SANE consequences

We’ve been talking a lot about challenging behavior lately. And yeah, even us Science of Parenting folks have children who challenge us!

Today we want to look at how we can respond to challenging behavior. Maybe your preschooler has been testing out new lies, or your school age child has been skipping homework, or your preteen is throwing attitude around like it’s confetti, or your teen is not touching base when they are out and about. Whichever one resonates with you, finding a way to respond to problematic behavior can be a challenge. How do we strike a balance between too harsh and too lax?

Luckily, the National Institute on Drug Abuse looks at research on how parents can help their kids stay on the right path, and they have a handy little acronym for helping parents identify appropriate consequences – SANE (and I mean that acronym has all kinds of double meaning, am I right?).

  • S – Small consequences are better 
    • When we are especially angry or frustrated with our child, chances are we are more likely to fly off the handle a bit with our consequences (Stop. Breathe. Talk. to save the day again!). Instead, try to find small consequences that relate directly to the child’s behavior. Like if your child is being difficult at bedtime because they want to watch more TV, you might consider taking away TV privileges for a few days.
  • AAvoid consequences that punish you
    • When we give consequences to our child, it needs to be something we can and will follow through on. But when we choose consequences that make our lives as parents more difficult, we might be less likelihood to carry out the consequences like we originally planned. So if your teenager is abusing their school permit, you may decide that they need to lose that privilege for a few days. You can avoid this from punishing you (by you having to drive them) by having your teenager have to find their own ride to school or maybe ride the bus.
  • N Nonabusive responses
    • Yup, we sometimes are very angry with our kids when they don’t meet our expectations, but we don’t want that anger to have so much power that we respond to our children in unhealthy ways. As we say at Science of Parenting, “Hitting Harms. Yelling Hurts.” (Another place where Stop. Breathe. Talk. can be our saving grace!)
  • EEffective consequences
    • Effective consequences are consequences that are under your control and that actually help deter your child from wanting to do that behavior again (non-rewarding). Of course, this is the whole point of consequences right!

So when we are thinking about consequences, try to stay SANE (you see what I did there?).

 

Source: https://www.drugabuse.gov/family-checkup/question-4-setting-limits

Mackenzie Johnson

Mackenzie Johnson

Parent to a little one with her own quirks. Celebrator of the concept of raising kids “from scratch”. Learner and lover of the parent-child relationship. Translator of research with a dose of reality. Certified Family Life Educator.

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Cyberbullies

Previously in this blog, we wrote an article about cyberbullying, which detailed some statistics about cyberbullying, and helpful hints for keeping your child safe from cyberbullies.  But, what happens if your child is the cyberbully?  No parent wants to be confronted with this issue, but if you ever find yourself in this unfamiliar territory, it’s crucial to handle the situation appropriately for the sake of your own child and for the victim’s sake.

First, you will likely need to limit your child’s use of the Internet.  Let the child know that the behavior is inappropriate and unacceptable, and Internet use will be limited or eliminated until he/she can learn to use online media appropriately.  Beyond this initial reaction, you will need to discuss with your child how to use the Internet appropriately.  Lay clear expectations and ground rules.  Let you child know that he/she will have to demonstrate that he/she understands and follows the rules consistently and without reminders before full, unsupervised use of the Internet will be granted.

Next, sit down with your child to discuss why cyberbullying is so harmful.  Oftentimes, it’s easy for people, adults included, to write or type things that they would never say to someone’s face.  We all get brave when hiding behind written words because we know we will not have to see the reactions of the other person.  We don’t have to see the anger or tears, and we don’t have to hear the immediate backlash.  Ask the child how he/she would feel if someone said that to his/her face.  Would it hurt the child’s feelings?  Make him/her cry?  Or feel angry?  A good rule of thumb for online chatting is to never type anything that you would not say to the person’s face.

