How the Evidence of Today Supports the Wisdom of Yesterday
More and more parents are educating themselves on the best way to bring up their children. We search the Internet, we read books, and we attend parenting classes. We all want to do the best by our children, to raise children that are loved and loving, confident, compassionate, considerate, and with a good sense of self-worth. In this quest for information, many parents look for evidence of effectiveness.
Active Listening – Download PDF
What Every Parent Should Know – Download PDF
Gordon Model For Parents At-A-Glance: Infographic – Download PDF
How to Choose the Right Parenting Program for You
When Dr. Gordon taught the first P.E.T. class in 1962, parent training was a brand-new idea. At that time, most parents felt that they didn’t need training–that the way their parents had raised them was good enough. Still the idea caught on and in 1975, the New York Times called P.E.T. “a national movement.”
What Should I Do? Whose Problem Is It Anyway?
All of us who are parents want the best for our kids. We don’t like to see them in pain, upset, sad or frustrated about something. It’s almost a natural instinct to want to jump in and protect them from whatever problem or conflict they are experiencing. We do it without even thinking.
As A Parent, What Can I Do About Video Games?
The overriding concern of parents is how to get their children and teens to stop spending so much time playing video games. Of particular concern are parents’ fears about the level of violence in many video games.
Cruel & Unusual Punishment
The manifestation of what punishment and authoritative power does to children is obvious: fear, avoidance, lying and hostility.
Things I Never Told My Parents
Punishment can sometimes create a divide between you and your children. As Dr. Gordon says: “Teenagers don’t rebel against their parents; they rebel against their parents’ power.”
The 5 Most Common Forms of Punishment
A list of 5 common forms of punishment – and of course, the case against it!
Father Knows Best?
The idea that parents should control and influence their children in order to become productive adults in society is one that is widely accepted.
“Letting Go” When You Don’t Own The Problem
I hear many parents’ frustration in feeling as if every problem that their child is experiencing is something that the parent has to solve.
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly – Problems of All Shapes and Sizes
Many decisions in the ‘No Problem Area” and smaller problems in the “Both Own Problem Area” can be easily resolved using Method III once family members/others have knowledge and trust in the Six Steps.
What Does the “Effective Parent” Do?
The central goal of P.E.T. is to present skills that can help parents have happy, healthy and satisfying relationships with their children.
Acceptance Must Be Demonstrated
It is one thing for a parent to feel acceptance toward a child; it is another thing to make that acceptance felt. Unless a parent’s acceptance comes through to the child, it can have no influence on him. A parent must learn how to demonstrate his acceptance so that the child feels it.
Attitudes Required to Use Active Listening
Active Listening is not a simple technique that parents pull out of their “took kit” whenever their children have problems. It is a method for putting to work a set of basic attitudes. Without these attitudes, the method seldom will be effective; it will sound false, empty, mechanical, insincere. Here are some basic attitudes that must be present when a parent is using Active Listening. Whenever these attitudes are not present, a parent cannot be an effective active listener.
Can Parents Change Their Attitudes?
Can Dr. Gordon’s P.E.T. book or a P.E.T. course bring about change in such parental attitudes? Can parents learn to become more accepting of their children? Most practitioners in the helping professions were taught that people don’t change much unless they go through intensive psychotherapy under the guidance of a professional therapist, usually lasting from six months to a year or even longer.
The Nature of Conflict
A conflict is the moment of truth in a relationship-a test of its health, a crisis that can weaken or strengthen it, a critical event that may bring lasting resentment, smoldering hostility, psychological scars. Conflicts can push people away from each other or pull them into a closer and more intimate union; they contain the seeds of destruction and the seeds of greater unity; they may bring about armed warfare or deeper mutual understanding.
Are You Listening Without Empathy?
A real danger for parents who try to learn Active Listening solely from a book’s printed page is their inability to hear the warmth and empathy that must accompany their efforts. Empathy means a quality of communication that conveys to the sender of a message that the listener is feeling with her, putting herself in the shoes of the sender, living, for a moment, inside the sender.
The Power of the Language of Acceptance
When a person is able to feel and communicate genuine acceptance of another, he possesses a capacity for being a powerful helping agent for the other. His acceptance of the other, as he is, is an important factor in fostering a relationship in which the other person can grow, develop, make constructive changes, learn to solve problems, move in the direction of psychological health, become more productive and creative, and actualize his fullest potential.
Can you become more accepting of yourself?
