There’s an old saying “you can’t see the forest through the trees.” Basically, you’re too close to see the obvious. I believe parenting is like that too. You’re too involved on a day-to-day basis to see what you are doing well, and what you are doing wrong. Sometimes it is behavior we need to change as parents and sometimes it’s just the simple way of saying something, or rephrasing how we say it that has a greater impact.
Nobody is perfect, and I hope as parents we are all willing to take advice and learn how to be better parents. I know I am. Sometimes when you hear/read certain advice, it’s like that old V8 commercial…just a “duh” slap on the forehead.
Here are some great parenting tip from HubPages. I’m sure there is something in it you can use. I know the first one hit home for me.
Parenting Tips #1. Tell kids what you want them to do, not what you don’t want!
Instead of stop yelling, we might say use your inside voice. Rather than saying don’t argue we might suggest asking them to play peacefully or cooperatively. If we focus on the negative that tends to be where they will go. For example, if I say don’t think about a green giraffe, no thinking about a green giraffe, stop thinking about a green giraffe we all know what we will think about. It is only natural. Our brain just can’t shut off that way. The same thing happens when we say no, don’t and stop when we are talking to our children. The behavior we want our children to avoid becomes something they keep thinking about. They really can’t help it and that’s because that is where we directed their attention.
It might take time to find the positive alternative to what you don’t want your children to be doing but in the long run it will be worth it. This is the first of our dozen positive parenting tips because the value of finding the positive opposite of the behavior we don’t want can never be underestimated.
The second of our dozenparenting tips is fairly straight forward. Simply put, children need to have limits that can be enforced by parents and that are appropriate for the child on the basis of his/her age and level of development. If we as parents can’t follow through on a consequence or we enforce limits inconsistently our kids will be getting mixed messages. This only makes our jobs as parents more difficult. Keeping it simple is the best policy. Try to be consistent and follow through on the consequences you have stated to your children. Research indicates that maladaptive behavior in kids is often associated with inconsistent parenting.
Parenting Tips #3: Be aware of your body language and tone of voice.
You may think you need to be a buddy when parenting your child so you try to always be positive even when setting limits or maybe you like to think of yourself as the boss and you simply want compliance. When directing our children, an overly ‘buddy-like’ tone is unlikely to sound like a directive. I have heard parentsup-talk (rasing pitch of their voice at the end a sentence) when being directive and this approach tends to sound more like a question or even mild begging.
Try to be calm but firm without being aggressive in tone or stance when giving directions to your children. When parenting our children we want to be positive in the words we choose (see tip #1) without being wishy-washy in our tone of voice or body language. While setting limits with our children, positive parenting occurs when we can be a confident and firm yet still be warm and caring.
Parenting Tip #4: Say please!
This might be the easiest tip to follow in our dozen tips for parenting but that doesn’t make it any less important. Children are more likely to comply with our directions when we say please. Some parents feel that they are somehow pleading with their children by saying please. They believe that as leaders in their home they are in charge and therefore the child should do as they say, and that saying please in some way diminishes their authority. This argument is not supported by evidence based research, which has shown that saying please is far more effective than the do what I say and do it now approach.
Using please suggests that children have some choice and therefore because you have respected that choice they are more likely to comply. The more choices we give children the less likely they are to engage in power struggles. This is especially true for teenagers who are far more sensitive to being bossed aroundand thus more likely to be noncompliant when they feel their parents are power tripping. Besides, using please is really just good manners. And please don’t forget the thank you and your welcome as well!
Parenting Tips #5: Show empathy when following through on consequences.
There are two types of consequences, natural and logical. Natural consequences are not imposed, they just happen as a result of naturally occurring processes. An example of this would be when a child keeps leaving his skateboard in the yard and it gets stolen. Logical consequences are the rules we create as parents. An example of this is when a child leaves her toys out and because her parent has to put them away they are placed in a storage space and not released until the child pays a fine from his/her allowance (by the way, this is a good way to find out how many toys they really don’t need).
When these consequences occur it can be helpful to show empathy and understanding. Some parents feel the need to say I told you so or follow through in a harsh manner. This is unnecessary. In fact it usually leads to children feeling defensive and sometimes acting defiant or like they don’t care. It is helpful when we as parents tell our children that even though we know it can be frustrating to learn from our mistakes, it is an unavoidable and important part of life. Let them know that learning to cope with these frustrations is just one of life’s little challenges. Just don’t let your child confuse your empathy with a potential change of heart with following through on a consequence.
Parenting Tips #6: Proximity.
Get close to your child if you want them to pay attention to your directions. Sometimes it seems easier to call out a command of some sort to our kids but this often yields poor results. Imagine your boss yelling at you from across the room telling you to do a task. Now imagine your boss calmly approaching you and asking you to perform the same task. You might perform the task in both instances, but I am guessing you would be more willing and committed to performing the task in the second instance. The closer you are to your children the more you are able to use the calm assertive tone and body language needed to genuinely influence them.
Many parents don’t understand why their children ignore them after they have shouted some command at them from across the house. Often the child doesn’t respond until their steaming parent is standing in front of them, exasperated from the lack of response (sometimes assumed as a lack of respect) from their children. When the child does finally respond, the parent believes it is the result of their anger. In reality, it is more likely the immediacy of their proximity that has led to the desired impact. Try getting closer to your children when giving directions and notice the difference in how they respond.
Parenting Tips #7: Practice new behaviours.
You might think your child will be able to repeat something after they have done it once or twice. This is not always a realistic goal. Children sometimes need to perform a task many times for them to be able to do it consistently. You may be thinking ‘I know she knows how to make her bed’ when she really has not learned to perform the task consistently.
Give your child several opportunities to practice the task under your guidance. They will usually let you know when they no longer need your help. This will provide you with an opportunity to have them demonstrate the behavior and for you to praise and reinforce their achievement. Remember, even though they performed the task properly yesterday it doesn’t mean they will do it the same way today. Positive parenting means being patient and knowing that repetition becomes habit.
Parenting Tips #8: Praise praise praise!
Young children cannot get enough positive reinforcement. Positive parenting carried out with enthusiasm is incredibly powerful. A parade around the house for using the potty properly or a loud cheer for cleaning his/her room is only going to reinforce the behaviour. Older children might require a little less enthusiasm but they still respond well to our encouragement. A high five or nod of approval might be enough for your young teen.
We are all social creatures so it is only natural that we learn through positive social interactions. Try to be as specific as you can when giving encouragement: i.e. that was awesome, I really like the way you organized all the books on your shelf as opposed to you’re a great kid. Try to catch your children doing things right. It is easy to notice their mistakes. Taking the time to notice their efforts and noticing small improvements in their behaviour will pay off in the long run.
To read the rest of the tips, click HERE.