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Exercises - Discipline and Kids - MD 12/78 Workshop Tape 8

[brackets for clarification, audience participation in parenthesis]

[When I was a mother of young children, I heard myself saying "No" constantly.  Thanks to Laleche League's philosophy, I tempered the children's behavior by suggesting the behavior I wanted.  If they were running through the house, and I felt it was dangerous to their well being or delicate items of the house; instead of shouting, "Stop it.", I would say, "Show me your walk."  It took more thought, but it felt better for me, and reduced the disapproval they heard from me.  When I heard this part of the Maryland workshop, I realized that his "experiment" was certainly worth a try.  I've found that the idea is worthwhile not only for kids, but for all those near and dear to one.  We join the workshop as someone asks the question.]

(Well, for instance, I'll tell you a personal thing.  What can I do with a teenager who won't pick up the dishes--won't pick up his clothes.......)

Right.........the not "i" says if he was any good, he'd pick it up.  But if he started being a real good housekeeper, another not "i" would run by and say, "I wonder if he's quite normal."

(You mean I ignore the dishes and clothes and things and pick them up myself?)

Which one would be the easiest on your central nervous system?

(Depends on the day.)

Depends on which not "i's" are up, is that right?  I've always found picking up the clothes was much easier on my central nervous system--therefore, also on the rest of the body, to not have a hassle with anybody.  Now you're not going to raise him up in the manner to which he "ought to go" by all your hollering.  You're only gonna wear yourself out and look like an old lady about 50 years before time for you to look old.  One sure thing about teenagers--if we will allow it...........

(Well, he's past teenager, he's 20.)

Whew, you sound like the lady that came in and said, "I have to look after the baby."  I said, "How old's the baby?"  She said, "42."  

(But my baby is still there.)

Well, I think that when they get 18 that that's time for them to take a walk and go be on their own.  Now he can have his own apartment and it wouldn't matter whether he left the dishes and stuff, would it?  That's simple--I thought you had a kid in the house--sorry about that.  That's not a kid, that's a grown man.

(Would you finish your statement about teenagers, please?)

(And eight year olds.)

There's no use screaming and hollering at them, it's simpler on the nervous system to go do it, isn't it?  How long would it take you to pick up the dishes and put them in the sink; and to pick up the clothes and throw them in the hamper.  How long does it go when you hassle with them--hours.   

So the not "i" comes in and says, "You got to raise that kid up right."  And then after a while, someday when you really got your lick in and the kid gets all upset and runs away from home, then another not "i" says, "You really went wrong."  One of the most common statements I hear is a parent say, "Where did I go wrong?"  Of course the not "i" from within says, "You did it wrong." "You goofed up."   I will tell you that if you didn't get him trained before he was 12, don't try it at 20, honey.

(He was great until he got to be 18.)

Then he doesn't have to listen to you anymore.  So when he gets there, there's another place for him to live down the road.  But a not "i'" says, "Well, you can't throw him out in the street--after all it's your child!"

(No, not too much.  The more he leaves his clothes, the less the not "i" says that.)

Yes, Mary.

(How do you train them before they're 12.)

I don't know.    (laughter)

I only raised a couple of kids; and we had discussions once in a while--but they were discussions.  Of course, I maneuvered around a little bit.  I told you that they never were sick because I told them they had $2.00 a week allowance--every Saturday morning--I wasn't going to give them money all through the week.  If you want to buy anything and everything, it's yours.  You get $2.00.  You can spend it on anything you want to, you're going to get it every Saturday morning—now, if you've been sick through the week, you don't get your allowance.  In three years, they never were sick.  Now I don't know whether that had anything to do with it or not, but they had been sick a lot before they came to live with me.

Now I wouldn't go into bribing them or controlling or anything; however, I did find that people do a lot more for attention and approval than they do for criticism. 

Now every person wants attention, is that right?  Now if I don't get a lot of attention and approval, I'm going to, at least, get attention.  I'm going to do something so dramatic that you're going to give me attention.   Now if I leave my clothes scattered all over the floor and the dishes dirty, you're going to give me attention, aren't you?  You're going to scream at me. 

Now I would only make a small suggestion to all these people that have kids that don't behave like they want them too, ok?  That you give them attention and approval for how you would like them to do instead of what they're doing. 

A lady came in, very much like every other mother, and she was ranting and raving.  The kid was the source of it.  The not "i's" from within were really giving her a fit about her daughter who was about 12-years old who wouldn't clean her room.  Her room looked like a hog pen.  She never did anything at the house.  She came in and fell in front of the TV, or she did something else; and mama came in and had all the work to do.

