Test-Driving Beyond Consequences

Beyond Consequences is not just a book, there are many spin-off books and courses. I have just read the basic book. It’s by Heather Forbes and Bryan Post who have both gone on to write other, similar books.
I’ve been reading this one on my Nook. I’m trying to buy fewer solid books to leave a bit more space in the house.
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The structure makes me a little uncomfortable. Each chapter describes a problem (e.g. aggression, lying, stealing, all the usual suspects), then it describes the ‘Traditional Approach’, before giving the Love-Based Approach.
The description of the ‘Traditional Approach’ strikes me as rather hyperbolic. It suggests that traditional therapists view traumatised children as ‘manipulative’ and that many therapists insist a child should be made to ‘submit his control to those in charge.’ Having read many of the books referred to in the footnotes myself, I think this is a rather unfair characterisation of their advice.
I also feel uncomfortable with the description of the book’s approach as ‘Love-Based’. There’s an unpleasant implication that other approaches are less loving, which I don’t think is accurate.
That said, this book does have a few new ideas. It suggests, for example, that anger is rooted in fear. I found this idea very interesting.
I was struck by the chapter on adult fears, and the suggestion that my own anger, as a struggling parent, could be rooted in my own fears. When the boys’ behaviour is really difficult, I do fear for their future. I worry about what will happen to them as adults, if they continue the same behaviour. I am also aware that – though I had a happy childhood with no trauma to speak of – I am very effected by behaviours in the boys that ‘replay’ situations from my childhood. I had plenty of run-ins with my siblings as a child, and I would agree that seeing the boys interact can stir up my old disappointments and frustrations with my own siblings. Perhaps acknowledging these fears will stop them getting in the way of my relating to the boys in the moment. I am hopeful and I have been making more of an effort to work through my own feelings.
It is helping me to stay a bit calmer in the really tough moments. And ways of keeping my cool are such a vital part of parenting, I value the book for that alone.
Some of the suggestions seem a bit idealistic. The book gives the standard advice of waiting until after things have cooled off and then talking about what happened. We haven’t ever managed a book-style discussion about behaviour. When I say ‘I felt disrespected when you growled at me’, the boys do not ‘hang their heads in shame’ or say ‘I guess I was still mad about my toy breaking’, instead my children shout ‘I didn’t growl at you, idiot!’ The boys do not appreciate having discussions of what went wrong after they have calmed down. They do not want to talk about how they feel, or even how someone else might feel. But, we are working on that separately. So, it may just be a case of ‘too soon to try that’.
The book also suggests giving a child a hug and saying ‘you’re safe’ to head off a violent outburst. I’m not sure how that is supposed to work. I got bitten. Perhaps I need to try and spot potential eruptions earlier. Perhaps the boys find touch too hard, and I should try keeping my distance for now.
On the other hand, the book does say ‘expect to fail’. Which, perversely, I found rather heartening. We always fail when we try to follow parenting advice, so it’s nice to have that provided for in the book!
And we did have a really good day yesterday, more peaceful than we’ve had for a few months. Maybe as I get better at the love-based reactions, I’ll have some more of these good days.

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6 thoughts on “Test-Driving Beyond Consequences

  1. Great post.
    I try (and fail) daily to achieve the kind of parenting that Bryan Post recommends. I do think that over time, once the child gets that it really is just a hug they’re being offered, the biting (or similar) stops.
    But I guess you don’t want to keep being bitten in the meantime and I do think some of these approaches don’t account for the fact that most of us aren’t willing to stand there while our children hit, kick, bite or throw things at us.
    I really like Karyn Purvis/Tapestry and also connected families. Very similar goals but I find them a bit more realistic in that the parent should be in charge.
    2outof3 🙂

    • Thanks for commenting.
      So pleased that it’s not just us who struggle to stick to the therapeutic parenting. Sometimes it’s so hard!
      I’ll have a look at Karyn Purvis, thank you.

  2. Therapeutic parenting is still a relatively new concept to me and yes, I am often disappointed by how often my attempts to follow the advice are met with hostility or apathy! But I am heartened by hearing from others who have been doing it for years that eventually, the results do seem to come. Now I just need to battle with my own impatience! I do like the acknowledgement of failure though. So many parenting books (for adopted and non-adopted children alike) seem to imply that if you just follow their advice to the letter, success is virtually guaranteed – not in real life!

  3. My inner traditional parent is constantly battling with my therapeutic parent, I struggle to stay in the zone sometimes. I totally agree with the books idea on anger, I try very hard to remember that when we get a rage, usually it’s a fear of not being in control that triggers thing. Remembering this help with my approach to the situation. I think leaving things a little longer could be the key to talking after, I often do it when we are involved in activity together so it’s not the only focus and eye contact is not needed. Also I offer a hug and if they refuse say “well if you do want one later I would love to give you one.” A great honest review of the book and keep going, it sounds like you are doing really well at what is a hugely challenging job. xx

    • Many thanks!
      I am exactly the same about fearing losing control. But, on days when I’m more self-aware it seems to go a bit better.
      I like the idea of staying ‘in the zone’. I guess not all days can be good. We just keep on keeping on!

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