Posts Tagged ‘Parenting’

Check this out about labeling our children, its only a minute.

By Timothy D. Evans and Raymond J. Corsini

Grousing is a common behavior that is highly destructive to relationships. It increases interpersonal conflict and provokes revenge while generating attitudes of resentment and no cooperation. Parents grouse at their children because they believe it will make them more responsible. One or both members of a couple may grouse at each other, convinced they know what is best for their partner. Despite its prevalence, grousing is a discouraging way of interacting. It destroys the potential for developing an encouraging and intimate relationship.

What is grousing? Webster defines grouse as “to grumble or complain.” It is related to the word “grouch.” Roget equates the term with “fret, chafe, frown, crab, or pout.” The usual synonym for grousing is nagging. The phrase, “Get off my back” means to stop grousing.

The initial step in encouragement training is to teach couples, parents, and teachers how their seemingly innocuous behavior irritates and discourages others. Nothing will improve in marriage until one starts working on him- or herself without trying to change the other person (Evans, 1989; Meredith & Evans, 1990). Marriage reconstruction requires the grouser to stop nagging, complaining, arguing, judging, criticizing, punishing, or rewarding (anything that irritates the other person). In short, the grouser needs to shut up and be pleasant.

GROUSING EXERCISE: An especially effective exercise for improving relationships entails the elimination of grousing for 4 consecutive days. After the therapist explains what it means to grouse, the following directions are given to couples or individuals: If you are guilty of grousing, are you willing to stop it for four consecutive days? If so, here is the assignment: You must stop grousing immediately and completely for four consecutive days. If you’ve been attacking, criticizing, yelling, reminding, nagging, threatening, bringing up the past, comparing, or pointing out mistakes, stop it now. This includes all negative behavior, no matter how “nicely” presented or well-intentioned.

Instead of grousing, act “as if” you are a sensible and self-controlled person who has decided to get off your spouse’s back and enjoy their company in spite of their shortcomings. You are not to do anything else other than to avoid grousing at your partner, child, or the person closes to you. After four consecutive days you have the choice of reverting to your old behavior.

You are only to participate in this exercise if you agree to do it for four consecutive days. This means that if you go for three days and grouse, you need to start over. You are not to perform this exercise with the intention of shaping-up the other person. You are changing your behavior because it is the decent and reasonable thing to do.

Assuming you follow through with this experiment, what might happen! There are several possibilities:

1. You will feel better about yourself. After all, who likes to be a prison guard monitoring someone’s behavior?

2. You will look better. Nags look like nags.

3. You will show/generate goodwill. Your mate will have evidence of your intention to improve the marriage.

4. You will become a more encouraging person.

5. You will reduce tension.

Your family will develop a friendly, supportive atmosphere. The Grousing Exercise is one that benefits everyone as both therapists and their clients can encourage themselves and their families. Practicing encouragement via the elimination of grousing is a win-win quality relationship proposal. ‘


Evans, T. (1989). The Art of Encouragement. Athens, GA: University of Georgia, Center for Continuing Education.

Meredith, C., & Evans, T. (1990). Encouragement in the Family, Individual Psychology, 46, 187-192.

The Family Journal: Counseling and Therapy for Couples and Families ~ Vol. 2, No. 1 (1994) pp. 70

[1] Appeared in: The Family Journal: Counseling and Therapy for Couples and Families ~ Vol. 2, No. 1 (1994) pp. 70

What is the consequence of being a “good student?” Is it to be a leader, to contribute, or is it simply to have glory? Who benefits from such a good student? Do parents feel successful because their child makes good grades compare to other children. It may be time we change. If a student knows more, is it for his or her glory or could we make it for the greater service of others. Too often, we want our kids to make good grades to increase our status as parents and for them to be better than other students and this, in our competitive society, is almost pathological. If I am better then I am higher, and I look down on you. When do we emphasize that school is an opportunity to learn how to give back, to provide a greater service to others? School is to learn so we can contribute so society not to be better than others.

What is the consequence of our ability grouping? Gifted Classes? Are we raising a bunch of intellectual snobs and teaching our children how not to cooperate with each other?