Studies show that a direct relationship exists between how accepting people are of others and how accepting they are of themselves. A person who accepts himself as a person is likely to feel a lot of acceptance for others. People who cannot tolerate a lot of things about themselves usually find it difficult to tolerate a lot in others.
Clear Sending In The No-Problem Area
An I-Message is authentic, honest, and congruent–reflecting the actual nature and strength of your thoughts and feelings. It is a clear message, understandable, and to the point, not masked in indirect or vague language.
Running Into Resistance to I-Messages
So you have decided to confront your child about a problem you have. You deliver a perfect, three-part Confrontive I-Message, but your child replies, “So what? Who cares?” Or maybe they deliver an I-Message of their own.
How To Uncover Hidden Needs
Over the last couple of months, the Family Connection has discussed the problems that power, permissiveness, and compromise create in our relationships. We have seen that all three of these approaches to resolving conflict can cause hurt feelings, anger, resentment, mistrust, sadness, and frustration.
Get What You Need Every Time: Method III
Compromising involves people in a conflict trying to keep as much of their own solution as possible, and lose as little as possible. In the end, someone’s needs are what actually end up being compromised, and this usually results in feelings of anger, resentment, sadness, etc.
The Best Relationships Lack Compromise
When we have what seem like irreconcilable needs, in order to move forward, it seems that often one party ends up fulfilling their needs at the expense of the other’s. When we hear “compromise” though, it usually signals to us that we are going to have to give up something that we want for the greater good of the relationship.
Six Reasons Why Confrontive I-Messages Don’t Work
I-Messages carry fewer risks to a relationship than do You-Messages and have a high success rate; however, they don’t always work. There are six reasons for this and actions you can take when these happen.
Being an Effective Parent Isn’t a Matter of Luck
Parenthood need not be a difficult and demanding experience that brings problems, worries and anxiety. One survey by parent trainer, Dr. Harold Minden, found that the responses of hundreds of parents to the question, “How would you rate your parenting experience?”
Children Don’t Misbehave
If parents only knew how much trouble this word “misbehavior” causes in families! Thinking in terms of children misbehaving not only spells trouble for the kids, obviously, but it brings on unnecessary problems for their parents.
The Mechanics of Rewards
It’s the holiday season and gifts will be given. How many parents use this occasion to control their children? How many parents will say things like Jordan, if you get an A in science, Santa will bring you that iPod you want? It seems normal to most. In fact, it is so common that its effectiveness is rarely questioned.
Behind the Scenes of Control
There are two types of control in the adult-child relationship, external control (adult discipline) and inner control (self discipline). Parents (and teachers) who manage and dispense rewards and punishments can be said to use extrinsic rewards and punishments for the external control of children.
What Rewards and Punishments Do To Our Relationships
Controllers decide which behaviors he or she judges as acceptable or unacceptable, which behaviors are to be reinforced by rewards as well as those to be weakened by punishment. For this kind of control to be effective, the child must be kept in a continuous state of dependency and fear – dependent on the controller for the rewards he or she can offer, fearful of the punishments he or she can inflict.
The Idea of Punishment
Like rewards, punishment requires certain basic conditions to work effectively in controlling children’s behavior. For one, the punishment must be felt by the controllee as depriving, noxious, denying, unwanted, injurious etc., basically, it must be aversive to the controllee and antagonistic to his or her needs.
The Idea of Rewards
For rewards to work effectively three conditions must always be met:
- The controllee must want or need something strongly enough to submit to the controller’s control (to come up with the behavior the controller wants).
- The reward offered by the controller must be seen by the child as potentially satisfying some need.
- The controllee must be dependent on the controller to supply the reward (that is, the controllee is incapable or meeting the need by himself/herself).
Where Do Controllers Get Their Power?
Where does the controller’s power come from? Let’s try to understand exactly how controllers acquire their capability. Why are they often successful? We all have the experience that the power of controllers comes from their use of rewards and punishments.
Reward and Punish your Child – Really?
The aim of controllers is to place themselves in charge of their controllees, in a position to dominate or coerce them. The controller’s wish, of course, is that the controllee will respond by being compliant, submissive, tractable, willing, nonresistant, yielding–euphemisms for obedient. Controllers hope that their controllees will always be obedient.
The Myth of Benevolent Authority
After looking at the four kinds of authority and after exploring why being authoritative does not equal being authoritarian, I’d like to dedicate one more edition of the Family Connection to briefly clarify some myths and facts about authority.
