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Frequently Asked Questions

with author Naomi Drew



What inspired you to write a book on peacemaking for parents?
Since writing my first book on peacemaking for educators 17 years ago, and leading hundreds of workshops, the question that always came to me was, “When are you going to write a book on peacemaking for parents? So often teachers would come back to me after attending one of my workshops and say, “I’ve been using the strategies you recommend at home with my own kids, and I can’t believe the results I’m getting.” Their kids were getting along better and talking out differences rather than fighting and the atmosphere in their homes was improving. After years of similar comments I knew I had to write Peaceful Parents Peaceful Kids . Moreover, with the upsurgence of youth violence, it has become critical that children learn peacemaking skills at home.

What is the most valuable advice you can give to parents who are interested in teaching peacemaking at home?
Start now. Model what you want your kids to learn. This is key. Kids are continuously watching us for clues and 90% of what they learn is from our actions. Raise your children with respect, consistency, and lots of love. Also, have fair, consistent standards of behavior and stick to what you say. Remember that you are the parent and you have a right to expect your children to behave. Catch your kids in the act of doing things right, and when you do, offer them sincere, specific praise. This is very powerful motivator, and is worth a hundred reprimands.

What is the most valuable advice you can give to parents who are interested in teaching peacemaking at home?
Start now. Model what you want your kids to learn. This is key. Kids are continuously watching us for clues and 90% of what they learn is from our actions. Raise your children with respect, consistency, and lots of love. Also, have fair, consistent standards of behavior and stick to what you say. Remember that you are the parent and you have a right to expect your children to behave. Catch your kids in the act of doing things right, and when you do, offer them sincere, specific praise. This is very powerful motivator, and is worth a hundred reprimands.

You write about 3 essentials for peaceful parenting. What are they?
We’ve already discussed the first: Catch your children in the act of doing things right and praise them immediately. Make sure your praise is sincere, and deserved. Kids basically want to please us. When we praise the positive things they do, we hold up a mirror to their best selves and help them see the behaviors we want them to replicate. Kids want to recapture the positive feelings they have when we recognize their good behaviors, so they tend to repeat the things that were the sources of praise. The second essential is: Eliminate put-downs. Put-downs destroy self-esteem and teach children the habit of putting others down. Resist the impulse to use criticism, negative labels, sarcasm, or comparisons. This applies to every member of the family. Commit to making your home a put-down free zone. The third essential is: Spend at least 15 to 20 minutes a day of uninterrupted time with each child. One of the main reason’s kids act out is because they want our time and attention. Use preventative medicine. By giving each child a small block of time on a regular basis, you send a vital message: “You’re important.” During your 15-20 minutes, completely be with your child and listen to what he has to say. You can do jobs together like folding laundry together or drying dishes, but be with your child exclusively and focus your full attention on him. Your relationship with your child will become much more peaceful as a result.

What about when conflicts come up - can kids really learn how to resolve them? How?
Again, the answer is, absolutely. I’ve worked with children as young as 4 years- old who were able to learn how to talk out conflicts rather than fight. Let me share with you the method I developed that has been used successfully in homes and schools across the country for 17 years: The Win/Win Guidelines
  1. Take time to cool off.
  2. Take turns talking it out using "I" messages. No put-downs, blaming or name-calling.
  3. Take turns stating the problem as the other person sees it, reflecting back what you have heard.
  4. Take responsibility for you role in the problem.
  5. Brainstorm solutions together, and choose a solution that satisfies both people, a win/win solution.
  6. Affirm, forgive, or thank each other. 
Teach these steps to your children before conflicts arise and practice with them through role play or puppets. Use The Win/Win Guidelines yourself, and let your kids see you resolving conflicts that come up with your spouse. The example we set is crucial. When children first start using this process, parents need to serve as mediators, guiding them along and keeping them on track. Over time they’ll able to resolve conflicts independently.

