Parenting Essentials: Seven Steps to Parenting Success (Final Thoughts)
Final Thoughts and Appendices
I often joke with parents that the reason we don’t offer parent training before people have children is that they wouldn’t have any! Most of us enter parenthood naively, only to be quickly jolted to reality by the unending challenges that confront us. Our initial goal of enjoying our children becomes increasingly sidetracked by frequently occurring disciplinary problems that demand our attention. The overall goal of this book is to effectively help you reverse this process and reduce your discipline problems by using efficient parenting strategies which increase positive interaction and enable you to enjoy your children as originally planned.
As a psychologist, there is no greater professional joy than positively impacting the life of a child and the relationships within the family. Having a parent approach me in the grocery store and say: “You probably don’t remember me but I heard your parenting talk and tried some of your suggestions and they worked great!” does wonders for my own self-esteem. It is therefore for ultimately selfish reasons that I wrote this book. I hope that by reading it, some new seeds will be planted in your mind that will grow into more effective parenting strategies and a happier, healthier family life. The toughest part is getting started. Even if you’re doubtful about some of the ideas presented, give them a try. You may be surprised to discover how powerful their impact will be on retraining not only your child, but also yourself as a parent.
You will also be much more successful if both you and your spouse work as a team. It is not a good idea, however, for you to tell your spouse how to improve their parenting skills. I am a parenting expert, yet my wife can be quite resistant to my parenting “suggestions”. This is because “advice” is often experienced as criticism (e.g., “Let me tell you what you are doing wrong”). Instead, encourage your spouse to read this book on their own. Afterwards, you can discuss it together and collaboratively work on your joint gameplan. It is also beneficial to provide each other with positive feedback regarding your respective efforts. If you anticipate that your spouse will be resistant to reading this book, consider Step Six (Use your most powerful reward to systematically shape appropriate behaviors - your time and attention). Think of some “activity” that would motivate your spouse and offer it as an incentive for their efforts!
At the end of the book, I’ve provided a list of the Seven Steps to Parenting Success (Appendix 1) and the step by step instructions for constructing your own Activity Rewards Contract (Appendix 2). These are meant to be cut out and placed somewhere as a visual reference and reminder. So regardless of what your mother told you, it is all right to cut these pages out of the book!
I hope that you have enjoyed reading Parenting Essentials and are able to effectively use the techniques provided. More importantly, however, remember to enjoy your children! It may be hell at times, but being a parent is truly something to treasure. There’s nothing else like it in the world!
The Seven Steps to Parenting Success
1. Go easy on yourself, parenting is an impossible job to always do well.
2. Focus more of your attention on positive behaviors and less on negative behaviors.
Catch your child being good.
3. Reduce angry outbursts, which often fuel negative behavior, by using more effective
4. Be more aware of the consequences which follow your child’s positive and negative
5. Empower your child by including his/her opinion in discipline decisions. Where
appropriate, try to use your child’s suggestions.
6. Use your most powerful reward to systematically shape your child’s appropriate
behaviors - your time and attention.
7. Improve your child’s self-esteem by helping to create success experiences.
Step by Step Instructions to Create Your Own Activity Rewards Contract
1. Decide on the specific behavior.
2. Brainstorm fun activities with your child.
3. Discuss the specific behavior with your child.
4. Negotiate the terms of the contract together and write it out.
5. Review the contract together and make corrections where needed.
6. Read and sign the contract.
7. Encourage success; be the “good coach”.
8. Monitor progress.
9. Follow-up as soon as possible with earned activity rewards.
10. Revise the contract as needed.
11. When appropriate, phase out the contract.