Boyd K Packer March 1996 …giving counsel to parents of wayward children.
“In 1970 Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles counseled parents of wayward children to “leave off trying to alter your child just for a little while and concentrate on yourself. The changes must begin with you, not with your children. You can’t continue to do what you have been doing (even though you thought it was right) and expect to unproduce some behavior in your child, when your conduct was one of the things that produced it” (“Families and Fences,” Improvement Era, Dec. 1970, p. 106).
It’s interesting that your children have no role models. We are saying we want you to be good responsible adults. And they are saying, “What does that look like?” It’s hard for them to grasp what we want them to be when they can’t see it out there. We want them to work hard, but they say, “Who’s working?” You have to understand as we are teaching our children we are trying to help them become something they can’t visualize. Are you modeling what you want for your children. If there is conflict do we talk about it instead of yell about it?
It’s controlling adults that complain about irresponsibility in children without realizing we are training them to be irresponsible.
Some of you will say, “I tried that and it didn’t work.” Then you need to do one of the other tools. You will find that you are stuck in about 3. They are the ones that you use over and over and over. There are 10 others you can try. Do something unexpected. It shocks them. It’s not a matter of “I quit. I give in.” You are never released from being a parent even when they move out of your home. Think about these tools and as you look at a given situation see what you need to do.
Sometimes when we want to know how long a punishment should last we need to decide if we are into revenge.
Example: If you have a little one and are going to the store you tell them to go get dressed you can pick whatever you want. When they come down in something you can’t accept…you have to accept it because you already told them that would be ok.
You can say, “You may wear the red outfit or the green outfit.” “You can pick any outfit in your bottom drawer.” The choice has to be acceptable to you either way. “You can do your homework before your snack or after your snack.”
If you have a stronger willed child you can say, “How would you like your hair today?” Unless you have to fight that battle it’s not a battle worth fighting.
She will be more compliant to choices if you give her some more open/no fight choices.
Class member: I have a very strong willed red child. She is extremely defiant. This one works amazing for her. She is 10. I know when we are doing chores if I tell her she has to do a specific chore she will throw a fit. When it comes to choices I just have to say this is not up for discussion.
Class member: Sometimes I use this wrong. Sometimes you give them choices knowing there is really only 1 choice. I’m confessing. J When there really isn’t a choice you can say “You can do this with a smile or not happy”.
You are letting them choose attitude. You have to smile and be happy and let them go. You gave them that option. You are giving them a choice. You have to be careful because you will be flippant and sarcastic. You have to stay in love with them while you do this. Don’t get into revenge, sarcastic, or put downs.
Class member: That works with my 8 year old. You can be happy or not. It gives her an out.
You can put your music on. Give them something to help them be happy. They still have to do it.
Choices are great for teenagers.
In absolute kindness you can say, “When your room is clean you can go to the ballgame on Friday night.” In between you don’t nag about the job. Gating only works if there is a hot button, if you do it at Level 0, and if you can be firm in following through….no reminders.
Class member: My son is relentless.
You need to be relentless in being his cheerleader and in not giving in. Sometimes you need to help them succeed. You can maintain this as the prize, but occasionally you need to help them get the prize. “This time I just want to help you so you can go.”
Class member: She will look at them and say you are so lucky you have a mean Mom. Sometimes there are consequences for your actions. Because I love you I have to be a mean Mom.
Some of them say, “I hate you.” You try to buy their approval. Parenting is not a popularity contest.
Class member: How long do you let that go? I used the gating thing. It had to be turned in by a certain time. It came down and I’d walk by and they just kept playing. It came down to it’s time to watch the movie. He got to do it and she didn’t. She cleaned her room so fast. She is always the one that won’t do the job. How long do you continue to help her?
Don’t help her if it’s habitual. If it was me I would do “Putting Children in the Same Boat”
Tool #3--PUTTING KIDS IN THE SAME BOAT
So what if you have the same child that always gives in and always helps the other one so they are still slacking. Take them off the team and make it individual. You have to be willing to leave the one home.
Class member: Being consistent. I was way to harsh with the punishment. What would have been the way to apologize and go back and change things.
In our anger we make the punishment too hard.
Be careful how you talk about your kids to other people. You think you are just talking on the phone and they are hearing. They feel like one is good and one is bad.
When kids tattle, usually what you have it someone coming to make them be the good guy so you will fight the bad guy. I was just sweet and innocent sitting there. We do get suckered in. It’s you not taking sides. You are going to treat them the same.
Some of your kids are good tattlers. You have to be careful what you say. I want to hear what happened out there, but first of all you need to tell me 3 good things about that person. You are trying to change the direction and emotional energy. When they come back in 30 minutes they have to tell you 3 different things. Why do you think he took that? Because I was playing with it and he wanted it. Do you think if he had played with it and you wanted it would it make you upset? I should have it. Maybe we should take turns. You walk them through the process of creating process resolution. You are going to try to teach them how to resolve. They hate it.
Example: Favorite tool with young kids in church. One Sunday they weren’t angels in Sacrament meeting. On the way home I said “Ok guys we are going to have a meeting in the family room before we eat.” We have just been to church. How should we behave? That’s right. We are going to practice. We only have to practice for 30 seconds. On your mark, get set, go! They can’t do it for 30 seconds. They can’t do it. Darn we didn’t do. Try 45 seconds because we aren’t getting it. Now they are getting a little bit unhappy, but they are starting to realize that I’m serious. They got up to about 20 seconds right. Once they get angry it will turn into a punishment. We’ll see if we can’t be a little bit better. If we can’t do it then we will need to practice. In the car on the way to church you remind them. What kinds of things do we do? Let’s see how well we can do it. I don’t take toys for my kids. By 3 years old there are no toys for my kids. After sacrament it starts up. I leaned out and mouthed the words, “Do you want to practice?” They straightened up.
