Fights (Part 2/2): Preventing Them in the First Place

Fights (Part 2/2): Preventing Them in the First Place

In the first entry, we laid out a plan for dousing a physical flare-up between siblings.

Over time, that kind of calm leadership models behavior kids take on themselves. We send a message that conflict -- that unavoidable marker of human interaction -- is a chance to get in touch with feelings and needs; to express them assertively; to open up to another's perspective; to make repairs and, finally, to grow closer. 

Now, what else can we do to keep the landscape so well irrigated that these fires are less likely to occur?

Fights (Part 1/2) - My Kids Are In the Middle of One!

Fights (Part 1/2) -  My Kids Are In the Middle of One!

A parent recently wrote: I'm having trouble with hitting. Do you have a P.E.T.-approved way to stop physical violence between brothers?

This is tough! 

In this post, we'll do a skills walkthrough on how to help -- let's call them -- Sean and Jack; in the next, we'll work on prevention.

What I Learn From Teens

What I Learn From Teens

These teens work hard.

Some are lucky -- they take the course with friends who will whisper, "Hey, send an I-Message!" or check, "Do you want me to Active Listen or do you want my advice?"

Others -- buoyed only by an 18 hour respite where they got to glimpse another reality -- reenter a world defined by winners and losers, full of blame and shame and "I get the last word."

My Own Redemption - C.U.E. #11

My Own Redemption - C.U.E. #11

I've written before about how Claudia's whining gets to me. Clearly, I still have some work to do unearthing the button that Claudia may have pressed but did not install! 

That button says it’s dangerous when someone is upset and perilous to assert my needs.

That button tries to convince me that it makes more sense to wait for others to figure out what’s bothering me and change their behavior accordingly.

That button's been around a long time.

Marriage - P.E.T. Thoughts & More

Marriage - P.E.T. Thoughts & More

There were the inevitable struggles and recurring fights that most long term partners have. My inner dialogue usually went something like this: He’s taking advantage of me. He doesn’t appreciate me. Give an inch, he’ll take a mile. The icy chill could last hours, even days.

When I walked into my first parenting course five years ago, I was in a crisis with my 11 year old son. Lo and behold, though, my newfound assertiveness, empathy, and conflict resolution skills helped with my husband who, in turn, responded with his own best efforts.

The wonder of acceptance proved itself time and time again.

P.E.T. & Trump Conversations

P.E.T. & Trump Conversations

While my ire was directed at Trump (and, momentarily, his wife), I drew a line at my fellow Americans. I couldn’t in good conscience put down or label almost half of my country, or presume to know what was going on in their minds and hearts. 

I still believed Thomas Gordon's assertion that all behavior seeks to meet needs. Their vote was doing something FOR themselves, and not TO me, and I wanted to understand what that something was.

5 Ways to Stay In the No Problem Zone

5 Ways to Stay In the No Problem Zone

When the sailing is smooth, there are skills we can actively reach for to keep us in those calm waters longer! Here are the five that I cover in class. 

Making Chocolate When You've Never Tasted It

Making Chocolate When You've Never Tasted It

Felicia, a recent graduate of the P.E.T. course, spoke to a new cohort of parents:

You deserve self-compassion. Ask yourself, 'What do you need? Anything?' This is hard work. We were also children and we are trying to make chocolate without knowing what chocolate is!

The look of This woman totally gets me was on every single grinning face in that sunny room.

Off to College

Off to College

A few weeks ago, I spent two days at your university, listening to deans, advisors and mental health professionals tell us parents how to support you and your classmates in the upcoming year. I was pretty relaxed; nothing they said was too jarring.

It all made me wonder: What would this moment be like had I not learned P.E.T.?

Letting Go of the Story

Letting Go of the Story

"One way under the anger and blame you are both feeling is to ask yourself: If I had to let go of the story of how the other person is wrong, what would I have to feel?"

Severe Parenting Fatigue - P.G.D. #4

Severe Parenting Fatigue - P.G.D. #4

I feel like Severe Parenting Fatigue should be a thing.

