Kids are so impressionable but parents DO have great influence on their children. Researcher show that children hear many more negative comments then positive comments in their upbringing. Didn’t you chronically hear “don’t do that,” “watch out, “and “be careful.“ Understandably, this is about parents wanting to protect their children but it can create a sense of anxiety and insecurity. You want them to think before they act and as a result you may be instilling anxiety or fear in them without intending to do so.
We know that children live in a society where they think they should have more control over what they do in their lives. Parenting is that delicate balance between working with your children to create safety and stabilization and allowing them some independence to find out for themselves. This builds confidence! I always encourage parents to give children choices so that they get to make some decisions within healthy boundaries. When you give them choices, you are telling them that you trust their decision-making and will allow them to experience the consequences of their actions. The process of brainstorming can also help them come up with possibilities for their own decision-making in their life. Because you are part of the process you can help to steer and guide them appropriately.
Let’s look at a couple of situations where a child may want to make his/her own decisions. You may want to involve your younger children in what they wear to preschool or kindergarten. When you lay out three outfits for them and tell them to pick the best one for the weather you are teaching them to make decisions based on the temperature of the day.
When you are helping children in peer related situations, it may mean telling them that they can invite two people over to play and they need to decide which two people play the best together. Again, you’re inferring they should choose peers who do a good job of interacting together.
As children get older, it can be more difficult because they want to make life decisions that conflict with your own values. In my practice, I am seeing teens who want to have coed sleepovers. And because so many families are allowing their children to do so, it can put extra pressure on you to say no. So, what can you do in the situation, to show the child that you’re giving them a choice? That may look like telling your child, “I will not be comfortable with us hosting coed sleepovers but I will assist you in setting up an event with 6 of your best friends and will even transport you all to and from the movie. This becomes an opportunity for you to allow your preteens or teens to explore other options All relationships are about compromise and negotiation. So, stand firm with supporting them in being social but don’t compromise your values despite the inherent power struggle that will ensue. Give your child some options, and then disengage from the verbal controversy and presuppose that they will pick the right choice. If they refuse to pick a better choice, then, that is on them.
Power struggling is inherent in parenting but minimizing that to the best of your ability and still honoring your own values is essential in good healthy parenting. Look for chances to assist children in making good decisions. But honor your very important values because that is at the core of smart parenting!