Thursday, February 21, 2008

New Parenting

I spent the last 2 days attending a training by Dr. Brian Post from the Post Institute.
It was all about parenting. Specifically parenting really tough kids; adopted children, foster children or kids who have experienced high levels of trauma that are continuing to affect their behaviors.
It was very eye opening and interesting. In the end I disagreed with some of his hands on techniques, but agreed with his general theories.
What I liked about him is his understanding that parents can't help kids be in control of their emotions when the parents aren't in control of their emotions. Kind of a "duh" statement right? But how many times in one day do you as a parent allow your frustration level, maybe even your voice level, to go up because of something your kids are doing? That really only increases the stress in the situation. Some one who is upset can't calm down someone else who is upset. Only a parent who is calm and in control of themselves can be in control of a situation.
But Dr Post believes it is wrong for parents to try to control their children anyway. It is impossible to control another person. All we can really do is influence them. We can set limits and model appropriate behaviors. We can also spend extra time building positive relationships with our kids, so that our kids care more what we as their parents think about their actions.
I was following right along until the second half of that last sentence. Maybe my own training is so much a part of me that I am closed to new ideas, and I really do think realtionships are vital in raising and teaching kids, but I think kids need to learn to do the right thing because it is the right thing, not because their parents make them feel guilty if they don't.
But it does make sense that kids who spend more quality time with their parents are less likely to act out.
Dr. Post also focuses on recognizing, when a child is acting out, what is causing them stress that is triggering the behavior. Because if you can resolve the underlying stress and fear you can resolve the behavior.
Example: If you have a foster son that freaks out and goes crazy every time you go to the grocery store, maybe that is simply too much stimulus for him and he can't handle that much going on in such a big place for that long. So maybe you need to start my taking him with you to smaller stores for smaller time increments and work your way up, so he can learn to deal with it a little at a time.
Or maybe that child was abused by his mother for whining every time they went shopping, so being in a store is a trigger for his deeper issues. So you have to show him that he can trust you be caring and loving at the store. Which you would probably want to do by smaller trips to smaller stores and work your way up.
So that's great for kids with big problems, but what about your kids that have normal behavior issues? Your kids go crazy at the store just because they want Doritos and toungue tattoo fruit roll ups and Cocoa Puffs cereal straws. Dr. Post would probably say that if you spend 10 minutes every morning, 20 minutes in the afternoon, and 10 minutes at bedtime of quality time with each of your kids, those behaviors will resolve themselves.
And I'm sure that would help. But the part of me that has sat through over 200 hours of trainings, worked with over 50 kids over the last 6 years and is nationally certified still says kids need a consequence for acting out and a reward for behaving.
Dr. Post quoted several times:
"If you keep doing what you've already done, you'll keep being where you've already been."
My response was, well, what if what I've been doing is working?
Still I learned a lot and will use some of his ideas with the kids I work with. Alltogether it was very thought provoking and I think I will be a better parent for attending.
If you are interested in what he was talking about you can go to and download a free e-book about his parenting techniques.
I am interested in your comments about this or parenting in general, or whatever random thing you feel like posting about.


Tom and Lillie Wilkinson said...

Della, I think you are right what you have been doing is working that is why you now have the job you do. You are good at what you do and people recognize that. i am proud of what you and Chris do and the life changes you are helping your boys make.
GOOD JOB and keep up the good work.

Della Hill said...

Thanks, Lillie.
That's so awesome.

Carrie & Karl said...

I think the guy who does that class has had very different experiences with teenagers than I have. Although being a good example and having strong relationships is important, people need to learn to do things because they want to, and because it is the right thing to do. I don't think that giving a child consequences, whether positive or negative, is controlling them. It is TEACHING them.
What I would say is whenever you learn something new, look at it as clearly as possible. Take what you can use, and use it, keep the rest in the back of your mind for future reference.
I think you do a great job at your work and have a lot to show for it. Keep it up.

Della Hill said...

I totally agree.
I think you are right on. Thanks.

Tom and Lillie Wilkinson said...

Personally I think what I have heard of Dr. Post sounds like a throwback to Dr. Spock. If what you are doing is working to help your kids to achieve success you keep doing it. I can tell you are on the right track in both your personal and professional parenting because you are looking at new ideas and continuing to try to get better at things that you already do well. We struggle to be perfect parents and forget that perfection is not a destination but rather a journey. Perfection is achieved when you realize that you have heard truth that you have not previously been living and you make it a part of you because it is truth.

I also am really proud of you guys, and hope to become as good at my chosen profession as you are at yours.


Della Hill said...

Thanks Drew.
That's a big compliment.