big as the world.

Me: How much do you want to shrink the attitude?

Abby (clapping her hands together with excitement): All the way to ZERO!

As you analyze all that happened in the moment of interacting with one of the children, imagine the path we would have traveled had I responded to Abby’s statement by asking, “WHY are you having an attitude?”

My experience teaches me that Abby would typically have responded, “I don’t know, and  I don’t care!” This predictable response usually leads the adult to telling the child what will happen if she doesn’t change her attitude and/or believing the child is being resistant: “Well, you know what will happen if you keep showing this bad attitude. You will stay in trouble and you won’t get any privileges, and you won’t have any friends” (and so forth). Instead, Abby was now engaged and curious. She was listening, thinking, and deciding about what she was going to do to fix the attitude trouble.

Build Awareness

One thing parents always have complete control over is which behavior they pay attention to. As you build your awareness, you will notice that there is always some good and appropriate behavior occurring, no matter what troubling and inappropriate behavior may be going on at the moment. But in our always-too-busy modern world, it is easy to take compliant, cooperative behavior for granted and confine the big energy and attention to behavior trouble. The problem with this approach is that any behavior that gets a parent’s main mental and emotional focus will tend to be repeated.

Remember, you do get to choose what behavior you will respond to day in and day out throughout your child’s adventures in growing up. In my 30 years counseling with kids, teens and parents, I have vigilantly chosen to see the socially successful behavior(s) and “catch them and praise them for getting-on-with-growing up.” ###

Greg Warburton is an experienced mental health professional who believes that children and parents grow as they become more self-reliant. For more information about his work and this book, go to his website [link].

 

Ask More, Tell Less: Effective Parenting and Self-Reliance (Greg Warburton)

BTRadioInt-300x75-300x75Effective parenting and effective discipline can be likened unto a construction project. Just imagine you are about to start the biggest building project of your life, a new home, perhaps. Yet, when you open your toolbox, you find only three tools in there.

You certainly cannot embark on such an ambitious project until you get all the tools you need to build that home safely and securely. It only makes sense to have everything you need to manage such a challenge.

Toward Effective Parenting

Greg Warburton, effective parenting, effective disciplineBuilding, encouraging and nourishing healthy, self-reliant families and children is the most rewarding and most challenging construction project a parent will ever encounter. Unfortunately, if all discipline and problem-solving relied on just the three tools of Telling, Reminding and Yelling (and all parents can identify, right?), relationships within the family and and the self-reliance of all members would be affected.

The solution, of course,  is more tools and the insight, desire and practice in using them effectively. And, with the help of our guest, licensed mental health counselor Greg Warburton, more tools and how to use them is precisely what this program is about.

Quality Questions

ask more, tell less, quality questions, curiosity over control, Greg Warburton

As an example, Greg will suggest a paradigm shift for parents in this program. It’s  a different perspective for adding more tools to the toolbox, including the practice of asking instead of telling, so that youngsters can become more empowered to consider and reflect on ways they can address problem behavior and challenges themselves. Result: Self-reliant children and teens. When we exercise curiosity over control, they gain life-long tools, and relationships at home are much better.

There is power and healing in quality questions.

Greg Warburton

Greg Warburton is a licensed mental health counselor who helps youngsters and parents become instruments of their own healing and change. He is a dedicated innovator who brings emotional and mental self-management methods into the worlds of parenting and sport performance. As an award-winning college instructor, he helps people eliminate self-defeating behaviors and achieve the inner freedom that comes with becoming self-reliant. In this program, we are featuring Greg’s new book: Ask More, Tell Less: A Practical Guide for Helping Children Achieve Self-Reliance. (28:35)

www.selfreliantkids.com

As a bonus, be sure to download Greg’s free article, “The Power of Praise Revisited: A Full Formula.”

 

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Spotlight Feature: Unlocking Parental Intelligence (Guest: Dr. Laurie Hollman)

BTSpotlightDr. Laurie Hollman’s book, Unlocking Parental Intelligence, is very new. It reveals many insights into how parents can realize better discipline and improved relationships with their children by becoming “meaning makers.” We caught up with Laurie to visit with her on the writing of the book and the impact she would like to see it create.

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Laurie, what was the inspiration, the driving force, behind the writing of Unlocking Parental Intelligence?

It’s hard to write in the past tense about my “inspiration” for writing about Parental Intelligence even though the book is finished and published because I continue to write about the concept. My inspiration has had and continues to have many sources for which I am grateful—the children and parents I treat in my clinical practice and my own children. I’m fortunate to be able to keep on writing about Parental Intelligence for Huffington Post, so I can reach more and more parents and receive their feedback and questions. I’m still inspired!

As my three decades of psychoanalytic practice and research progressed, I incorporated the voices of so many mothers and fathers who came at different stages in parenting. Feeling thankful to those parents for telling me how unlocking their Parental Intelligence benefited their families, I was compelled to narrow Parental Intelligence into five accessible steps for others to grow from.

My children were raised with Parental Intelligence. It was natural for me to want to understand their minds—their thoughts, feelings, intentions, and imaginings. It’s wonderful to share trust and love with your children. I hadn’t coined the term, Parental Intelligence, when I was a young mother, but I was practicing it nonetheless and wanted others to have the same good fortune to have empathetic, industrious kids with great senses of humor who enjoy learning, creating, and relating well with others. They have been and surely are an inspiration for my writing.

