December's Tool Card*:
Focus On Solutions
Parents often say, "But there has to be a consequence for [not doing homework, fighting with sibs, leaving a mess in the kitchen--you get the picture]. And what they often really mean is , "There has to be a punishment for [fill in the blank]." And that's because we are often still stuck in our old thinking that punishment is what will change the behavior. We'll talk about the unintended results of punishment another time. For now, let's talk about what REALLY works.
When you Focus on Solutions, you:
1. Identify the problem.
This is not always so easy. Sometimes we get caught up in wanting to "blame" someone else for the problem. This is a great time to use an "I" message. Instead of "Bobby won't let me finish my homework!", try "I feel really frustrated when Bobby runs around when I'm trying to do homework. I wish he would be more quiet."
2. Brainstorm as many solutions as possible.
Have everyone contribute their ideas, and write down all of them, even the really crazy ones. "Have Bobby play outside during homework time" "Put the Cone of Silence on Bobby during homework time" "Send Bobby to a neighbor's during homework time" "Give Bobby a project during homework time" and so on. The important thing here is that everyone contributes, everyone has a voice. Remember, we are more likely to follow-through on an agreement if we had a part in making that agreement.
3. Choose a solution that works for everyone and try it for a week. Evaluate after that; if it didn't work, start over with brainstorming.
What sounded good in the brainstorming session may not pan out all that well, so it's good to re-assess after a week and get everyone's input. If the chosen solution isn't working, try again. This is actually a great life-skill to learn and practice. It will be needed over and over again in "real life"! ; -)
*Positive Discipline Parenting Tools
52 cards to improve your parenting skills
by Jane Nelsen and Adrian Garsia