Parenting is a thankless job. My clients who come in for guidance, frequently need reassurance that they are utilizing the right techniques with their children. They tell me that they wished there was a formula for healthy parenting. They ask if they should spank, or if time outs really work. They of course are looking for the quickest formula to helping their children grow up to be well-adjusted adults. They want them to make the right decisions and promote a sense of confidence in their child.
The good news is that most children will respond to any type of parenting technique as long as it is delivered with consistency, conviction and confidence. Although it is important to customize the appropriate response in parenting; it is more important to follow the 3 C’s of parenting.
As most parents can guess, consistency is the most important factor in getting a child to comply with your wishes. If you ask them to do something and they don’t comply, set up a consequence that matches the misbehavior. Many well-meaning parents will throw up their hands when the child repeatedly ignores their request or breaks the rule again. Parents will think that the consequence didn’t work and they will look for other alternatives to get the child to comply with the rule. Remember it takes 28 days to develop a good habit, so if you give into them ...you will have to start all over with your expectations.
The second life skill is conviction. Once you have set forth a rule—don’t waver! If children see you backing off or changing your mind, they will make it their mission to convince you that their way is better. Therefore, it is imperative that once you make a decision—deliver it with conviction! No need to further their hopes by discussing (for the hundredth time) why you have made your decision. Repeat your explanation one time and then walk away. No matter how loud they get or how much they want to discuss the issue---disengage!
The last life skill is to stay confident. Parenting is tough. No two children are the same. I have worked with thousands of families and children and I frequently see parents that don’t know their own value. If I were to ask you to list 25 strengths that you possess as a parent, could you do it? You have to know your own strengths so that you operate from them. Spend a little time and list your positive parenting qualities.
Are you loving, caring, determined or encouraging? Keep them close to review them when YOU need a little confidence.
If you have a history of giving in intermittently, the child has unconsciously learned that they have the power. This invariably leads to a power struggle, and we know how tiring that can be. Children have WAY more energy to struggle than parents, so it’s important to stay out of the power struggle by disengaging from the child. If you stay connected to your confidence, it will send the child the message that you are in control.
Kids need to know that you are in control. It gives them the security to move toward healthier behaviors and decisions. That is why all the parenting books recommend detaching from too much dialogue once you have delivered your request or consequence. No matter how hard they try to manipulate you, remember your formula and stay true to yourself as a parent!