Good Morning Chick and Thomas,
Recently, my six-year-old son (and I) joined a local cub scout troop. My son is very excited about the experience and I am very supportive and enthusiastic, as well. His cub scout den is pretty small compared to the others in his pack. There is a total of three boys in his den.
My concern is as follows: The other two boys are out of control, behaviorally speaking. They are continuously disruptive, to say the least. Both attend the meetings with their mother. In our little group, if one of the moms tells her child to sit, he stands. If she tells him to stand, he sits. If someone else is talking, they spout out "My turn, my turn, I want to talk. I want to talk now!" They do this over and over, until it IS their turn to talk. When the den mother gives permission to talk to her son, he stares at the ground and won't say a word. This and other types of disruptive behavior continue throughout the meetings.
In response to this behavior, their moms will say things like, "If you don't stop, you'll lose a privilege." "If I have to count (to three), you'll lose a privilege"; "I've already asked you to stop doing that. If I have to ask you again, you'll lose a privilege"; "That's inappropriate. Please stop now!" This goes on over and over.
The moms do not actually follow through with a consequence for the boys. Instead they simply repeatedly threaten. It's making the meetings a real problem because the parents aren't handling it effectively. I want to say something to the moms that will get them to take control of their children's disruptive behavior. I prefer to do this considerately.
Thank you gentlemen.
Hello Frustrated Father,
This is an interesting situation you find yourself in. Our answer: Find a different scout troop for your son.
These other parents need many new parenting skills. They are functioning at a very low skill level. Even if they were receptive to coaching, which they may not be, you would have to invest considerable energy and effort to teach them how to work with children.
Sadly, many adults who take on coaching, scouting, or working with youth in a variety of other ways are not skilled at dealing with children. Parents in your situation often find it easier to teach their children how to deal with the dysfunctional adult than they do attempting to teach the unskilled adult to deal with children.
Scouting should be fun. If it's not fun, don't go. There is a reason there are only three kids in that section. It is the leader. We suggest you reduce the number of children in that group to two.
Thomas and Chick
Dear Mr. Haller,
Please help! My daughter & niece are close and have lived in the same building their entire life. We just discovered that my 19-year-old niece is 5 months pregnant. She was in denial about the pregnancy, which is why we are finding out now.
My daughter looks up to her cousin as an older sister. How do I tell her about the impending birth of this baby? It is against all we have been teaching our niece and daughter. However, at 8 1/2 years old she has not been told about sex and all the horrors that befall teenagers who are having children before they are emotionally and financially in a position to raise the child in the manner one would hope for the child and young parent.
Please help me to know what to say to my little girl while keeping consistent with the message that this is not what she should think is acceptable behavior. She has not been told about sex in any way so I do not know what questions I might encounter. Perhaps you can point me in the healthiest direction for the sake of my daughter, my niece and the baby who is due soon. Thank you.
A Heartbroken and Frightened Mum
Hello Heartbroken Mum,
Your daughter may not have been told about sex by you, but by eight years of age she has learned plenty from friends, relatives, classmates, and TV. Much of what she knows about sex is probably inaccurate.
Your niece has blessed you with a wonderful opportunity to begin this sexual dialogue with your child. I suggest two books.
Sex and Sensibility by Deborah M. Roffman
Beyond the Big Talk by Debra W. Haffner
Your niece has also provided you with the perfect opportunity to teach your daughter about forgiveness and not seeing people who make mistakes as bad. This is a time to see the child of God in the young mother who made a mistake. She could probably use a big dose of unconditional love right about now. That would be a good message for your eight-year-old to see and learn.
Babies are a beautiful occurrence in many ways. Celebrate the beauty here. Use it as the perfect time to teach your child many important lessons.
I attended one of your sessions in Bloomfield Hills, MI and I enjoyed every minute of your presentation. I have listened to many people who present information on parenting and I think you are the best. I have your books and CDs and refer to them often.
I have one question: What is your opinion about allowances? I have 3 boys - ages 12, 10, and 7. How much, how often, should they be tied to chores around the house? Just wondering what would be appropriate for each of them.
You are a sweet talker. And I appreciate the feedback. Thanks.
Thomas Haller and I have strong beliefs about chores.
We do not recommend you tie allowances to chores. Chores are something everyone does in the home because they are part of the family. We suggest that children be told: "Chores are a responsibility that comes with living in this house. We all have chores and we do them not to be paid, but because it takes all of us working together to keep the house and yard clean and fully functioning. Since you live here, you have responsibilities to fulfill. It's one of the facts of being a part of a family." If you pay children for chores, you deprive them of making a meaningful contribution to the family as part of their responsibility for living in that family.
