Stopping my anger was like trying to stop a runaway train and I could almost predict what would happen if child protective services got involved.
By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | November 12, 2014
Thankfully, Dinkmeyer, McKay and Dinkmeyer were there for me and they were not a law firm.
The Parents Anonymous meetings offered choices in parenting style without judgment or pressuring parents to adhere to any one option. The Freehold, New Jersey group chose Systematic Training for Effective Parenting (STEP), Parenting Young Children by Don Dinkmeyer, Sr., Gary D. McKay and James S. Dinkmeyer. The STEP book became my go-to resource for solutions. I loved the nonviolent discipline offered within its pages and that the books adapted as my children grew. STEP was also easy to read and understand and even better – it was practical and, as its label stated, it was effective.
Before the topic of ‘problem ownership’ I had been constantly besieged with decisions on how to handle an issue, if it was important or serious and what consequence to give. Like turning on a light bulb, though, deciding who owned the problem helped my family immediately.
STEP gave four questions to help parents decide who is responsible for a particular problem:
1. Does the problem interfere with my rights as a person?
2. Does the problem interfere with the safety of my child or others?
3. Does the problem involve the protection of property?
4. Is my child developmentally incapable (too young or disabled) of “owning” or solving the problem?
If parents answered “yes” to any of those questions then parents owned the problem. If the answer is “no” then children own the problem, depending on the age of the child.
An example: I got both kids up for breakfast, dressed and then off to school. If one child forgot their homework or book, they owned the problem. They could decide if they wanted to take their consequence from the teacher (drop in grade, detention, etc.) or if they wanted me to drive to the school and bring it to them for a $5 fee. More often than not they chose for me to bring the homework/book to them at school and they paid me the $5 charge.
No, I didn’t need the $5 that would come out of their allowance but the ‘pain’ of financial loss may make them more careful about getting their things ready the night before. Doing this also eliminated the usual arguments and nagging: “Why did you forget?” “Why didn’t you get it together last night?” Deciding who owned the problem also erased any temptation to say anything labeling them as thoughtless or careless. Over time there were fewer needless trips to school.
Deciding who owns the problem does not apply in every case such as sibling fights or playing hooky from school but it is a technique children can easily learn and take with them into their adult lives. The stress reduction is immeasurable and relationships remain intact.
The STEP books can be found on any online used book seller like Amazon or by googling “Dinkmeyer STEP” books and they are quite affordable. Used books are graded according to condition and may come from a variety of dealers. Shipping is a factor to consider and it can add to the total price; Amazon Prime is what I use for a reasonable annual fee (See Amazon.com for details). I recently bought four STEP parenting books to give to parents for $24.21 with a new cost value of at least $20 each.
Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.
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