How to talk to another mom about PBS

[deleted account] ( 7 moms have responded )

Okay, the parents in question are not "abusive" or even out of line. They use "traditional" discipline methods --spanking, yelling, taking away of privileges-- and are basically very, very authoritarian. This is very common and accepted in my area; I would be the oddball.

Their son (7yrs) is having major behavior issues at school. He was suspended this week for causing major disruption to the classroom, refusal to follow directions, repeated disobedience, and, the kicker, "humping" a bookbag, which they wrote as "inappropriate gestures." He was suspended twice last year for similar problems, and several times in preschool, as well as two summer programs. As for the humping thing, everyone is horrified (Bible belt here), but I am confident he was just imitating his dog (who is not spayed b/c they breed, but are not breeding this she humps things).

He has ADHD and is currently not medicated. I support her in that, he has been on medication before, but it did not help much. Her mother is pressuring her to put him on meds again. I agree that meds could possibly help, but I know they will do nothing if his parents do not get to the root of the problem. I gave her tips on handling the ADHD, but the bigger issue is his need for attention and more guidance. For me, discipline should be guidance, and I don't know how to broach that subject without offending her.

As I said, VERY authoritarian, "you do what I say b/c I said to do it and you don't ask questions." The child has no way to express himself. I think his mom knows this b/c she keeps looking for programs to put him in that will allow him to express himself, but really all she needs to do is let him do it at home. The mom and dad spend very little time actually interacting with the children. It is not that they don't love them, or that they don't like to spend time with them, I just think they don't know what to do. They consider good family time sitting on the deck watching the kids swim, watching a movie together, or watching the kids play a sport. They don't play WITH them, ya know?
Basically, the only true interaction they have is the parents pointing out what the kids should NOT do. They neglect to tell them what they should do instead, like the boy acted out b/c he wanted attention and he wanted to tell a joke (okay, a lot of jokes), it would be better for her to tell him what to do instead when he feels like he needs attention or wants to tell jokes, but instead, she focuses so much on the "punishment" and telling him what he did was wrong, that they never get there. The boy just feels like it is bad to be himself.....if that makes since.

Which brings me, at long last, to my question. How can I talk to her w/o offending her? She is open to ideas, she is looking for advice, but she seems to discount me when I tell her she needs to stop focusing on punishing him and focus on teaching him instead.

You ladies were always very supportive and non-judgmental when I was transitioning from spanking to PBS, so I was hoping you could give me some pointers on how to talk to her in an encouraging positive way, like you guys spoke to me...Thanks for any input! Sorry for the book....


JuLeah - posted on 10/07/2010




"I have a few ideas that I don't think you have yet tried. Would you like to hear my ideas?

She says yes or no and you respect her wish.

You might offer her a book (easy read as she is stressed) on parenting and mention food choices and the impact ehy have on ADHD

Invite her to join this group .... tell her why you made the change and if you are still happy you did. Tell her why .... but really, if she doesn't want to hear you, she won't. Show her through your actions .... walk the walk, as they say. Live your life and maybe she will notice your methods work and ask you about them

[deleted account]

Wow, hard situation. The first thing that came to my mind is that you are telling her to STOP using punishment... I think she needs to understand WHY she should change her ways. I think she knows that it's wrong because obviously her son won't behave but it's hard to change to another technique when you have no idea why what you do doesn't work.

Maybe you could suggest she joins this group (if you feel comfortable with it) or suggest the "Kids are worth it" by Barbara Coloroso. I am more than halfway through it and she explains the reasons why punishments, bribes, etc do not work.

I think that since she is asking for advice, you can suggest a few readings or resources she can look over. This way, you open the door for her but you don't judge or force her to do anything.


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[deleted account]

Thanks ladies! These are all great ideas.

I am not brave enough to bring it up with her on my own. I can only talk to her about it if she asks. She has asked for advice several times, and I'm sure she will again, it just seemed like every time I started talking to her about it (after she asked of course) that I ended up "attacking" what she was currently doing. I was not trying to do that, honest, I was just having a lot of trouble explaining *why* positive strategies work without telling her why her current strategies were only making things worse....does that make sense? Then, when I would try to tell her not to "punish" him, but to try to teach him instead, she would discount it and not listen because she felt he needed to be punished, to "know what he did was wrong" other words, she wanted him to feel bad, which I find counter productive, but don't know how to tell her that.....ugh, I'm rambling. I'm going to give her a book next time she asks, I think that is the best idea, since I keep eating my words :P. She listens to me when I talk about ADHD, just not about behavior.....

[deleted account]

as someone who absolutely thinks ADHD and ADD is a bullshit excuse for a child's behaviour, i think she really needs to listen to some advice...perhaps point out his behaviour is pretty much purely attention seeking because he gets no positive reinforcement at home therefore acts out at school. maybe even point out how well behaved your child/ren are due to the way in which discipline is done in your house...and more importantly tell how easy it is! at 10 months old my son is probably the most well behaved child for his age (and i certainly get a lot of comments on how well he listens and responds. this is mainly due to a lot of positive attention i give him at home) i would suggest that you try and introduce her to "for every one no or negative comment you make you must come up for 5 yes's or positive comments" it's hard at first but works a treat and becomes easier.

Riana - posted on 10/09/2010




It's a very hard situation. I'm with JuLeah, she needs to really want to look into alternatives. You can bring a horse to the water but before you try accept the fact that you can't make them drink!

If she does want to look for alternatives, offer her positive solutions without mentioning anything about her negative actions.

PBS is a skill you learn and it takes time. I find that is you expect a parent to give up all the dissipline forms they are used to right from the start you basically just leave them clueless in the dark.

As you start focusing on finding positive solutions the need to use negative comments and actions to try and control the child with eventually just disapear, without you needing to critisize.

But above all it is her choice not yours, put it on the table if you feel brave enough but don't force her. And remember that it is not a quick fix it takes years to built a loving and trusting relationship with your child - but it is worth it.

And of course invite her to join PBS :-)

[deleted account]

Some GREAT suggestions Mylene!

Kelly, tough situation. ACK! What would you think about approaching her specifically to talk about these issues that you have? You could start out by saying, "I'd love to speak to you about something that I'm passionate about....." and continue by explaining your situation and how you came to realize that spanking was no longer an option for you. Maybe she'll be able to relate? Once you've got her engaged in a conversation about YOUR experiences here and at home with positive discipline, THEN you can offer her real examples of what your talking about in relation to her specific situation.

"I noticed the other day...."...."this is how I would have delt with that" etc. and continue to explain why.

I think that if you approach her in a non-confrontational way and explain that it's something that you feel is important/passionate and ask her to hear you out, she'll respond in a positive manner as well. There's no reason why she wouldn't be willing to hear you out, if you guys are truly friends.

Anyhow, I'm rambling...

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