Monday, March 3, 2014

Alternative to Punishment #5: Express How You Feel - And Offer an Alternative

Alternative to Punishment #5: Express How You Feel - And Offer an Alternative

If you have any questions you can post them
on our popular Facebook Page.

Do you remember the story about when our son was scratching the paint
off the wall with a spoon and instead of reacting I applied the 2nd, 3rd and 4th
alternative to punishment? I evaluated the situation and asked him a question
about what he was doing. He then told me he was taking snow off of his

Well, after he told me that and in order to really engage his cooperation, I used
another communication technique that helps your child develop a healthy
empathy and respect for you. This is "Expressing how you feel."
By doing this, you will teach your child how their are connected to
the whole family's well-being. Which will make them be more considerate.

So the next step is to express how you feel and offer an alternative.

So in this case I said:

"I don't want paint to come off the wall because
then someone will have to repaint it. And I'm
feeling a bit tired when I think about re-painting.

But I have a great idea of something we could do
together that would be the same amount of fun..."

See how I expressed my feelings  without applying
any sense of blame or guilt onto my child for being
responsible for my feelings? It's important that we
don't blame our child, or our child's actions, for
our feelings.

The key is to communicate neutrally about your feelings.

Here's another example...

Your child leaves their clothes on the floor.
Instead of yelling you can offer an explanation such as...

"When you leave your clothes on the floor,
I have to clean them up, and right now I feel
a little tense about the possibility of picking
them up, so could you please pick them up?"

In this example you're actually making a request instead
of offering an alternative.

Making a request allows your child the opportunity to
learn from finding their own suitable win-win alternative.

It's okay to be honest and sincere about your feelings,
but if you have a threatening tone of blame then your
child will respond with fear and be less likely to actually
learn to "think" about their behaviour and their actions.

To understand how this really works,
join our 7 week transformative parenting course:

Busy Moms Guide to Awesome Parenting
An Essential 7 Week Course for Busy Moms!

Here's another example...

Your child is tracking muddy shoes into the house, instead of
yelling at your child or getting upset, you can simply reach
out with your hand and physically stop your child in a loving
and gentle way, while also saying;

"Oh my! It looks like the floor is getting dirty,
let's take off your boots at the door so mommy
doesn't have to mop the floor again. - Thanks sweetie!"

When expressing how you feel you can use 2 types of statements:

1. 'I' Statements:

"I really don't want you to get hurt by walking into
the street, because the cars move very fast and they can hit you."

2. Third-person Statements:

"Mommy doesn't want to spend more time
cleaning tonight, I'd much rather just play with you."

The real key is to make them feel that you're not upset at them.

Rather than reacting to what is happening, express how you feel
and offer an alternative or make a request that allows them the
 to solve the problem by finding their own alternative.

Do your best to keep the conversation neutral and avoid blame.

Sometimes distinguishing between blame and neutral communication
can be a blurry line. So it's best to keep in mind that your child wants
nothing more than to feel connected with you and share in the safe,
connected love that your child yearn from you.

If you tell your child that he or she is hurting you or causing you
to be angry, that's very traumatizing for a child who deeply and
instinctively strives to get his or her mother's approval. Because
they want nothing more than to feel safe and connected with you.

What's a 'Blame Phrase'?

---Blame Phrase:
"When you pinch me it hurts me and makes me feel bad."

:Neutral Communication---
"When you pinched my arm I felt pain because it startled me
and hurt the skin on my arm."

---Blame Phrase:
"I'm so mad when you leave your clothes on the floor."

:Neutral Communication---
"When I see your clothes on the floor it brings up strong
emotions for me."

---Blame Phrase:
"You're a bad boy when you push your brother."

:Neutral Communication---
"When you push your brother it can hurt him, we don't push
each other here, please don't do that Sweetie."

Your child needs to know that feelings are okay. By teaching your
child that they can express their feelings appropriately — then they can
develop the skill of resolving all kinds of problems that come up in life.
Allowing them to problem solve with advanced social skills.

Children do not need to take on the reactive emotions of adults,
but they often do because of our lack of attention to their true needs.

Children need to feel safe to explore and learn about their world,
through play and other activities. This is how they learn about themselves,
and how they belong as a part of the whole.

By giving them the freedom and safety to explore their own potential
in ways that benefit the whole family, you teach them how it can be
more fun to cooperate and work with you instead of against you.

