Short tempers and lapses of patience are a common challenge for parents, but they are also conquerable with the advice in this book.Each chapter contains a concept, including choosing laughter over accusation, putting off until tomorrow what shouldn’t be said today, making sure actions match words, choosing to see the good, and making allowance for childishness. The challeShort tempers and lapses of patience are a common challenge for parents, but they are also conquerable with the advice in this book. Each chapter contains a concept, including choosing laughter over accusation, putting off until tomorrow what shouldn’t be said today, making sure actions match words, choosing to see the good, and making allowance for childishness. The challenge of being a little softer and kinder with children becomes a little easier for parents with these simple and practical strategies....more
Teaching Our Children to Love and Serve Each Other Quarreling and bickering among siblings are painfully common in family life. While children are declared innocent because of the atonement (D&C 93:38), it is also true that “when they begin to grow up, sin conceiveth in their hearts” (Moses 6:55). Everyone who works with children knows that they can be not only charming, sweet, and delightful, but also selfish, pouty, and demanding. They are not automatically or naturally cooperative and peacTeaching Our Children to Love and Serve Each Other Quarreling and bickering among siblings are painfully common in family life. While children are declared innocent because of the atonement (D&C 93:38), it is also true that “when they begin to grow up, sin conceiveth in their hearts” (Moses 6:55). Everyone who works with children knows that they can be not only charming, sweet, and delightful, but also selfish, pouty, and demanding. They are not automatically or naturally cooperative and peace-loving. In spite of the challenges in getting children to be kind and considerate, the Lord offers this sobering injunction to parents: And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin. (Mosiah 4:14, emphasis added) It seems that God equates children’s fighting and quarreling with transgressing the laws of God and serving the devil. Since fighting and quarreling are so common, this commandment establishes a sobering challenge for parents. How can parents prevent contention between their children? The Natural Parent There are two popular methods for dealing with sibling conflict. One is parental intrusion. Parents separate the children, figure out who is the offending party, and punish them for their contention. This method can only work as long as there is a parent available to intervene in the conflict. Even if this method interrupts the conflict it does not solve the problem; children do not learn new ways of dealing with their differences with their siblings. The second method is lecturing. The main problem with lecturing is that it doesn’t work—and it generally insults and demoralizes children. Children respond to accusation with defensiveness; they blame their siblings and excuse themselves. The result is an increase in the contention in the family. That cannot be what God has in mind when he commands us to prevent fighting and quarreling. What’s the solution? Decades of research have established that the best method for parents to influence children is something that developmentalists call “induction” which is defined, as parents reasoning with children and helping them understand the effects of their behavior on others. Induction, as defined by scholars, is strikingly similar to the methods of influence recommended by the Lord: No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood [or, presumably, parenthood], only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile (D&C 121:41-42, emphasis added). God has been teaching us from the beginning of time that we cannot teach goodness with harshness. We must use gentle and wise principles of influence. His recommendations from section 121 deserve a lifetime of study. We can compare that instruction from the Doctrine and Covenants to directions given by King Benjamin immediately after counseling us to help children avoid quarreling and fighting: But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another. (Mosiah 4:15, emphasis added) Parents almost universally will agree with that objective. We want our children to love and serve each other. We want peaceful homes. We yearn for loving and helpful relationships between our children. But how can we make this happen? Helping Children Find Something Better than Quarreling Imagine that your 5-year-old daughter wanders into her older brother’s room. He is concentrating on building a Lego structure. Sister is fascinated by brother’s building. She watches and asks her brother questions for a time and then picks up some Legos to do some building of her own. He grabs the Legos from her, pushes her toward the door and shouts that she should stay out of his room. Little sister runs to you crying. You are frustrated and angry. You are tempted to lecture your son about being kind and inclusive with his sister. Or you may want to lecture your daughter about respecting your son’s space. But neither of these responses teaches the children to love and serve each other. Neither response helps the children work together. What would God have you do? The vast research on moral development gives us clues as to how to apply God’s counsel to our parenting. That research together with God’s perfect guidance can help us establish five steps. Let’s imagine that your focus is on helping your son respond