October 21, 2009

Method III, The No-Lose Method

"You acquire more influence with young people when you give up using your power to control them...and the more you use your power to try to control people the less influence you'll have on their lives."
--Thomas Gordon

I'm still plugging along in my latest parenting book, Parent Effectiveness Training: The Proven Program for Raising Responsible Children. Stress-induced exhaustion has kept me from reading most nights, but I got through the chapters on Method III and thought this was as good a week as any to give it a try. I could never do it justice, trying to explain the No-Lose Method here, so I'll point you to this post on the P.E.T blog.

Method III is a different way of resolving conflict that fosters healthy, close relationships. Instead of putting ourselves through the frustration of not having our needs met through compromise, or feeling like we have to battle our loved ones in a "my needs vs. your needs" battle, we can clearly state our needs and then discuss and reach a solution that meets everyone's needs. In other words, we really can make sure everyone gets what they need all of the time.

Next time you have a conflict, instead of giving in to the other person and sacrificing your needs for theirs (Method II), implementing your own solutions and putting your needs ahead of theirs (Method I), or going through the frustration of a compromise, try these six simple steps of Method III instead:

1. Define everyone’s needs
2. Brainstorm solutions
3. Evaluate the solutions
4. Decide on final solutions
5. Implement solutions
6. Evaluate solutions

I figured it might be helpful to do a series detailing our conflicts and resolutions, so for your reading enjoyment, here's a little glimpse into our first attempt at Method III.

I explained the process to Robotson and he was game to give it a try. We started with bedtimes. I asked him to tell me everything that came to his mind about bedtime: what he liked and disliked, how he felt about it, and what he wanted bedtimes to be like. Then I did the same for myself.
Robotson wanted to stay up until midnight, to be tucked in every night, to stay up later than his little sisters, and wanted to be able to see B after he got home from work. He also wanted his friends to sleepover every night and to have his bunk bed assembled.

I wanted him in bed by 9pm (wishful thinking perhaps), to tuck him in once and have him stay in bed, didn't want to argue over bedtimes, and wanted him to be quiet so the girls wouldn't be woken up. I also didn't want him staying up so late that he slept all morning.
We spent an hour talking about each of our points, coming up with solutions, and deciding for and against a few of them.
Nine p.m. and midnight bedtimes were deemed too early and too late. We can't put the bunk bed together yet because a piece is missing, and we don't have another mattress. We also can't have nightly sleepovers. His friends belong with their families at night.

We agreed on tucking in right after bedtime. We agreed that he could stay up later than his sisters, although they do sometimes wake up and come upstairs. He said he'd try to be more quiet and I said he could stay up until 11 two nights of the week.
What we ended up with was a schedule that shifts day-to-day to accommodate both of our needs.
Sunday - 10p.m.
Monday - 11p.m.
Tuesday - 10p.m.
Wednesday - 10p.m.
Thursday - 11p.m.
Friday - 10p.m.
Saturday - 10p.m.

His previous bedtime was 10:30p.m. for comparison.
We started Monday night, but ran into one little glitch (which actually became our next conflict resolved by Method III). Last night went fine and tonight was only a minor disagreement, quickly resolved with an I-Message. We are giving it a couple of weeks and then we'll talk about how we both think it's going. Overall, I'm pretty happy with the discussions we are starting. Neither one of us initially felt like we were losing anything in our decision. That may change over the next week, but we have a good foundation to built upon if we need to make changes.

Next up will be how we resolved the problem of the dead iPod and our reevaluation of chores...


  1. Wow. These methods seem to involve ALOT of patience. I would have to work on my patience first.

    Glad that you both feel good with a compromise - be interested to hear about how you both feel when you re-evaluate in a week or so.

    (Off the subject... REALLY enjoyed coffee last night. Thanks for coming)

  2. Grace, you have no idea. My head is just aching from all of the back and forth today. I'd call today one big mess-up in the EI parenting department.

    If I can get my thoughts together enough, I'll try to post an update tonight.

  3. Once he is tucked in for the night at "bedtime" can he read/write/draw quietly with the light still on? That might be an agreement worth proposing and trying if you haven't yet -- it worked with both our two from about his age, so that instead of "bedtime" they got to be helped to get cozy in their own rooms (like bears' dens) for "light time."

  4. The older was a big, big reader at night. The younger reads some but also loves to do jigsaw puzzles on the floor while listening to books on tape or musical cast recordings on his iPod charger stand (have you thought of getting one of these so he'd never have the charging issue?) These usually stay on all night (along with the light) while he sleeps like a rock. I don't know how he does it -- I wouldn't sleep a wink -- but he's 14 now and it is his dearly held, established routine.

  5. JJ-Yeah once he's in his room for the night he can do whatever he likes. The only thing is he has to be quiet because his room backs up to the girls room.

    It's gotten a lot better in the past week and a half. A lot less fighting the bedtime, and less coming back upstairs. I hope it continues to improve, but I'm glad for any positive change right now.

    I looked into iPod chargers. Currently Robotson is taking every thing electronic apart. I hesitate to spend $40 on something he might decide needs opening up. I'm thinking about it though! Thanks for the suggestion, I hadn't thought about it before.