Parent Coaching: Can Kids Earn Privileges Back?

November 28, 2008 at 4:40 pm 2 comments

The "Earn Back" Puzzle Solved

The "Earn Back" Privilege Puzzle Solved!

Not really.  This is a total FAQ when I work with families.  It seems to them that if a child misbehaves they lose something, if they behave again they can get it back, right?  Nope.  Here’s what gets left out.  Reality in adulthood.  Oh and creating another power struggle.  Let’s take one at a time.

Real World

When you speed you may or may not get a ticket.  If you do get “caught” and have to pay, if you stop speeding (forever? a week?) you don’t get your money back.  Having a privilege at risk means it is at risk.  The best privileges are the non-physical ones of opportunity: getting to choose a restaurant, spending extra alone time with a parent, having free time to do as you please, computer time.  You can never get these back. 

If you DO remove a physical thing, it comes back into play after a set time that works for your family, say a day.  You want the emphasis on the fact that the child’s next choice will have an impact.  Then provide the impact and allow them to experience it fully.  The goal is for them to know that when you say you will take a privilege, you will and they will notice it is gone.  Then they will choose the behavior that works more often (without having the thing even removed!)

Power Struggle

When you give a child a moment to consider if their behavior works for your family (through Agreements) you give them the appropriate power to choose the next move with our without a consequence.  Once they choose to do what doesn’t work, they experience the impact of that choice.

If you then allow them to “earn” back the privilege through doing what works, you are giving Inapproriate Power by letting them say when the impact is complete.  Putting them in that driver’s seat creates them knowing that your consequences are only as temporary as they choose them to be.  That’s a parenting red alert.

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Parent Coaching: A Gift On So Many Levels Parent Coaching: Finding the Right Impact

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Mike Ambrosio  |  December 1, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    To me, your last paragraph runs along the same line as those “empty threats”. All too often a parent will make a threat that is totally unrealistic or unreasonable to try to get their child to listen, make a choice, or whatever their goal is.

    Kids are smart. They know when you make empty threats.

    Reply
  • 2. Dawn Roth  |  December 9, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    You got it Mike! Adults will say outlandish things to communicate the seriousness of the behavior they want to stop, only to come off sounding silly.
    We coach parents to have a clear list of Rights that never go away (love, holidays, safety, food) and Privileges that depend on behavior that works to avoid being tempted to make up stuff in the moment.
    They just don’t work and undermine your parenting moments.

    Reply

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