The honor student is most vulnerable because she basis her whole existence on her intellectual and academic superiority and if she ever comes into a situation where she can’t be the best she may collapse. Good students are not good because they want to be good but because they want to be better. Schools could be places where we teach our children to cooperate and contribute instead of learning how to compete and discourage. Schools could enhance a students belonging instead of pitting student against student, teacher against students, and parents against children. It would require a cooperative learning atmosphere where every one has a place.

We are always better prepared if the marriage of our parents has been harmonious. Children gain their earliest impressions of marriage from the life of their parents. If the parents are not able themselves to cooperate, it will be impossible for them to teach cooperation to their children.

R. Dreikurs

“We too have the power to choose happiness over righteousness. Righteousness means remembering every time someone hurts us or disappoints us, and never letting them forget it (and—frightening thought—giving them the right remember every time we hurt them or let them down and constantly remind us of it). Happiness means giving people the right to be human, to be weak and selfish and occasionally forgetful, and realizing that we have no alternative to living with imperfect people.

Boston Globe columnist Linda Weltner makes the point in a story she tells. She remembers sitting in a park watching children at play. Two children get into an argument, and one says to the other, “I hate you! I’m never going to play with you again!” For a few minutes, they play separately, and then they are back sharing their toys with each other. Ms. Weltner remarks to another mother, “How do children do that? How do they manage to be so angry with each other one minute, and the best of friends the next?” The other mother answers, “It’s easy. They choose happiness over righteousness”.

The quest for righteousness estranges people each other; the quest for happiness enables them to get past their shortcomings and connect with each other. And strange as it may seem, happiness may be a more authentically religious value than righteousness. “

Harold Kushner, How Good Do WE Have to Be? pp. 108-109

Book available on our website.

“People simply do not know the facts of life. Anyone who tries to find a place for himself will never find it, regardless how many degrees, regardless how much money, power, beauty, success, he may have amassed. Because unless he first realizes that he has a place by his very existence, if he doesn’t realize this, no attribute, no conquest, no skill, no achievement will give him the feeling of being good enough. Whatever he may achieve, it may not be good enough or enough of it, or whatever he may have gotten he may lose it.

It is this aspect of our society which makes us so neurotic, living in a neurotic society. As I pointed out in some papers, psychotherapy, counseling means fundamentally to extricate the child and the adult from the faulty values of our society, which we fortify in our colleges and our school more and more. This over-ambition which we instill in them which inevitably leads to a sense of failure. “If I can’t be the best, I am the worst.” And the schools contribute directly to the neurosis of our students. The harm which we are doing to our students is indescribable. It is hard to believe what goes on that people don’t see.

I remember one case of a 12 year old girl. The mother came and said, “She doesn’t apply herself. She doesn’t do well enough.” Actually, the child wasn’t too much interested in studying and she would barely do her homework. And I spoke with her. And I immediately realized what it was. The child was over-ambitious and so I asked her to tell me, “You don’t feel you are good enough for this school?” “No.” “Why are you not satisfied?” “I could be better.” “Well how good do you think you have to be to be good in your class?” And after a little prodding it came out, “I think perhaps the first or second in my class would be good enough.” And when I told it to her mother that she has to learn to be good enough as she is, she said, “The teacher who complains to me that my girl is not working up to her capacity is in the subject that my girl got an A-. Please, it was not good enough because you could have made an A+. The whole approach which we have in our classes stirring up this false ambition that if you can’t be the best academically, scholastically, athletically, then you have to switch to the useless side.

These mental tortures, and particularly at universities, are growing a generation of people who have to find their place. It is hard to believe what can go on without anybody crying out loud, “Let’s stop ruining our kids. Let’s stop giving them the feeling that they never can live up to what we the parents, the schools expect from them.” Dr. R. Dreikurs Social Interest in Children

This interview took place over 30 years ago–and its still relevant today.

“Sanity in our schools”
By Sandra Peeman
Chicago Daily News, February 3, 1972

Modern parents and teachers, in their efforts to put democracy in the schools, have only created anarchy.
That’s the thesis of psychiatrist Rudolf Dreikurs, who also thinks:
….. Report cards have no value.
….. Teachers who send “love notes” home about a child’s misbehavior are just trying to get him in trouble rather than getting to the root of the problem.
….. Mothers talk too much and say too little in a conflict situation.

Dreikurs has set forth his views in a new book and expanded on them in an interview in his apartment over looking Lincoln Park.