to his sister more helpfully. Here are five steps that summarize the counsel of research: Engage your son in a gentle way. Give your son credit for anything you can. Show that you understand your son’s point of view. Draw your son’s attention to his sister’s distress and dilemma. Once your son feels understood (as evidenced by being calm and peaceful), then we can help him think of a way to make repairs. These steps are consistent with the research on moral development and the research on emotion coaching. In the next post, I will give more details about these five steps. Teaching Our Children to Love and Serve Each Other (Part 2) In the previous post we described a common sibling squabble and two of the most popular methods parents use to stop the battling: parental intrusion and lecturing. Both methods have a serious problem; they fail to teach children how to navigate their disagreements. I suggested five steps to help us engage our children and teach them to love and serve one another. In this article I discuss those five steps in more detail. 1. Engage your son in a gentle way. Harsh approaches arouse anxiety and block learning. The child becomes focused on our anger, entering a survival mode of thinking, and completely misses the message we are trying to communicate. Further, when we are upset, we are not able to parent effectively. In order to truly engage our children gently, we may need to take time out to get peaceful. If a situation requires immediate action, we might invite our children to also take a timeout in their rooms to prepare for a productive dialogue. But, even without their cooperation, the point is for us to get peaceful. It may take locking ourselves in our bedroom in order to pray and ask for guidance. When we’re finished, our spirits will be more at peace and ready to teach. God counsels us to use persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, and genuine love. It is important to get his attention without arousing fear: “Son, we need to talk. Your sister is very upset by the way you treated her.” 2. Give your son credit for anything you can: “I’m sure you didn’t intend to hurt your sister’s feelings.” We are often tempted to magnify the misdeeds in order to get our children to take our messages seriously. Yet when we “exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved” (D&C 121:37). In contrast, when we see our children through the lens of charity, we set the stage for love and learning. Just as we want to know our Heavenly Father still loves and sees the good in us when we mess up, our children need to know the same about their earthly parents as well. When we appreciate our children’s good intentions and sincere striving, we are more likely to find common ground. 3. Show that you understand your son’s point of view: “You just wanted to build without being distracted or interrupted.” Compassion is the key to connecting. When accusation rather than compassion is in our hearts, we alienate. When, in contrast, I see from the child’s point of view, I am able to guide effectively. It may help us to remember how we felt when we were children and felt attacked or thwarted. Compassion is the heart of the healer’s art. Once the child is comforted, he is ready to learn. 4. Draw the child’s attention to the distress of the victim: “When you ordered your sister to leave you alone, she felt sad. She felt that you don’t like to have her around. Maybe she even felt that you don’t like her.” There are really two parts to this step. Just as the Lord teaches us in our minds and in our hearts (See D&C 8:2), so we must inform our children’s minds and hearts. Both are essential for right behavior. We teach the mind about the law of the harvest—that timeless truth that we cannot sow weed seed and harvest a bounteous crop of grain. When we are unkind, we damage relationships. It is better to invite the child to learn his sister’s point of view: “I think your sister just wanted to be with you.” We also train our children’s hearts. This is delicate work! Heart surgery cannot be done with sledge hammers. Rather we gently invite our children to feel love and compassion for their siblings. “You might not know that your sister looks up to you. She wants to be like you. I hope you can find a way for her to be with you while still accomplishing the things you set out to do.” The objective in this approach is not for your son to be sunk in guilt but to be stirred to empathy and compassion. When we use harsh approaches with our children, they focus on their own distress and are likely to become stubborn and defensive. That’s not what we want. We want to help our children get outside their provincial view of their own needs and be able to see the needs of others. We cannot rush this process. When the child protests, “But she is the one who messed up my work!” we do not have to argue. We return to the third step, showing understanding for his point of view: “It’s pretty frustrating, isn’t it!” When the child feels genuinely understood, then he is ready to learn in his mind and in his heart. Help the child to feel genuine compassion for the one he has hurt. If we want our child to show compassion, we must model compassion. Naturally your child will resist your challenge: “She can’t start grabbing Legos when I’m building something.” We can argue that he shouldn’t be so unkind to his sister. And he will argue with us about his sister’s misdeeds. Rather than squabbling with the boy, we can show empathy: “It’s hard when you’re in the middle of a project and she interrupts you or starts using your Legos.” He does, after all, have a valid point. When we show him compassion, he is more able to show compassion for his sister. Incidentally, it may take several rounds of expressing understanding and compassion before he is ready to show compassion for his sister. Healing through compassion takes time, or, in the Lord’s language, “longsuffering and gentleness.” 