I really like to read parenting books. Being a good mom is incredibly important to me and I like to read thoughts and advice from lots of different sources on how to get past the hurdles. I AM very picky though. I don’t like tough love, authoritarian, or most faith based parenting books and programs. Something like the Ezzo’s Babywise or Growing Kids God’s Way, where the author’s instruct you to hit your kids with plumbing pipe…no those are not going to go over well with me. I like to keep it positive, peaceful, and cooperative.
It is for this reason that I was a bit apprehensive when I reviewed an in demand parenting product/resource. It is called the Total Transformation Program and it is designed to help parents who have children with moderate to severe behavioral issues including defiant and abusive behavior. It could also be easily applied to smaller challenges like talking back, being argumentative, and failing to get along with other people. The draw for me was that this program addresses problems already in place and specifically defiant or verbally abusive kids. I have started to have a problem in this area with my oldest child and I knew immediately I need a game plan right away. This program is based on the premise that these kids just don’t have the skills to solve their problems and it teaches you how to give your child more effective ways to solve his or her problems than fighting, screaming, annoying, and being defiant.
The program was developed by James Lehman MSW who had a very troubled youth himself and it took him quite awhile to learn the skills he lacked to deal with his problems and issues and once he was able to right his path he pursued social work and then started a practice as a therapist to work troubled kids. The Total Transformation Program is a set of video CDs, audio CDs, and a workbook that all help parents and kids work out their issues. I liked that I could transfer them to my iPod Classic for on the go listening/viewing.
I started to review it a few months back and liked it well enough but I guess I just needed some incentive. The past few weeks have given me that incentive as my nine year old has really started acting out and becoming defiant. He is testing boundaries and that is okay…what is not okay is the dance (a power struggle of wills) he has managed to get me to participate in. I realized that I needed to figure out how to handle his outburts without making us both crazy. He has also been very mean to his sister lately and while I try to discover where this resentment is coming from I need to be proactive and get it to stop for my daughter’s sake. I needed to help him find better ways to deal with his frustrations. Parenting “young” kids is soooo much easier. ;)
Luckily, this program is designed for older kids…I would say kids over 6 years old usually and kids who are defiant, problematic, abusive to parents and siblings, and perhaps maybe dabbling in criminal behavior. Even the stuff that did not apply to us was very interesting. The stories shared by parents in the video and program materials that come within this package are typically desperate parents who were at ropes end. They felt like they had failed their child and didn’t know if there was any way to turn things around.
In the intro video Lehman explains that these parents are not failures or even bad parents…just parents don’t have the tools they need. According to the premise of the program, many children have not learned problems solving skills or effective ways to deal with issues and situations they encounter and so they fall back on behavior as their outlet because through behavior they can affect change and get what they want usually.
My concern when I received this program was that it may not coincide with the principles of positive parenting and discipline and that it might be a “tough love” program. Right away I saw a big difference when Lehman mentioned that the key Connection/Positive parenting ideal that “children behave better when they feel better” is false. Lehman believes that feeling better comes naturally as they learn to more effectively manage situations and behave in more appropriate ways…that their ability to behave results in positive self worth. I see both sides of the debate and feel both have some truth to them. In my opinion Lehman’s opinion feels more accurate for older kids. If they are battling internally to be able to find ways to deal with conflict, then they will feel better when they can do it successfully. At that age they are less dependent on us for their self esteem as they are themselves and their own accomplishments. The age makes a big difference.
Every time I found myself starting to tense when he said a word I didn’t like such as control or disconnect I only had to listen to the concept to understand that what he was saying was actually complimentary to peaceful parenting techniques. Control was not the caveman logic of “You child, me parent, me control you.” It was about being proactive and ready, with a plan in place BEFORE the objectionable behavior begins, so that you are in control of your own behavior. Disconnecting was the word given to the practice of walking away from a conversation or a situation to cool off and regroup. It had nothing to do with actually disconnecting from your child.
One thing I immediately loved was his remark that you don’t have to attend every fight just because you are invited. Parents often get into power plays with their kids and parents don’t have to feed into this. They can walk away and decline the invitation, letting their child know that we won’t be talking until you can come to me without being antagonistic. This helps parents to recognize that they are part of the problem when they let themselves be engaged like that. I can already see the value in this with my 8 year old. Kids will pick a fight just to see you react…and as Lehman said…you don’t need to accept that invitation. He has good advice on how to stop any argument with your kid instantly.
I really liked the CD on one minute transformation techniques too. It is all about having a plan when situations come up and acting quickly and consistently. We handle things badly when we don’t know what to do…at least I do. I left this CD in my car so I can listen in while I am running errands.
Anyway, I am really enjoying this course and I like the speaking style of James Lehman. He is personable and knowledgeable and available to many parents who may be struggling with behavior issues at home. I didn’t agree with everything I heard but overall I do think it is very valuable information.
We have had good results too. It has really helped head off arguments and battles before they get started. Instead of a 20 minutes whine, complain, explainathon we have been having direct, calm conversations where I let my expectations be known and I leave it that. When he knows I will not let myself be engaged in a battle of wills he loses interest in the drama. Every time I use these tactics I not only get through to him…I feel so much better. It is a huge weight of my shoulders to not tense up and anticipate a fight. Next up we tackle sibling issues. ;)
The Total Transformation Program has been a really good find for us.