Being Authoritative Does Not Equal Being Authoritarian
Let’s start with Authority E (E standing for expertise.) This kind of Authority is highly-valued and quite harmless in human relationships. Most people, including children, respect those who have expertise, they learn from them, seek out their counsel, and often follow their advice.
The Four Kinds of Authority
Dr. Gordon talks about four basic definitions of authority. The first one is authority based on expertise. This kind of authority is derived from a person’s expertise – his or her knowledge, experience, training, skill, wisdom, education. For example, we say, “let’s rely on the authority of the dictionary”; or “he is an authority on corporate law”; or “she speaks with authority.” This is often referred to as earned authority. We will call this Authority E, the E standing for expertise.
Do Children Need Authority?
There is another omnipresent term that can be found in any discussion on discipline: “authority”. Unfortunately, this term often adds to the confusion and muddled thinking already surrounding the issue of discipline.
Should I Be a Strict or Lenient Parent?
To be strict or not to be strict, that is the question – in fact, it’s the number-one question among child-rearing and education authorities, among teachers and, of course, parents. It’s doubtful that there is a parent who hasn’t at one time or another agonized over this.
Do Children Need Limits?
We are continuing to look at several factors that help us explore why adult-imposed discipline does not produce self-disciplined children. Let’s briefly look at a misunderstanding in many discussions about discipline that centers on the notion of limits.
Other-Imposed Discipline vs. Self-Discipline
We’ve been looking at what discipline means in the last two Family Connections. Let’s explore this further by differentiating between externally administered (“other-imposed”) and internally administered (“self-imposed”) discipline. These are two radically different kinds of control-type discipline.
In the last Family Connection we looked at the noun discipline and the verb discipline and the drastic differences between the two. We also proposed that disciplining children is the least effective way to achieve “discipline” at home. What is it that helps raise disciplined children?
Discipline That Works
The purpose and goal of the “The Family Connection” e-newsletter is to provide you with tips, research, suggestions within the framework of Dr. Thomas Gordon’s parenting model. In this issue, we’ll define some terms for the discussion to help clarify the often vague term, “discipline.”
Using P.E.T. with Infants
One of the most often asked questions regarding the use of the Gordon Model is “How young is too young?” In other words, parents want to know if the P.E.T. skills can be used effectively with infants. The answer is, quite simply, yes.
Families Need Rules
All groups, of whatever size or nature, need laws, regulations, rules, policies, and standard operating procedures. Without them, groups may very well fall into confusion, chaos and conflict. The functions that rules and policies can serve are indispensable.
How Do You Deal With Adversity?
In response to a reporter’s question after an exciting, rough-and-tumble, come-from-behind, must-win playoff game last week, Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns said: “That could have discouraged us, but it didn’t.” Those words stuck with me because they apply to our lives–each day, each moment. When faced with adversity, the team chose not to quit, but instead to rise to the challenge.
Taking Personal Responsibility
Many of us live as though someone or something outside of ourselves controls our lives. Whether it be other people, our parents, background, age, sex, race, fear, fate or God, we behave as if we are not active agents who are responsible for ourselves. We wait. We wait for something to happen or someone to come along to fulfill our needs or to make our lives better. But as the self-esteem author, Nathaniel Branden expressed it so aptly, “No one is coming.”
Why We Say “Yes” When We Want to Say “No”
How many times have you said “yes” to things you didn’t really want to do? Saying “no” can be very difficult, especially when we have been used to saying “yes”. When we do say “yes” instead of an honest “no”, we often feel like we let ourselves down and, at the same time, resentful of the person who asked us.
The Language of Love
A great deal of research has been done over the last 35 years which shows the harmful and lasting effects of physical punishment not only on children, but on the parents who do it and on the relationship between them. Further, the evidence that it doesn’t work is overwhelming.
Silence Speaks Volumes
Silence can mean many things in interpersonal relationships. It’s ambiguous. It can express lots of different emotions ranging from joy, happiness, grief, embarrassment to anger, denial, fear, withdrawal of acceptance or love. What it means depends on the context.
Climate – The Emotional One, That Is
Simply put, the emotional climate is the atmosphere in which we relate to each other. It is the tone or the mood that exists in a company, school, family–any environment in which people relate to each other. It is the subjective environment in which all of our relationships take place. And each of us, often without being aware of it, contributes to this tone or mood by the way we express ourselves and the way we relate to other people, especially in equal relationships.