5. Once the child feels understood (as evidenced by being calm and peaceful), then we can help the child think of a way to make repairs: “How could we help your sister feel loved and welcome without messing up your project?” When hearts are right creativity can rule. “Maybe I could help her build a house” or “I could provide her with some of the blocks.” It is a joyous surprise when children feel safe and loved and naturally love and serve each other. Any parent might reasonably protest that this process takes a lot of time. You’re right! Parenting is not quick, simple, or convenient. Parenting is a large and continuing sacrifice. Yet it is also true that, when we teach children correct principles, they are more likely to govern themselves in righteousness. An hour spent teaching them in their youth can save years of conflict, struggle, and waywardness. In the midst of sibling conflicts, it is common to try to figure out which child is the offender. This is rarely productive. Each child makes mistakes. One child intrudes, another is stingy. Rather than try to weigh offences, we invite all toward repentance. In the above process, the focus was on the son’s repenting, but a parallel process could operate with the daughter. We could show her compassion and help her understand her brother’s need to be able to concentrate. Getting our Hearts Right
Perhaps the greatest challenge to effectively teaching children is that we simply cannot do it right unless our hearts are right. We cannot teach peace while our souls are at war. We cannot teach them the principles of love and goodness while bubbling with anger or annoyed by distractions. We draw on more of King Benjamin’s wisdom to learn God’s process. Let’s apply his general counsel to the task of parenting: “For the natural [parent] is an enemy to God [and children], and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit . . .” We must yield to the gentle promptings and invitations of the Spirit if we are to be good parents. A parent who does so . . . “ . . . putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint . . .” Becometh a saint! We become true followers and disciples of Christ. Through repentance we acknowledge our limitations and turn to Christ for better ideas and motivation. When we have the mind of Christ, we are prepared to parent effectively—to teach our children the right ways to relate to each other. How is this change in our approach accomplished? What power changes us? “ . . . through the atonement of Christ the Lord . . .” As Elder Bednar has taught us, the atonement not only cleanses us, it enables and strengthens us. It is my conviction that we cannot parent as we should unless we allow the sweet peace and goodness that flows from Jesus to fill our hearts and souls. What does the atonement look like in the daily lives of parents? It includes simple but powerful principles: having faith in the Lord, repenting of our improper acts, feelings, and thoughts, making promises to God, and drawing on the power of the Holy Ghost to change our souls. Consider the wise counsel give by Amulek—and its application to the challenges of parenting: Therefore may God grant unto you, my brethren, that ye may begin to exercise your faith unto repentance, that ye begin to call upon his holy name, that he would have mercy upon you; Yea, cry unto him for mercy; for he is mighty to save. Yea, humble yourselves, and continue in prayer unto him. Cry unto him in your houses, yea, over all your household, both morning, mid-day, and evening. (Alma 34:17-19, 21) The Christlike parent recognizes our dependence on God, calls out for mercy, continues in prayer, and draws on the power of heaven. In parenting as in all things, He is the way, the truth, and the life. The process of forming our children’s souls requires great wisdom and patience. This should not surprise us. God gives us the opportunity to care for His precious children in His effort to make us more and more like Him—the Perfect Parent. Wallace Goddard ...more
This is a wonderful book! I wish I could have had it 10 years ago, when I first started struggling with my temper in parenting! Bro. Goddard wrote this edition for a secular audience, but his original edition (with blue on the cover) is aimed at an LDS audience, and includes quotes from scripture and modern prophets. He said that this edition is probably better written, though, being a revision of the original. Each idea in this book is helpful. I recommend a slow reading of it. Read a chapter orThis is a wonderful book! I wish I could have had it 10 years ago, when I first started struggling with my temper in parenting! Bro. Goddard wrote this edition for a secular audience, but his original edition (with blue on the cover) is aimed at an LDS audience, and includes quotes from scripture and modern prophets. He said that this edition is probably better written, though, being a revision of the original. Each idea in this book is helpful. I recommend a slow reading of it. Read a chapter or two, and decide on your plan of action, then try it out for a couple of weeks. There are parenting gems in every chapter!...more
Yeah, this book was really, really boring, and the 20 or so strategies I got through before giving up did not even remotely apply to my two year old. Bummer.
