A LowB World

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The secret of happy children, C1-3, Steve Biddulph

Summary of book:


...Think of all the people you know who have problems -who lack confidence, cannot make a decision, can't relax, or can't make friends with other people. Think of those who are aggressive, putting people down and ignoring the needs of those around them.

...The simple fact is many people have unhappiness programmed into them. They have been unwittingly taught as children to be unhappy, and are now living out the script.

(oh! you can see his... -.-)

Chapter 1: Seeds in the mind

"You're hopeless"
"Don't be such a pest"

It's called a self-fulfilling prophecy because saying it often enough makes it come true...

...What most people don't realise is that hypnosis is an everyday event. Whenever we use certain patterns of speech, we reach into the unconscious minds of our children and program them, even though we have no such intention (accidental hypnosis).

...Adults know everything; they can even read your mind. Such are the thoughts of a child. So when a child is told 'you're clumsy', he/she becomes nervous, and clumsy.

It’s all in the way we say it. We can choose to say to children ‘o’m angry with you and I want you to tidy up your toys NOW!’… but if we say ‘you lazy little brat, why don’t you ever do what you’re told?’ and repeat this kind of message whenever conflict occurs, then the result will come as no surprise. Positive wording makes competent kids: rather than say ‘don’t run out into the traffic’, it’s easier an better to say ‘stay on the footpath close to me –so the child imagines what to do, and not what not to do.

Chapter 2: What children really want

Children play up for one reason only: they have unmet needs. 'But what needs do my children have that are unmet? I feed them, clothe them, buy them toys, keep them warm and clean...'

Children need love to live...

What was important was:

* physical touch
human contact and affection

* need to be recognised
noticed, given sincere praise; included in conversations, have our ideas listened to, and even admired

Children play up because they're bored, because they feel unwanted, or because it gets them noticed.

Doing things together:

1. Dont expect to actually achieve anything!
Esp with small children -the goal is no longer the goal

2. Only do things with kids which you feel relaxed about
You have to decide what you are doing -being with kids, or getting the job done.

3. Enjor parenthood -it doesnt last
Time with kids is never wasted

Chapter 3: Cured by listening

There are three ways that parents react that causes the barriers to go up:

1. patronising

how was your day?


oh, you poor thing. come and tell me all about it

we had this new teacher for maths. and i couldnt keep up

well thats really awful. do you want me to help you with the work after tea?

i didnt bring it home

perhaps i could ring the school tomorrow and talk to the principal?

oh, well, i dunno...

i think its best to get to the bottom of things before it gets worse, dont you?

well, err... mmm..

i wouldnt want your education to suffer


2. Lecturing

how was your day?


well, you're a fine one to complain. i'd love to be able to spend my day learning, having a nice easy time.

well, we had a hard time. we've got this stupid new maths teacher...

now dont you go talking about your teachers in that tone. if you paid a bit more attention you'd be better off, my boy. You think you should have everything on a plate!


3. Distracting

How was your day?


oh come on, it wasnt that bad was it? have a sandwich?

thanks. im a bit worried about maths...

well. you're no einstein, but neither are your mum n' dad. you go and put the tv on and dont let it get you down


**the same thing happens in all three examples: the parent does all the talking; the conversation stops pretty soon; the child doesnt get to talk over the real problem. the child's feelings get lost along the way; the parent 'soilves' the problem; the child says less and less.

4. Active listening

how was your day?


you look really unhappy. what went wrong?

aw, we've got a new teacher for maths. he goes too fast.

you're worried you wont be able to keep up?

yes. i asked him to explain part of ti and he said just to pay more attention.

hmmm... how did you feel about that?

really wild -the other kids all stirred me... but they're having trouble, too!

so you're angry that you got into trouble because you piped up first?

yes, i dont like getting shown up in front of everyone.

what do you think you'll do?

i'm not sure, i suppose i could ask him again, when the class is over.

you think that would work better?

yes, then i wouldnt feel so embarassed. and i think he's a bit nervous, too. maybe that's why he rushes.

you can understand it from his point of view?

yeah, i reckon he's just nervous of us

no wonder, teaching such smart kids like you!


**** in such cases, parents are far from silent, they are interested, and show it by confirming their child's feelings and thoughts and by jelping the child to think it through.

With this, you can leave the responsibility, and pleasure, of a solution to the child. But sometimes parents must intervene.. (if the solution is impossible for the child).

Chapter 4: Kids and emotions

In the adult world, no-one is ever, or would want to be, continually happy. What we really want is kids who can handle and move along through the many feelings that life brings... Joy is the goal, but being comfortable and experiencing all the emotions life brings is the way to get there most often.

Emotions are distinctive sets of body sensations, which we experience under specific situations. There are four basic emotions -anger, fear, sadness, and joy. All other shades of feelings are a mix of these... There are thousands of combinsations possible -like jealousy- a mixture of anger and fear; or nostalgia -a mixture of joy and sadness!

Infants are not inhibited- they express feelings naturally and easily, and as a result the negative emotions soon pass.

