www.personalpowerpress.com November 17, 2006
The Response-Able Parent Newsletter #58

Welcome! This is a free newsletter on becoming a Response-Able parent raising Response-Able children.

Mission Statement

Our mission is to strengthen families and improve parent communication skills (including our own) by helping parents learn practical, usable verbal strategies for raising responsible, caring, confident children.

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1. Quote
2. Spirit Whisperer Contemplation
3. Bumper Sticker
4. Article: Why Is the Teacher Giving My Kid M&M's?
5. Parent Talk Tip: Healthy Limits
6. We Get E-mail
7. Product of the Month
8. A Rewarding Experience Awaits You
9. Schedule of Events

1. Quote

"If we want children to become able to act with personal conviction about what is right . . .we must reduce our adult power and avoid the use of rewards and punishments as much as possible."

Constance Kamii

2. Spirit Whisperer Contemplation

What is there about your children that you can be grateful for today? Can you be grateful that they make mistakes, allow you to practice patience, search for new solutions to their challenges, and test your determination? Can you be grateful that they are helping you stretch and grow as an enlightened parent?

3. Bumper Sticker

Spotted on a silver Lincoln Towncar in Weslaco, TX:



4. Article: Why Is the Teacher Giving My Kid M&M's?

By Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller

Six-year-old Carlos Melendez stood in line waiting as his first-grade teacher bid farewell to her students at the end of the school day during the second week of school. She was completing her ritual of placing a sticker on the hand of every child who had been good that day. As she reached out to give Carlos a sticker, he informed her, "I don't need a sticker to know when I've been good. I can tell on the inside." When Carlos's teacher complained about his attitude at parent/teacher conferences, Carlos's parents told her his statement was correct. They politely informed the teacher that Carlos's motivation to do well in school came from the inside and they preferred that she no longer use stickers with him.

Karyn Murphy's parents recently received a letter from their child's third-grade teacher. It explained how many books their daughter would need to read in order to attend the class pizza party at the end of the month. The pizza party was the reward children would be receiving for their reading efforts. The letter instructed the parents to sign a form verifying her books and number of pages read. Karyn's parents returned the form to the teacher, accompanied by a letter of their own. It said, "Our daughter reads because she loves reading. Your program of rewarding children with pizza for reading teaches children that the reason to read is to earn an external reward. We feel this undermines her internal motivation of wanting to read for adventure, fun, and personal interest. Are you aware that this practice actually results in less student reading once the program has ended? We, As Karyn's parents, are not interested in a quick-fix style of motivation that results in many books read quickly to obtain a reward. We are interested in creating a lifelong reader. Pizza parties will not attain that result. Please know that we will continue to encourage Kayrn's interest in reading our way and that we will not be recording the number of books she reads. We expect that she will be allowed to attend the party with her classmates."

Mary and John Edgerton had been anticipating the arrival of their eighth-grade son's report card for several days. When it finally arrived in the mail they kept it sealed until they could meet together as a family with their son Richard and his two younger sisters. That night they held their usual report card ritual, the one they had begun when Richard was in sixth grade and received his first report card with letter grades. Mary Edgerton gathered the baking dish, the matches, and the air freshener. She made no attempt to peek through the envelope as she held it and its contents over the baking dish. Her husband John lit the match and ignited the envelope. All family members watched Richard�s report card go up in flames. A cheer, a pan full of ashes, and the smell of air freshener signaled the end of the symbolic gesture and the beginning of Mr. Edgerton's familiar lecture. He reminded everyone, "Your grades do not matter to us. They are not who you are or what you can become. Grades are no measure of your learning. What we care about is wisdom, how you apply the knowledge you have. We will call tomorrow to make appointments with all of your teachers, Richard, so that you, your mother, and I can get an understanding of the learnings you have come away with this semester and how you are using them in your life."

The parents in the scenarios above represent a growing number who are speaking and acting out concerning their dissatisfaction with the escalating educational practice of distributing stars, stickers, smiley faces, grades and other external goodies in order to control how children act.

