"Men, the single best thing you can do for your children ... is love
"You ought to be ashamed of yourself."
"That will make me feel bad."
"What will the neighbors think?"
"I'm glad your dead grandfather isn't here to see this."
"I can't sleep at night worrying about you."
Parents who use phrases like the ones above are dispensing guilt and
shame. They usually use these kinds of phrases because they believe that
shame and guilt are needed to encourage children to change. The idea is
that if children can be shamed into feeling guilty, they will change their
behavior and do what their parents desire.
Children who are shamed regularly come to believe that the shame is
justified, that they must have earned it, and that they deserve it. They
develop such core beliefs as "I'm no good," "I'm not enough," "I'm wrong,"
and "I'm not worthwhile." Children who have these core beliefs see themselves
as shameful and act in accordance with their beliefs.
Instead of dispensing a shame-based communication, use a style of parent
talk that is open, honest, and direct. Present choices to your children.
Explain what happens if they choose a certain behavior and what happens
if they don't. Allow them to choose and then experience the legitimate
consequences of their behavior.
Children learn more from a caring adult who helps them to evaluate their
choices and the results that follow than they do from one who shames and
continually lays guilt.
"I'm angry about the broken window, and you will need to find a way
to pay for it" is more effective than "You should have known better."
"Looks like you have chosen to work with a tutor this marking period.
The two D's demonstrate that you can use some extra time and help in those
subjects" is healthier than the guilt-laying "You really disappointed
us with this report card."
Refuse to be one of those parents who cause children to feel shame and
guilt for their actions. Communicate honestly without sneaking shame into
the equation. Stay centered in your efforts to create respectful, responsible
children by modeling those attributes in your behavior and in your parent
"Parent Talk: Words That Empower, Words That Wound" is a 280-page hardback
book by Chick Moorman. It is available through Personal Power Press at
(toll free) 877-360-1477 or email@example.com.
3. Spirit Whisperer Contemplation [back to top]
What if, for today, you slowed down and savored? What would you choose
to savor? What enjoyment and sweetness call for lingering today?
We are currently looking for people to become trainers in The Parent
Talk System. If you interested in making a difference in your community
and would you like to bring effective parenting to the parents and children
in your school, church, group, or neighborhood, this training could be
for you. The next Training of Trainers is July 25-27 in Dearborn, MI.
Request a brochure and additional information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Why can't life's problems hit us when we're seventeen and know everything?
5. Parent Talk Training of Trainers Announcement [back to top]
Announcing two winter sessions of training of trainers in the Parent
January 9-11, 2003
Grand Rapids, MI
January 16-18, 2003
Email email@example.com for a full brochure
and registration materials. For direct inquiries, call (toll free) 877-360-1477.
by Chick Moorman
Latrell was moving from Head Start to kindergarten. Ho Lynn was moving
from one daycare center to another. Kevin was moving across town. Although
their situations were different, each youngster was in need of a parent
who could respond effectively to Transition Time.
"Time" is the key word in the Transition Time phrase. It takes time
for a parent to structure and create conditions that can get a child ready
to make a smooth transition. It takes time for a child to get used to
and embrace a new situation. It takes time for a parent to tune into and
respond effectively to a child's positive and negative reactions to the
change. To smooth a Transition Time for your child, take time to read
and consider the Five Steps to Effective Transitions that follow.
Transition Step No. 1: Be honest and open with your child, keeping him
or her informed of your plans as they develop. Give your child the real
reasons why the transition is necessary. A minor transition for you can
be a big deal for your child. Remember, to a four-year-old, the last two
years represent half of his or her life.
Transition Step No. 2: Arrange for a visitation. Tell your child, "We're
going to see how the new school works." Set up your visitation as though
you were checking the school out, looking it over. Treat this as an exploration,
an adventure in discovery. Give your child and yourself some things to
look for; for example, How is this school the same and how is it different
from the last school? Let's find out what you like and don't like about
Transition Step No. 3: Debrief the visitation. After the visitation,
ask your child what looked fun and what sounded interesting about the
new school. "What surprised you?" is a question that often produces helpful
dialogue. "Did you see anything exciting or scary?" is another. Your goal
here is to get your child talking. Your job during the debriefing is to
give your child an opportunity to describe what he or she heard, saw,
and felt. Concentrate on getting information, not on giving information.
As your child talks about the experience, your child will move through
it and be freed up from places where he or she might have become stuck.
Transition Step No. 4: Demonstrate understanding by granting in fantasy
what you cannot grant in reality. A child faced with a big transition
will often remark, "I like my old school better" or "I don't
want a new teacher." Here it is not helpful to attempt reassurance with
comments such as, "You'll get used to it in time" or "Just give it a chance.
You'll probably end up liking it better." It is more helpful to use parent
talk that demonstrates your understanding of your child's experience by
recognizing and honoring his or her wish. "You wish you could stay with
Miss Sally forever" shows empathy and understanding, while helping your
child to feel heard. "You'd like it best if you could pick your own teacher"
tunes into your child's fantasy without communicating that the wish will
Transition Step No. 5: Send your child a capability message. "I know
you can handle it" or "I know you are up to it" are examples of parent
talk that sends the message, "I see you as capable." "I know you can handle
it" does not communicate that everything will be wonderful; it just lets
your child know you believe he or she can handle whatever occurs.
Implement the Five Steps to Effective Transitions to help your child
deal with change. I know you can handle it.