January 20, 2012

Scream Free Parenting

Last night, I went to a free seminar that Fort Bliss hosted called Scream Free Parenting. This is the title of a book written by Hal Edward Runkel, LMFT, which has been featured on The Today Show, I believe.. don't quote me on that, though! Either way, a lot of people have heard of Hal and his Scream Free program. I, however, hadn't at all. I signed up anyways, with not many expectations, just thinking that it couldn't hurt.

I'm so very glad I went. It was probably the best program I've ever seen here at Bliss. It was run perfectly... they went above and beyond with stuff they had to offer (sandwiches, drinks, coffee and snacks), everything happened on time, and everyone was extremely friendly.

Now.. let's get to the good stuff. As a forewarning, this will most definitely be extremely wordy. I'll do my best not to jump around too much, but just follow me if you can. It's worth it!

Hal (I mean.. come on.. I've been to his seminar and he answered me when I raised my hand.. pretty sure we're on a first name basis) is not only a parenting/relationship genius, he's also quite hilarious. Which always helps when you're listening to someone talk for 2 straight hours, right? He is a happily married, Christian, father of two.. a boy and a girl, and a Licenced Marriage and Family Therapist. So basically, you can trust his word. He practices what he preaches every day.

His teaching goes against what most of society teaches us for the most part. And.. umm.. I like it. I think the main concept here is teaching our kids with natural consequences. Raising them to be able to be full functioning, capable-of-making-decisions, mature adults.


How do we get there? We learn not to react to the anxiety that is almost constantly within you once you become a parent. Screaming, according to my buddy Hal, is defined by your reaction to the stress.. whether that be by actually screaming at your child or spouse, or shutting down and making yourself unavailable to them.. in other words, ignoring the situation.

Why do we react anyways? Once you understand this, it helps immensely in the way you handle your children. It does for me, at least, and I'm fairly certain it will for you.
According to Hal, we've all been lied to about parenting. That's right.. lied to. Follow me through this and it may just feel like a weight has been lifted off of your shoulders.

Lie numero uno:
Your life is over once you have children. Your life now revolves around them. We even romanticize it by telling our kids, "you're our whole world". (Umm.. guilty!)
Sad. We can't, as adults, live up to being someone's entire world. That's a lot of pressure! Think about the amount of responsibility that goes along with being someone's "whole world". No thank you!
If we think of our children in that sense, it builds resentment. Those sweet, adorable children are eventually going to take us for granted and start saying mean, ugly things to us. If we put our entire life into these kids, give up everything that's important to us as adults, we're going to resent them when they hit this stage and can't possibly understand how much we've given up for them. Resentment is not a pretty thing, friends.

Numero Dos:
We are responsible for our kids.
We are responsible TO our kids, not FOR our kids.
I know this may come as a shock to you, but kids have a mind of their own. They make their own choices, as they should, no matter how much you want to make the "right" choice for them.
I know, as a parent, it's hard to just sit back and watch your child make the wrong choices. But isn't that what life is all about? Don't we want our children to be able to make a decision without having to call you for the rest of their lives?
If we try too hard to make the decisions for them, they are probably going to rebel anyways. We're not here to do that. We're here to create the right environment for them.
Our job is to prepare them for life, not protect them from it.

So no, we can't control our children. For me, that is freeing, not discouraging. I've been exhausted trying to control my toddler! Probably because I can't and it's a never ending battle that I didn't need to be fighting. We can't control what they are going to do, but we can be absolutely certain of what WE are going to do! What I'm going to do? That's easy!


Hal's method, along with keeping yourself calm and quiet with your children, is giving them choices, time limits, and consequences.
Again, you can't control what your children are going to do, whether it be putting their bike away even though you've told them a million times to do so when they are done, doing their homework, wearing their jacket.. keeping their room clean.. blah blah blah.. enter in anything you and your kids struggle with.

You can, however, control how you are going to respond to the situation. Do you think yelling and screaming your kid into submission is going to do them any favors, teach them any lessons, or make them respect you? The correct answer would be No No and NO.
They need to learn the consequences of their actions.
"I see your bike has been left out. If it's still there when I come home from the store, I'm going to take it to Goodwill". (The trick there is really taking it to Goodwill, too. Following through with the consequences is more important then whatever the actual consequence is). Said child now has the ability to decide whether it's worth it to her to actually put the bike away.
You cannot make your child do homework. You can have grade expectations and consequences if the expectations are not met.
You can tell your child to wear a jacket. You can even let them pick it out. If they don't want to wear it, especially if you are not around when they are supposed to be wearing it, they won't. And what do you care? Will people give you funny looks if your child is dressed properly? Yes, they sure will. Get over yourself. Why fight that battle? You don't wear your jacket, you'll be cold. That's your decision. Not me.. I'll be snug and warm in mine.

You get the point here. Natural consequences.

I don't want to rewrite the book for him, I want you to actually go out and buy it. He should, after all, get the credit. Plus, he says this all a little better than I do.. and remember.. he's pretty hilarious at the same time. There is so much more to delve into. I didn't cover half of it. My husband and I are going to be sitting down to read it together. If any of this sounds even remotely interesting, please run out and buy it. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

I will leave you with some of my favorite thoughts from him last night though:

-He says that no matter what country he teaches this in, there is always one phrase that everyone knows: Kids push our buttons. Well, when did we give them the remote? We gave them the remote when we thought we could use one on them.
-Kids test us because it's the only way they know how to ask us to be better leaders.
-We move away from the impossible - controlling someone else's behaviour/choices, to the really, really difficult - controlling our own.
-What would our house be like if our kids know we don't give second chances, but we won't get mad when they make the wrong choice?

Here is the Scream Free website. Go check it out! Let me know what your thoughts are!

What are your thoughts? Do you already use natural consequences with your kids? How does it work for you?


JG said...

It's funny, I was talking to my mom just yesterday and she said, "You know, your life doesn't end when you have kids. They come into YOUR life, not the other way around." I've never heard of this book or seminar but from what you describe I know quite a few people who use this method, and it is certainly effective.

ann_yetton said...

hmmm. Something to think about after this last report card!

Katie F said...

I just ordered the book and at our frg meeting yesterday mentioned trying to get this seminar to our base. I'm glad you liked it! Hopefully I'll get to attend his seminar soon!!

C. E. Welch said...

This actually reminded me a little of Cesar Milan and his dog training :). He says to remain calm and assertive instead of getting angry/upset/screaming. I have to remind myself of this often with Rembrandt. So glad you enjoyed the class!

Jen said...

It sounds like a wonderful seminar and an effective method to you. I am glad you were able to attend.

Julie Danielle said...

I see they have this going on here too. It sounds like something I would like. Reminds me a little of Love and Logic.