Are you struggling with how to best parent your children? Parenting is not for the faint-hearted! However, it can be made easier with these 3 simple ingredients:
1. Build a positive relationship with your child. A good relationship creates an environment where positive self-esteem can develop. A positive sense of self is directly related to a child’s relationship with their caregiver. The most important thing you can do is to love your child unconditionally. When children are confident their parent loves them “no matter what” they will feel safe to share what they are thinking and feeling and also to take risks and make mistakes. We humans learn much more from our mistakes than from our successes. Children must feel safe to explore their world, be curious, and be their honest selves. Another way to enhance the relationship is to build-in special time every day to listen to, play with, and be with your child. Having regular, fun interactions with your child helps him know he is an important part of your life. Additionally, refrain from using parenting behaviors that can negatively affect the child-parent relationship such as sarcasm, mocking or making fun of your child, and talking negatively about your child, especially in front of her. Instead, allow your child to overhear you bragging on her accomplishments or successes. It is also very important to be consistent. When a child can anticipate what will happen next, they will be more successful, less anxious and feel safe in the parent-child relationship.
2. Use good/positive communication skills. Children will feel heard when parents are able to reflect back to them the emotion they are feeling. For example, you might say “That made you really angry!” or “You were disappointed when our plans changed.” You can encourage your child to share more by using short comments like “really?” or “tell me more.” Learning to ask questions in a non-judgmental way also encourages children to share more. Rather than saying “Why did you do such a stupid thing?” Respond with “What do you think made you do that?” Giving children choices rather than commands whenever possible can ward off power struggles. Giving choices allows children to feel a sense of control over their world. Instead of commanding them to brush their teeth, you could offer a choice that allows for one of two desired outcomes such as “Would you rather brush your teeth first or take a bath?”
3. Use effective discipline strategies. One way to prevent the need for discipline is to make sure your child knows what you expect. Prepare for and practice appropriate behavior prior to an event such as eating out, attending birthday parties, or going to church. Remember to praise your children’s good behavior so that behavior will be repeated.
When a limit needs to be set in the play room, play therapists use the A-C-T Model developed by Dr. Gary Landreth. I like to teach parents this very simple and effective tool because it works! First, Acknowledge the child’s feelings and/or desire to do something that is unacceptable. For example, “I know you would like to play with the Play-Doh on the couch.” Second, Communicate the limit: “… but Play-Doh is not for playing with on the couch.” And third, Target acceptable alternatives: “You may play with the Play-Doh at the table.” I encourage all parents to try it!
Effective parenting helps build resilient, self-confident children and happier, more peaceful homes. A positive strategy can transform the job of parenting from exhausting and tedious to satisfying and rewarding! Raising a child who grows into a happy, successful and resilient adult will be the greatest reward for your efforts!
If your child is struggling with behavior issues please call us at Strategic Counseling Solutions. We are here to help!