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Psychologist advises replacing conventional discipline methods

By Melissa Hirschl

July 15, 2006

We cajole, we threaten, we nag; we even dole out occasional whacks on the bottom. As parents we rely on the tried-and-true method of disciplining. Has it worked? 

According to Dr. Neil Weiner of the Get Psyched! store in Tempe, these methods donít get to the heart of the matter. He firmly believes we need to throw old paradigms overboard and embrace a totally novel method of producing positive behavior in our children--a system with no labeling and no punishment.

Weiner posits that the traditional methods are not nearly as effective as his new parenting method, one that he readily admits is ďtotally illogical.Ē

Weiner's upcoming ďNuts and Bolts of DisciplineĒ seminar is the result of 15-plus years of research Weiner has compiled while working with more than 500 families for the past 30 years.

Scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 19, the workshop will be a preview to an eight-week seminar series beginning Aug. 19.

Weiner, along with assistants Stacy Anderson Taouil and Amber Wilcocks-Lamonte, will lead the series, which runs from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Saturdays. Billed by Weiner as innovative and unorthodox, the series will tackle behavioral issues for infants to 18-year-olds.

During a recent interview, Dr. Weiner presented cogent arguments for his revolutionary methods.

Wrangler News: Why do believe traditional discipline methods donít work?

Neil Weiner: Traditional methods are based on ďbehaviorismĒ and conditioned responses. I found that these methods donít work well with problem children. Itís not productive to give children the same interventions over and over again that didnít work in the first place. Also, traditional methods use labeling, which makes the child think there is something wrong with them.

WN: What is wrong with rewarding kids?

NW: The message the kids get is that itís just the money or reward that counts. Youíre teaching that external rewards are important. When these kids get older, they become dependent on external, not internal rewards.
WN: Do standard methods ever work?

NW: If a kid has a few difficulties, the standard stuff may work. When you get into repetitive behavior problems it doesnít work at all.

WN: What is your philosophy and how do you implement it?

NW: All symptoms are redefined as ďloving from the child.Ē My basic premise is that a strategy needs to be based on love and family closeness as opposed to rewards and punishments. Most parents tend to revert to the standard systems where kids are rewarded with money, gifts and privileges of disciplining. Conversely, negative behavior elicits negative responses. In my system there are no rewards and punishments. The kids cannot figure out whatís going on and thatís why they work.

WN: What is a typical method you use?

NW: To begin with I frequently turn the therapy into a game. Kids lie and steal because they are not getting enough attention and my games address these issues creatively. In the seminar, parents will learn about these methods.

WN: Can teachers use these methods?

NW: Yes, but I would have to go into the schools to teach the counselors and teachers how to employ my methods.

WN: Can you give us an example of how you would deal with a child who has a
meltdown in front of his or her parents?

NW: It is not punishment the child needs, but love; the child needs to get the message that the tantrum is bringing the parents closer together. To this end, the parents should kiss passionately. The parents should actually thank the child for bringing them closer and for creating a more loving family. The result is that the child canít get whatís going on; it totally confuses them and takes away the reason for the tantrum. The child is shocked and more importantly it makes them stop. What kid wants to see their parents kiss?

WN: What are some other things that parents do wrong in your opinion?

NW: Kids are used to parentís constant verbalization. My method is non-verbal; itís not based on labeling children; naughty, ADD, rebellious, etc. Most interventions are based on consistency and most parents are not consistent; thatís another reason not to use them.Ē

WN: What are some reasons you believe kids today have more behavior problems than in the past?

NW: Nintendo, cell phones, TV, text messaging and two working parents contribute to a lot of the problems. We need to be more involved with our kids; the average amount of communication time is seven minutes a day; Americans want to be happy right now and have immediate gratification. The kids today are the same. They immediately want the latest ipod, computer game, clothes, car, etc. This causes tremendous problems.

Participants in Weinerís seminar receive handouts, developmental information, PowerPoint presentations and appropriate interventions for each age range. Role playing will be a strong component as well.

Price for the July 19 seminar is $10 per person or $15 for two. For the series, each individual seminar is $20 and $35 per couple. Call for group rates.

Get Psyched! is at 1709 E. Guadalupe Road. Information: 839-6400.


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