Parenting Advice with Dr. Toby – Giving Out!

On Thursday, Dr. Toby joined Gavin to outline why parents – and others – should think about how they give out to their children.

The following are Dr. Toby’s notes for today’s slot – it may be of use!


We don’t have to give out to our kids!

It is often a knee-jerk response, and we don’t even question it, but is it really necessary?b. Sometimes we do it because others expect us to.
Sometimes we do it because it is the only way we have ever seen parenting done.
Sometimes we do it because of our anxiety about raising “good kids”.
Sometimes we do it out of habit.

Why do we give out?

To get a child to do something we want.
In response to something the child did that we don’t like.
Just in case the child does something, or is thinking of doing, or might possibly do something we don’t want, even if it is very minor or not against the rules.
When our child expresses a negative feeling, or asks for something they want, or points out something they feel strongly about.
Because we are in a bad mood and something minor the child does annoys us.
Because other people are around and might not like what our child is doing.

What does giving out accomplish?

Sometimes it has a short term effect of getting the child to do something or stop doing something. But not always.
100% of the time it makes both you and the child feel worse.
100% of the time it has no long-term effect on getting the child to behave better.
Sometimes it sends the message that it is not okay to express negative feelings.
Sometimes it sends the message that you don’t care about their opinions or wishes or feelings.
Sometimes it sends the message that nothing they do is right.
Sometimes it sends the message that …..

What are the effects on the child of us giving out?

How does it make them feel? Unsafe, or angry, or down on themselves.
What does it make them think? Negative thoughts about themselves or you.
What does it make them do? React, not think and plan.
How it makes them communicate? They learn to communicate by giving out rather than calmly expressing themselves.

What are the effects on us and family life of giving out?

Families that have a lot of giving out in them are less happy and calm than other families. They are more stressed.
It can have an impact on relationships.
Goal should be four positive interactions for each negative one.

What can you do instead of giving out?

Stop and breathe before you react. Ask yourself what you are trying to accomplish.
Remind yourself that you don’t have to criticise your child.
Don’t listen to people who make you think you are only a good parent if you are constantly giving out to your child. Remind yourself that kids are only learning and need support not criticism.
Pay attention to your tone of voice and your facial expressions.
To get a child to do what she should do, state your expectation calmly in supportive voice. Don’t pressure or plead. Just ask nicely.
To respond after they have done something they shouldn’t have, what is your goal?
You can just point out that they did it, and that you didn’t like it, and hope they do better next time.
If it is a low frequency behaviour, you might decide not to respond at all.
If it is a big deal or is likely to come up again, you can ask them to “think through” what happened, and make a plan for next time. This gets your child to process and think about it, which makes it more likely that it will “stick.”

If they are in the middle of doing something wrong, your first job is not to stop the behaviour, but to help your child regain control of her emotions. Behaviour that is unwanted is usually a sign of distress of some kind. There is some situation happening that they can’t figure out how to handle, such as their sister taking their toy, or the homework being difficult.
Stay calm, comfort her, and ask her what is wrong.
Acknowledge her feelings and let her calm down before saying anything about the problem or the behaviour.
Once they are calm, you can help them think of a way to solve the problem that has seemed overwhelming to them.