Friday, October 29, 2010

Washington D.C. Class Trip

Late last night, the eighth graders returned to ECS from their class trip to D.C. We were there for four days, where we went, nonstop, from pre-sunrise to post-sundown everyday. We were blessed to have our same tour guide again, Miss Carol. She has so much knowledge, is good with the kids and has a way of bringing history to life. As a group, we always knew where we were going as we followed Miss Carol holding up her red umbrella with a yellow path sewn around the top of it. She told the kids to "follow the yellow brick road." The students really enjoyed her. We were also blessed to get Kenny, our coach driver who is also a licensed tour guide. He related so well with the kids. I know the kids will miss them both.

Our students were so excited for this trip as they soaked up the information presented to them everywhere they went. Some of the highlights of our travels were Arlington National Cemetery where our students laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Gettysburg, the Holocaust Museum and the Veteran's Memorial. I was so moved to see the reverence of our kids at the memorials but especially the Holocause Museum. They really took their time to diligently read about this horrific event and the philosophy behind it. Tears in their eyes and down their cheeks were not uncommon. There was an appropriate mix of anger and empathy, resulting in a solemn demeanor from the group for a while after the visit to the museum. This visit made the holocaust a tangible event that the kids could understand.

The days were long and the information plentiful. The students and chaperones did a great job of pressing forward. After arriving in Louisville, after a two hour delay I might add, a gentleman from our flight sought me out at the baggage claim. He walked up to me and stuck out his hand and said, "I wanted to say that this is one of the best mannered groups of kids I have ever seen. I just wanted to tell you that." I thanked him for the kind words and he walked away. This man's comment was true of the entire trip. This group, including chaperones, were wonderful to work with. Information was learned, friendships were strengthened and memories were made that we will always remember.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Parent Education - October

Developing a Discipline Plan

As kids enter adolescence, they will begin to push boundaries. Parents, who once felt like they had everything under control, are now becoming frustrated because of new behaviors from their pre-teen/teen. Many parents have come to me for advice because, in the moments of frustration, they react or respond in ways that are not Christ-like and they are not proud of. These parents were looking for counsel on ways to deal with the disrespect that seems to be creeping in their child's life. The honest truth is that for every one of these conversations I have had with a parent, there are probably ten others out there that simply haven't asked but are having the same issues. I want to address how to prepare for this in this month's parent education.

You need to realize that frustration comes from not having a plan. The inappropriate responses from you, the parent, usually stem from anger/frustration (emotions) brought on by the child's misbehavior. It is important to note that emotions escalate the situations. Taking emotions out of any situation will result in control. For these situations to improve, you will need to address both developing a plan and taking the emotion out of your discipline with your kids (taking back the control). That is what I will try to help you do in this entry.

To develop a plan, you and your spouse need to sit down together and create responses to the infractions you are encountering from your children. A few offenses could include lying, disrespect, cheating, irresponsibility, etc. In your responses, imagine your child just, for example, responded back to you with a disrespectful remark. Taking emotion out, what would you say to them and what would the consequences be? Some parents I have talked with have used going to bed fifteen minutes early for each disrespectful comment as a consequence. Your response might be, "We have discussed this. That is fifteen minutes. Do you want to rethink that response and try again?" If they continue with the disrespect, you simply add another fifteen minutes and restate what they should do. It may take this child a few nights of going to bed at 6pm, but they will get the message. Most kids will hear that response from you, be reminded of a better choice, take their fifteen minute consequence and learn from their mistake. It is important to realize that both parents need to implement the same responses and consequences consistently. Children need structure, routine and clear expectations to be able operate well. Without clear expectations, kids cannot strive for something. Without consistency, kids will have difficulty understanding any absolutes. Your discipline and the tone of delivery should be something they can count on.

There may be times when you encounter a situation you weren't necessarily prepared for. It is okay for you to table a discussion or consequences to gather your thoughts. Use this tactic to, again, remove yourself from the situation to remove the emotion of the moment (both you and your child) and gain wisdom from your spouse. When you come back together, there will be level heads to discuss the learnings and in the administration of the consequences.

You need to be aware that your kids will learn behaviors by watching you, the parents. How you handle conflict will most likely be how they handle conflict. Your tone in speaking to your spouse is likely how they will speak to their spouse. My question for you is, " What are you teaching your kids by your actions?"

Action Steps:
1. Develop a plan - Responses
2. Both parents implement - Unite
3. Be consistent - Absolutes

If you do these things consistently, I am confident you will begin to see improvements.