Most parents know that rewards produce short-term compliance. Any parent who has ever offered a child a trip to the movies if they clean their room knows that. And external rewards are incredibly easy to use. The problem is that many parents and some teachers do not know that external rewards do not produce lasting change. In fact, these extrinsic reward systems often have the reverse effect. They teach children that the reason to act responsibly, read, study, or behave altruistically is to get rewarded. This fails to help children develop an internal reason to do the desired behavior. So when the reward is ended so does the behavior. Children then do less of the behavior than those students who were never rewarded in the first place.

An increasing number of parents are beginning to realize that the more rewards are used, the more they are needed in the future, and as children grow in age and size, it is necessary to increase the size of the reward.

These parents are concerned because the quick-fix control systems of rewards often used in schools teach that learning is something one does to get an M&M, a gold star, or your name on the board rather than as something that is important for its own sake.

If intrinsic motivation has been carefully nurtured by the parent and does exist within a child, it is overridden as children learn to rely on the external control offered by teachers looking for quick and easy answers to their frustrations.

Offering children rewards for acting responsibly, learning a number of spelling words, or sitting silently at the school assembly assumes that these students have no interest in acting that way without the rewards. It shows a lack of trust of children and an unwillingness on the part of the adult to invest the time necessary to give reasons, teach the desired behaviors, or display patience while children learn from their mistakes. Rewards are being used by teachers who are looking for an easy way out, a way that does not require teaching children the compelling whys to do the desired behavior.

Rewards only create a temporary change in behavior. They do not alter what children believe or how they feel about an activity. They do not create self-motivated, self-directed, critical-thinking, reasoning children with a strong internal set of values.

Rewards teach children to do what is necessary to get the reward and no more. Creativity, thoroughness, and risk taking suffer. Children learn to play it safe, take shortcuts, and get done.

Parents like the Edgertons, Melendezes, and Murphys are beginning to ask questions about the practice of dispensing rewards. Are the teachers who use them developing self-responsible children or youngsters who obey without thinking? Have the teachers thought about the long-term effects of the practice, or are rewards just a convenient way to gain compliance? How interesting and relevant is the assigned task if the teacher has to give my child a reward to do it? Are rewards actually punishing our children?

The Edgertons, Melendezes, and Murphys are like many parents taking a stand on the practice of giving children rewards to get them to comply. They have moved past just asking the question, why is the teacher giving my kid M&M's? They are doing something about it.

Thomas Haller and Chick Moorman are the authors of The 10 Commitments: Parenting with Purpose. They are two of the world's foremost authorities on raising responsible, caring, confident children. They publish a free monthly e-zine for parents. To sign up for it or to obtain more information about how they can help you or your family, visit their website today: www.personalpowerpress.com.

5. Parent Talk Tip: Healthy Limits

Do you have family rules? Are you getting some resistance to those rules? Are you being constantly asked to explain why a certain rule exists? Maybe it�s time to end family rules and begin having healthy limits.

Being home by is not a family rule. It is a healthy limit. Having one piece of candy per day, watching one hour of TV per day, going to bed by eight o'clock are not rules. They are healthy limits.

It's easier for children to argue against rules than against healthy limits. Healthy limits are easier for you to defend. "My main job as a parent is to keep you safe and healthy. That's why we have healthy limits."

Wearing your seat belt is a healthy limit. Using the car seat is a healthy limit. Not smoking is a healthy limit. Using words instead of fists is a healthy limit. Putting yourself in a quiet area when you're upset is a healthy limit.

Think of it this way. Would you rather be a parent who creates and enforces rules or one who sets healthy limits?

Parent Talk: How to Talk to Your Children in Language That Builds Self-Esteem and Encourages Responsibility


6. We Get E-mails

I have a problem and I'm not sure what to do here.� Hoping you can help me.

My son David had his hockey team over for his birthday party and I had the parents. The evening was going well until all the kids decided to go two doors down to a home that is empty. One child threw a rock and put a hole in the window. A second kid threw a rock and put a hole in the window. All the other kids confirmed later that my son had nothing to do with it. Four boys spent the night and I got the same story from all of them.

The next day one of the kids that threw a rock changed the story about my son and said that David asked all the boys not to tell on him because it was his birthday. Also, David apparently threw a rock up into the air and it fell on the window.

I have spoken to the other two parents and said I would hold David responsible and that the three boys should pay for the window. I also asked David to write a note and put it on the front door so that the neighbor can contact us.