Boyd K. Packer “Teach Ye Dilligently” book
Anything we practice we become better at. Heber J Grant
Example: Child comes in and drops backpack at the door. They get the backpack then puts it away. They do the same thing every day. You feel like you are doing a good job parenting because you aren’t doing it for them, but you are reminding them everyday. Put your backpack on go clear out to the road and come back in and go all the way through to see the whole picture.
Putting toilet seats down, closing back doors, church behavior.
Example: Practice for church…..
Rules for practicing…you have to be at level 0. You must have some humor in you. You almost have to make it a game. It’s easy to slip into punishment on this one. If you can’t present it in a happy way don’t use this one.
Practice—let’s practice coming in on time for 3 weeks and then we’ll see if you receive that privilege back.
Class member: My Dad saw me roll through the stop sign. He was teasing me about it, but made all of us go back in the car and drive around the corner and actually stop at the stop sign. It worked perfectly in this situation.
Class member: I did the backpack thing with my daughter. The 1st time she had to practice 3 times. She wasn’t getting it. She had to do it 37x when she was in the 6th grade. She was finally laughing towards the end. We have to learn this. Let’s learn this and get it right.
Tool #5--FAMILY MEETINGS
Problems are put on the table. It’s like a ward counsel. You are not finding fault with people, but you are looking for solutions to problems. You may not point fingers at anyone. You need to focus on finding solutions. It’s just a time to look at a problem and find solutions. Plan assignments. Each person feels responsibility. It’s not all about negatives.
We aren’t discussing who’s job. If we can’t resolve the problem we just need to get rid of the job. You just brain storm and come up with some other options. It’s not blaming and it’s not finding fault.
When you have a tattletale you can have them put that on the agenda (that is on the fridge). That problem will be resolved by theirselves.
Tool #6--MAKE UPS
Example: You are planning a big Valentine’s dinner for your spouse. You call him and he says I’ll be home by 5:30. You get someone to watch the kids. You spend all day to fix his favorite meal with candles. 5pm comes you get excited. 5:30pm comes he doesn’t walk in. 6pm you start getting ticked. His cell phone isn’t working. 6:30 comes he’s still not there. 6:45 comes and you are supposed to pick up the kids at 7:30. He comes walking in the door and says I am so sorry I got stuck at work. You say, “That’s ok. I have to go get the kids at 7:30pm.” Let me just tell you my boss came in and he was showing me these plans I couldn’t get out of there. There was an accident and traffic was stopped. There was nothing I could do. What if instead he came home he came in the door and he had his hand behind his back and said the same thing and pulls out 1 red rose. I just want you to know that I’m sorry and I love you. You felt within you the difference that would make. Now when he says he’s sorry he did something you know that he means it. It erases all the bad feelings.
Because there was an action attached to the apology it makes it more meaningful. If 2 children are fighting, then after they leave you say, “What can you do to show you are sorry?” It’s good if it’s an act of service.
Class member: My daughter that is 5 ½ was upset with the 3 year old sister. She yelled it and slammed her door. Before I had a chance to talk to her she came back and apologized and said that she wants to play with her “Frozen” toys though.
I would acknowledge and validate what she did on her own. I’m so grateful that you apologized and shared.
Class member: There are some positive role models that sings about Daniel Tiger. Saying I’m sorry is the first step and then how can I help.
Tool #7--NON-VERBAL COMMUNICATION
Example: You have a rule in your home that says no TV until after jobs are done. You are tired of nagging and them breaking the rule. You take a sheet and put it over the TV and put a smiley face on it. When they come in they got the message and you didn’t have to say a word.
Example: Write a note and put on the mirror. This room is condemned until further notice. Love note in their lunch. It can be a positive as well as reminder.
When my kids were young I could raise my left eyebrow they would know that now is the time to straighten up.
You can have a sign for that child that just says, you are getting out of control. It could be pulling your ear. It’s non-verbal something that means something. It’s not as threatening.
Tool #8--TIME OUT
Example: Typically you say, “Go to your room.” We send them to the room because you want them to go think about what you have done. They hit the door and 25 seconds later they are back out. Go back in your room. You need to stay in there until I say you can come out. After 2-3 minutes they come out crying. You say ok. Maybe now you have repented. Don’t you ever do that again.
We think we are using time out to think about what they have done and then repent. That is a punishment.
The purpose of time out is for the simple purpose of getting them to calm down to the point that you can teach them. Timeout alone doesn’t teach you anything.
If they hit the door and stop crying and then come out it is ok. You take them on your lap and teach them what they should do and you do it in love. Time out is only for the purpose of cool down. Some of you need time out.
There is a great book. “Positive Discipline” by Jane Nelson
Everything in it is not gospel related or to gospel standards. Some things will bristle your hair. She talks about time out. The purpose is to cool down so you can teach.
Try something new from the 8 tools. You will not feel comfortable with it. You will want to go back to sending them to time out because that is what you are used to be doing.
Life is a challenge, but a great one.