Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Parenting Tip - Stop It!

I recently saw an old clip of Bob Newhart.  His patient was telling him that she was terrified of being buried alive in a box.  She went on and on about her fears and how they were restricting her activities and causing her problems.

Bob then replied that he could cure her with two words:  STOP IT!  He told her to stop thinking about being buried alive.  Stop thinking about her fears.  That was it.  Case closed.  She would be cured if she would just STOP IT. Well, naturally, she wasn't sold on his advice.

This made me think about how many times I would tell my children to stop it.  Stop being so noisy, stop leaving your clothes on the floor, stop fighting with your brother, stop complaining.  You get the idea.....But did it work?  Did they STOP?  No, of course not.

I think that in order to stop something, you have to start something else.  You have to replace the wrong behavior with a better behavior.  Instead of telling your child to stop being noisy, ask him if he can whisper quieter than you can or ask him funny questions in a whisper so he has to listen carefully to hear you.  Instead of telling your children to stop leaving their clothes on the floor, tell them to start hanging them on the spiderman hook you just bought and hung up or start putting their dirty clothes in the flower laundry basket in their room.

If you're in the car, instead of telling your children to stop fighting, ask them to start counting how many white cars they see driving down the street.If you're home and they're fighting, ask them to count how many windows are in your whole house.

Get it?  Distract them from the wrong thoughts, behaviors and actions and give them new actions, thoughts and things to do.  You can't take away something --without replacing it with something else;  that would be negative space, a black hole, a void.

It works for adults too.  I'm going to STOP wasting time on the computer.  Instead, I will make a list of things I need/want to do and look at the list when I have a few moments to kill.

So my advice, Bob Newhart, would be to START IT! 

Thanks for reading,



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