Why is it that all the parenting books I read have NOTHING to do with parenting a toddler? Clearly I should write my own book. Except that it would be blank, because I have no idea how to parent a toddler (thus my quest to find a good book about it. Argh.)
Finished this. It is fantastic. I took like four pages of notes. I should probably buy this book so I can read it every time I am frustrated with the kids :). The only criticism I have is that some of the "50 Ways" are repeated, just with a different title and different examples. (For example, one of the chapters is "Just Listen" and one is "Listen to your child's heart"--basically the same thing. But it's something that should probably be repeated ad nauseum until we get it so it's not rUPDATE:
Finished this. It is fantastic. I took like four pages of notes. I should probably buy this book so I can read it every time I am frustrated with the kids :). The only criticism I have is that some of the "50 Ways" are repeated, just with a different title and different examples. (For example, one of the chapters is "Just Listen" and one is "Listen to your child's heart"--basically the same thing. But it's something that should probably be repeated ad nauseum until we get it so it's not really a significant criticism. I'm just nitpicking :).)
Here are some parts I like:
“Some of us have a lot of faith in the educational value of suffering. We assume that making children suffer will help them learn. In my view, that is dangerous thinking. Bertrand Russell observed that ‘the reformative effect of punishment is a belief that dies hard, chiefly, I think, because [punishment] is so satisfying to our sadistic impulses.’ Sadism is not the basis of good parenting. We want our children to learn the lessons of life. And the message of experience and research is clear: People learn best when they feel loved.” - p. 99
"Don’t make your criticism personal (“What’s wrong with you?”), permanent (“You never remember anything!”), or pervasive (“You forget your homework, your lunch, your chores. You would forget your head if it weren’t screwed on.”). Choose to emphasize the good: 'You usually remember to feed the dog. You must have a lot on your mind.'"
This is great advice for when children lie: (Your response:) “Wow. That is a great story. I’m sure you wish it happened that way so that people would not be mad at you.” or “You and I both wish that were true. It would make life so much more pleasant.” There must be no trace of irony or accusation, certainly no sarcasm. While there is no mistake in anyone’s mind that the story is an invention, it is not necessarily a sign of a permanently sick and warped child. The first job is to do no harm. Our second job is to understand what the storytelling means to the child. We cannot help a child whom we have tidily categorized as bad. For the child, storytelling can actually be an attempt to create a harmony with fantasy that she does not know how to create with her behavior.”
"Many, years ago, as I wrestled with proper ways to correct our children, I learned an ironic principle: I only have the right to correct those I love. Any time I am feeling impatient or judgmental, I am not prepared to correct. The irony in this principle is that, when I am wholeheartedly loving my child, the urge to correct evaporates. Or, if there is still some need to correct, it is done in a spirit that is helpful rather than punitive." -p. 63
Anyway, I would recommend it to every parent, especially those with kids 5 and up (there's not a ton of advice for toddlers (tantrums) in there). Go read it!...more
Yet another wonderful book on parenting that I've read lately!
Perhaps the most valuable part of this book is the initial discussion about anger. Since that's something I struggle to handle appropriately, Goddard's comments made a lot of sense and hit quite close to home. Remembering that soft-spoken chastening, I've been able to see how different our home feels when I choose to *avoid* the self-justifying satisfaction of anger. I can't recommend this book highly enough to harried parents - or aYet another wonderful book on parenting that I've read lately!
Perhaps the most valuable part of this book is the initial discussion about anger. Since that's something I struggle to handle appropriately, Goddard's comments made a lot of sense and hit quite close to home. Remembering that soft-spoken chastening, I've been able to see how different our home feels when I choose to *avoid* the self-justifying satisfaction of anger. I can't recommend this book highly enough to harried parents - or anyone, really!
