Tracy Sherwood, Superphonics Founder
success does not come from mainstream training.
I went to college years ago to become a credentialed
teacher. Very early on I realized that our educational
system does not provide the kind of training that
I agreed with. I had been tutoring for some time
before going to college and disagreed with far
too much of the psychology-based teacher training
I found myself studying. I knew from experience
that it was almost, all wrong.
patience with students - which came mostly from
experience, I recognized the psychology-based
theories to be manipulative to say the least.
It was apparent to me that these theories were
designed to control the child's mind rather than
stimulate it. As a very broad generality, these
theories were seemingly developed by clinically
minded individuals who had no real grasp of genuine
communication. Text pages were filled with manipulative
techniques that ultimately brought about the 'surrender'
of self determinism and the reduction of intelligence.
the seemingly harmless "Time Out" technique
offered by psychology-
based teaching provides no real individual growth
or good behavior
that comes fully from the will.
"Time Out" method is welcomed by parents
who don't want to use corporal punishment on their
children, and to this end, it provides a more
rational alternative in which the parent can live
with after all is said and done. Well, we do indeed
want parents to be able to sleep at night and
not grieve over how they have dealt with their
look a bit deeper. What is our actual goal in
using "Time out"?
We have something we can do about the behavior
that gives us a bit of
control in situations rather than losing our cool.
Is gives the child the opportunity to reflect
on his behavior and to learn
something from it.
It removes the child from the environment so
that others do not have to
have the bad behavior in their vicinity.
are no other reasons for "Time Out".
Any other reason will fall into
one of the above categories.
before we evaluate each of the above with a little
more depth, let's first
take a look at our goals for our children in the
our ultimate wish is that we want them to 'decide'
to do right. Do we want them to decide to do right
because of fear of consequences and punishment?
Or, would we be feel more fulfilled in our parenting
efforts if our children - as adults - 'decided'
they wanted to do right because it was fulfilling
to do right?
Doing what's right is only fulfilling because
of the outcomes. When we find something of value
that is not ours, and we find the rightful owner
or turn it in where it might be found by the rightful
owner, the outcome is that the rightful owner
is happy to have it back. We imagine ourselves
in their position and know we would be happy to
have it back.
someone is treating us badly and with disrespect,
doing what would be
ultimately right would be to communicate with that
person and ask him, " What's up with that
Davie? We can do this thing without putting each
down. I know we can. Now show me how you make this
thing works again!"
see there's a magic to good communication. We
don't ignore thedis respect or bow to it in hopes
it will go away. We don't fight back just for
our own self preservation. And we don't degrade
the offender in hopes to weaken his apparent strength
or power, as there is really little strength or
power there or he would not be having to make
someone else wrong in order to be convinced of
simply make him aware that this is not the goal
of the moment or of the endeavor - then we get
back to what we were doing with no residual hard
feelings in the air. This allows the offender
to take a look at the real goal of the moment
or endeavor see, and to see that the offended
is not taking it personally and is not out to
bring him down at all. The offender can then feel
a sense of security in the fact that he can now
change his attitude a bit without feeling as though
he lost a battle or was forced to change it.
is the very foundation of every decision. When
that is broken, it may seem as though we have
a very compliant and well behaved child, but he
is simply beaten. And when it has come to this
point, he will have no drive to learn. His curiosity
and interest level goes down with the loss of
esteem. If he retains any thrust to survive at
all, it will be evidenced by his efforts to weaken
others and fight to be right. It's very difficult
to try to teach such a child.
there in the corner or on the chair, the child
is undergoing another " Time Out". There
was no real communication or helpful advice given
prior to the "Time Out", for had there
been, it would have been offered by someone who
knew how to effectively communicate. Good Communication
is very powerful. If one truly masters communication,
he feels no need to include "Time Out"
as part of the handling. Good
communication will handle the situation. If it
doesn't, it either is not consistent enough or
it is not good communication.
years I've had parents tell me many things about
handling their children. In regards to "Time
Out" our conversations would often begin
with how effective it has been compared to before.
I acknowledge this fully and let them go on. I
have genuine concern and interest in their views,
feelings and never-ending need to feel ok about
how they handle their children. They want only
the best for their kids or they would not be sitting
as I listen, they begin to look even more deeply
into it all. They
have only just begun to talk to me. At in the end,
in nearly every case,
Mom is in tears with the realization that these "Time
Outs" have in
all honesty, been more for her own relief than
for the benefit of her
child. "But what else can I do?" she
will ask through her tears.
let me tell you that these conversations almost
never occur within our first 3 to 5 tutoring sessions.
