This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

How to discipline your difficult child -FAIR Club

By Marythemom

I'm known to my children as the "meanest mom in the world." That's because I am FAIR and I share the FAIR Club with anyone who asks! You can't spank or yell at foster children and teenagers aren't easy to handle - even without special needs. The FAIR Club is a compilation of everything I've ever learned about parenting.  It is ever changing to account for the fact that our children and their needs are ever growing and developing.  The premise is that life is not fair, nor do we want it to be.

Here's how we discipline at our house:

Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
Love, empathy and understanding
Family rules (see previous post)
Children books on behavior management (see Tips)

Life is not fair, nor do we want it to be 

FAIR Club– In our family, you have the right to join the “FAIR” Club. Anytime you invoke the word “fair” or imply that you expect life to be fair, I will assume you want to join the club. I always expect you to be Respectful, Responsible, Honest, have a positive Attitude and be Fun To Be Around ( Loving and Learning (RRHAFTBALL - pronounced "Raft ball")  and in return you will enjoy the privileges and responsibilities that go with being part of this loving family. We do NOT try to make everything equal for everyone. We respect that each of our children has a different personality, is a different age (chronologically and developmentally), and has different wants, needs and abilities. Unlike the FAIR club, being part of our family means we sometimes cut you some slack and sometimes we’re here to help you live up to being more than average or equal.

Every Family member must be Respectful, Responsible, Honest , have a positive Attitude and be Fun To Be Around ( Loving and Learning (RRHAFTBALL - pronounced "Raft ball")  . You follow this rule whether you want to or not. Whether it’s easy or not.

Not only will you respect your mom/dad, but you will respect my spouse. If you are disrespectful to a parent, you will be disciplined twice! Once for being disrespectful to Mom or Dad and once for being disrespectful to my wife/husband.

Remember YOU ARE NOT THE PARENT! This is a good thing! It means that while you should be aware of your family’s behavior and issues and try to help them if you can, you are not responsible for correcting them or disciplining them. THIS IS NOT YOUR JOB! It is our job as parents to keep everyone safe and help them be all that they can be. YOU are however, responsible for your own choices and behaviors, and being RRHAFTBALL.

Members of the FAIR club have assigned seats (at the dining room table, in the car, in the family room). They are expected to always have the family attitude (RRHAFTBALL) – anything less would not be “fair” to them or everyone else.

Attitude is contagious – do you want others to catch yours? YOU are responsible for your choices. What are you going to do about it? There are hard things to do in life. That's ok, you CAN do hard things. Just do YOUR Best to live your life in a RRHAFTBALL manner. That's all anyone can ask of you.

You don't have to like any particular person. You do however have to be courteous with everyone, even those you don't like. Learning this trait will help you to be RRHAFTBALL.

Whining might get you a $5 charge for Whhhiiinnniinngg! AND mom could sing a whining song, loudly and off key!   ... or Mom might think of something WORSE!

Last one to do something usually gets caught. That means if you “do unto others as they did unto you,” YOU will probably be the one to get caught and experience consequences.

If someone has a bad attitude toward you or uses bad behavior, try to help them or get an adult to help. Revenge just gets YOU in trouble.

Members of the FAIR club who feel something is not FAIR may put this in writing and submit it to the Investigation Committee (Mom and Dad) where it will be ruled on. Do not expect us to investigate an allegation or make a ruling without it being in writing and us having a chance for the committee to meet. You do not have to be in the FAIR club to use this committee.

Teachers are your "Boss" at school. You wouldn't disrespect a boss without expecting to get fired. Don't disrespect teachers for the same reason. 99% of the time I will trust what a teacher tells me is the true story. I've never had a teacher lie to me. (PITY the teacher that ever does) If I know that what you're telling me is untrue, then it's a lie, and the conversation is over. If you are leaving something important out on purpose it is STILL a lie.

Your parents talk to people at your school, parents of your friends, your friends, neighbors and people you don’t know that we know. We know all and see all. Do not lie and sneak around. You WILL get caught.

