Children are from Heaven with John Gray

By John Gray
WebMD Live Events Transcript

John Gray, PhD, author of 'Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus,' revolutionizes parenthood with a new guide to raising loving, happy, and healthy children.

The opinions expressed herein are the guests' alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

Event_Moderator Welcome to WebMD Live. Today we will be discussing "Children Are From Heaven," with author John Gray, Ph.D.

John Gray, Ph.D., has been a family counselor for more than 30 years. He became one of the best-selling authors of the decade with his publication of "Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus," which enlivened communication between the sexes. In the past ten years, Gray has continued to supply the public with other bestsellers including, "Mars and Venus in the Bedroom," "Mars and Venus in Love," "Mars and Venus on a Date" and Mars and Venus Starting Over." A highly sought after speaker, Gray is a popular guest on the "Oprah Winfrey Show" and a national columnist.

Dr. Gray, welcome to the show.

Event_Moderator {question presented} How does your book, "Children are from Heaven," differ from other parenting books?

Dr_Gray Parents need to be aware of their child's brain development at each stage. Up to 9 years old, a child has not yet developed the capacity for logical thinking. Therefore, to focus on a child's mistake and get upset about it, gives the message that the child is bad. If you focus on negative behavior and put a lot of energy on that, the child will tend to repeat it. What you put your energy on is what motivates a child. And, what pictures you put in your child's mind is what they follow. If you say, 'don't knock the vase over,' you're putting a picture in the child's mind of that, and they will do it. If you say, 'let's be nice to the vase,' they will have that picture. Say, 'biting hurts Mommy, let's kiss Mommy's arm. Be nice. Do this.' Any kind of logical concept is not received by the child. Parents think their children are logical because children can imitate logic but they don't yet have the brain capacity for that. If they spill juice on the floor, the child gets the message, 'I'm bad." Don't be upset at all, just say, 'let's clean it up' and clean it up with them. Then say, ' in the future, be careful.'

Event_Moderator {question presented} What types of punishment do you recommend?

Dr_Gray I have discovered 5 techniques from soft to tough, which when used, allow parents to let go of punishments. These are the 5 skills of positive parenting that when applied, free you from the need to punish your children. The world is different today, children are different, old techniques are working less and less. Parents are frustrated because the punishments aren't working. I haven't read any book that explains how to raise cooperative children that doesn't require some kind of punishment! And, in this book, communication skills are so effective, punishment is never required.

Event_Moderator Why do you think the world has changed and children are different?

Dr_Gray For a variety of reasons, they are different today. Violence is different, it was an accepted part of life, like war. And, most of us in the 60's went through a big change, 'let's have peace in the world,' a radical notion. Yet, we turn around and punish our children, spank our kids, and expect our leaders to get along with other countries peacefully. Truly, we want peace in the world and it starts in the home. People who want peace in the world recognize that violence is not the answer. What is the alternative? Communication, negotiation. Conversation. These are the skills that can be used at home. When we can create cooperation with our children, lead them without punishment, these children will be able to negotiate a world of peace. What's wonderful is these 5 skills of positive parenting accomplish this! And, many parents in response to this book all tell me, 'thank goodness this is here because my punishments aren't working!' I developed these ideas 20 years ago before I had children, by teaching classes to teens about to go to reform schools. Threats and punishments meant nothing to them. So, I had to become creative to manage and control them. And, I became successful. You can raise any child without needing to punish them if you understand the process. If you don't, you're left doing what our parents did which is now out of date. How are our children different as well? We live in a democracy that's only 200 years old, in the span of history, that's short. We've made changes based on democracy and freedom of choice that bring us human rights and the sense of entitlement that every adult has. That changes our business practices and government practices. Business have changed radically in the past 200 years. Futile lords, dictators and pirates ... into companies that in order to get ahead recognize employees rights. That's the climate we live in. Yet, parenting practices of punishment have not changed at all.