Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Truth is universal....perception of truth is not.

Interesting NPR story today called "The Rules About How Parents Should Make Rules."

Larry Nucci, a research psychologist at the Institute of Human Development at the University of California, believes that parents should respect a child's personal domain and that this is where most conflicts between parents and children are generated. Personal domain rules have to do with what children consider to be their own business and that they consider to be private: Friendships, playmates, who they want to play with, who they want to be around, leisure time activities like what sport they want to do or toys they want to play with and ways in which you express yourself through your appearance such as clothing.

Alan Kazdin, director of the Yale Parenting Center doesn't believes that children must have autonomy and that if parents are looking for compliance, the primary thing is to frame rules properly and not approach children in an authoritarian mode, because that tends to set off oppositional behavior.

OK, so I was a parent - still am to be technical about it. I choose the Nucci method, without knowing that it was a method. I found that respecting their privacy and making sure they had some control over their lives would work better. I also have been a big proponent of what Kazdin proposes having always subscribed to "you catch more flies with honey than vinegar."

I have always had a distaste for authoritarian parenting. My parents were not, although my dad could get madder than a red hot ember and my mom yelled a lot they were not authoritarian just because they were the parent. I took a different approach with my kids, adopting their good attributes and culling out the things - like yelling - that I hated. Bottom line is finding something that works for both parent and child and adopting to their needs. Ask any parent and they will almost universally tell you that their kids were different requiring a variety of tactics to get them to behave. Unless you have some ego problem where you gotta be number one - my way or the highway - varying one's tactics works well.

So I am always interested in research that looks at how we humans interact so I thought this story was interesting, especially how these two scientists come up with different views based on observing the same thing.....kids.

Where I must respectively disagree with Dr. Kazdin is the last part of the story:
One basic difference between these two approaches is this: Nucci will argue that it's important for children to actually have control over a part of their lives, while Kazdin says that it's only important for them to have the perception of control.
Children grow up and when they see that the person they looked to for love, guidance, substance, protection, and all the other things that come into play between a child and a parent has manipulated them, has given them a falsehood, a lie, a make believe world in which they thought they had control but did not, "well what else have you lied to me about?"

Perception works but when the curtain is pulled back what will the child see?

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