Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Works for Me: Disciplining Attitudes vs. Behaviors

Though I have used this concept with my preschoolers, it is most relevant with my three teenagers. I find that I am often most upset by their attitudes, but my discipline frequently focuses on their behaviors.

My simple tip to help switch the focus to attitudes vs. behavior is this: Ask a question.

Ignore the behavior--the door-slamming, the stomping, the eye-rolling--and get to the heart of the matter by calmly asking: Was that respectful? Was that kind? Are you being patient? Could you rephrase that more respectfully? Are you ignoring me? (This is a good one when you've asked them to do something and they haven't done it.)

I won't say I consistently remember to do this--I too often get caught up in wrangling about the behavior--but when I do, I've had nearly astounding results. In some cases, my kids have immediately apologized for disrespect, they have stood up right away to do what I've asked, they have admitted to being impatient or unkind--and in one way or another, have at least changed their tone if not also their behavior.

The key is remembering to do it--and asking that question calmly and positively.

So the next time you're tempted to yell, "And if you roll your eyes at me one more time, missy, I'm gonna..."

...TRY IT!

For more Works for Me tips, visit Rocks in My Dryer.

12 comments:

Mamacita said...

Oh, this is good. I am gonna have to try this - thank you! :)

troubling stars said...

Good point! Any advice for toddlers bad additudes? Ben read a book about that very thing. Too often we only focus on kids behaviors and forget what our real goals in discipline are; who we want our children to become. Do we really want grown sons who are always quiet, unadventurous, etc? No.At least I don't. SO that shouldn't be our present day goal either. Yes, it would be easier if my son was quiet and not always trying to climb and conquer everything in our apartment, but my real concern is with his heart. is he loving? Does he seek to serve and help? Is he obedient?
Thanks for the blog, I love checking in daily. If you caught mine yesterday it was all about asking for advice in the areas of discipline, so thanks! i'll file those ideas away for later and see how I can apply them now with my 18 month old.

Megan (FriedOkra) said...

I've been trying to introduce those concepts (or at least the words, used in context) to Bean the past few months. I'll say, "We do not talk to Mama and Daddy that way. You must remember to be respectful." or "You job is to obey your parents. The first time, every time, with a good attitude."

Those sound too harsh to me, written out. But I also use them more positively, like, "Oh, I LOVE the way you said/asked that - you were so kind and respectful!"

With a toddler, so much of what I say has to be so direct and Oh, WHAT IS THAT WORD? I can't remember - but BOSSY-ish. I want to try introducing the concepts you're using with your teens early so we can get OUT of this mode as quickly as possible - it makes me feel like a dictator.

Becoming Me said...

Very good concepts and points. It is challenging to use it with toddlers but can still be applied.

Brea said...

So true, so true. And it's neat to see the fruit in my children as they get older, when these concepts are applied when they're younger.

~Brea

Liz said...

Thank you so much. I will put these into practice THIS WEEKEND with my stepdaughter.

Life In Progress said...

This is a really great point, something I think will work really well with my 4-year-old.

GiBee said...

...getting to the heart of the matter ... excellent!

Fuschia said...

Thank you for that reminder. One of the reasons we decided to homeschool was to be able to emphasize character over acedemics (or behavior)...seems I may have gotten off track lately.

Hairline Fracture said...

I LOVE this idea. It really gets to the heart of the issue. Thanks for sharing.

truevyne said...

Oh boy, does this work! Much better than adding my own impatience and lack of discipline to the mix

islandsparrow said...

My phrase to a teenager in a snit was "I think someone needs an attitude check" - it worked well.