Dreikurs, Vienna-born professor emeritus of psychiatry at Chicago Medical School and director of emeritus of Alfred Adler Institute of Chicago, is getting a bit hazy about certain things as a approaches his 76th birthday February 8.

When the doorbell rang, his wife hastened to answer it and fluttered apologetically about the room.

“The doctor forgot you were coming! He has made another arrangement for the same time!” she whispered, her dignity shaken.

Then Dr. Dreikurs – wearing a proper silk smoking jacket – entered and took command.

“It’s no matter. My other visitor will sit and listen to us,” he announced.

Perhaps he has always been this way about unimportant things like putting appointments on the calendar. But his mind is razor sharp when it comes to business – which in this case is a democratic movement dedicated to creating harmonious human relationships.

Dreikurs contended that new methods of influencing children are necessary in a democratic society, that discouragement is the greatest obstacle to growth, and that creativity requires belief in one’s ability and a feeling of belonging.

These Adlerian views stress that humiliation or pampering creates a feeling of inadequacy in children, and that pressure from without, instead of stimulation from within, creates intense competition so that youngsters who fall switch to defiance and rebellion to gain status.

All of these attitudes are explained in his new book, “Maintaining Sanity in the Classroom: Illustrated Teaching Techniques,” which he wrote with his associates, Bernice Bronia Grunwald and Floy C. Pepper.

Report cards, the book declares, “are usually very damaging. If the child is doing good work, there’s no reason to report it. If he’s not doing well, reporting the fact, without teaching parents what to do about it, will discourage both the children and their parents.”

About teachers’ “love letters” to parents, he asked, “What makes the teacher think that parents who have lost control of the child at home will be able to help improve his behavior in the classroom?”

Dreikurs contended that teachers write such letters only because they feel so defeated by the child, they want to make trouble for him at home – and they usually do.

“Parents spank the child, yell at him and threaten him when they receive such a letter. Instead of that, both parents and teachers should stop fighting and learn a constructive approach to stimulate that child.”

According to the Adler principles, a child misbehaves for one or more of four reasons:
….. To get special attention.
….. To show his power.
….. To get even.
….. Because he is so discouraged he wants to be left alone.

Most parents and teachers aren’t aware of these goals, Dreikurs said, they make matters worse when they try to correct the behavior.

“The majority of American families begin every morning with a fight before school, simply because parents put themselves in a power conflict with the youngsters – and lose,” Dreikurs remarked.

There was a time when all schools and families were autocratic—orders were given by adults and followed without question by youngsters. But times have changed, and the result has been chaotic.

“There was never before a living being on this Earth that didn’t know what to do with its young!” he lamented.

Rearing children has always been based upon tradition, which one generation learned from the last. Now our traditions are no longer functioning, he said, and new methods such as those explained in his books, are too little known.

Wide use of drugs and sexual freedom are expected results of such decadence, Dreikurs continued.

Factors that contribute to these problems:
….. A general tendency on the part of the young to look for pleasure and excitement.
….. Their misunderstood interpretation of freedom.
….. Their desire to defeat adults.
….. A disregard for the demands and responsibilities of life.

“We need a new tradition in raising children, based on social equity between parents and children and teachers, which embodies mutual respect,” the book explains. It points out that in bygone times children could be forced to do what they were supposed to do, but today parents must know how to stimulate the child’s co-operation, respect for order, and willingness to share responsibility for all members of the family.

“One of the greatest drawbacks for parent education is the difficulty entailed in stopping parents, particularly mothers, from talking incessantly,” the book states. “As a rule, children do not listen, since a good deal of this talk is not used for communication, but as ammunition.

“Why is it so difficult for a mother to stop talking? Because she does not know what else to do with a conflict situation!”

Take a look at Maintaining Sanity in The Classroom, Harper and Row, 1971.


by Raymond Corsini

If we could adhere to this one idea, the world would be a better place. Be less divorces, healthier children, less world conflict, our schools would be happier place, and more.

