CLAREMONT COLLEGE

Judith Locke Overview

Judith Locke Overview

Dr Locke explained how her approach is the long-term approach to parenting; the aim is to grow good relationships between parents and their child/ren, as the most important aspect of parenting.

She spoke about parenting styles and parenting changes over the years.

Many key points were raised, and these are summarised as follows:

Some praise actually adds pressure on children.
  • And when a parent does the work for the child there is less expectation on the child.
Bonsai trees are protected and sheltered and will not grow without this, and they will not grow fully because of the way they are taken care of. They are:
  • Used for admiration,
  • Stuck in perfect conditions,
  • Not resilient, and
  • Presented to be perfect.
All trees need wind.
  • If your child is not facing challenge they will not grow stronger.
The impact on children:
  • When a parent does more, the child believes they can’t do it;
  • A child’s confidence is reduced; and
  • They don’t learn skills and become less capable. 
Children start to rely on parents for good feelings:
  • To make them happy and successful;
  • They undertake average or perform below effort but expect high praise;
  • Effort does not equal achievement;
  • Praise and attention become very addictive; and
  • To feed their need for reassurance (the same way social media does).
Feelings are over examined:
  • The more you focus on current feelings, the less you are tapping into long-term goals (for example, going to the gym, participating in music practice);
  • Daily moods are often discussed at length leading to too many compensatory actions by adults;
  • Adults make the child’s life better for them, rather than helping the child to help themselves; and 
  • The current mood becomes the problem, not self-esteem which will only develop through the difficulties a child experiences along the way. 
By making things easy for children they fail to learn:
  1. Resilience
  2. Self-Regulation
  3. Resourcefulness
  4. Respect
  5. Responsibility

NB All of these are far more important than any school results. 

In the Primary Years
  • Especially up to Y2, children typically want your attention and approval;
  • Beyond this they need to become more self-reliant…they need to individuate;
  • They use emotional manipulation ‘I don’t want Mummy to put me to bed, I want Daddy to’ ® they are getting a greater sense of power in their household;
Some strategies that might work now but not in the future, so:
  • Avoid managing the relationship;
  • Avoid distraction;
  • Avoid carrots;
Behaviours with limited effectiveness:
  • Relying on praise, time together, abundance, gifts;
  • Parent effort not child effort;
  • Responding to oversensitive children… they then become entitled; and
  • Apologising to a child gives them power.
Praise or attention do nothing for a child’s self-esteem:
  • Children become dependent on others’ responses;
  • Praise can start to be the goal;
  • Do not deny your child the truth (for example, at the end of a game: ‘that was not your best day’, ‘how do you think you went today’).
How to praise children:
  • Praise doing (trying hard) not being something (clever);
  • Give positive attention when siblings are getting on rather than focussing on when they are not (often siblings do not get on for attention);
  • Make the praise currency valuable, that is, don’t praise everything;
  • For younger children remember the poker machine effect (more noise and attention ® more gambling), the angrier or louder you get, the more attention they receive.
Channel your responses in 3 ways, so you are calm and you don’t over-react:
  • Stay silent or calm;
  • Be matter of fact; and
  • Be boring.
Emotional manipulation:
  • ‘I am so proud of you’, ‘You make me so sad’… makes you the centre of attention, and the reason they do something; NB don’t use personal pronouns.
Time spent with your child:
  • Brief frequent periods of time are generally better for all involved;
  • Teaches children to ‘gain and let go’;
  • Separated parents can result in 24/7 Disneyland, avoid this;
  • Only children may need competition for your attention, so make sure you have time to watch a grown-up show on television, or take time to read the newspaper by yourself; and
  • Grandparents - children can still have boundaries.
Ask your child 3 questions on the way home from school, if they don’t ask you one back:
  • Stop talking;
  • You have not yet taught them the art of conversation; and
  • Think of adult behaviour at a party: if you have asked someone 3 questions and they have not asked you one back, walk away.
Finding and solving problems is addictive – encourage children to be a part of the problem solving process:
  • This enhances your relationship; and
  • There can be an allure of triangulation where a child plays one parent off against the other, therefore triangulation encourages problems, however use triangulation to solve things together.

