Evaluate your relationships
Use this checklist to evaluate patterns in your current relationships with the children in your life (or even other adults in your life). If you have implemented a specific discipline or motivation approach, does it encourage relationships in which the following are true?
___ I focus on prevention–not reaction.
___ I attempt to meet my children’needs in healthy, constructive ways.
___ I can motivate cooperative behavior without powering, threatening, humiliating or using conditional approval.
___ I am more interested in encouraging cooperation than obedience, even though the outcome behaviors usually look about the same.
___ I want to empower my children within limits that do not disempower others.
___ I use my authority to set limits, offer choices, and decide what is and is not negotiable.
___ I ask my children to do things for which they are developmentally and experientially prepared.
___ I give clear directions.
___ I set clear, pro-active and win-win boundaries.
___ I attempt to accommodate my children’s preferences and learning styles, allowing them to study and learn in ways that are most natural for them.
___ I give my children opportunities to self-manage.
___ I stay in the present.
___ I can separate my children’ behavior from their worth.
___ I state boundaries as promises rather than threats.
___ Our home is reward-oriented (that is, focused on positive outcomes for cooperation rather than punishment or negative outcomes for misbehavior).
___ I think of consequences as the positive outcomes for cooperation or positive behavior.
___ I look for the positive (what the child is doing right) and build on that.
___ I try to maintain my sense of humor.
Avoiding Double Standards:
___ I model the kinds of behavior I would like my children to exhibit.
___ I avoid talking to my children in ways I would not talk to adults.
___ In terms of motivation, I recognize that children desire (and deserve) to experience meaningful outcomes as a result of the behaviors they choose, just as adults do.
___ I avoid making a big deal over issues and incidents that involve my children just because they aren’t adults.
___ I offer my children a variety of meaningful positive consequences to motivate or encourage cooperative behavior.
___ I can recognize my child’s positive behavior without reinforcing dependence and people-pleasing.
___ I avoid giving warnings, as well as delayed or meaningless negative consequences. (When my child misbehaves, I am willing to withdraw privileges immediately.)
___ I avoid asking for excuses. (I am willing to withhold privileges and rewards until children come through on their end regardless of their excuses.)
___ I have built in some proactive flexibility (such as trading chores or allowing them to call by their curfew if a problem comes up) so I can accommodate occasional problems that may arise without compromising my boundaries.
___ I can accept my child’s feelings even if I don’t understand or agree with them.
___ I respect the reality of my child’s experience, and am willing to validate that reality.
___ I have a variety of healthy outlets for children to use to get their feelings out (or be listened to) without creating problems for themselves or others.
___ I am able to listen without giving advice, dismissing the problem, or interfering with the feelings.
___ I ask, rather than tell, to help children find solutions to problems without giving them answers or advice about what they should do.
___ I make choices based on my values and my children’s needs regardless of possible reactions or judgments from others.
___ I am able to deal with criticism without becoming defensive, apologetic, or reactive, and without explaining in order to secure approval for what I’m doing.
___ I maintain regular, positive contact with my children’s teachers and other adults in their lives.
___ I avoid using my feelings as a way to control or change others.
___ I take responsibility for solving problems that arise in my home and relationships with my children.
___ I communicate positively and responsibly with my children’s teachers.
___ When I slip up and say or do something hurtful, I take responsibility for my behavior (rather than blaming it on something the child has done).
___ When I make a mistake or fail to keep my word, I avoid making excuses and apologize make things right.
___ I am able and willing to ask for what I want directly.
___ I model a commitment to personal growth.
___ I know how to set boundaries and am willing to do so to take care of myself.
___ When things get to be too much for me, I am willing to reach out for help without making others responsible for my feelings or state of mind.
___ I have developed a strong support network and am willing to use it.
___ I minimize or avoid contact with negative, toxic people and experiences.
___ I can use my mistakes and errors as opportunities for new learning rather than as excuses for beating myself up.
___ I have a variety of outlets and resources outside of my work situation for personal enrichment, relaxation, stress management and fun.
___ I acknowledge what I’m doing right and give myself space to grow and keep getting better!
Excerpted and adapted from The Win-Win Classroom by Dr. Jane Bluestein, © 2008, Corwin Publishing, Thousand Oaks, CA.
This page is also available in French.
Related resources for parents:
See related handouts for parents and caregivers:
Descriptions of each Characteristic
5 Characteristics of a Good Boundary
11 Reasons to Use Boundaries with Your Children
9 Things to Remember When Setting a Boundary
6 Reasons to Not Ask your Children for Excuses
Motivating cooperative behavior
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