1. Stop criticizing. Not an easy step to take. However, it is an effective beginning
toward changing the lines of communication from negative to positive.
2. Restructure relations. Tell your teenager at a quiet time that you have been
thinking things over and wish to make some changes in your own attitude.
3. Establish a relationship of equity with your teenager. This, of course, does not
mean that you, the parents, should give the child things which are excessively
costly or service which puts you in the position of servant.
4. Set some logical limits. For example discuss where you think he or she should go
socially, the appropriate hour for getting home, and the number of times per week
for going out. If all are quietly talking and trying to solve the problem, letting go
of the power struggle between each side, it is possible to reach some agreement.
5. Once an agreement is reached the teenager should then take the
responsibility to carry through. It should not be the parent who has to ask,
“Where are you going?” or the child who asks, “May I go to Ann’s house?” The
teenager should simply state, “I am going to Ann’s house and will return at
10:30.” In turn, the adults should tell there teens where they are going and when
they expect to return home.
6. When you talk, state your feelings, but do not imply that only you are right.
7. Listen to what your teenager has to say. Do not interrupt. Take the time to think
about what has been said and ask the same courtesy for yourself, but stress that
what you say is only your opinion.

For more suggestions check out the library on our website.

Raymond J. Corsini, Ph.D.
FAS Newsletter, Volume III, Number 3, 1994

All parents make mistakes. Some are minor and some are major. Some ways of operating are difficult to change and some ways are fairly easy. One of the easy ways that generally occurs readily is the issue of Consistency.

What is inconsistency and what problems does it create?

Inconsistency is behavior by parents that generates confusion in the mind of the child, makes him or her unsure of what will happen, generates insecurity, rebellion, lack of confidence, and even fear of the inconsistent parent.

While consistent poor parenting is bad, such as always neglecting or punishing children, and while good parenting is good, most problems in most families are neither consistent bad or consistent good parenting but unpredictable variations. So, the goal of parenting should be to be a good parent consistently, or as consistently as possible.

To give an example. I believe that certain behaviors of children are none of the parents’ business. And by that I mean what they eat, how much they eat, how much they sleep, when and where, and even whether or not they do their homework. Parents should, of course, encourage their children to listen to them. But for a child to listen to her parents, the child has to trust the parents. If a child has inconsistent parents who he can not trust, then the message will be heard but not believed, accepted, or acted upon. As the saying goes, communication should be on the same level, that is two people communicating not up or down but on the same line.

Say, for example, that you believe the unbelievable, that you should NEVER ask about school homework, never check homework, never call a teacher to find out whether homework was called for, never help a child (that is to do it for her) with her homework. You finally agree that a child should learn to be responsible and that the logical consequences of irresponsibility will come from the proper source, in this case the teacher, and the natural consequences will come directly to the child from poor grades or even flunking.

And so, you keep out of the way of schooling.

But say that some other mother calls you irresponsible for taking this action and now you change, or that you mother-in-law tells you to do your child’s homework or that a teacher complains to you that the child does not bring in her homework and you submit and get involved with criticisms, advice, threats and even punishment.

The change from one modality to another is upsetting. Or if a child begs for more money, something you give more than the allowance and something you don’t. Or you allow your child to stay up late sometimes and sometimes you don’t. All such variations that have no rhyme or reason for the child, are examples of inconsistency. A very common form is saying NO and then after a number of NOs on your part, you decide to give in and say YES but….and then you set some limit.

I am not advising rigidity, but rather basing your behavior and decisions on the basis of some logic, that you should share with your child. “Why?” you are asked when you refuse a request. And then you can say “Because it is now raining” or “Because I have no extra money to give you” or “Because tomorrow we have to get up early and I need my sleep.” But the reason should always be an honest one.

By your acting in a logical and loving manner, not making fast decisions just to show your power, you are teaching your child self-confidence as well as confidence in you. Always keep your word. If you say to a child, “Do that and I will break your leg” live up to your threat and face going to jail and losing the love of your child in the interest of consistency, but much better would be never to make a threat you are not willing to follow up—and if you make one, keep it. Thus, you have warned your child if he does something you will take him home. He does this, and you IN ABSOLUTE SILENCE carry out your threat and take him home—you promised some action if he acted in a certain way, you are sure that he heard you—he tested you—and you, despite the pleas of the hostess to let him stay you take him home IN ABSOLUTE SILENCE to let him ponder the issue of your consistency relative to his delinquent behavior. One or two of such behaviors will train almost all normal children. I needed about three to four of such consistent behaviors by my mother, and finally I caught on. But then, as those who know me, I am still a difficult person.