Finally, you can also ask the child to think about what was said, and why it was said.  Was the child feeling angry?  Betrayed?  Sad?  Brainstorm with your child how the situation could have been handled differently.  Talk through options of how to manage these feelings and confront the situation.  Help your child choose an appropriate course of actions for the next time he/her feels this way and needs to handle a situation appropriately.

Do you have experiences with cyberbullying?  Have you been the parent, the victim, the cyberbully?  How was the situation handled?  What tips do you have for confronting cyberbullying?

Donna Donald

Donna Donald

Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.

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Discussing Celebrity Behavior

Charlie Sheen, Lindsay Lohan, Tiger Woods, Paris Hilton . . .  The list of celebrities who have been involved in recent scandals and outrageous behavior goes on and on.  The lives of superstars have become so fascinating to the general public that there are entire television networks dedicated to filling you in on all the celebrity gossip.  Some people even gain superstar status because they exhibit inappropriate behavior.

As a parent, it can be concerning to know that children are watching these celebrity scandals, and seeing the incredible media frenzy and fame that comes along with them.  So what can you be doing to help your children understand all this information?

First of all, it is important to talk to your children about how this information makes them feel, and what their thoughts are about it.  Children might feel shocked or disappointed by the negative and inconsistent behavior of someone they look up to.

Listen to your child’s thoughts and feelings about the incident.  Don’t attack the celebrity (if it is a person your child looks up to, your child may feel the need to defend the celebrity).  Instead, talk about what might make a person behave like this.  Let your child know that celebrities and athletes are all human, and they all make mistakes.

During the conversation, you can also ask your child how the celebrity could have behaved differently, more appropriately.  This will help your child understand what appropriate behavior looks like, and how he/she can make good choices in difficult situations.

It is important for children to have role models to look up to.  Try introducing your children to local role models, who will demonstrate positive behaviors for your children.  For example, a firefighter, a policeman/policewoman, a nurse, or a teacher.  You can take this a step further by encouraging your child to be a positive role model.  Your child could do this by asking a classmate to play at recess, saving a spot for a new friend at lunch, or giving a nice compliment.

What strategies have you used to help your child understand inappropriate and inconsistent celebrity behaviors?

Donna Donald

Donna Donald

Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.

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Effective Ways to Parent Teens

We all know adolescence is a tough for children, and for parents. With hormones raging, bodily changes, emotional instability, and peer pressure, raising a teen can be an extremely difficult challenge. Here are some tips and examples to help you help your teen through this tumultuous time.

• Actively listen to what your teen is telling you, and give them feedback that lets them know you’re listening. (e.g. It sounds like you had a very frustrating day.)
• Praise good behavior with privileges or time with you, rather than material objects. (e.g. Opt for an extra night out with friends or a movie with you, rather than a new outfit.)
• Spend time together with just you and your teen, as well as time with your entire family. (e.g. On the way to a baseball tournament, ask your teen to tell you about his week at school; plan a family night of bowling.)
• Take time to talk to your teen about values. (e.g. After watching the news and hearing about an underage drinking party where someone got hurt, you could discuss with your child why you have particular rules, and that these rules are designed to keep the child safe.)
• Communicate with your teen using “I statements.” (e.g. I get frustrated when you don’t empty the dishwasher because then everyone piles their dishes in the sink. Please go empty the dishwasher right now.)
• Before rules and consequences are put into place, discuss the specifics of the rule and the reasons behind the rule with your teen. (e.g. Now that you can drive, I need to set a curfew of 9:00pm for you. I am setting this curfew because I don’t want you in any bad or harmful situations that can occur late at night.)
• When problems arise, brainstorm solutions with your child, decide on a course of action, and follow up with a reminder if necessary.
• When heated conflict arises between you and your teen, step away from the situation, and deal with the issue when you have cooled down. (e.g. I am very upset with your behavior right now. We will talk about this after I’ve had time to cool down.)
• If you have questions or concerns that come along, seek out information. Talk to other parents or professionals, read books about parenting teens, or surf the internet for typical and atypical teen behavior.

Donna Donald

Donna Donald

Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.

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