Offering a neutral explanation about how their behaviour or actions are
affecting you is a form of respect and a form of education.
This helps give your child more information about life, by showing them
how their actions are connected to you, the family, the home, the community,
the environment, and the world.

Using Neutral Communication is a good way to demonstrate to your child
how to express feelings intelligently, instead of repressing them, only to have
them blow up later.

What if you're really upset?

Usually if you find yourself reacting strongly to something your child does
or says. It may be because you're child is acting out. But, recognize also
that the main reason you're unable to practice non-reaction is because
of other stresses in your life, or day, or just from pure exhaustion from
a lack of support.

When you don't find yourself able to practice non-reaction,
then just be authentic, and say something like;

"Honey, mommy is really upset right now,
it's not your fault and I'm not upset at you,
but I'm feeling angry because of something else."

Be authentic about your feelings instead of taking it out on your child,
or pretending everything is fine when you don't feel that way.

But Wait...

Once you've expressed your feelings, offered an alternative, or
made a request, please don't expect your child to instantly do
what you requested, or go along with an alternative you offer...

Sometimes they will, and sometimes they won't.

Because we respect our son, he's usually very cooperative and
genuinely helpful , but he doesn't do EVERYTHING I ask. And I
wouldn't want him to. Most children who are ultra-obedient are
usually motivated by fear of punishment and consequently often
develop low self-esteem and approval issues (which make them
vulnerable to peer pressure)..

Children who are dominated by their parents through punishments,
rewards and threats have less capacity for creative problem solving.
Because instead of learning how they can think of ways to play and
explore that are in harmony with the world around them, they are
"forced" into doing things just because the authority "says so".

That's why there are so many peer pressure issues with teens and
youth. Teens who have low self-esteem usually weren't allowed to
safely and freely express and assert themselves while growing up.
Instead they were always told what to do and how to do it.

Children who aren't allowed to say "no" to their parents, will more
likely succumb to peer pressure as teenagers, and allow themselves
to be dominated and manipulated as adults.

While children must be allowed to freely say "no", there are sometimes
certain rules that they simply must follow — and that's where you want
to set a limit. See lesson 3 of Busy Moms Guide to Awesome Parenting

The key is in choosing your battles...

Don't get into a power struggle with your child. This just sets you up
for defiance and rebellion. It's much better to work WITH your child
to help them go along with a better course of action than to do something
that causes you stress, like a mess.

And above all ...

Let your child know that "you love them no matter what."
They need to know that they don't have to agree with you in order for
you to love them.

I play a game with my son which he loves... I say silly things to
him and also throw in more serious topics.

For example I will say "I love you even if you ate a moldy apple."
He laughs. "I love you even if you have a bath in the sprinkler."
"I love you even when you are angry."
"I love you even when you are sad."

He always wants to play this game because it addresses important
subjects but in a fun way. And allows him to to relax any tension
with Natural Giggles, which is explained in detail in lesson 4 of
Busy Moms Guide to Awesome Parenting 7 Week E-Course.

Wouldn't it be nice to know that someone loves you no matter what?
No matter what you did, they still care and are there for you. This is
important and critical for healthy self-esteem. If your child feels accepted
in who he in his family, he'll be less likely to seek that acceptance from
peer pressure groups.

Try this the next time your child does something that's less than desirable...

1. First, tell them how you feel in an appropriate way.
2. Use "'I' Statements"
3. Make your feelings simple, and don't bring adult topics into the
conversation. Keep it child friendly
4. Offer an alternative or make your request.

As an example...

"Mommy is making dinner for you and Daddy,
so she doesn't feel like she has the time to vacuum
sand off the carpet, maybe we could play outside instead."


"I have a sore foot and won't be able to play soccer; I hurt it
last week at the pool. How about we go to Jim's house instead,
maybe he will want to play."

Another example...

"I feel uneasy inside when you pull the dog's ear like that,
I think it may hurt him. What do you think?"

Carefully notice how your child acts differently when you respond
instead of punishing. You will be pleasantly surprised.


As you've discovered, the first alternative is to prevent the
"misbehavior" all together. The other alternative is to take a moment
and evaluate the situation. Asking a question, in order to understand
your child will allow you to effectively express how you feel then offer
a solution or make a request.