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Adlerian Principles in Action

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Happy November!


I hope everyone had a lovely Halloween. I have been cutting back on the sugar as part of my new anti-inflammatory diet regime, so no smarties for me this year. If you have not had a chance to check out the research on diet and mental health, I strongly encourage you to do so. As you know I am Adlerian, but did you know that Alfred Adler was a physician before he become a psychologist? He promoted the holistic approach to understand behavior. You can’t separate the mind and body, and research today confirms so many ideas that Adler proposed back at the turn of the century.


On that note, this month, I wanted to share a wonderful success story with you which highlights many of the Adlerian principles I teach. A friend came to me to thank me for all the parenting help I had given him because it resulted in his young daughter being so well behaved at his husband’s birthday party. The trick? He set her up for success!


First, he explained to his daughter IN ADVANCE that it was an adult party. He let her know that there would be no other children, that the party was going to be a lot of adults talking to one another, and that they needed to entertain and visit with their guests. He really wanted her to be there so they could celebrate daddy’s 50th as a family, but she couldn’t monopolize their time. It was daddy’s special day.


She had a CHOICE to stay home with a babysitter, but she opted to come and not miss out. He included the babysitter at the dinner, so that if things didn’t work out, the babysitter could always take her home. That’s a great LOGICAL CONSEQUENCE; if you would like to stay you need to adopt the social rules of the dinner party, if you choose to disturb then you leave and go home.


He also spent the beginning of the party with his daughter, getting her settled in and paying her full attention BEFORE giving his attention to the other guests. This is called FRONT LOADING. Front loading is when you put deposits into the emotional bank account of a child, securing attachment and connection before asking for their patience. Giving attention before it is demanded is strategic and highly effective.


Another ingenious parenting tactic he deployed was to discuss in advance what she might talk about with the other adults at the party. They decided that she could do a survey. She would ask each guest what pets they had, which was their favorite and why. Isn’t that brilliant?  It gave her a PURPOSE and a SOCIAL TASK. This task constructed a way to get POSITIVE ATTENTION instead of bidding for undue attention. She got to meet all of her parents’ friends and have a conversation with them. This is developing SOCIAL INTEREST in others as she learned about them and their lives. She loved it, the adults loved it too.


Finally, when it was nearing her bedtime, the babysitter took her home. The adults didn’t have to cut the party short, and she wasn’t kept up so late that her behaviour deteriorated. This respected her NEED FOR ORDER too.


Amazingly well-done Dad!


If you have a story about how you creatively applied Adlerian principles, please share them with me. It is a joy to see these concepts come to life and help real families.

About Alyson

Alyson has been blogging parenting advice for over 15 years. She has been a panelist at BlogWest, Blissdom, #140NYC and more. Her content appears on sites across Canada and the US, but you can read all her own blog posts right here.

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