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Secret Strategies to Better Manage Behavior Without Punishment
addition to my counseling practice for most matters of family life, I frequently
provide workshops. This week, three: one for parents of high school students,
one for parents of elementary students and the third for students in grades 5, 6
in all my parent workshops, I ask what issues they are facing and what they
would like me to speak about. Both groups advised of unmanageable behavior and a
disconnect between themselves and their kids.
view of their common issues for both groups I spoke about how we as humans need
to feel a connection to others, most notably our loved ones in order to feel
whole and worthy. When we feel whole and worthy, then behavior is typically more
reasonable and if not, we can influence the other on the basis of the
most parents do not realize these days is that social, economic and
technological pressures have created this disconnect in families and as such we
are seeing more squirrely (anxious) looking kids. It is as if they are flailing
around not knowing what to do and thus get caught up in inappropriate behavior
and given our disconnect, we the parents have limited influence to restore
connection or behavior.
answer is not in better punishment, scolding or shaming. The answer is in
managing our guilt for lack of availability, taking responsibility for those
things we allow to disconnect us from our kids and then restoring our
workshops were so engaging. Parents quickly and easily shared their concerns and
challenges. We generated laundry lists of alternative strategies to address
specific behavior while all the time restoring connections to then maintain
for meeting with the middle school students, they were remarkably well mannered
and behaved. Some of that was the outcome of good teachers under the guidance of
a good principal and some of that was owing my own classroom management skills,
all based upon making a respectful connection. In fact, when asking the students
what they thought of me, several replied how they felt respected.
the students we discussed the role of the social worker, self-esteem, bullying,
respect and strategies for getting along with others. Considerable time was
spent discussing sarcasm. Just as cigarettes are a gateway drug to other drugs,
sarcasm can be considered a gateway behavior to abusive behavior. If we can help
students (and parents) to understand and manage the use of sarcasm so as not to
shame, embarrass or demean others, we reduce the risk of escalating conflict and
other forms of either verbally or physically abusive behavior.
kids, great parents, great teachers, great school administrators, great week.
Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
Call Gary for your next conference and for expert opinion on family matters. Services include counselling, mediation, assessment, assessment critiques and workshops.
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