Actually, we find that the more we repeat the class, the more ingrained into our heads it gets and the more it just naturally rolls off the tongues. I think by about our 8 or 9th time we might actually be pretty good parents. :)
Anyway, here are a few "pearls" that we have learned.
So much about parenting is about "control"--who has it. The parent? or the child?
"Control is a curious thing. The more we give away, the more we gain. Parents who attempt to take all the control from their children end up losing the control they sought to begin with. These parents invite their children to fight to get control back. In the battle for control, we should never take any more than we absolutely must have; we must always cut our kids in on the action. When we do that, we put them in control on our terms. We must give our children the control we don't need to keep the control we do."
The secret to establishing control is to concentrate on fighting battles that we know we can win. ie. We may not be able to control whether our child is crying or not but we can control where he/she does the crying. We may not be able to control the disrespectful words that pop out of the childs mouth, but we can make sure she doesn't use them in our presence--we send her away until she can speak reasonably with us. We may not be able to control when the child does his chores, but we can make sure he does them before he eats his next meal.
Winnable war is waged through choices, not demands. Choices allow us to give away the control we don't need and gain the control we do. With choices kids have no demands to react against, and the control we need is established.
Here are the "Rules for Giving Choices"
1. Always be sure to select choices that you as a parent like. Never provide one you like and one you don't, because the child will usually select the one you don't like.
2. Never give a choice unless you are willing to allow the child to experience the consequences of that choice.
3. Never give choices when the child is in danger.
4. Never give choices unless you are willing to make the choice in the event the child doesn't.
5. your delivery is important. Try to start your sentence with one of the following:
"you're welcome to ________ or __________."
"Feel free to __________ or ___________."
"Would you rather _________ or _________?"
"What would be best for you-- _________ or _________?"
So there you have it. One of my favorite pearls of wisdom from Jim Fay and Foster Cline. It has saved my parental bacon more times than I can count. I just need to remember to use it more often.