When your child has had a bad day:
  • Encourage verbal communication;
  • Do not respond non-verbal communication; and
  • Do not reward the door slam, do not ask why, just give consequence.
Consequences will develop self-regulation:
  • Remember normal life occasionally disappoints; and
  • Respond appropriately for the problem.
Coach your child how to have tricky conversations:
  • Ref., Martin Seligman ‘Learned Optimism’, or ‘The Optimistic Child’
  • Depending on seriousness, listen, empathise, normalise, but don’t always solve the problem for your child. 
Allow your child to be disappointed occasionally:
  • If you/your child are/is not getting this disappointment at this school, you are not getting your money’s worth; and
  • Do not talk about your own problems, this will make it worse. Allow your child to be disappointed.
Friendship issues:
  • Equip your child to be good company;
  • Are they regularly seeking assurance? Friendship ups and downs are normal;
  • Children need to develop their self-regulation and resourcefulness skills; and
  • Don’t get involved in friendships if you think a friend is not good for your child; you can’t get involved, it’s like the forbidden fruit. Give them the skills to understand what a good friend is and let them work it out for themselves.

Consequences:
  • Give consequences, then pull back;
  • Even if your child feels it’s not fair, you are the parent/adult with the long-term vision;
  • Say no regularly, so no is not a new experience; and
  • Parents need to be in charge.
Chores are essential:
  • Chores are good for children;
  • Never stop chores even when the child has a lot on (training, study);
  • Have basic rules, they should know the rules;
  • Routines are good, the same every day; and
  • Don’t waste time renegotiating the rules.
Earning privileges is always better than being given them for nothing:
  • Make your children earn their money; and
  • Do not make the amount too high.
Be the screen master:
  • You are in charge of all screen time;
  • Children are to earn screen time;
  • They should ‘pay’ for their phones;
  • Do not let the child dictate the terms; and
  • Never add a screen until they have increased their responsibility.
How to give instructions to a child:
  • Tell as a statement not as a question (its bath time vs would you like to have a bath) because children cannot pick up that you are actually making a statement when you ask a question;
  • State an instruction a maximum of twice, and no more, be equally calm both times, then if the child does not do as asked, give consequences, no negotiation;
  • Do not over-sell an activity, be equally clam with all members of your family;
  • Avoid yelling; and
  • Remember threats are anti-social.
Many consequences are ineffective or harmful:
  • Unclean consequences ® are completely ineffective, do not over-explain (it will seem optional);
  • Apologies with a consequence reduce the consequence;
  • Saying sorry to a sibling is not a consequence;
  • Use clean consequences ® after 2 instructions, take something away briefly (children do not understand long time consequences), give back after 5 minutes;
  • Time out should be for calming down and not in the bedroom (which is often like being in Disneyland);
  • Make it work - time out needs to be 1-5 minutes;
  • Children need to be quiet for this time;
  • If they run away, bring them back (if they do this they have no respect for you/authority);
  • Carry out what you have said you will do (so don’t make threats you will never carry out);
  • Do not go into lengthy explanations;
  • Do not apologise; and
  • Allow time for this in the short term, it will be better in the long term.
School and parents need to support each other:
  • When you are too sweet to your child/ren it is too difficult to manage them as they grow up.
Have a chore set for children over 9:
  • There are benefits for them, but may need to be given a consequence now and again;
  • Take away privileges if chores not done;
  • Increase extra work ideas if children are asking for things that are costly;
  • Don’t worry if they don’t like you momentarily; and
  • For younger children, have an expectation that some chores are theirs and done (one or two chores).
When your child is angry:
  • Listen;
  • Summarise their situation; and
  • Move on… it’s not your job to help calm them down, they need to self-regulate.
If you receive a note from your child:
  • They want to be in charge; and
  • The consequence still stands.
Avoid sending your child to a psychologist:
  • You go; and
  • Ensure you find brief solution focussed therapy.

 Notes taken by Janelle Ford, Deputy Principal