(Fun tidbit: this book's own suggestions helped me avoid whipping my disappointment and frustration into full-blown anger when I discovered that I'd left it outside overnight, where it had gotten thoroughly watered before dawn's early light. Yes, it's a library book... *sigh* And life goes on. :) )
The rest of the book (until the humble, thoughtful conclusion) presents little techniques, thoughts, and perspectives to keep in mind, that will help create a more peaceful, loving environment at home. Goddard has included a little "check" section at the end of each approach that prompts self-evaluation and reflection, as well as planning for success. It's very cool, although I shrink from committing myself to paper - especially in a soaked library book.
Obviously, I'm still here, so I haven't perfected all of these ideas, LOL... but it's great, practical advice that's helped me already. My recommendation? Read it. Today....more
This book had several great tips for controlling the anger that so often is directed at our children (or spouse). There were a few things I hadn't thought of and I enjoyed many of the stories that were shared. I recognized some influence from one of my favorite parenting books, "How to Talk So Kids Will Listen, and How to Listen So Kids Will Talk." Some of the tips, I felt, were either a little vague or not my family's style. I also would have liked a few more examples with each of the anger manThis book had several great tips for controlling the anger that so often is directed at our children (or spouse). There were a few things I hadn't thought of and I enjoyed many of the stories that were shared. I recognized some influence from one of my favorite parenting books, "How to Talk So Kids Will Listen, and How to Listen So Kids Will Talk." Some of the tips, I felt, were either a little vague or not my family's style. I also would have liked a few more examples with each of the anger management suggestions. This would have made it easier to visualize myself using it. To get maximum benefit from this book, one should probably read it over a few times as it would be very difficult to implement all the techniques at one time....more
This book has 50 short chapters with ideas or approaches to help you use a quiet voice while parenting. I thought there were great concepts and ideas, although some were a bit redundant. I felt inspired to be a better parent, but wish there had been a little more practical application. This book helped me not yell at my kids the week I was reading it. There's a quote I liked that goes something like this:"Anger should be like the appliance repairman, who rarely visits the house." except when it'This book has 50 short chapters with ideas or approaches to help you use a quiet voice while parenting. I thought there were great concepts and ideas, although some were a bit redundant. I felt inspired to be a better parent, but wish there had been a little more practical application. This book helped me not yell at my kids the week I was reading it. There's a quote I liked that goes something like this:"Anger should be like the appliance repairman, who rarely visits the house." except when it's important. ...more
This book has changed my heart and my ideas about children. I love the introduction, which gives the myths about anger. Many of the strategies seemed the same, but even if the differences are minute, one strategy may speak to a parent with a certain temperament differently. Every parent should read this. Even those who aren't parents should read this. We can all have compassion and walk a mile in each other's shoes, and avoid blaming, accusing, and anger in our relationships.
This is a great resource for any parent. I liked that the 50 ways are broken down into individual, brief sections. Each gave the principle, and example, and followed up with a workbook-type evaluation for your own reflection. The format is such that you can skip around and browse the topics without missing out on anything. These are principles that all parents can use, regardless of how much or little you lose your temper with your kids. Just good reminders.
It was an alright read. Some of the chapters were pretty much the same as one another. Some of the chapters were obvious. But. Sometimes the obvious is worth remembering. The chapters were short and accessible, and you could, theoretically pick and choose when you need these reminders. Supposing you had bought it and hadn't checked it out from the library.
To the positive: the book is a good reminder that often as parents we get overwhelmed with how our children's actions effect us. This causes us to react in ways that don't put the child and their needs first. The reminder is helpful.
To the negative: the tips are redundant, overly obvious, and rather dippy.
This is one I wouldn't mind re-reading. I put it on my to-read list because he's one of my mom's favorite authors of marriage/parenting books. Each chapter is a new way to relate to children with compassion and understanding. Most of these would apply to any relationship, though, not just parent/child. I really enjoyed his examples.
This is such a great parenting book. Really practical advice. I loved it. I've read a lot of parenting books and there is such a mixed bag out there. This is one that I am very grateful I read. Good gospel perspective too.
Liked it, but didn't love it. I felt like it was a little bit repetitive. It was a quick read though and had some good ideas for how to respond when your kids are throwing tantrums or fighting with each other.
This book gives various ways and/or ideas on how to work with your children. Many of them I already knew or try to practice but it was good for me to have a few examples of how I can better myself as a parent.