Get Off Your Butt Parenting
Years ago, as a Parenting Educator, I came up with a simple summary of an approach to parenting and it was quickly dubbed “Get Off Your Butt Parenting” by readers.
My parenting approach results from a developmentally informed and research based perspective. Research supports that the best outcomes for children result from parenting that is neither authoritarian (very strict) or permissive (very lenient) but from an authoritative orientation – one in which the parent is in charge but remains open, flexible, and responsive to the situation and child.
The truth is that children pass through typical stages of development that have been researched and delineated by authors (if you want a suggestion in that regard, I recommend the Ilg and Ames books for child development information but not necessarily the discipline suggestions). A great deal of information regarding these stages is within “common knowledge.” As an example, adults know to expect:
babies to reach for things
toddlers to say “no”
preschoolers to seek choices
elementary students to need social interaction help
junior high kids to venture into teasing and bullying
- teens to seek thrill and adventure
Children naturally move through, progress, and develop out of each stage. Each stage presents specific behaviors. This is where parents (and often those watching parents) expect a parent to provide “discipline.” Used in the literal sense, discipline is teaching. However, in current culture, often what people mean when they use the work in relation to a child’s behavior, they use “discipline” as a synonym to “punishment.”
Children cannot be punished into a later stage of development. Time outs, physical discipline, grounding, removal of privileges won’t accelerate development. You can use different punishments, but the child won’t outgrow the behavior until they progress developmentally to the next stage.
The simple theory behind “Get Off Your Butt Parenting” is to state your desired action (usually a stop behavior or a start behavior), expect compliance, but be “getting up” to assist the child. See the following examples:
(When a baby reaches for an adult’s glasses) “No”, followed by stopping the baby hand.
(When a toddler takes the remote and begins to toddle away) “No”, followed by the adult reclaiming the remote and offering the baby an acceptable alternative.
(When you want a child to clean up a toy) “Put the toy away”, followed by getting up to walk the child to the toy.
Now, granted, there are background activities for some of these that can make life easier. These are examples of the principle of “Get Off Your Butt Parenting”. You say it (the instruction) one, and get off your butt to assist with compliance.
Honestly, that is why punishment seems to “work”, because it involves a direction which, if not complied with, is followed by adult interaction. Often, when encouraged to consider dropping punishment, a parent becomes concerned they will be permissive – or perceived as permissive. Permissiveness is:
Allowing children too much freedom for their developmental stage
Not ensuring a child complies with a “do something” request
- Not ensuring a child complies with a “stop something” request
“Get Off Your Butt Parenting” is developmentally informed and a path to issue requests and follow through. Parents will want to consider their “yeses”, “no’s” and expectations carefully. Expecting a 3 year old to clean an entire toy room is not developmentally informed, for example. Expecting that same 3 year old to pick up one toy at a time for 5 minutes is developmentally appropriate.
Children who have been “Get Off Your Butt” parented learn that parents mean what they say and will ensure compliance. They are being guided, supervised, taught, and held accountable.