One of parenthood’s toughest challenges is finding a way to communicate clearly with your children about our expectations and standards while also communicating our unconditional love and support. This is especially difficult when it comes to incentives and discipline. We want to reward without bribing them, punish without breaking their spirits.
Psychotherapist, author, and talk show expert Alyson Schafer has a new book called Honey, I Wrecked the Kids: When Yelling, Screaming, Threats, Bribes, Time-outs, Sticker Charts and Removing Privileges All Don’t Work that has some wise and practical advice for parents looking for ways to set standards without unnecessary conflict, especially those kids who are extra difficult because they are particularly oppositional or manipulative. Schafer describes the impact that our “toxic times” have on children, giving them messages that undermine parental rules.
Schafer says that everyone has four basic needs: the need to feel connected, the need to feel capable, the need to feel counted (a meaningful contributor), and the need to feel courageous. To the extent that parents speak to these needs, they can guide behavior. And they can do this by recognizing the sources of bad behavior.
When I don’t feel connected — I will seek undue attention.
When I don’t feel capable — I will seek power over others.
When I don’t feel I count — I will seek revenge.
When I don’t feel courageous — I will seek to avoid.
Parents often “reward” bad behavior by giving the child more attention. Or they “reward” it by negotiating, giving the child more power. Schafer gives parents very specific guidelines for redirecting a child’s behavior and permitting natural consequences to determine the incentives and results of their good and bad decisions. This book will help tired, overwhelmed parents come up with new tools to improve not just behavior but the home atmosphere as well.
Parents, too, need to feel connected, capable, meaningful, and courageous, after all.
As an added bonus, you will also learn some great techniques for dealing with some of the more challenging adults in your life, friends, colleagues, neighbors, and family.
And don’t forget one of my all-time favorites: How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk
The wonderful Scholastic series has a very special new release, Bedtime for Frances, with three animated stories about the beloved little badger. Author Russell Hoban’s Frances stories are filled with gentle humor and perceptive insights about the way children see the world. The title story has Frances feeling a bit anxious and fearful as it gets closer to bedtime and trying to delay with requests for more hugs and kisses and then asking questions about some of the things that scare her. The DVD comes with a custom-made hard-bound book featuring that story, Bedtime for Frances, which received the “Notable Children’s Book” award from The American Library Association when it originally debuted in 1960.
Children love to identify with the curious and imaginative little badger and to see her adventures with her little sister, Gloria, her mom and dad, and her best friend Albert. With Hoban’s story and animation from the Jim Henson company, this is a top-notch addition to my very favorite DVD series for kids. (NOTE to parents: There is a reference to spanking in the story but no one gets spanked.)
You’ve heard of educational software that teaches you something but this is educational software that teaches scientists something. Foldit is a Tetris-like game that is easy to understand but a challenge to master. That’s what makes it fun. What makes it important is that it was designed by a very serious team of scientists based on models of proteins as a way of furthering their research. As people all over play the game, they are sending back to the scientists important data that will help them learn more about the way proteins work.
The number of different ways even a small protein can fold is astronomical because there are so many degrees of freedom. Figuring out which of the many, many possible structures is the best one is regarded as one of the hardest problems in biology today and current methods take a lot of money and time, even for computers. Foldit attempts to predict the structure of a protein by taking advantage of humans’ puzzle-solving intuitions and having people play competitively to fold the best proteins.
Calculations involving spatial understanding are among the few that are still done most effectively by humans instead of computers. As people work through the levels of the game, they are performing thousands of calculations and experiments. Some of them have even become so interested they have done a little research of their own. Others are just having fun working through the game and competing with each other online. PRI’s Studio 360 has a terrific segment on Foldit and a video clip to show how the game works.
One of the tenderest stories in the Bible is the tale of Ruth, the young widow who chose to stay with her mother-in-law, Naomi. Although it fills only four short chapters, the two characters are vivid and their story involving and touching. Joined in their love for Ruth’s late husband, they stay together until Naomi arranges for Ruth to marry the kind Boaz.
In the 1950’s, Selma Kritzer Silverberg wrote Naomi’s Song, the story of Naomi’s early life, but her manuscript was not discovered until 2005 by Silverberg’s daughter, who felt that its story and its message would be meaningful to young women. The daughter, Judy Vida, writes in the introduction that the book’s publication “brings to fruition [Silverberg’s] lifelong goals of teaching, Bible storytelling, and empowering girls to have ‘that necessary courage and conviction.'”
Silverberg immerses the reader in the era, giving us insights into the experiences and qualities that made Naomi such a strong and dedicated woman. She faces enormous challenges in her early life and she must overcome personal tragedy and community upheaval. She responds with loyalty and perseverance, developing the strength and understanding that would make her a wise and loving mother-in-law for Ruth. It is easy to understand why Silverberg’s daughter would want to share this story with others. Like the story her mother tells, the story behind it is an example of sharing history and values l’dor vador, from generation to generation.
I have one copy of the book to give away to the first person who sends me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Naomi” in the subject line. Good luck!