Whenever you lie to us that means that you have chosen to have a consequence. Typically, this means we assume you must have also been lying when you told us you wanted to attend ______________ (whatever fun activity you’ve requested to attend recently).

A creative writing assignment might be the consequence for lying, as at least then, it can be labeled fiction -and look how much money J.K. Rowling has made!

For every “right” /privilege you have, you have at least one, and usually more, responsibilities (just like in our country).If you want something that's not a required part of life, then you better plan on putting forth some effort for it. If you want "Freedom and Independence" then you must first show "Respect and Responsibility."

If you do a good job, you get praised for the good job. If you do a bad job, you get a chance to repeat the job until it's a good job. Learning how to do a job A+, "fast and snappy" instead of "slow and crappy" will result in you living your life in an A+ manner.

Even Jell-O has rules. They're called directions, or a recipe. If you don't follow the recipe for Jell-o, it turns out weak, tasteless, and unsatisfactory. If you don't follow life’s rules, your life will turn out weak, tasteless, and unsatisfactory.

If you’re doing something I think is wrong, I will assume you don’t know any better. Sometime soon I will show you how to do this correctly and we will “practice” it many times (Warning: this is at MY convenience and may happen to be when you had other plans).For every choice you make in life, you receive either a benefit or a consequence. Make a good choice, you'll probably get a benefit. Bad choices usually result in consequences. Sometimes, good choices result in consequences as well. Put on your "Big Girl Panties" or your "Big Boy Boxers" and deal with it. AKA “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit!”

If you're doing something that makes you think you should look around to see who's watching -- don't do it. Someone is ALWAYS watching. That inclination to look around is your conscience telling you not to do what you know is wrong.

The FAIR Club -

If a child is not being RRHAFTBALL or is complaining that life is not fair, then they go in the FAIR Club. The FAIR Club is designed to provide boundaries and additional support while the child practices and gains (or regains) the ability to be RRHAFTBALL. This involves removing a lot of the distractions and drains of life (like electronics, phone, friends, even where to sit) and adds ways of dealing with stress (earlier bedtime, spending time with parents who can role model, only going places as a family).

To demonstrate they are ready to get out of the FAIR Club the child must be RRHAFTBALL and complete their writing assignment and extra chore(s). Assignments and consequences are based on the child’s developmental age, Logical Consequences and restitution. There is a minimum of 24 hours that a child can be in the FAIR Club, but no maximum. If a child refuses to do the chores/assignments or be RRHAFTBALL that is their choice. This takes a LOT of pressure off the parent. Unlike other techniques, you don’t have to nag the child to do the assignment or let a child who is being horrid off grounding just because their time is up. They will figure out pretty quickly that “fair” is not fun!

The FAIR Club today - 

One of the things I liked about using the FAIR Club with my 4 VERY different children was it's flexibility.  I could consequence a neurotypical, normally compliant child; a neurotypical, intelligent, stubborn, repeat offender; a child who was emotionally much younger than her chronological age who couldn't handle verbal reprimands and didn't always have full control of her behaviors; and an emotionally disturbed, defiant, unattached teen... with all feeling that everyone got "punished" and weren't "getting away with" misbehavior.

While I think all 4 children greatly benefited from the lessons learned in the FAIR Club, I don't remember the last time I had to put my 2 younger biochildren (now 13 and 16 years old) in the FAIR Club.  The reality was though that we quickly learned that the older adopted children NEED the structure and support of ALWAYS being in the FAIR Club to feel safe and loved - not the writing assignments or extra chores, but the assigned seats, constant supervision, and even earlier bedtimes.  I found that every time I "lightened up" because they were doing well, these two would begin increasingly acting up until the limits and restrictions were reinstated.


Unknown said...

Wow love this. Going to try it starting today. You should put all this in an E-Book

marythemom said...

Thanks. It's on my "to-do" list, but the list is kinda long! lol