The only exception to this is that you might want to pay for chores if someone wants extra money and is willing to do one of your chores.
We do not recommend you make children earn their allowance. Whatever amount of allowance they get, they receive for just being. Everyone who lives in the home needs some money with which to learn lessons. They get the allowance just because they are there. How much you give them is strictly your choice. We recommend you give different amounts for different ages and needs.
It is important that giving the child his or her allowance be done on a regular basis. Do it the same time every week. No exceptions.
Do not require children to save any of their allowance. This is their choice. It is a great, ongoing learning experience for them. They get to experience abundance, choices, decision making, splurging, economic depression, wasting, and saving up for something. They will learn to save and budget when they experience going broke and needing money.
Do not bail them out. If they spend their money, it is gone. No more money until next week.
When allowances are distributed, consider having a charity jar available for people to contribute to if they choose. Contribute yourself. When the jar reaches a certain amount, the family can decide together how to use it.
Hope this helps.
My children's ages range from 4-14. We have difficulty parenting consistently to begin with and the age difference makes disciplining fairly seem "unfair" to my 14-yr-old. I add to that, my husband is much more lenient on our younger three than our first and continues this behavior. I have been and remain the "rescuer," which causes my son to feel guilty and my husband to become more angry, only now it's with the both of us. He will sometimes retaliate by saying "fine, I won't punish at all, he's all yours." I find it deeply offensive and hurtful to my son who is in his formative young man years. What advice can you offer?
Our other children are ages 4, 6, 8 yrs and the issues are eating healthy, misbehaving, i.e. the 4-yr-old will now repeat things the 14-yr-old says, like "duh-uh," which does not sound okay coming from a 4-yr-old, yet with a 14-yr-old it is not a capital offense. He does not swear and has never partied. He is a student in a gifted program and very interesting to be around, a little adult if you will. But he has not been through puberty and I suspect some of these "talk backs" are approaching, so with the younger three in earshot I'd like a way to discipline him.
My oldest son's other offense is too much computer time. It's 100 degrees here and no one plays outside. We wonder what everyone does?
I look forward to your reply.
Hello In Need of Help,
Discipline does not have to be fair. It has to fit the person and the responsibility that was neglected or handled inappropriately. Expectations are different at different ages. Younger children are allowed leeway because they are less skilled.
Parents grow as they age and approach discipline differently as they learn more about parenting. What happened to a 14-year-old when he was 4 may not be the appropriate approach to a different 4-year-old now.
Approach the language "duh uh" as, "That is not how we speak in this family. Please use your words to communicate what you mean." This is the approach that must be followed by all.
The two adults need to agree on how to handle the 14-year-old's behavior together and stop letting the child separate the adults. That is too much power for a 14-year-old to have.
The last issue is the hardest one of all for parents if they have already allowed a child to immerse himself in video games. Is there really nothing else to do on hot days? No projects to get involved in? How about painting a picture on his bedroom wall or creating a sports theme room and letting him do it all his own way? Reading and writing are useful alternatives. What about getting an editing program for the computer and letting him make his own movie with the family's video recorder. There is more out there than video games. We as adults have to be creative and get the initial momentum going in a different direction and let the children run with their ideas.
The video game issue is one that many parents struggle with. Yet, structure, limits, other alternatives, and a firm resolve are all that is needed to solve this problem. Be consistent.
Hello Chick and Thomas,
I saw you guys present together in Midland, MI this year. You really are a dynamic duo. Are you presenting together again anytime soon?
Also, here is a parenting question. One of my daughters (age 7) jumps to the end result of her ideas without planning it out or talking to a parent. I did that as a child and wound up in dangerous situations. My mother lectured me, but I thought she just didn't "get it" because I knew I wasn't in any danger. How can we help our daughter?
Dear Michigan Mom,
We are pleased to announce that we are indeed presenting together again. It will happen this spring in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on Saturday, April 28, 2007 from 9:00 am - 4:00 pm. The topic is Transformational Parenting: A One-Day Intensive. See the right-hand column of this newsletter for further information and registration procedures. Or go to the front page of www.chickmoorman.com and see the Special Event section.
Please keep in mind that your daughter is not you and in many cases she may be able to jump to the end result. At other times she may get stuck or make a mess of the situation.
In situations that are clearly a matter of health or safety, step in and help her through it or stop the process because it is not safe. Kids don't get to ride their bikes without a helmet, play near the road, mix chemicals from under the sink, or ride in the car without a seat belt. Remember, experience can be messy, and when messes happen (they will) move in to debrief the situation. Use it as a learning opportunity for how to do things differently the next time.
Thomas Haller and Chick Moorman