Q: For what ages of children is your program recommended?
A: As the Gordon Model is a set of communication skills (and not behavior modification), the model works with children of all ages. Naturally, special considerations have to be made for pre-verbal children. The P.E.T. book DVD-based program cover methods for listening to children too young to talk, and ways of communicating your needs to children too young to understand words.
The sooner parents implement the Gordon Model with their children, the easier it gets to use it as children develop.
Q: Is this a permissive approach?
A: Definitely not. When parents let kids do whatever they want (and parents don’t get their needs met), children grow up to be irresponsible, inconsiderate and uncaring of parents’ and others’ needs. Kids brought up this way are often not liked by peers – they experience unrewarding, shallow relationships. Worse, parents suffer and distance themselves from these kinds of children.
The Gordon Model, by virtue of its effective communication skills, does away with the need to be a controlling, authoritarian parent and because of this it can easily be confused as a permissive approach. The secret of the Gordon Model is that it’s a method for resolving conflicts in a way that both parents and children get their needs met at all times. The difference between our model and other parenting programs is that when children behave in ways that interfere with parents’ needs, the Gordon Model prescribes the use of I-Messages so parents can influence them to change their behavior.
Q: Is the Gordon Model difficult to learn?
A: No. The concepts of the program are simple and common sense (read Our Parenting Philosophy for an overview). The listening skills (Active Listening) and the confronting skills (I-Messages) take practice, but once you have an experience of how powerful they are in helping children when they have problems and for influencing their behavior, you’ll be motivated to keep practicing.
Q: How can I tell if the program will work for me?
A: The Gordon Model has been used with great success by parents of varying ages, education levels, income levels, and cultures. That tells us that there really aren’t any reasons why it won’t work with just about anyone. There are two key ingredients that determine whether the program will be successful: 1) that you are willing to try it, and 2) a commitment to learn the skills and implement them.
When trying out Active Listening for the first time, most parents are surprised by its simplicity and effectiveness. That in turn motivates them to continue learning the rest of the program.
Q: Is the model compatible with religious teachings?
A: Religious organizations of many denominations in the U.S. and in many other countries make our programs available to their parishioners. The model has been called a skills-based implementation of the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you.”
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