What were your biggest challenges in writing the book?

I love words! I revel in finding the right word to express what I’m feeling and thinking. I remember working hard on Part I: Developing Your Parental Intelligence to develop five accessible steps for parents to gain Parental Intelligence: Stepping Back, Self-Reflecting, Understanding Your Child’s Mind, Understanding Your Child’s Development and Problem Solving. With each step, I wanted to be talking with my readers through my writing.

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Once the five steps were in place, one of the favorite but difficult parts of writing this book became writing Part II: Stories of Parental Intelligence in Practice. Writing short stories was new for me. I wrote about eight youngsters, their families and the challenges they faced, with examples like a two-year-old’s temper tantrums, a jealous identical twin who would hit his brother, and a lonely, though brilliant, seventeen year old.

I began to live with these characters. I remember finishing a chapter about a little boy who drew a picture that led his father to finally understand what he was going through. I was drained—I felt so much for this boy who felt he was a “bad, bad” child when he was so sensitive and wonderful.

I wanted my readers to really get to know the parents and children I was writing about and to care about them. I wanted to bring my readers into the lives of these people, to identify with them, and then naturally learn Parental Intelligence rather than feel like it was an intellectual exercise.

I hope my readers find themselves interrupting their reading to rest the book on their laps just to muse about the characters and let their minds wander into their own lives with their children. In that way, I hope they get to know themselves and their children better—loving them even more.

Writing became relaxing for me. I guess I would “get into the zone.” This experience led me to write to parents through Moms Magazine and Huffington Post. It was a shift from writing scholarly works for psychoanalytic journals and books to writing for the popular press, but I find it challenging and exciting. The book gave me the opportunity to write about what I knew very well and felt very deeply and now I can continue to do that.

You make an interesting turn on the word “unlocking” in the book’s title. What was your purpose there?

I think parents should never be underestimated even when they have self-doubts. When I first have a consultation with distressed parents and ask them questions, they are surprised how much they know about their child. As a psychoanalyst and writer I want to help parents organize what they know and harness this knowledge with the use of Parental Intelligence. In this way, I “unlock” what they know and help them use it in ways they haven’t before.

The five steps take the parents on a journey where they unlock their Parental Intelligence and get to know the underlying problems behind their child’s behavior. The behavior is really sending messages. The key is to understand and decipher those messages.

By unlocking Parental Intelligence parents learn how to understand why children do what they do, what is on their minds, and how they can comprehend their child’s inner world. The behavior is the catalyst to change as words rather than behavior become the vehicle for improved communication and connections between parent and child.

What distinguishes your approach from other approaches to parent-child conflict resolution?

My approach is distinguished by my intent to help parents become “meaning makers” by understanding and applying the three basic, interrelated tenets of Parental Intelligence. First, behaviors have underlying meanings. Second, once parents understand how their own minds are working, they are liberated to understand their child—how their child’s mind is working. And third, once meanings are clear, options surface by which to change puzzling behaviors.

When these three core concepts come into play and parents are faced with misbehavior, first they ask, “What does it mean?” not “What do I do?” With this in mind, the ambiance of family life fundamentally changes.

When parents get to know themselves—their reactions to their child and the many influences on their parenting—they find that they gain a better understanding of their child who wants to be known as he or she actually is. This means that parents no longer focus on the child’s specific misbehavior as the overarching troubles and problems emerge. When those problems are addressed, the original misbehavior loses importance and usually stops. Parents learn how to understand the underlying determinants to their child’s behavior, how to ‘read’ nonverbal as well as verbal communication, and how to create an open dialogue.

You write about politics and parenting. That’s interesting; tell us about that.

My epithet for the last chapter is: “When children’s voices are heard, leaders are born.” My younger son contributed to Part III: The Future with Parental Intelligence with his millennial voice. I’ll let him speak for himself:

“America seems to be in a period of political dogma, a place where certitude is more important than nuance and understanding.” This certainty “is masqueraded as strength, but it really comes out of ignorance and fear. I think you can argue that parents fighting with a child, letting their ego get involved, are doing so out of fear of the unknown, unconsciously using a survival reflex, defending themselves unnecessarily. The only thing that can combat fear is knowledge: knowing there’s a technique to deal with understanding what’s happening in someone else’s mind. And that technique is Parental Intelligence. If Parental Intelligence were taught, if people were encouraged to understand one another before reflexively trying to defend themselves, if trying to empathize and know others’ minds was seen as a strength, we’d live in a more compassionate, if not more efficient, society.”

When a parent reads Unlocking Parental Intelligence, what do you hope is their single most important take-away?

I want parents to think of themselves as “meaning makers,” of course. By the end of the book, if not before, I’d like parents to take away the set of tools needed to help understand their children’s behavior and in turn become more effective parents. Parenting will feel more pleasurable, inspiring, and gratifying. Their children will be grateful, thinking, capable, and loving. ###

 

Dr. Laurie Hollman is an experienced psychoanalyst and author who has written extensively for many publications. Her faculty positions have included New York University and The Society for Psychoanalytic Training and Research. [website]