Thursday, May 18, 2006
Last night's session focused on empathy. Instead of the normal sequence of child's mistake > parents' anger > punishment, it is changed to child's mistake > parents' empathy > consequence.
The empathy is triggered with a phrase: "uh oh." In the video we were shown, the instructor said "uh oh!" in a sing-song voice. When you are upset with your kid for doing the wrong thing, it's pretty hard to stay that way when you sing "uh oh!" After awhile, saying "uh-oh!" will immediately pull the parent into an empathic response (like Pavlov and his bell).
The child might need a time-out. If they tantrum when they get there, the parent says; "When you're ready to be sweet, you can come out." The child has to calm down, and then the parent sets a timer for 3 minutes or so. If the child starts to freak out again, the timer is re-set. When they come out of time-out, they get a hug. There is no explaining of why they got there, or any conversation.
This is an interesting point, as I always talk to my kids after time-outs. I want to make sure they understand why they went there in the first place! But this approach is for much less verbal interaction. L & L relies on the kid being intelligent enough to get the point. In fact, an example was given that a kid asked why he got a certain consequence. The parent warmly responded; "if you haven't figured it out by monday, come back and talk to me!"
Another thing mentioned was that kids get nuts because they are testing boundaries. Once they see that a parent is firm in their limits, they'll calm down more quickly. For some kids, they know that hitting is their parents' limit. Once the parent hits them, they know the anger has dissipated and it's over. Obviously, this is not the appropriate response according to L & L. The child knows when the parent gives a logical consequence, the parent will follow through!
So it was an interesting session. The only bad part was the fact that I was very uncomfortable for sitting for so long, and I kept shifting in my chair. At one point, the vinyl on the chair made a noise that sounded like a giant fart. You can just imagine my horror. Of course, I had to shift around to make the chair produce the same noise again, to convince the L & L instructor that it wasn't me.