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Using FAB and reflective listening to communicate more effectively

FAB stands for Feel About Because.

Obviously immediate safety may preclude using this tool.

Children (and even adults) don’t always articulate their emotions correctly. The purpose of FAB is provide a consistent framework that is easy for kids to understand and use. The way that FAB works is that your offended child says I FEEL (Insert emotion) ABOUT (insert the reason or action) BECAUSE (insert WHY it upsets you). An example might sound like, “I feel angry about you taking Thomas the Train because I was setting up the track and was going to play with it.” In this manner your child has clearly expressed their emotion and defined the cause.

It is important to understand that as long as the child (or adult is following) uses this format that their feeling are valid. You cannot argue with how a person feels or their emotions.

Reflective Listening

At this point the offending child needs to respond. They cannot verbally attack or demean. They should reply in a way that acknowledges their sibling. Such as, “I understand you are angry because I took Thomas.” By doing this your second child is acknowledging that the first child is feeling angry because of their action and showing that they understand the problem.

The first child should then express what they want to happen, in a polite manner. An example might be, “I’d like to have Thomas back so I can play with him.”

The second child now has an opportunity to respond to the request. They can agree to give the toy back, play with it for an agreed upon duration, play together or ignore the first child.

If the offended child has not been satisfied it may become necessary to for the parent to get involved and play referee. The purpose is not to decide the fate of Thomas but to decide how the conflict can be resolved equitably. It is also your responsibility to verify that all steps have been taken. Often a child will come to me with a complaint and the first thing I ask is, “Did you use FAB?” The child returns to their squabble and they resolve the problem without further intervention.

The goal is to give your children a lifelong tool to communicate.

When this concept was first presented to my husband and me several years ago he thought it was silly. So one night he decided to show me how silly it was. I used FAB on a disagreement we had. He reflectively responded to me. I was blown away! He understood what I was upset about! He was even more flabbergasted when he saw how I responded and he was surprised that he understood my feelings better. The conflict was quickly resolved with no hurt feelings. We try to use this pattern to this day, and even as adults using this tool for 30+ years, we still slip-up.

As with any new tool it can seem more painful at first try but in the long run the time investment is more than paid back.

What experiences have you had with FAB?

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What is your parenting style?

One thing that I think is really important for parents to do is to reflect on their views, values and personality to find out why they do what they do.  Research has shown that parents parent the way their parents did, unless a conscious effort is made for change (and it can be done.)  These tendencies are mixed with your individual personality traits and life experiences to make up your individual parenting style.  So, I came across a parenting style quiz on line at this site http://quiz.ivillage.com/parenting/tests/parent.htm .  It is not the most user friendly site as every time you move to a new page you get a pop up, but it does allow you to take the quiz on-line, it isn’t very long and it will give you your results immediately.  So, here is what I got:

Your Parenting Style:
Authoritative

This parenting style is often described as the “no-nonsense workaholic” who is best at “emergency-mode parenting” and providing discipline where it is needed. Too often, however, strong-willed children eventually rebel against this parenting style if the parent doesn’t learn to balance expressive warmth with the authoritative discipline.

Your parenting style is highly driven and task oriented, as opposed to relationship-centered. Relationship-centered people tend to focus on nurturing and caring for others; authoritative people tend to be more focused on “getting things done.” Although your authoritative parenting style may not be the most popular style, it typically produces respect and obedience from your children, at least until they become teenagers. At that point, there is a good chance that they will find ways to avoid your control. As long as you are consistent in the way you discipline your children and as long as you maintain strong personal values, your children will model your self-discipline and persistence, thus benefiting from this rather rigid parenting style. This style might not produce the results you hope it will, however, if you do not find ways to outwardly express your loving and caring emotions. Remember that your children’s self-esteem comes not only from their self-discipline but also from feelings of significance, love and acceptance they receive from their parents.

I know my kids would not be real surprised about this revelation.  They often accused me of being a control freak.  The thing that is important here, is that knowing this about myself I have been able to, as a parent, try to use the strengths of this parenting style to my advantage, while trying to make up for my weaknesses.  I had to learn to show more love and compassion for my kids, and learn to be a bit more flexible and spontaneous.  I can’t say I was always successful in this, but knowing my particular style has helped. I used this strength to help develop the organizational methods that I outline in my book.

To offset my tendencies my husband and I used a different mindset about our children’s activities. While many parents have the mindset that they do not allow their children to do anything ‘unless it helps them’ we had the mindset that unless it hurt them, and was a reasonable, safe and supervised activity, we let them participate. as a result our children had a wide range of experiences while learning to thrive under an organized system. The organization gave them a sense of security because they knew our expectations and limits.

Token Economies for your kids

A token economy is a reward system. The idea is that you have some physical item that can be handed to your child that has some value. The child can see something tangible as a reward for their behavior. There are several key components to using a token economy. It must be physical. If they can’t touch it they are being asked to understand an abstract concept that they might not be ready to understand. It should be interesting. Visual or physical appeal increases the apparent value. They must be responsible for safeguarding it. They must be able to spend it for items they want.

Some items that we have used as tokens are raffle tickets (available at office supply or craft stores), juice can lids decorated, printed currency and even old unused car and house keys. Change them up once in a while to keep them fresh.

Help each child to establish a safe place (or bank) to keep their earnings. On a periodic basis, maybe once a month, allow them to purchase little prizes with their earnings. This teaches them rewards of work, saving and even thrift.

Feel free to post your ideas on what to use for tokens for your kids!

Why another book on raising children?

Many people think there are enough books on raising children. Many of them focus on pop-psychology and use all sorts of buzzwords to define how to raise children. While raising my children I became quite frustrated with the lack of how-to books with practical applications. The books all contained, as my husband says, “all the nouns with none of the verbs.” My purpose in writing this book is to create a tangible plan, based on sound research (the nouns), and tried and proven methods (the verbs) to raise good children. By using the methods in my book you will be more organized and your children will be more secure because they will understand your goals and methods.

The methods I outline and used are not intended to be THE definition. Merely a starting point to give you a foundation on which to build your parenting plan.

Book

I would love to hear what works for you!