TalkBack To Vicki Jardine

A TalkBack on Parenting Issues

Cause and Effect January 16, 2010

Cause and Effect....or Choices and Consequences

Have you ever wondered why your child seems better behaved for one person than they are for another?

Or why does your child conform to expectations at school much better than he/she does at home for you?

It happens all the time, mom can’t get her child to take a nap, but every day at pre-school the teacher manages to get 20 small children to lie down at the same time.  Is it a phenomenon?  Or can it be explained?

I believe it can be quite simply explained in 2 words:  Cause and Effect.

Child-Care professionals understand the need to introduce the concept of ‘consequences’ to very young children.  Once a child understands that there are consequences to the choices they make, most of the time they will choose well.  So for example when it comes to nap-time, the children know that if they lie down for a little while, they will then get to play with something special, or they will have a treat and their teacher will be really happy with them….the payoffs to them are numerous and irrefutable.  They will see that for those children who chose not to nap, they will miss out.  Most children clearly understand ‘cause and effect’ when the adults in their life have clearly linked the consequences of their choices to the outcomes that they receive.

No matter how irrational your child seems, they truly do understand the language of Cause and Effect. 

Humans, no matter how young simply do not do things for which there is no evident payoff.  It will make daily life a lot easier for you as a parent, if you learn to talk to your child in terms of choices and consequences.  If you make it clear what will happen if they do one thing and what will happen if they do another, then they will usually choose the outcome that they want and will surprise you by the degree of commitment they can show to that outcome.

If your child does not lie down and take a nap when you know they need to, then that can be explained by the fact that your child doesn’t see what the payoff is. 

When it comes to payoff, there really does need to be some emotional payoff as well.  Going back to the pre-school example, you will notice that the outcome for napping was not just a treat or something special.  It also includes that the teacher is very happy with them.  The teacher will smile a lot at each child, pat them lovingly on the back, shoulder or head and will instinctively make sure each child knows they made a good choice…and that people are proud of them.  The teacher may boast about them to other adults and tell their mom and dad how wonderful they are and how they always nap well like it is some really big achievement.

I know this because I know the payoff for the teacher is that more of the children will nap well and so the day will be a better one.  Cause and Effect!

So no matter how old your child is, make sure you are arranging your child’s world so that it is clearly a series of choices each with different outcomes and that you are helping your child see what the payoff is to them, in language they will understand.  When they make a poor choice and the ‘effect’ is not what the child wants, let them learn from that.  Don’t save them all the time.  Let your child forego a nap or whatever but then make sure that they see that when they don’t nap, they are tired and cranky and that playing isn’t as much fun for the rest of the day.  Help them see that now, because they didn’t nap, they cannot go to the park or stay up and watch their show on television.  Let them see that they chose that and that next time they might want to make the other choice.  Show them what the ‘effect’ would have looked like had they made the other choice.  That they would now be able to stay up, that they would not be feeling so out of sorts with everyone and everything if they had had that nap.

Then next time when they have to choose to nap or not, help them remember the way they felt when they made the choice not to nap last time.  Help them connect the choice they have to make right now, with the ‘effects’ they have suffered in the past.  Remember that they need you to always connect the dots for them.

This applies to almost all the things that fill up your child’s day…not just to napping. 

I am sure you have stories about times your child had a lesson in ‘cause and effect’, or you have some situations you would like some help bringing into a ‘cause and effect’ understanding for your child.  If you want to share some of your ideas, stories or want some suggestions about how to word some of the choices positively, then please feel free to leave a comment on this blog post and I will answer you and I am sure some other parents will also bring their experiences to light.  Sharing what we know works for the sake of our children, in this very quickly changing world.  That’s what modern parenting is all about.

So talkback with me on the subject of ‘cause and effect’.  I want to hear what you have to say.

Warmest Wishes,

Vicki Jardine

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Every Day – Thanksgiving Day! November 29, 2008

dreamstime_1403336Each year we all look forward to Thanksgiving Day.  It resounds with echoes of the very foundation upon which America was built.  Pausing in our busy schedules to ‘give thanks’ for the blessings of our wonderful lifestyle, we are reminded that despite the current economic crisis, we have much to be thankful for.

But the other 364 days of the year, are we practising thankfulness and gratitude?  Are we teaching our children gratitude by our example?  And more importantly, are we teaching our children how to express gratitude on a daily basis in their lives?

Children are very observant.  They are excellent at determining a contradiction between our actions and our words.  And they know when a tradition has lost its’ meaning by how well it is held up in their lives on a daily basis.

Being grateful for what you can determine that you already have is one thing.  But it is also possible, and necessary to teach our children how to express gratitude for what they ‘would like to have’.  This is more commonly known as making an affirmation. 

Have you ever thought about why the practise of making affirmations has begun to be very popular? 

It’s because when you affirm the way you would like something to be, you are focused on what you either have now or want to have.  That focus produces joy and happiness.  It feels good.

Another way to explain it could be it is life giving you what your mind believes it should have.  It’s refusing to focus on what things you feel life has not delivered yet and having the expectation of life for the future.

It’s all about ‘focus’.  When you are being grateful and expressing gratitude, you simply can’t focus on what you don’t have. 

What would you rather do?  Focus on what you have or want to have and enjoy the feelings of happiness and joy? 

Or would you rather focus on what you don’t have, what you fear will happen and what you consider to be completely out of your reach?

Which one of these skills would you like to teach your children? 

Which one of these skills will enrich your child’s life and encourage your child? 

Which one will bring happiness and which one will bring sadness?

Even if you don’t believe in affirmations, you can believe in the importance of making the Thanksgiving Day tradition relevant to your child’s daily life today and every day.  Don’t allow Thanksgiving Day to be some kind of dinosaur tradition in your child’s eyes.  Make ‘thanksgiving’ relevant every day.

Talk Back to me.  I want to know what you think!

Vicki Jardine