So far, I don't know if David directly threw a rock at the window. He says "no" and his other friend is now saying that he did (why should I believe his friend now since he lied the 1st and 2nd time?).

My questions are: How should I punish my son for throwing rocks and for potentially lying? He has lied to us in the past for other things. How do I get him to stop lying to us and being destructive?

Thanks for your help.

I am hurt and frustrated with this.

Dear Hurt and Frustrated,

Punishment is not necessary here. What is needed is the implementation of natural consequences and making amends.

You may never know for sure if your child threw a stone or not. That isn't important. What is important here is that your child learn the lesson that when he is with people who are making poor choices, he is guilty by association. If he's in a car and someone goes into a store and robs it, he's in a lot of trouble. If the boys he's with are walking along destroying mailboxes and he is with them, he is in a lot of trouble.

These children, yours included, need to be held accountable. Yes, make a note and leave it. Yes, the children should pay for it. Yes, the children should face the victim and make amends. Have them tell the neighbor what they learned and what they intend to do differently next time.

What can they do to make it up to the neighbor, who will have to put time and effort into fixing that window? What can these boys do to compensate your neighbor for that time and effort? What will your son give back?

No punishment is necessary. Making amends is.

Hope this helps,

Thomas Haller and Chick Moorman

7. Product of the Month � Parenting with Purpose through the Holidays

by Thomas Haller and Chick Moorman

E-book ($9.95)

This exciting new e-book is filled with inspirational and practical ideas to make this your best family holiday season ever. It includes how to build meaningful family traditions that extend your values, ways to connect with your spouse and children from a heartfelt space, and a wealth of fun-filled learning activities for your children to keep them occupied and interested during the holidays. Only available via the Internet. Read it on your computer or print a copy for use later.


8. A Rewarding Experience Awaits You

Make a difference in the lives of parents and children in your community. Join the growing cadre of over 200 Parent Talk facilitators now practicing in 17 states, Australia, Canada, Mexico, and Spain. This select group is working diligently to improve family life in their communities. Why don�t you join them?

Training of Trainers in the Parent Talk System

February 8-10, 2007
Arbor University
Grand Rapids, MI

Chick Moorman and Sarah Knapp

Space is limited. Register now and qualify for the early-bird discount! To register or find out about the February 8-10 program specifics, VISIT www.chickmoorman.com UNDER SPECIAL EVENT.


8. Schedule

November 20 - Monroe, MI
Literacy Day Celebration, The 6 Traits of Writing, presented by Thomas Haller and Reese Haller, and evening parent presentation, How to Inspire Children to Write, presented by Thomas Haller, Waterloo Elementary School, Monroe, MI. For more information contact Lisa at mclauch2@monroe.k12.mi.us.

November 28 - Cancun, Mexico
, Teacher Talk, presented by Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller, Cancun, Mexico. For more information contact Cristina Almeida at 998-110-0818 or e-mail calmeida11@hotmail.com.

November 29 - Cancun, Mexico
8:00 pm - 10:00 pm, Talk Sense to Yourself, presented by Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller, Cancun, Mexico. For more information contact Cristina Almeida at 998-110-0818 or e-mail calmeida11@hotmail.com.

November 30 - Cancun, Mexico
, Parent Talk for Adolescents, presented by Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller, Cancun, Mexico. For more information contact Cristina Almeida at 998-110-0818 or e-mail calmeida11@hotmail.com.

December 4 - St. Charles, IL
10:15 am - 12:30 pm and 2:15 pm - 4:30 pm, The Sounds of Spirit Whispering, presented by Chick Moorman, Raising Student Achievement Conference (RSAC), Rock Island Regional Office of Education, Pheasant Run Resort, St. Charles, IL. For information contact Maxine Russman at 309-736-1111 or e-mail mrussman@riroe.k12.il.us.

Chick Moorman

Contact Chick at 1-877-360-1477 (toll free) or e-mail him at ipp57@aol.com.


Thomas Haller

Contact Thomas at 989-667-5654 or e-mail him at thomas@thomashaller.com.


Copyright 2006 Chick Moorman Seminars and Thomas Haller Seminars, all rights reserved. Share this with your circle.