They usually begin on the phone with a discussion
about academic progress. I, being a listener,
tend to inspire open communication with parents
- especially moms as they are most often the one
to bring their children to me.
phone conversation often leads to one-on-one talk
at the tutoring table while Davie is out looking
at the horses. Now I cannot solve her dilemma
in one session. And to give her advice that she
really has always known deep down inside but hasn't
been able to stick with, is just making her feel
more wrong. This is not the ideal result of our
does know the answer. I don't need to tell her
the answer. She
only needs to look at it again and realize that
communication is the
she will. And she'll also realize that spending
time and handling her own life and environment
a little better will
take off pressure that she tends to take out on
she knows these things. She doesn't need to be
told them. But
then it finally comes down to this: 'How?' I know
I need more patience,
to communicate better, to handle things that bring
but 'how' do I do this? If I knew how, I wouldn't
have this problem.
So 'how' do I learn patience, communication and
to deal with the
I can't help her telling her she's been a bad
mother. Because she
hasn't been a bad mother. But she will feel she
has when she faces
these things. And I don't need to contribute to
that and make her
defensive. So here we are, past the point of need
for change, and
ready for knowledge' and 'practice'. Like any
art or skill in life that
we study and practice to become very good at, these
skills with our
children require the same. There is an art to these
things. And they
do take practice once we learn the principles and
logic of it all.
children are basically good people. They are
not out to do harm.
When their actions are not so good, then we have
failed to 'learn' and
'practice' the art of communication which brings
about patience. We
have failed to take the time for our children and
to push the world
aside so that we can. When we don't do these things,
suffer and fight to have their weight felt and
to know who they are.
Their perception of who they are is strongly influenced
words and actions and our lack of words and actions.
They need us.
when we fail to give them this, our anger at
ourselves lies hidden
from us as we take it out on our children. It's
a wrong target. When a
child's insecurity strengthens, a thrust to survive
takes over him. He
experiences an angry and confused energy and is
wrapped up into his
confusions and upsets so, that he cannot focus
on what we would wish
him to. This too often brings about a psychiatric
labeling of our child.
child is trying to survive emotionally and in
doing so can lose
touch with intellect. His efforts to find out things,
answered, learn how to operate things like radios,
ovens, and Dad's
tools have done nothing but get him into trouble.
Yet his will is very
strong and when denied his natural urges to know
about and to
master life, he will fight for them because...
they are not wrong. In
fact, they are right. They are how we come to know
what we know
and learn to do all we can do.
ironic how we dream of our children one day,
as adults, being
good at everything and knowing as much as they
can possibly know.
This is our number one purpose as parents. Because
we know that the
more they know and the better they can control
things that would
be otherwise dangerous, the safer they will be
and the more happy
and fulfilled they will be. And the more they will
have to offer their
we don't want them to learn or experience these
when...? When they are adults? Too much too learn
then. It's too
late. This is how we raise adults who cannot handle
life. Who have
frequent accidents and make frequent mistakes.
Who forget to get
the important things done. These are the adults
who forever have
their parents in their life telling them what to
do and taking care of them.
my first son was 6, a neighbor child came to
my door to tell
me that he was outside with another boy lighting
matches in the wood
pile up against the house.
for panic! Nope. That would be the wrong reaction.
I could frighten him to the edge of death about
matches and discipline him so that he would never
consider it again. Maybe. But from my experience,
it seems to be the children who receive the harshest
and most frequent discipline that get into the
never-ending trouble and so secretively. It's
quite a vicious cycle isn't it?
also the undeniable truth that one has the most
the areas he has not come to master, or at least
become proficient in.
We are more likely to get bitten by a snake when
we lack knowledge
and experience with snakes.
this mean I went out and taught my 6 year old
how to light matches? I most certainly did. But
there was an art to handling this you see. First
of all, I had good communication already going
with my son. He listened to me because he wanted
to. He wanted to because I made listening to me
a beneficial thing to do rather than an uncomfortable
thing to do. And I consulted his views on things;
I didn't just lecture him, I respected him.
I went out to the side of the house and watched
him for a bit. He didn't jump when I showed up
because he didn't
know he was doing anything wrong. This situation
had never come
up. Also, he didn't feel he had to hide things
from me because he
knew that I wasn't a physical or emotional danger
to him. I liked him.
after I watched him 'drop' his first match because
otherwise burn his fingers, I stepped in and offered
a little information
and instruction. First, I told him, "Jason,
you know how sometimes
people's houses catch on fire?" He looked
at me as though I was out
of my mind. He knew the connection I was trying
to make but he
couldn't see how this little flame could do such.
