Parenting Skills 101

melklimNovember 18, 2006

Hi all

Its been awile since I have practiced parenting. Didn't have to do it too much while raising our kids. They were perfect and have since moved on. I have a friend who is a single mom with a 11 year old boy. The mom need to learn some parently skills with this kid. He is starting to act up....well, you all know what a preteen is like.

I explained to the mom about setting limits, consequences, establishing quality time between the two, etc. What about positive reinforcement on good behavior? Anyone used this technique? Does it work? Any additonal advice or reference books would be helpful.

Thanks all


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Sure - I know what a typical preteen is like, but do you? You said your own were perfect and that you didn't have to do much. I've seen a few kids like that, so I guess the do exist, but...

Are you sure you're the right person to be giving this young woman advice? And are you sure she wants the advice you want to give her?

    Bookmark   November 18, 2006 at 2:56PM
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My kids were great students and didn't get involved with drugs, alcohol, etc. After each of them moved out, they continue to call me each week to make sure I'm doing fine. One is a minister and the other is an elected mayor of a large city. So yes, I think may parenting skills is just fine, but maybe a little rusty.

The single mom and her son is living with me in a guest house. She is at wit dealing with the boy and needs some pointers.

Thank you kindly

    Bookmark   November 18, 2006 at 3:42PM
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Here's a book that I've read and have recommended to others:

Get Out of My Life, but First Could You Drive Me & Cheryl to the Mall: A Parent's Guide to the New Teenager
by Anthony E. Wolf

It's relevant for pre-teens as well.

Best of luck to your friend and her son.


    Bookmark   November 18, 2006 at 5:40PM
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Didn't mean to imply your parenting skills weren't good, Melklim -- only that your kids weren't typical, and that the strategies that worked so easily with your perfect kids may not work so well with more fallible folks...

My BIL means well, but was also the low-effort parent of a 'perfect child'. While his daughter truly is a remarkable and lovely young woman, IMO, it's not fair for him to take so much credit for it. His 'every other weekend' fathering to a child who was so eager to please doesn't qualify him to give advice about a rebellious teen with a drug problem...

    Bookmark   November 18, 2006 at 10:50PM
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I know many kids who are like mine and so they are around :) My kids were not perfect in the literal sense, but enough to make us proud of them when we looked backed to see what they have done with their lives.

Ann, thanks for the recommendation.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2006 at 12:03AM
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Kids are pretty much like pigeons. As a psych student I learned that when you reward good behavior, it's incidence rises and when you ignore it it ceases to happen..and when you reward a certain behavior and then choose to ignore it....that behavior that was once rewarded hangs around a lot longer than behavior that was never if you want to discourage a behavior, you must be consistant.
Now, children are much more complex organisms than pigeons and some things are rewarding even when you might not think so ( i.e. yelling at a child that is so starved for attention they will take it any way they can get it) but the principals are pretty much the same.
Reward the good and ignore the bad....consistantly!!
Linda C

    Bookmark   November 19, 2006 at 2:23PM
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I like the idea of "walking side by side with your child through their life".

To me, this means I am "there" through it all, giving love, guidance, listening, comforting, laughing, resolving, showing patience, learning, taking interest in, I am sure there are lots more.

But, to me, that is a strong image of me always being beside my children, in a physical sense, when they where little, and a spiritual sense when they are off in the world.

Recognise and reward the good, often we don't "see" the good, because we are so wrapped up in what we are doing.

Also, I have found, with my 14 yo DS, that often it takes a while before he will actually open up and talk about what is important to him, or what he did at school. This takes time to get the information out of him, as he is a quiet boy. I have found that if we go out for a walk he invariably opens up and chats away about all sorts of things. I guess he has nothing to distract him, like phones, mp3 etct. But this takes time, and I do have the time. Its vitally important to get them talking. He changes everyday, with his thoughts about things, new music he likes, and he is becoming quite political, and I wouldnt know all this if I didnt patiently wait, and encourage him to open up.

I'll stop pratling now!


    Bookmark   November 20, 2006 at 2:28AM
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Maybe she could make contract with him, actually negotiated in a conversation, written down, and signed. It should outline the desired behavior and rewards, and the negative behavior and consequences. It should be for a limited amount of time, say 1-2 months, and have clear goals. The first contract should focus on a couple specific behaviors they choose as high priority. When that is fulfilled, another contract can be written. It should be posted as a reminder and followed through on. Then they have to have a conversation about what is expected of both of them. He would have some input in defining what is expected of him and what consequences he can expect as a result, good and bad. He is at an age when he doesn't look into the future far enough to consistently predict the consequences of his behavior. So he doesn't make the connection until it's too late that bad choices result in undesirable consequences. OR that good choices will pay off in the end. The process of creating the contract will get him thinking along those lines of if I do this, then this will happen. But it has to be consistent, whatever is agreed upon has to followed through it would have been a waste of time.

I have not done this to that detail with my own kids. My oldest is 13 and generally talking to him is successful without the formality of a written contract. But I do think about the principles behind the method when I'm talking to my kids. This is a strategy I heard about in my education/classroom management classes many years ago.

My favorite quick discipline is to make my 13 and 10 y/o boys look up big words relating to their behavior and write a short essay about it. Define it, but also explain how it describes their behavior, why it's a bad thing, how it effects others, how they'll avoid it. I get a kick out what they come up with, and I can see it makes them think about what they've done. Something about seeing the definition in black and white, recognizing it as hurtful, and seeing it applied to themselves... it gets to them. They've had to look up insubordinate, condescending, inappropriate, cooperate, and more.

And it builds vocabulary. Condescending ended up on DS#1's standardized test a few months later! He knew that one! LOL!

    Bookmark   November 21, 2006 at 10:57PM
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Not all like the Love and Logic books, but I recomended them to a friend who had a preteen step child and she said it was the best advice anyone gave her on the subject. You might want to check it out.

Here is a link that might be useful: Love and Logic

    Bookmark   November 29, 2006 at 12:06AM
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