THE HEART OF THE MATTER
a special program of the National Emergency Medicine Association (NEMA) 

Transcripts: 551.4 and 551.5

Week: 551.4 Guest: Peggy Kolodny, Certified Professional Counselor, Child Trauma Specialist Topic: Dealing with poor child behavior- Part One of Two Producer/Host: Steve Girard

NEMA: Why do some kids today seem more brash, less respectful, and full of selfish expectations about what their parents should give them? And how do we alter their attitudes and come away with a better relationship through better parenting? Certified professional counselor and child trauma specialist Peggy Kolodny is with us today....

KOLODNY: I think that there's a pattern...almost every other generation seems to fluctuate between a more authoritative parenting style, and then a more relaxed parenting style...or more rebellious kids. But what has happened, really, since the 50's, is there's greater affluence, there's earlier puberty with children...the average age for the onset of puberty was 13, and now it's closer to 11. So, kids have a longer adolescence...we have more of a youth culture, where I think in the past generations, adolescents and even younger kids were more influenced by an extended family, and the whole family structure. A lot of their influence, really from about 8 or 9 on, is their peer group. I think parents have become over indulgent in a lot of their parenting styles...and I think they're scared too, they're more scared than in prior generations that they're going to make a mistake. They're just really feeling in doubt and vague about what they're supposed to do.

NEMA: There's got to be a way to allow kids to explore their ideas without allowing the insolence I see to much of these days....

KOLODNY: And I don't think we emphasize manners enough with kids anymore. In the school systems, at home...I don't think they're just taught enough that saying thank you...there's so much in that simple act of saying thank you'...instead of having the attitude that you expect that someone serve you, or take care of you..you're acknowledging the act. I'm amazed at the rudeness and the insolent behavior and back-talking that's tolerated in schools.

NEMA: I know you like to change these scenarios, nip a potential problem in the bud....when does a parent know that the normal rebellion or occasional insolence shown by most kids is becoming a family-damaging problem?

KOLODNY: It impacts on the quality of family life, and the child's life...and relationships. Meaning, at school their grades are suffering, there are disciplinary problems at school, they're with peers that are equally defiant and disrespectful...they're breaking curfew, they're not following any of the home rules that you have. And when you no longer enjoy your child, you no longer feel that you have a positive relationship with your child...when I have parents that come in and say to me, "I love my child, but I don't like them"...then you really have a problem.

NEMA: When that is the situation,is being proactive...and then perhaps seeking professional help the right course...?

KOLODNY: You sort of start from the bottom up....you go to the school, you make sure you have communication with the school. I always see teachers as the front line soldiers...so, you really need to speak to the other caretakers in your child's life, and have that open communication so you're providing more of a united front in providing some structure. And you would start there...unless it's really gotten to an extreme point that you feel you need to get some intervention through therapy, through getting professional advice.

NEMA: Sit down and talk with your kids, establish some ground rules and work with them, and let them know you care. Some relationship management techniques from Peggy Kolodny next time. I'm Steve Girard.

Transcripts:

Week: 551.5 Guest: Peggy Kolodny, Certified Professional Counselor, Child Trauma Specialist Topic: Problems and solutions in parent/child relationships- Part Two of Two Producer/Host: Steve Girard

NEMA: We're with certified counselor and child trauma specialist Peggy Kolodny, to talk about parenting. To create that foundation that curbs kids' rebellion and aggressive behavior and reinforces everyday respect and responsibility...what steps should we take?

KOLODNY: Really, the first step is opening up a communication with them, and setting up some structure at home...knowing that each child has a few minutes each day that they know is their time with a parent. Where they have the opportunity to talk to the parent about any fears or problems...or positive things that have happened to them in that day. And if you've missed doing that because of all the other influences and pressured time in you life, you need to go back to it...that's a place to start.

NEMA: The classic parent line is, "What did you do at school today?, and they say, "Nothing". "How was your day"?...and they say, "okay.." And that's it!

KOLODNY: Well, we try to restructure that, and have the parent say to the child, "What was the best part of your day...the favorite thing you did. What did you like the least? Did anything make you mad"? And asking some very specific questions and trying to avoid questions that you can only answer yes or no...that have to get some detail...that's showing some concern and interest in what this child is doing.

NEMA: What other mistakes are prevalent when parent child relationships suffer?

KOLODNY: They think they have a parenting style, and then the child makes the mistake of reaching a new developmental stage, and whatever they were doing that worked on a toddler suddenly isn't working on this very active, defiant little six year old. They have to change their parenting style a bit to fit the growing needs of their child. It surprises me how many parents really don't do a lot of reading...they usually seek help once the problem's already there, rather than doing more preventative things. The other mistake parents often make is having that parenting style that works with one child, and then they get the second child who's totally opposite from the first one. And they have to make a shift in how they operate with that child, and that's difficult for parents to do.

NEMA: So, what method do you think works best...?

KOLODNY: The intervention that I really like having an authoritative parenting style, balanced with a democratic participation in rule making , promoting autonomy with children, promoting responsibility...it means ultimately the parent has the authority, but they're working with the child to set up the rules. For example, "We expect that your room is going to stay neat and if that doesn't happen, what do you think the consequences would be"? I am a firm believer in the concept of natural consequences and logical consequences....An example of a natural one: a child, a toddler refuses to wear a coat, it's cold outside, you put the coat on, they take it off...the natural consequence is...they take off their coat, you say to them, " I'm not putting your coat back on, it's cold outside...we're bringing your coat, and you can decide when you need it". And they go outside, it's cold - at some point, they're going to put their own coat on. A logical consequence would be something like, an older child...12, 13, 14... they're responsible for picking up their dirty clothes and putting them in a hamper. They don't even put them in a hamper, the mother refuses to do that...so, a logical consequence...and it's also a natural one... the child is going to have to face the fact that, if they want clean clothes, they're going to have to be part of the process.

NEMA: Give them some control and the chance at responsibility...but Peggy Kolodny says the most valuable thing children can learn from us is how to learn from mistakes. I'm Steve Girard.