Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Parenting With Love and Kindness, and its Relation with Choice Theory

Lately I've been reading a lot of blogs about parenting and how to do it more peacefully.  It has inspired me and is constantly reiterating the concepts of Choice Theory.  I was certified in Choice Theory/Reality Therapy this past summer; something I've been working toward since October 2008.    Today a good (cyber) friend of mine wrote an amazing, very thoughtful blog post about parenting in a more gentle manner.  I'll highlight her ideas, although the link above will take you straight to the particular post.

Connie says the following:
1. Treat your child like a person, not a robot needing to be programmed
2. Look to the root of the problem, not the surface issue (not feeling heard/understood vs. fighting)
3. Don't put your children in situations that result in you angry or stressed; give them things that are okay and safe to play with and do.
4. Learn to let go (this is something Connie admits she continues to work on, and I will also admit this is my biggest struggle!!!)
5. Mean what you say and say what you mean.  Have integrity with your children, especially if you're sorry.

I cannot tell you how much I wish these bloggers were around before Delaney was born.  This is somewhat of a new trend (blogging), so I didn't know about this at all 8+ years ago.  I think it would have really influenced my parenting in a more positive way.  However, I will say that it truly is NEVER TOO LATE to work on things!  There are so many things I once did that I no longer agree with, and to be honest, I regret!  Time outs, spanking (although very rare), yelling (which I am still working on), losing my patience and expecting my kids to do as I say because it makes things easier for me, bribing, threatening, criticizing, etc.  Man--typing all those things is shameful.  However, as I said before, I'm still learning and I hope I'm finally getting it right.  It does take time, though, as those behaviors listed above are my "go-to" behaviors, things I've been doing for years.

Now, how does peaceful, gentle parenting relate to Choice Theory, a theory of psychology?  Well, let me tell you!  Ask yourself the following:
1. How does instilling fear/threatening help your parent-child relationship?
2. How does bribing truly teach your child appropriate behaviors?
3. How does criticizing show your child you love him/her?

Answer to all: They DON'T!!!

William Glasser, founder and developer of Choice Theory, believes that people struggle and are unhappy in life when relationships which are important to them are suffereing and unsatisfying.  He says problems occur when we try to "make" someone do something they dont' want to do, when someone tries to make us do something we don't want to do, or we try to make ourselves do something we don't want to do.

He also states that there are 7 behaviors in which people engage in that destroy relationships.  Read the following and ask yourself: "How often do I use these to try to control my children (or husband or collegues, etc) or to get what I want?"  Then, ask yourself "Do they really work?"  I mean REALLY work?  Are you truly able to get what you want and control others on a consistent basis using these behaviors?  If you answer "yes", then ask yourself "How does it affect the relationship?"  It probably isn't as good as you hope or as it could be.

Choice Theory's 7 Deadly Habits that destroy relationships
1. Blaming
2. Criticizing
3. Nagging
4. Complaining
5. Threatening
6. Punishing
7. Bribing or Rewarding to control

Now ask yourself, which of the following you engage in with your children, spouse, colleagues, etc.  And I mean, TRULY use with those with whom you want to connect with.

Choice Theory's 7 Healthy Habits that enhance relationships
1. Listening
2. Supporting
3. Encouraging
4. Trusting
5. Respecting
6. Accepting
7. Negotiating differences

You see, the only person we can truly control is ourselves.  We need to let go of trying to control others, to get them to behave ways in which WE want them to behave.  If you use the 7 Healthy Habits, I can promise you that your life will become easier, happier, and your relationships will become much more enjoyable!  Keep in mind that if you decide to use these behaviors you cannot force others to do so, just be patient and the habits will work for you!

My pledge to my family, mostly to my children, is that I promise you I will try very hard every day to use the 7 Healthy Habits in order to be a better mother and person.  I hope that you will be patient with me as I know sometimes when life is stressful or time is short, that I may lose my way.  Above all, please know that I love you all and want to make our relationships ones in which you want to be a part of as much as I do.
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Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your wonderful post in response to mine! I am in the same boat as you, just a little further down the river... At one time I believed in babies sleeping by themselves, in spanking and time outs, in bribery and yelling. There are still moments when I fall back a bit but it is because of women like you who inspire me to be a better mom that I keep pushing forward. It isn't an easy path, to be a gentle parent, in today's society. But so worth it!! Great work and very thoughtful notes!

Dr. Nancy Buck said...

Always happy to have prople sharing ideas about choice theory and it's application to parenting known as Peaceful Parenting. All I ask is that you please give me the credit I deserve. Nancy S Buck, PhD founder of Peaceful Parenting Inc and senior faculty member of William Glasser Institute. Please visit my web site You might be interested in purchasing some of my books, entitled Peaceful Parenting and Why Do Kids Act That Way? I'm also a blogger for Psyshology Today as well as the designated parenting expert for WGI.

Amy said...

Dr. Buck, Thanks for reading my blog post! Sorry for using your language for the title; I hope you're not offended. I just like that phrase and have read several books by that title, not just yours. As you can see, I have since changed it. I do have both of your books, my favorite being "Why Do Kids Act That Way?" and share your ideas based on Dr. Glasser's concepts with my clients often.