So she came to me and paid her money to have some kind of suggestion.  So I said, "Well, I will offer you somewhat of a thing that you could experiment with."  I don't know whether it will work or not; but let's experiment. 

Several times a day, or whenever the child is around in another room--now you don't give her a compliment direct.  Instead, you pick up the phone, even if you got your finger on the button or just letting it hum, or if you're talking to one of your friends; you remark how wonderful little Dorothy's doing--that she's beginning to take a lot of pride in her room.  Her room is looking nice.  She's a big help in the house; and you are so proud of her.

She said, "WELL, I WOULD BE LYING."  I said, "Ok, you're lying."  So what?  I said if that's going to be a big sin, I've got a lot of them.  I'll just add that one on to my list and they can burn me a little extra.  So I'll take it.  If it's wrong for you to do what I'm laying out, why, I'm the sinner, not you.  So you do it.

After some 30 minutes, which ran her bill up another $30, she agreed to it.  She'd try it.  So I didn't hear from her for about a week.  I told her to call me in four or five days.  She finally called me up.  I said, "Well, what's going on?"  She said, "You're nuts, and that kid's worse."  "The house is immaculate, I don't have anything to do when I get home--every one of her clothes is hung up and she's done all the laundry for the whole house including mine."

Now does that give you any idea?  You see what we can do?  We wait until they do something nice if we're going to give a compliment; but, you know,  usually we feel entitled to what we think they “ought to do”.  Now when they make a little static, we scream and yell at them, is that right? 

Now I know that I can get attention.  I would like to have attention with approval which is appreciation.  Now how many times have you received appreciation lately?  Lay that one on me.  Anyone come around and give you attention and approval which I think is called appreciation. 


You like that don't you?  And you'll work to get it again, won't you?  It's a pretty good motivator.  Now you've had some criticism too.  Do you go back to get some more of that or do you kind of dodge it?  But if you had nothing, you will try to get attention, at least, is that correct?  If everybody's ignoring you, you're going to do something to get attention.  Well, at least I can holler and scream and I'll get attention, huh? 

You're little baby was hungry last night, and it was getting attention, wasn't it?  It carried on until it got your attention and then it purred like a kitten.  But, you see, at that stage of life the ONLY thing the baby can do is complain by crying.  Now most of us carried that behavior on with us since it worked as a baby.  We're still doing it even though we're not carried around in a little basket any more.  We're still using the same method to get things. 

So I would say if you want your kids to act somewhat like you would like them, let them at least overhear the attention, approval or appreciation--it's better not to go straight to their face with it.  Let them overhear you talking to somebody else how wonderful they are, and how proud you are, and how they are taking a great joy in the household and how they've quit all this kid stuff they've been involved in.   It certainly won't be any worse than what you're doing now. 

I fully expect that most of the misbehavior most parents experience is an effort of the kids to gain attention.  Recently I was in  Yuma, Arizona in a convention hotel.  They were having the orange grower's convention.  The people hadn't seen each other in a while and the mama's were all talking and unaware of a little girl.  Well, pretty quick she began to jerk mama's skirt.  That didn't get much result--mama said, "Shut up."  Well, it got more emphatic, and the little girl began to holler, "Look at me."  Well, nobody looked so she got up on a big glass top table in the lobby of this hotel and began to kick her feet back and forth and saying, "Look at me, I'm dancing."  "Look at me!”, “Look at me!”, “Look at me!"  She's three years old and she's going to get some attention.  Of course, she got some on that glass top table.  There was a whole bunch of folks came running right quick.  In other words, she stopped this idle conversation, and she got some attention.

Now I figure that most of these people that we see as misbehaving, out here running around--teenagers and sub-teenager and super-teenagers--they're trying to get attention. They do get it!  They get your attention when they leave clutter and dirt laying around, don't they?  I refuse to give attention for that kind of stuff. 

You see, it was like the two kids that didn't get sick for three years because I ignored illness and gave approval.  I told everybody--when the kids and I be out anywhere--that the kids hadn't been sick--never got sick--they were the healthiest kids in town.  I also remarked how nice they looked all the time.  They were pretty sloppy when they came to me--they'd never been dressed up.  Pretty soon you couldn't keep them dressed up enough.  The little boy wouldn't go to school without a three-piece suit and a tie on.  I went to work with a suit and a tie on, so he wasn't going to school without a suit.  He wasn't going to wallow in mud puddles--he was going to school all dressed up in his suit and tie.