We All Need People Who Will Listen
Active Listening to someone is a real gift to them. If you’ve ever had the experience of being truly accepted and understood as you delve into deep or emotion-laden feelings, you know the kind of relief and catharsis that can result.
These People Made a Difference
In the past month, two pioneers in the field of psychology have passed on, both of whom made innovative advances in our understanding of human behavior, each in their own unique way. I have been reflecting on their contributions and re-focusing on how their work aligns with and supports the Gordon Model.
The Power of P.E.T.
Whether you’re the parent of a young child or a teenager, it’s a challenging job–and one that requires training and skills to do well. P.E.T., Parent Effectiveness Training, is a program that offers parents the specific communication and conflict resolution skills it takes to build and maintain effective relationships with children, in any and all circumstances. P.E.T. is not just bits and pieces of useful information and it doesn’t pretend to be a quick-fix. It’s a complete model and learning it gives parents the chance to become experts themselves in dealing with the inevitable problems that come up in all parent-child relationships. And we know it works. It’s been tested and proven around the world for the past 44 years.
Knowing What You Need
For our daily lives to have meaning and purpose, it’s important to be aware of what our needs are. That sounds so obvious and simple and yet it isn’t at all. It’s often quite difficult to identify our real needs.
Paying Attention to Children
Many parents wonder why their children don’t talk to them. “How was school?” “Fine” or “What’s wrong?” “Nothing.” They often feel it’s just a stage that kids go through–that’s it’s something going on within the child. Parents rarely consider that it could be something they’re doing–or not doing–that prevents their children from wanting to talk to them.
When we hear the words “pay attention”, it reminds us of being children when our teachers and parents ordered us to do it. We hear it as a negative: “You’re not paying attention” or “I need your undivided attention”. It usually means “I’m going to tell you something you might not be interested in or don’t want to hear. Listen anyway.” In the military, “Attention!” is an order and there’s even a specified way to “stand at attention” ready to obey the next order.
The Gordon Model in the Arab World
For several years, I have had the dream and then the goal of making our programs available in Arabic countries. Now, finally this dream has started to become a reality in Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.
Is It Time to Rock the Boat?
As the holiday season nears, do you find yourself resisting or even dreading being with certain relatives or friends because no true connection exists between you? Will you be with them mostly out of a sense of duty or obligation? Do you plan to make the best of it? Get through it somehow and not rock the boat?
Letting Go of Anger
In the interest of maintaining a relationship or keeping a job, the truth remains hidden the result of which is often resentment and anger–at the other person and ultimately at oneself.
A Credo for Your Relationships with Others
You and I are in a relationship which I value and want to keep. We are also two separate persons with our own individual values and needs.
So that we will better know and understand what each of us values and needs, let us always be open and honest in our communication.
Emotional Intelligence and the Gordon Model
Over the past 15 years, there’s been a groundswell of interest in the concept of emotional intelligence, also known as “EQ” which stands for Emotional Quotient. Much research has shown that EQ is more important than IQ in determining our success in life, both as individuals and in our relationships with others.
Beware of the GLOP!
What did that person do or say for me to jump from focusing on their specific behavior to the conclusion that they’re “unfriendly” or “skeptical” or “misbehaving”? Why is it that we automatically put labels on people and then start acting in accordance with those labels? Once we have made such a judgment about someone else whether it is positive or negative, we tend to categorize or type them based on that judgment, and then act as if it’s a fact which in turn, determines how we treat them.
Who Me, Defensive?
In your relationships at work and at home, you know the discomfort you feel when you become defensive and the unease you feel when you sense it in others. When we feel threatened, defensiveness or resistance is our initial, natural, perhaps inevitable reaction. We would probably be surprised if we stopped to think how much energy we use up resisting new ideas, blocking unwelcome feedback, defending our position. The reaction is so automatic, the habit so deeply ingrained that often we aren’t conscious of being in a defensive or resistant posture.
Accepting Yourself As You Are
Life doesn’t “happen” in big events–it takes place in all the hundreds of little things that make up each day. How to the spend the minutes of our day, the way we talk to people, the people we choose to spend time with, what we think about, what we work on–it’s in all these seemingly insignificant ways that we are living out our lives. So the decisions and choices we make all day everyday really matter.
For more information, or if you’d like to sign up for our monthly e-newsletter “The Family Connection”, please contact us at: