Helping you become all that you are capable of becoming!




Tools for Raising Responsible Children
By: James J. Messina, Ph.D.
T - Tracking Pathfinder Structures for Children - Introduction
Introduction to Tracking:
Pathfinders track the structures, procedures, rules and policies in their homes which are intended to define limits within which their children have the opportunity to develop into personally responsible people with healthy self-esteem. These structures are clearly defined and adhered to in consistent ways. There are some structures which are non-negotiable and others which can be open to discussion and change within the context of family organizational meetings. The structures are developed in the following areas: self-care, environmental issues, household chores, use of  electronics, computers, TV, DVD, stereo and computer games, family telephone, family time management, family finances, family recreational and leisure needs, academic needs of children, relationships outside the family, family relationships and family meetings. The structures account for the differing developmental needs of the children and family. They are adjusted as children grow older. Pathfinders utilize the natural and logical consequences model for monitoring and regulating the structures. The goal in establishing structures is to eliminate "over-parenting" and "over-disciplining" children. The more thought out the structures, the better able are they to be understood and followed by children. What follows are some Pathfinder issues in developing guidelines for home structuring.   

Overview of What is tracked by Pathfinder Parents

1.0.0. Self-care

1.1.0. Feeding Issues

     1.1.1. Self-feeding

     1.1.2. Family meals

     1.1.3. Diet

     1.1.4. Body self-image

     1.1.5. Cooking

     1.1.6. Dishes and table

     1.1.7. Eating out


1.2.0  Grooming

     1.2.1. Toddler grooming

     1.2.2. Personal hygiene

     1.2.3. Toilet training

     1.2.4. Bed-wetting

     1.2.5. Cosmetics                                        


1.3.0. Clothing 

     1.3.1. Self-dressing and undressing

     1.3.2. Care of own clothes

     1.3.3. Doing own laundry

     1.3.4. Selecting own clothes


1.4.0. Sleeping needs

     1.4.1. Getting to sleep on own

     1.4.2. Bedtime rituals

     1.4.3. Wake up time

     1.4.4. Amount of sleep needed

     1.4.5. Family bed


1.5.0. Exercise

     1.5.1. Life-long encouragement

     1.5.2. Team sport

     1.5.3. Handling sports competition

     1.5.4. Vicarious sports lives

     1.5.5. Family exercise


2.0  Environmental issues

     2.1.  Infant Nursery

     2.2.  Baby proofing

     2.3.  Room assignments

     2.4.  Private rooms

     2.5.  Public rooms

     2.6.  Cleanliness and orderliness of rooms


3.0. Household chores

     3.1.  Inside home chores

     3.2.  Outside chores


4.0. Use of TV, VCR, stereo and computer games

     4.1.  Used as logical consequences

     4.2.  Placement of electronic devices

     4.3.  Scheduled usage

     4.4.  Benefits of electronics

     4.5.  Purchase of equipment

     4.6.  Potential negative impact of electronic media


5.0. Family telephone

     5.1.  Telephone usage

     5.2.  Telephone location

     5.3.  Telephone time considerations

     5.4.  Children's telephones


6.0. Family time management

     6.1.  Family calendar

     6.2.  Personal schedules

     6.3.  Deciding time priorities

     6.4.  Time reminding

     6.5.  Time equipment

     6.6.  Curfews


7.0. Family finances

     7.1.  Allowances

     7.2.  Family budgets

     7.3.  Care of personal and family property

     7.4.  Payment for household chores and jobs

     7.5.  Jobs outside the home

     7.6.  Financial independence

     7.7.  Family and personal car


8.0. Family recreational and leisure needs

     8.1.  Family vacations

     8.2.  Individual vacations

     8.3.  Family members' hobbies and outside interests

     8.4.  Children's participation in outside activities   

     8.5.  Family holidays

     8.6.  Family entertainment


9.0. Academic needs of children

     9.1.   Academic achievement in school

     9.2.   School placement

     9.3.   Study location in home

     9.4.   Study time in home

     9.5.   Parental assistance with homework and studying

     9.6.   Academic equipment

     9.7.   Academic problems


10.0. Relationships outside the family

     10.1.  Peer group relationships

     10.2.  Babysitter relationships

     10.3.  Smoking, alcohol and drugs

     10.4.  Sexual behavior

     10.5.  Dating

     10.6.  Outside authority relationships

     10.7.  Spiritual relationships

     10.8.  Marriage of children

     10.9.  Grandchildren


11.0.  Family relationships

     11.1. Openness and honesty in communications

     11.2.  Anger and temper release

     11.3.  Language used in family

     11.4.  Foul language

     11.5.  Respect among family members

     11.6.  Sibling rivalry resolution

     11.7.  Family conflict resolution

     11.8.  Parental leadership and authority


12.0.  Family meetings

     12.1.  Goals of family meetings

     12.2.  Scheduling family meetings

     12.3.  Family meetings format

     12.4.  Family meetings topics

     12.5.  Family policy manual and meeting minutes

Pathfinder's Home Structuring Policy Manual Exercise
Directions: In a separate notebook from your journal, record currently existing procedures, policies, guidelines, rules and structures which exist if applicable in your family life for each of the following Pathfinder Home Structuring Policy Manual topics. Once you have recorded what you remember, check it over with your children in family meetings until you have a complete up to date listing. When you complete this exercise you will have created your own family's policy manual.  
Journal Exercise
Directions: In your personal journal respond to the following questions:
1. How do you feel about being so structured with your children? What are your concerns about this structuring? How consistent do you think you can be with such structuring?
2. What additional structuring topics have you discovered as you proceeded in developing your family's policy manual?
3. How comfortable were you in recording these structural guidelines? Do you prefer to have everything informal and spontaneous? What are the benefits or pitfalls of this policy manual concept?
4. In reviewing the topics for family structuring, can you recall the structures used in your family of origin? How did they differ? How were they similar?
5. What were your children's response to this exercise? How did you feel with their reactions? How did you respond to their reactions?
6. How do you feel about the family meetings? How comfortable are you in implementing them in your family? What are the obstacles to having successful family meetings in your family?
7. What has been your children's reactions to family meetings? How have you responded to their reactions? How hopeful are you about how well your children have taken to these meetings?
8. What transitions do you foresee for your family when more intensive family meetings will be required? What do you think the topics will be at such meetings? What resources can you turn to inorder to assist you and your family deal with these transitions?
9. How open have you been with your children in developing your family policy manual? Which of the topics suggested in this section did you skip because you feel too shy or embarrassed to discuss with your children?
10. How did you feel about some of the suggested guidelines offered in this section? What was your response as to if they were too tough or not tough enough? Were they reasonable or not reasonable? How did your own personal structures listed in you policy manual differ from the suggested ones in this material? What progress do you feel you are making in implementing the Pathfinder Parenting System in your family?