When my daughter turned eleven, I learned a very interesting thing about discipline from my friend, co-worker and author Sandy Mesmer. Besides being an author of children’s books and raising the cutest dogs ever (she’s a prize-winning breeder of Silky Terriers), Sandy is an excellent parent consultant, counselor and public speaker on the subject of children and parenting.
At that point, my daughter and I were going through a terrible time. I mentioned my frustration in this to Sandy. Children and teens love me, I’ve always worked well with them, and yet here I was at constant odds with my daughter. Admittedly, I never was a great disciplinarian. I don’t agree with corporal punishment, as my experience in witnessing it was then in later watching the child turn around and start using the same tactics with others. Clearly though with my own child, reasoning was not working at this point and despite the rewards and penalties system I used with my son, she was not rallying. She just did not care enough about the rewards. I was beside myself.
Sandy listened patiently and then she whipped out a book and in it showed me one little line, “This is what you are missing,” she said. I looked at this one little line and thought, “really?” I wasn’t quite sure. I had to see it for myself.
Basically what this one little line said was that without affinity, no “ethics presence” is possible. I read up more on this and saw a reference that explained further that without affinity, there can be no control. OK – this was definitely something I needed to play around with to see for myself. Frankly, at that point I was so angry with my daughter I really didn’t feel like rewarding her with “play time” with mom. And in truth my daughter was so angry with me I didn’t think she wanted to spend time with me. I was convinced that when she did spend time with me she would deliberately sabotage the moments to goad me into an argument.
But you know, the author of this reference was someone I had always found to be trustworthy. His research when I had tried it in the past always panned out, it always worked. I’d never seen it otherwise in 30 years. So OK, I decided to get over myself and to try it. Sandy was a big help. She coached me on it. In doing this, I was able to spot the ways I was at cause in triggering or escalating the upsets between my daughter and I…
That night I went home and decided to get a fun movie of my daughter’s choice to watch. At first she picked a movie I hated. So instead of being angry I did as we had drilled and coaxed her to pick something we both would like but something she really wanted to see. OK, yes she whined at first, but I kept my emotional tone in “interest” (this took a little work on my part I admit), but I did this and surprisingly to me, she calmed down and found something fun for both of us. We were off to a good start. During the movie she would talk through the movie, stop it and rewind a particular scene about 3 times. Did it make me crazy? Well yeah it did, but I reminded myself that the point was not watching the movie. The point was to raise the affinity between us. So I got less interested in the movie and more interested in my daughter. When she talked through the movie I listened to her instead of shhhhing her. When she stopped and rewinded the scenes I asked her what about the scene didn’t she get or did she like so much? In other words, as I had been coached, I shifted my attention to her and not to the movie, towards my goal of increasing affinity with her. The results: she had a great night with mom and when I asked her to go to bed on time, without an argument she went! She did – no argument! She just said, “OK” and went! It had worked! Honestly, I have to tell you I was totally prepared to have to return to Sandy to report it hadn’t worked. I was convinced that even if it had worked with hundreds of other people I would be the one person it would not work with because my situation was “so bad”. I can’t begin to tell you how excited and happy I was to be so wrong.
Sandy said, “I knew it! Now make sure the both of you are eating enough protein and getting enough sleep so you are both at your best.”
Now, that I have that under my belt, it is one of the key references I use with parents in handling their situations with their children.
There are several specific technical references on this and all can be found through Mace-Kingsley Family Center. All of them are very simple to understand and use… using them is the key!
At Mace-Kingsley we have very highly trained and experienced parent consultants to work with you and to help you drill your particular situation to ensure you get the best results. After all, happy families results in happy people, happy people results in a happier world. At Mace-Kingsley Family Center we are all about a happier world! We welcome your communication. Contact us any time at 727-442-3922 or [email protected].