By Faith Golden, Child Behavior Specialist @ It’s Aparent Parenting
When we take our baby home from the hospital, no matter how long we look, we won’t find an instruction booklet that goes with the baby. When I first became a parent, there were plenty of people giving out advice on how to properly raise my kids. Some of the advice was helpful, but some of it, not so much. I’m sure you can relate to this. Parenting is not “one style fits all.” While friends and family may have good intentions, and their methods may have worked for them and their child, it may not fit your unique relationship with your child and parenting style.
Over the years I have witnessed parents grabbing their children, screaming at them, demeaning them, using physical discipline, bribery, threats, and other methods to try to get desired behaviors from their children. Parents who use any of the above methods to get their children to “behave” soon find that their children’s behaviors don’t get any better, and usually get worse. The children DO learn that big people can use physical force, bribes or threats to get a smaller person to do something they don’t want to do. Many of these children become bullies themselves. They see that their parents are out of control but expect them to control themselves with no example of what “being in control looks like. Some of the children do learn to fear their parent (s). Although there is no such thing as a perfect parent, there are strategies, that when used consistently, can help parents to teach their children to follow family and social limits and learn to self-discipline.
Here are a few tips to make sure your parenting style is on track for developing healthy, well-rounded children.
First, set age appropriate limits. The limits you set for your 18 month old will be different than for your 6 year old. For example, the 18 month old will be kept away from stairs and dangerous objects that the 6 year old is able to access freely without supervision.
Second, be consistent. From an early age your child needs to know what he/she can expect from you. Being consistent helps your child develop a trusting and secure relationship with you so he knows that you will always keep him safe and protect him. When boundaries constantly move, a child feels insecure, stressed and unloved.
Last, make your expectations of your child very clear so your child knows what is expected of him. Your child is more likely to succeed if your expectations are clear and developmentally appropriate. Consequences for actions should be natural or logical. If a child spills a glass of milk, the child should clean it up, not be sent to bed without dinner. The consequence should fit the crime. Giving children choices then allowing them to take the consequences of their choice teaches children to make good choices as they grow up. We all learn best when we are allowed to fail and know we have support as we make amends or get back on our feet.
Choice examples: Do you want to walk to bed on your own, or do you want me to walk with you? You can play when your homework is done. Take as long as you want, it’s up to you whether you play or not. Dinner is on the table. You can choose to eat or not, it is up to you, but there will be no more food until breakfast.
I realize this is easier said than done. Every parent has room for improving their parenting skills and every parent needs help from time to time. It’s best to ask for help when the issue is small, before it gets out of control. Perfect Parents do not exist; there are only good enough parents. If you are interested in more parenting techniques and tips that can be used in your unique family situation, read more on the It’s Aparent website, www.itsaparentparent.com under quality parent coaching or call (818) 995-9757 for a consultation.
© Faith Golden 2012. This material may not be copied or used in any manner without the express written permission by the author.