Anger is what makes us stand up for ourselves; anger is our instinct for freedom and self-preservation.

Fear is of definite value too; fear slows us down, forces us to stop, think and avoid danger -even when our conscious brain has not yet fathomed what the danger might be.

Sadness is the emotion that helps us to grieve -it literally washes us clean of the distress of losing something or someone from our life.

Joy is what we experience when these needs (freedom, safety, contact) are fulfilled.

1. Teaching kids about anger
-insist that they use words instead of actions to express anger
-help them to connect their feelings with reasons
-let them know that feelings are heard and accepted
-teach directly that hitting is unacceptable
-help children to say what they do want
-show them by your example

2. Teaching kids about sadness
-to cry is as necessary and as natural as breathing
not crying makes you uptight, as you tend to live in the past and can be hard to contact in the present, and fearful of other people's emotions or anything associated with death or loss

3. Helping children handle fear
-be very matter of fact
talk it over with them, be patient but casual
-talk fears over
-explain the unlikelihood of it happening, but figure out an action plan
-if they raise an unrealistic fear, tell them so
-underlying fears
use your listening skills to search out if there is something else that is troubling them, which they find hard to tell you.

Rackets are when feelings get out of hand... Feelings that are faked by a child in this way are called racket feelings:

Anger when put on as a racket is called a tantrum.
Sadness when put on as a racket is called sulking.
Fear when put on as a racket is called shyness.

1. Dealing with tantrums
-end the payoffs
you will never give a child what they want as a result of a tantrum
-handle the practicalities
do what you need to get through it; some walk away, ignore them, take them to their room
-follow up
once the tantrum is over, let the child know that this is not on. this is a teaching time.
-plan better
tantrums often indicate that the parent and child are living under too much stress. minimise the stress in such times

2. Dealing with sulking
-Everyone does know what they want. They ust need to think about it until they are clear
-Children can learn to ask for what they want directly in words
-People need very little -food, shelter, air, affection, exercise
-All the rest are wants. And you dont always get what you want!
-Wherther you feel happy or unhappy doesnt affect the world one bit. you may as well feel happy

3. Dealing with shyness
-Teach your children how to be sociable
if someone speaks to your child, or says hello, explain to them that they should:
--look up at the person who has spoken to them
--say hello and add the persons name
-insist that they do it
--a technique used by many parents is to tell the kids to 'stand and think' until the kids are ready to get it right

Chapter 5: The assertive parent

There are four basic choices in dealing with chilren:

1. Assertive
-is not threatened by conflict
-negotiates more as children become older and more capable
-gives positive strokes
-makes clear, firm requests and demands
-sets rules and carries out the consequences

2. Manipulative
-uses guilt, sickness, etc. to get child to behave
-compares child with others etc.

3. Aggressive
-uses put-downs to make children behave
-shouts at children
-hits child angrily

4. Passive
-withdraws totally
-gives in to all child's demands
-allows child to misbehave

The important thing is to see assertiveness as a skill; this means that you may take time to learn it...

Here is how to get good behavior from a child who is used to disobeying or delaying

1. Be clear in your own mind
what youre asking is not a request, its not open to debate. its a demand
2. Make good contact
stop what you are doing, go up to the child and get him to look at you
3. be clear
say 'i want you to ...now. Do you understant?' Make sure you get a 'yes' or 'no' answer
4. If they do not obey repeat what you want from them
breath slowly and deeply so you become calmer. You are signalling to the child that you are willing to persist on this one and not get upset about it
5. stay close
if there is a chance that the child will not carry the task fully. when the task is completed then dont make much of this either; simply say 'good!' and smile briefly.

Chapter 6: Family shape

When modern cities begain to appear, people still lived pretty much in the same neighbourhood as all their relatives; this extended family unit was very supportive. Everyone belonged and was cared for.

If you werent everything your children needed, there were others to step in. You were never alon- there was plenty of advice, help and example.

But the fact that all of these things are not available doesnt mean that they may not be found. You dont have to be related- just committed. Its very hard work but nonetheless, you can actually make yourself an extended family if not for your own sake, then for your children's.

Chapter 7: Ages and stages

The stages of child development are:

S1, 0-6 months, Can I trust these people?
S2, 6-18 months, Explore!
S3, 1.5-3 years, learning to think
S4, 3-6 years, other people
S5, 6-12 years, I did it my way
S6, 12-18 years, getting ready to leave

Chapter 8: Energy and how to save it

We all need fuel. We dont just run on food: we need 'energy' in the form of love, recognition, touch and talking with others. Every person you talk to or meet either takes energy away from you or gives you energy.

There are three responsibilities for a parent:
-take care of yourself
-take care of your partnership
-take care of your kids

Caring for you, your partnership and your kids actually go hand in hand. Looking after yourself makes you happier and more giving; you're giving out of choice and from a position of fulfilment.

Looking after your partnership reminds you you're a valued adult; you have a sense of stability that enables you to relax, but you have enough growith and change taking place to enable you to remain interested in your partner

Looking after your kids flows naturally from the above; then, giving your children will come easily.


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