He just looked at me
waiting to see what I had to say. I said, "Well,
here’s how they happen
sometimes: When you light the match, the flame
burns up toward your
fingers. When it gets too close, it gets hot and
you through it down,
right?" He nods. Well, when the match lands,
usually it goes
right out. It depends upon if there's wind that
blows it out, or
sometimes, if your high up from the ground it blows
out on its way
down you know?" He's listening intently.
it's still burning when it hits the ground. If
there's anything there that will burn easily,
it can catch on fire. Some things won't burn at
all like green grass, cement and water, you know?
Some things burn so easily and so fast that you
can't stop it. Like dry leaves, some kinds of
paper, gasoline and lots of things really. You
kind of have to get to know what things do and
don't burn easily. This wood won't catch on fire
fast, but if there's a few dry leaves like those
right there, and they catch on fire, then the
wood will start to burn from the fire from the
leaves. Get it?" He's fascinated. He's not
scared, but he's suddenly aware you see. He has
some information that he can imagine with and
think with. He has information that will nurture
his common sense and provide future safety strategies.
He couldn't think this clearly if he were afraid
do you want to learn how to light a match and
hold it so that
you don't burn your fingers? " Of course he
does, so I show him
and after just a few tries he's got it down. "All
right, that's the first
bit to mastering this skill; the rest is knowing
when and where to
light a match right?" He's listening intently.
Ok, until you master
all of this, and you will, make me a deal ok?"
agreeable. That you promise that if you ever
practice lighting matches or a lighter or you want
to make a little fire
because it's so awesome, that you invite me. Because
I am sort
of a master at this and to be really safe, I want
to be there and
tell you some things I know about it. Ok?" He's
this and of course it's not a whole day later that
he wants his little
match burning session and has it all planned out
what he wants to
burn see. First he gets some more tidbits on 'not
in the house and why,
not with other kids and why' etc.
had a few of these sessions and once he mastered
it the big
adventure died out. The 4th of July brought on
and called for even more tidbits of vital information,
but he was
so determined to master this and do it right. And
he did. Never
even a near problem. He was our '4th of July fire
work lighter' almost
every year except for the years he had to share
the duty with other
enthusiastic kids (like Dad).
when we communicate for the purpose of helping,
instilling dread, our kids are open to learning
from us and highly
respect not only our views, but our honesty.
it doesn't take a child long to realize he cannot
trust much of
what we say and that there are far fewer dangers
out there than we have
warned against. Soon our voice will be an annoying
broken record or a
source of genuine travail for him. Because he doesn't
trust our words, he
doesn't learn about dangers and how to handle things.
This puts him in far greater dangers.
is absolutely no respect in "Time Out".
We are not telling
our children that we believe in their ability to
use judgment when we
employ "Time Out". We are telling him
that he is an outcast and is unwanted.
become a frequent habit
for many parents. The slightest error or demonstration
deserves this "Time Out" thing. The
child does not think of what
he has done during this period. He does not. When
you asked him
what he learned while in the "Time Out",
he'll tell you what he thinks
you want to hear and sound very convincing. But
in the soul of
this child, he is not growing in spirit, in knowledge,
He's only being trained, much like a dog told repetitively
to "Stay" and only acknowledged if he does so.
how does one learn to effectively communicate?
He already knows
how. One just has to have a little more faith in
one's child. In his
viewpoints, observations and considerations about
simply begins to put attention to 'sharing' knowledge
rather than attempting to impede or protect from
them. To laugh at
his jokes, listen to his little unworkable inventions
with interest and to
give him a sense of worth and self respect. As
one does this more and
more, communication improves and can be eventually
mastered, at least
most of the time.
this we will soon see a child who makes few errors
fewer accidents, learns quickly, respects the property
of others, is
helpful and team oriented, has fewer illnesses,
is willfully productive,
cheerful and generally very happy and loves his
parents very, very much.
one cannot bring himself to this height, it is
himself that is in need of
Time Out", not in the corner, but at a table,
with pen and paper,
making a diary of the detailed times he failed
his child and did his child
wrong. This tremendously unburdens one from the
lower depths of gloom.
It will bring a confused and angry parent up
and out into the sunshine.
to keep it this way, we have to always be on
the lookout for our
own little misdeeds, and keep on loving. Before
our children can really
know who they are, we first must know with certainty,
who we are.