As soon as a mom in my course said it, I jotted down SPF!!!! It's so ubiquitous and, personally, all too familiar. Parental burn-out is especially apparent at the end of the long school year but -- believe you me -- it really knows no seasons.

Yet relationships with our children are potentially the most rewarding of this one life we have. So why would we settle for anything approaching SPF? 

A Clear Path

A Clear Path

That softening and willingness to take in someone else's perspective had the startling effect of her daughter picking up a towel and starting to dry the dishes. "We got over it within a matter of minutes whereas before it would have meant a ruined Sunday afternoon," Therese gushed.

Oh, the gratitude we all saw in her wide, winning smile and bright eyes! 

Bullying & the Behavior Window: The Bystander & Prevention, Part 3/3

Bullying & the Behavior Window: The Bystander & Prevention, Part 3/3

There is no doubt that bystanders play a key role, and many parents yearn to raise kids who are willing to intervene. 

The Behavior Window can help clarify ways to support our children in moving out of passivity and avoiding, to the extent possible, becoming bullies or one of the bullied themselves.

Bullying & the Behavior Window: The Bully, Part 2/3

Bullying & the Behavior Window: The Bully, Part 2/3

Starting to forgive ourselves is courageous and arduous work, and utterly necessary. We do whatever it takes to come to a place where we can accept that our child is very much hurting; then we can become a helper and try to turn things around.

Bullying & the Behavior Window: The Bullied Child (Part 1/3)

Bullying & the Behavior Window: The Bullied Child (Part 1/3)

When I teach, all sorts of scenarios come up including, of course, bullying.

It is recognized that this phenomenon is best dealt with preventively and systemically rather than as an interpersonal matter. And yet, what does a P.E.T. parent do if our child becomes a target or is bullying others?

Becoming a Model - P.G.D. #3

Becoming a Model - P.G.D. #3

There's no doubt that my children are watching.

They have tried some of my strategies -- Jake, who's 15, likes the Headspace app on my phone -- but, more importantly, they see me vulnerable and open. I don't share too much of my childhood, just what I think is appropriate for them to know. But they appreciate my admission that when I fly off the handle or fall into a defensive, mistrustful stance that my behavior has nothing to do with their inherent goodness and everything to do with my own journey of healing.

And that kind of thing happens less and less. Oh, thank goodness! Working on communication skills, tending to my inner child and increasing my mindfulness helps me to choose actions and words that fit the situation and child in front of me now, today, in the present moment. 

I Took Sides -- C.U.E. #10

I Took Sides -- C.U.E. #10

Showing partiality in a face-off between two children who despise each other at that moment is never a good thing. But I did it. And in such a subtle, indirect way that both stung and stunned.

Sigh. P.E.T. instructor notwithstanding, I am a complicated human being first. 

In this latest addition to my Consciously Unskilled Series, I will walk you through my mess-up, what I did to undo what I'd done, and how I've grown. We are truly in this together.

My Husband's State of the Family Address

My Husband's State of the Family Address

As my husband talked about the strained relationship he had with Jake, I started itching to share something. Asking with my eyes and receiving his permission, I told everyone how we had received a letter from Jake last month in which he called his father his “best friend.”

From the state of affairs just a few years ago to "best friend!!!!!"  

Dear Dejected Mom At Church

Dear Dejected Mom At Church

I got an inkling something was wrong when you leaned over with a stern look. That's when I noticed the two girls were sucking their hands, on that fleshy part right under the thumbs.

Your older daughter just looked at you and kept at it. Then the girls smiled at each other, discreetly comparing marks.

The whole routine happened four more times.

A New Year's Approach to Parenting Problems

A New Year's Approach to Parenting Problems

I think most of us can accept discomfort and struggle in many arenas -- a hard work out, a longer than expected hike, even a tough manager who asks a lot of us -- but there's an added level of resistance when it comes to raising kids. 

I suspect that, though we may pay lip service to the idea that Parenting is HARD, deep down, most of us still believe that it shouldn’t be.

Or, worse, that it wouldn’t be if our children were just different.