Do you often question if you are a good parent? Do your children respect you the way they respect 'that one teacher' they love? Do you know how to stay cool and in control while your children test the limits and abuse the coupon dispenser in the grocery store? Staying in control, being consistent, being calm, and standing your ground are the hallmarks of "effective parenting," but are easier said than done.
Do you want to improve your parenting style without having a brain transplant? By using some of the tips listed below, you could have a calmer grocery shopping experience with your children as soon as this evening.
If You’re a Screamer: While you are relaxed and alone, recite some of these key phrases:
- When we are in the store, we shop by the list, not as we go,
- After dinner everyone helps with clean-up, or
- If you help with dinner clean-up you can pick the family activity for the weekend.
Practicing this type of response allows you to avoid emotion-based reactions and to keep a calm voice.
If You’re a Softie: Pick one or two behaviors that are really inexcusable and seem to be your child’s habit. Tell your child what your expectations are in advance. For example, "This week we’re going to work on mealtimes. If you raise your voice, you will be taken away from the table." This is especially good when eating in public. Consistently stand firm on a single issue, and your child will learn that you've developed a backbone. Pay attention to your child’s behavior and you may notice their actions leading to the negative behavior. If the problematic behavior occurs in the restaurant, give the child a warning by saying, "If you stop, you can stay at the table. If you keep it up, we’re going to leave." Make sure you leave if you establish the rule. Most children would like to eat dinner with everyone. Leaving can be powerful!
If You’re a Flip-Flopper: Pick a support partner (your spouse or your children’s grand-parents). Choose one issue and solemnly swear – out loud, to your support partner – that you will not change your mind. If you feel like you are going to "give in," remind yourself that children feel more secure when parents are consistent.
If You’re Too Tough: Children need to learn that they can make mistakes and recover. If you, as the parent, pick and criticize all the time it makes the child(ren) think they can't ever make you happy. It has got to be a "hard road to travel" living with an overly critical family. Always ask yourself if the intensity of the scolding is equal to the child's behavior. Is yelling, cursing, and sending the child to their room with no dinner really an appropriate response to spilled milk at the dinner table?
If You and Your Spouse Send Different Messages: Often parents disagree on issues in front of their children. They do not discuss house rules before decisions are made. However, if a parent needs to make a decision without the other parent, the authority of the "decision-making" parent should be respected. Couples (caretakers) need to agree on the big things before issues come up; i.e., like television time on a school night, what shows are too explicit, and do the children come in the house by dark or when the street lights come on. For smaller issues, if necessary, agree to disagree. Being able to agree or disagree amicably is a great show of how conflict can be better handled.
Betsy Brown Braun. Just Tell Me what to Say: Tips and Scripts for Perplexed Parents.
Crista Wetherington, PhD. Pediatric Psychologist at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas.
Suzanne Scholsberg .Your Biggest Discipline Dilemmas Solved! Parenting: School Years – February 2010 Issue.