The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Opinion

November 12, 2013

Rules, relationships are important in children's development

‘Rules without relationship equals rebellion” is a phrase coined by Josh McDowell, a prolific writer who has coined the phrase “The Disengaged Generation,” his reference to the disconnect between today’s adults and teenagers.

A consistent set of clearly defined rules and consequences for both following and not following is certainly important; however, discipline approaches are likely to be ineffective without building a solid parent-child relationship.

There is, of course, no other way to establish a relationship with your child other than the investment of time.

In a conversation with a colleague this past week we discussed that although children have access to a myriad of electronic devices and generally an abundance of material goods, what they really seem to want is to spend time with their parents.

It is never too late to develop a relationship with your child, although the earlier this is done the better.

In an excellent book titled “Parent Child Interaction Therapy 2nd Edition” by Cheryl Bodiford McNeil, the author describes four primary components in building a relationship with children 7 years of age and younger. The four components include Describe, Reflect, Imitate and Praise, which can be remembered using the acronym D.R.I.P. To illustrate this point I will use an example of a parent drawing with his/her child. In “describing” the behavior the parent would want to comment on what the child is doing using a statement such as “I see you are using a blue crayon and drawing your car.” In using “reflection,” a parent may respond to the child who is saying “My favorite color is blue,” by restating “so your favorite color is blue.” In using “imitation,” a parent would sit with the child and participate in coloring a blue car.

The use of “praise” should be specific and be a reflection on effort not on outcome (e.g., “You are working so hard on your car)”.

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