How do you know this method works?
When I developed The Win/Win Guidelines for my first book, Learning the Skill of Peacemaking, we field tested them with hundreds of elementary children and discovered that they worked. We learned that when children are taught an effective conflict resolution strategy and are given time to practice it, they are more apt to stay out of fights. Schools using this method have reported physical fighting dropping by as much as 75%.

Did fighting disappear completely?
No. That’s not realistic, conflict will always exist and kids will always get angry. It’s knowing what to do with that anger that’s critical. Knowing how to resolve conflicts could save a child's life. By using The Win/Win Guidelines the intensity and frequency of conflicts will lessen dramatically.

What can parents do next time their kids are involved in a conflict?
  1. Know when to intervene. Some conflicts take care of themselves. Kids often find a way of working things out without getting into a full-blown fight. Keep an open ear; if your kids seem like they’re working it out, let them. Sometimes our involvement can add fuel to the fire.
  2. Use preventative maintenance. Notice when your children look like they’re ready to “go off.” If you see increased irritability or elevating emotions, step in before the conflict has a chance to completely erupt. Separate your kids and have them cool off - take slow deep breaths, get a drink of water, wash the face, engage in physical activity. Doing any of these will help diffuse angry emotions. Tell your kids that physical fighting is absolutely unacceptable. Then, when the emotions have steadied, bring them back together and guide them through each step of The Win/Win Guidelines.
  3. Have clear standards and be consistent. Your most important standards should be No put-downs and No Fighting. Let your kids know that if they physically hurt each other there will be an immediate, consequence like the loss of a privilege or toy. Then, when you give the consequence stick by it. Doing so will let your child see that you mean what you say. This is critical in avoiding future power struggles. It will also provide the impetus your children might need to avoid the urge to fight physically.

With all the violence kids see on TV and in the media, how can parents help kids avoid getting into physical fights?
Media violence is a big problem. We need to counter this in our homes by providing children with an alternative reality - one where they learn concrete, practical skills. When children discover that they really can resolve conflicts peacefully, and when they watch their parents do this, the alternative reality starts to take shape. Children need to learn the skills of peacemaking in their own homes - otherwise what they see in the media becomes the only reality they know. Also, curtail TV viewing. Studies have shown that the more TV children watch, the more aggressively they tend to act. This relates to all TV viewing, not just violent shows. Of course it's also essential to drastically curtail, if not eliminate, violent TV, videos, and computer games.

When is the appropriate time to start teaching your kids the skills of peacemaking?
As soon as they can communicate. You can start by eliminating put-downs, catching your child in the act of doing things right, using appropriate praise, and modeling peacemaking in your own relationships. Learn to use “I messages” when you’re upset or angry and teach your children to do the same. For example, “I’m annoyed that you left your truck on the stairs where someone could trip over it” is honest, yet doesn’t put the child down or place blame. In contrast, “You’re a bad boy for leaving your truck on the stairs! You could have made someone fall!” will induce guilt and put the child on the defensive. I messages are a honest yet respectful. Use them from the time your children are babies.

What’s the single most important thing parents can do to have a peaceful home?
Model what you want your children to learn. You are the primary role model. If you want your child to manage her anger and talk out conflicts, you need to show her how through your example.

What makes your book stand out among the many parenting books?
Peaceful Parents, Peaceful Kids is based on strategies that have been successfully used in homes and schools around the country for almost two decades. It combines the latest research on anger management, stress reduction, and listening skills and contains an easy-to-use system to help parents live the strategies they learn.

If you haven’t been a peaceful parent up till this point, is it too late to change?
Absolutely not. As one parent said, “I’ve always been a screamer. Now I’ve learned that there’s another way to handle my children.” It takes 21 days to create a new habit. Readers of this book will find that by utilizing the skills within it on a regular basis, old patterns will begin to change, and better habits will emerge - for both parents and kids.


 

Copyright © 2006 by Naomi Drew. All rights reserved. Site Map