Our lives are driven by our assumptions. What can be troublesome is the fact that we often do not stop to consider what our assumptions are and they impact us. For instance, couples often assume that conflict is bad. They will often say things to me like, "We never fight!", or "We've never had a fight!" as if this is something of which they should be proud. My assumption is that it is often bad.

What about our assumptions as parents? I want to look at seven assumptions today.

  1. Intensity will overcome consistency. Dr. Robert Lehman says the exact opposite is true and I agree with him. Consistency always wins. Still, parents often think that intensity wins. How do I know? Watch them parent. When it's time to get serious about getting something done, they move to yelling and screaming and threatening. They up the intensity, rather than upping the consistency.
  2. Praising a child will not stop negative behavior. We have to punish to do that. Whenever parents with "problem behaviored" children come in, I often ask them to tell me what type of interactions they have with their child when the child is not engaged in problematic behavior. Often the answer is minimal. Kids crave attention. If they are not getting enough attention from positive behavior they will engage in any behavior that gets them more attention. Negative attention is always better than no attention. What's more, there is a ample research to prove that positive reinforcement gets better results over the time than does negative reinforcement.
  3. Manipulation can be used for a good cause. An unspoken assumption of many parents is that they can manipulate their child into doing the right thing. This patently false. It never works. Often it develops children into emotionally stunted adults.
  4. I can control my children. Parents are raising other humans. The goal is to move the child from complete dependence to independence/interdependence. In order to accomplish this goal, you simply cannot control every aspect of your child's life the entire time they live in your home. When this happens the child never learns to think on their own.
  5. All punishment/discipline is bad. This one should be self evident but our children need to learn consequences for their behaviors. Consequences can be either good or bad (see #2).  Often, parents will attempt to remove all possible consequences from their children. But what does that do? How does that help the child? If you don't pay your electricity bill, there are consequences. If you don't go to work there are consequences. Of course, if you do go to work and pay the bill there are also consequences. That's why almost all of us go to work.
  6. Dictatorships rule. Parents who think that families should be run by dictatorships often have all sorts of problems as their child ages. Why? Because dictatorships fail. Every time. Always. It simply isn't possible for a dictatorship environment to create healthy adults. Children should be taught how to negotiate appropriately. Children should be taught how to express their feelings, even if they're angry with mom and dad. Children should be taught that it's OK to say, "I don't like this rule." Children should be taught to think. Of course, the danger there is that they may not end up thinking like mom and dad want them to think.
  7. There is a magic formula.  Sorry, no there isn't.

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  1. Hi Vince,
    Thanks for responding. I agree with you that it is consistent. Of course, that’s not actually the consistency I was talking about.

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