In an earlier post, How Did My Child Get So Disrespectful, I promised to provide specific tools that would help parents increase the flow of respect and communication between parent and child. This post will provide one such tool. It comes from the works of L. Ron Hubbard:
“Set aside a time during the day when the child can do anything he desires which doesn’t hurt animals or property. If he wants you around during this time, which you can begin to call ‘Billy’s time,’ fine. Spend the hour or two with him and do whatever he asks you to do, within reason of course. After the novelty wears off he will begin to use ‘his’ time to ask you questions about the world around him, questions which you should answer very carefully and accurately, no matter what the subject might be. It would be very unfair to say, in answer to an innocent question about sex for instance, ‘Now let’s don’t talk about nasty things like that.’ Answer him simply and fully, and with an absolute minimum of stammering and blushing on your part.
“Sometimes the child will want to spend ‘his’ time being held on your lap, and the special case might even want a bottle. Don’t tell him this is childish, and that he has outgrown such pursuits. Give him the bottle and hold him on your lap until he tires of this.
“Perhaps he will want to dramatize [act out] family difficulties, such as a recent argument between his parents. Fine. Go over it with him just as he desires. This will often be beneficial for the child and the parent. When the child becomes assured that there are no strings attached to your offer of ‘his’ time, he will take full advantage of the opportunity to go over many details which have hurt him, and once returned to in this fashion, they will seldom bother him again.
“Then, after a few periods spent in this way, ask if there is anything he wants to know, or anything he wants to talk about. Allow his dignity and enormous self-determinism to assert itself. Coax him to explain things to you, in his own language. When he runs across something which troubles him for a meaning, he will ask you, if you have gained his confidence. Sometimes when the child asks you a question which you are sure he should have known for some time, feed it back to him as another question, asking him what he thinks about it. This is often what the child really wants, and is only using the question as a means of opening discussion on the subject.”
My wife and I applied this to our daughter, Chelsea, when she was six years old. She was elated when she heard she could have an entire hour of her “own time.” We told she could do anything she wanted (as long as we didn’t have to pay for anything during that time).
Chelsea was certain what she wanted: trips to Toys R Us! Several days in a row, she took us to her favorite store and marched us down one aisle after another. She showed us dozens of different toys that she thought were neat. Her mom stayed with her the entire time, but I got briefly sidetracked looking at some toys on my own! After a couple of strong looks from my wife, I quickly returned to her and Chelsea’s side.
On the 3rd or 4th day, while we were driving home from Toys R Us, Chelsea started asking us questions about different areas of life. My wife and I looked at each other almost in disbelief, but sure enough she wanted to know about things she had NEVER asked about before. We treated her with complete respect and didn’t give her “dumbed down” answers to her questions. As this question-and-answer session was moving along, I could see our daughter in the rear view mirror thinking things over.
We continued to give Chelsea “own time” as much as we could. Ideally, you’d do it every day. If not an hour, then maybe half an hour. What if you got four kids and they all of course want their own time. Well, I’d give two kids half an hour each day and the next day another two would get half an hour each. Some kind of plan can be put together that will be fair to all of the kids.
After we did this for awhile with our daughter, we noticed two major changes. She was much calmer and she was in better communication with us.I would surmise kids at various ages might have a certain franticness about having the latest toys. After looking and talking about many of those toys for several days, it appears that franticness just kind of disappeared.
Another important observation: Our daughter had complete control of what was done during this hour. It was “her time” and she was able to be very self-determined during this time period. Often kids are put in very controlled environments: do this now; do this here; go to sleep now; go to school now. The more self-determinism your child can present to the world, the better off he/she is going to be.
Last but not least, when you improve the communication with your child, you also improve the level of respect.
And so it went!
Give this process a serious try and let me know how it goes!
Copyright © 2001 Workable Solutions. All Rights Reserved. Quoted material by L. Ron Hubbard: © 1951, 1989 L. Ron Hubbard Library. Grateful acknowledgment is made to L. Ron Hubbard Library for permission to reproduce selections from the copyrighted works of L. Ron Hubbard.
This article was written by Stan Dubin. Additional information can be found at the blog: Marriage Success and in the book: When the Thrill Is Gone. You may republish this article in your newsletter or at your web site or blog providing the entire article is kept intact, including the copyright notice and contact links.