Wednesday, April 9, 2008

PPP #2

Parenting Pointers Post #2
~Help for the frazzled mom!

"Behave well. Good parenting is first a matter of teaching, second a matter of modeling, and never a matter of reacting."

Meet Dr. Glenn I. Latham. What an incredible man! He dedicated his life to the study of the science of human behavior and taught thousands the way parenting was meant to be done. His untimely death was a terrible loss for this world. I met him through American Mothers, Inc. and over the years he became a very dear friend of mine. He was the most Christlike, yet hilarious man! He knew what he was talking about and it works! I have been continually amazed at how applying his principles bring about dramatic changes in children...not to mention parents. I cannot emphasis enough how incorporating his methods will make your life as a parent so much more enjoyable. I have always said they need to send a copy of his book home from the hospital with each newborn. If that were to happen the world would change dramatically. When he passed away, I made a commitment to always try and teach others what he so valiantly dedicated his life to whenever I had the opportunity. I have never found a better parenting program and I have studied and read hundreds of books on the subject and even have a degree in Child Development, but this one is hands down the only one that consistently works. And it works immediately. It's almost like magic! And no, I don't get paid commission for endorsing his work. I don't need to get paid for promoting his teachings. I just want to get the word out to others. I did however endorse his book The Power of Positive Parenting, and did get the once in a lifetime opportunity to be in an infomercial for him right before he passed away. What a blessing that was for me. He has written many other books as well including one of my other favorites, Christlike Parenting. His teaching methods are based on sound scientific and behavior principles and they just simply work. I am going to be using this post to share what he taught and how it can apply to each of us in our daily parenting struggles. So jump on board and lets get positive!

Dr. Latham frequently explains that parents must go out of their way to have positive, pleasant experiences with their children. Studies find that parent-child interactions are far more likely to be negative than positive. In fact, parents are typically five to six times more likely to have negative interactions with children than positive ones. In today's world it seems parents are so anxious to set their children straight (perhaps out of fear of what might happen if they don't!) that they feel compelled to "nip the problem in the bud" by getting after their kids every time they do something wrong. Unfortunately, this ultimately produces just the opposite of what is desired. Since behavior is typically strengthened by parental attention (positive OR negative), by attending to negative behavior we are far more likely to increase its frequency and intensity than we are to "nip it in the bud." In other words, we make matters worse. We then are strengthening the very behaviors we want to eliminate! We create a coercive environment where children want to escape from or try and get even.

The far better way is to give positive attention to the things our children do appropriately. When we focus on and give attention to the good things our children do, we dramatically increase the likelihood that those good things will be repeated. Dr. Latham advises parents to go out of their way to have dozens of positive interactions with their children daily. It takes some effort AND practice, but it can be done! He says parents always complain that their kids never hear a thing they say. Well if that's the case with you, just try praise. You'll be surprised at how quickly your children's hearing improves! (See Power of Positive Parenting pg. 5-6.)

I had encouraging results with this method with one of our sons. My third son Bryce ~bless his little heart~ was born with the look of mischievousness in his eyes. Well, I have to say, it wasn't just in his eyes! When he was about two years old, in the time span of one day, he took out a cube of butter and smeared it all over our mini blinds, wall, and carpeted stairs, spilled fingernail polish on a cedar chest covered with tapestry, tore off the wallpaper in the bathroom, took out a dozen eggs from the fridge and broke them one at a time on the floor. Where was I you ask while he was doing all this? I was cleaning up the previous mess as fast as I could! He was a busy little bee, no doubt. I was a very busy young mother trying to keep up with his antics. This was during our medical residency and so I was also basically a single mother as well. Since this was becoming nearly a daily event, I knew I needed some kind of plan to help change the direction things were going. I had heard the story of a mother who had three sons that were constantly into things and causing trouble as little boys tend to do. Not thinking anything of it, she started to refer to them as her "little con men". Whenever she would introduce them to anyone, she would introduce them as her little con men. Since whatever is fed will grow, their behavior didn't improve much, and as expected it went dramatically the other direction. By the time they were adults all three (now as men) were incarcerated. They had literally become her little (and now big) con men.

This story really affected me and so I decided I was going to ignore Bryce's misbehavior, by simply correcting him matter of factly, but not focusing a lot of attention on it. I decided to try a little bit of reverse psychology and see if it made a difference. Instead of calling him our mischievous one, which we tended to do at times, Dave and I started to call him "Angel". He knew what an angel was and almost immediately we started to see less and less of the unacceptable antics and more and more of the good behavior. The results were dramatic. He has literally become an angel to our family and is always trying to do what's right and what he thinks would please us as parents. To this day he is still our "Angel". As he got older and "cooler" we shortened the nickname to "Ainge". He still gets that look of mischievousness in his eyes at times and always will, I am sure, but I have no doubt by us focusing on what we wanted him to be, that is what he became. Our children will live up to the expectations we have set for them, so lets be really careful the message we are sending them is a positive one. Below, I have included a few of the photos I had the presence of mind to take during this time. Stay tune for more next Wednesday and as Dr. Latham used to say...

This is to show that look of mischief on that cute little face of his. Bryce, Sky, and Tyson. Easter 1993.

"Who me???"

Sneaking and hiding in the pantry...a daily event. He was always eating something chocolate. Hmm...wonder where he got that from?

"Oops! Am I in trouble???" This is from the cube of butter he finger painted everywhere. Too bad you can't see the mini blinds better because each and every slat was covered!

"Hey Mom, look what I made!"One of the many times with a dozen eggs. This time the TV remote is mixed in there too!

"Oh, wasn't I supposed to eat this?" He took a donut from the kitchen and went in his hide away to eat it.

"If I eat them real fast, no one will ever know!"

He snuck this box of donuts out of the kitchen and went to his little spot to eat them.

"No one will find me in here!"This time hiding in the fridge (with his bro's shoes & Ninja Turtles of course!)

"What? I was supposed to eat the Spaghettios too?"

He dunked his face in the bowl of Spaghettios just for... ya know... fun. THAT is the face of an Angel!

I sure do love this little guy...BIG guy now!

If you want to see a rare video clip of Dr. Latham to see his personality go here and here.


Tiffany said...

Thank you Jodi, for sharing this. I really need to read this book. My middle, 3 y/o needs us to do this for him. He thrives on praise and whenever we give him some he is an 'angel'. I think it's more changing the parent's reactions than the child's doings.:O)Love the egg picture. Mine did that a few days ago.

Mel said...

I still remember him speaking at American Mother's and I was so impressed with him and his methods. Such adorable pics of you little guys! Don't you just miss those days sometimes?! I do. Thanks for sharing!

Suzie said...

I love the photos of Bryce!

Mom said...

Dr. Latham was such a nice man. We miss him. Bryce was such a cute little devil...I mean angel!
Love, Mom

Jen said...

Oh the pictures really say it all! Too funny! Thanks again for doing this. It has totally changed my #2. I'm so glad I'll get the weekly reminders to do better! You're awesome!

Yvonne said...

What a great post, jodi. It is so true that we need to focus on the positive. We need to be builders.

Love the pictures.


EarlGirl said...

Wow, thanks! I needed to be reminded of that.


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