Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Raise Your Kids Without Raising Your Voice

I went to listen to Sarah Chana Radcliffe, author of "Raise Your Kids Without Raising Your Voice" speak last night. The talk was held at a local high school auditorium and the place was packed.

I have read the book before and have picked up a few techniques to use on parenting Daniel. I must admit I have mixed success. Lately I find myself yelling at him more often or more severely than I would like to. So I thought going to talk would help me review the techniques and maybe pick up some new strategies. (My own book is currently making the rounds on loan to other parents.)

Mrs. Radcliffe has six children and is now a grandmother of four. She's also a registered psychologist. Her talk was engaging, relevant, and her delivery humorous. A lot of parents in the audience asked questions throughout the talk to clarify the techniques and the use of techniques. The talk gave me the renewed confidence and motivation to improve my own parenting skills.

The five strategies Mrs. Radcliffe covered were 80/20 Rule, Emotional Coaching, the CLeaR Method, the 2x Rule, and the Relationship Rule.

80/20 Rule
The idea is that we, as parents must strike a balance between good feelings and not-so-good feeling communications with our children. The happier our children feel when they're around us, the more they will want to please us. Mrs. Radcliffe gave examples of how to communicate when we need to make a correction in our children's behaviour. She also talked about the importance of using positive words in our communications. Instead of catching our children doing something wrong and having to reprimand them, we catch them doing the right things and praise them. That way, children will focus on doing the good things that earn praises.

Emotional Coaching
As Mrs. Radcliffe puts it, kids are generally predisposed in a certain way. My son Daniel is a fearful child. Monsters, giants, ghosts aside, he is most fearful of being rejected by us. This fear can erupt into intense emotional outbursts, which we sometimes mistake for him throwing a tantrum or being very naughty. This is one area where I need to work on more, to coach Daniel into identifying and expressing his emotions. Tonight I had to awake Daniel from his afternoon nap at dinner time. He was exhausted and it took me more than half an hour to calm him from crying and refusal to eat. But just as sudden as his sleepiness wore off, he snapped from his whines and came downstairs. At the dinner table he again refused to eat. But as soon as he sat down, he started eating without fuss.

CLeaR Method
CLeaR stands for Comment, Label, Reward. This is an example of catching the child doing something good or behaving the way we like. Comment on the desired action. Label the good behaviour. And Reward the child. This is designed to reinforce the good behaviour. A good example Mrs. Radcliffe gave was this: A child was very sloppy with his homework. Instead of picking on all the bad handwriting, the parent picked on one good letter. "Wow! This 'a' is right on the line! You are such a neat writer. You get a sticker for this really neat 'a'." The CLeaR Method here is used to correct a problem, and motivates the child to care about doing something well. The key is to focus on one thing at a time. It takes time to change some one's behavior.

2x Rule
The 2x Rule is a disciplinary tool. A parent sees an unacceptable behavior that warrants disciplinary actions. There are 2 types of disciplinary actions. One is a "Right Priced Ticket," akin to a $100 speeding ticket when we are catch speeding by the traffic police. The other is a "Jail-level" punishment, a consequence when we refuse or forget to pay our ticket fine. For example, a parent asks a child to stop hitting his sibling once. She asks again the second time, and lays out the consequence. In this case, five minutes at the punish corner. If the child refuses to go to the punish corner or leaves the punish corner before the time is up, the Jail-level will be imposed. It could be a removal of a privilege that means a lot to this child.

Relationship Rule
A simple rule to abide by: the parent expects the child to treat them with respect, the same way they treat the child with respect. It is a life long process to nurture the relationship with our children.

All of these techniques and concepts are excellent and need a lot of practice. I will need constant reminder to steer myself in the right parenting direction.

For more information on Sarah Chana Radcliffe and her books, check out

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