Several changes in our culture have had a tremendous impact on discipline and our roles as parents. Our economy has created financial tension in families. Parents come home stressed. Their fuse is short. The rising divorce rate affects all of our children; today, there are schools where four out of five children have experienced divorce. Single parenting is stressful.
Twenty years ago, everyone in the same town or neighborhood had the same values and beliefs. No matter where you went to play, the rules were the same. Everyone's parents had the same expectations. This is no longer true. Every family has its own standards. Our children experience many versions of right and wrong. This is confusing to children.
How do these changes in our society affect the way you discipline your children? Why won't the old ways work today? The old ways were simple solutions for a society with simple problems, but today's problems are more complicated. They require refined solutions. Our children live in the future, not the past. We have to cope with the adversity of our times. If you want to be a successful parent, you have to know how to discipline today's children. Parents need training - not because parents are incapable, but because parenting is no longer simple.
Three Successful Promises
There are three promises that every parent needs to make to become more successful. Promise to have courage to be open and accept new ideas. If what you are doing is working, stick with it. If not, then have the courage to try something new.
Promise to have patience - plenty of patience. If your child is twelve years old, he has had twelve years to develop his behavior patterns. Give your child time to change. This is where most parents fail. We have gone from one-hour dry cleaning to one-hour photos to one-hour eyeglasses to thirty-minute tune-ups. Microwave dinners, car phones, and express lanes have conditioned us to expect instant gratification. Technology has taught us impatience. We believe that because we are trying a new idea, changes should take place overnight. A few days is not long enough to test a new idea. Some methods take weeks to show improvement. Be patient.
Promise to practice. Every parent must practice, even me. My children do not care one bit that I am a school psychologist who teaches parenting classes. When I'm home, I'm Dad. I get tested just like you. I have to practice, too. If you are willing to read about new ideas but not to practice them, give this book to someone else and buy a magic wand.
Children learn good behavior as well as misbehavior. Behavior does not occur by magic. It is not inherited. A well-behaved child is not the result of luck. Be encouraged-if children learn behavior, then children can learn to change behavior. Parenting behavior is also learned. Good parenting skills do not appear suddenly and instinctively. You can learn to be a more successful parent.
This is a book about parent behavior. It teaches you to examine your own behavior and determine when you are part of the problem, prepares you to support yourself when your children tell you they hate you, and shows you how to stay calm when your buttons are being pushed. This book enables you to build healthy self-esteem in your children, teaching them to think for themselves and withstand peer pressure. It teaches you how to enjoy being a parent.
If you are in pursuit of well-behaved, well-adjusted children, you need to understand how your behavior is connected to your child's behavior. I hope to teach you how to behave so your children will, too!
Changing Your Behavior: Where to Begin
As you read the ideas in this book, you may think, "Sounds great. That will really work for me." But reading about a new technique is not the same as practicing a new technique. Practicing a new idea means changing your behavior. Any change in behavior means changing habits, and habits are not easy to change. Old habits are more comfortable than new ones.
Reprinted from How to Behave so Your Children Will, Too! by Sal Severe by permission of Viking Books, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright (c) 2000 by Sal Severe. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.
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