Changing your perspective can truly change how you parent. Many parents see their children as difficult, delicate, fragile, limited, needy, or incapable. Clients come to me expressing how strong-willed their children are or how stubborn, determined, or persistent they can be. Well, I say, “Those are some great traits to have as adults.” Wouldn’t you agree? So why not guide them in the right direction, where they can still have those traits and you are still in charge. Your children are not aliens that are impossible to understand. They are just smaller human beings looking for the same things we need as adults.
As adults, we need rules, words of affirmation, discipline, and consistency as much as our children do. These are the things that make us feel in control, safe, loved, and successful. They apply in all areas of life, from our workplaces to our relationships, at the societal level and at the personal level with our families. I would like for you to take a moment and really think about how each one of the following examples may apply to you now, as an adult.
Rules are an important part of our lives. They act as guidelines and boundaries. Without rules, we would feel scared, out of control, and unsafe. We all need rules—in our workplace, in our relationships, in our society, and for our children.
Rules help set limits and boundaries for our children. Rules help them feel safe and secure. Many times, our children act out or misbehave because there are no rules, limits and/or boundaries. Every child needs, craves and even wants rules. They can’t tell you this because they don’t consciously know it, but when rules are not implemented, they are uncomfortable. This feeling manifests itself as tantrums and misbehaviors. They start to act out and literally scream for structure and discipline. When we challenge our children, enforce the rules, and set the expectations, they start to feel successful, and their self-esteem starts to shine. Rules help us feel safe, loved, and secure.
Think about the consistencies in your life and how you feel when certain routines are broken or not in place. What if your alarm clock did not go off in the morning and you woke up an hour after the time you planned? What if your boss called you into work at various times on various dates with only an hour’s notice? What if your child came home from school every day at the same time, and one day they did not come home at the regular time? What if your partner who came home at 6 p.m. every day started coming home hours later without a phone call? What emotions do each of these situations trigger? Do you feel anxious, nervous, scared, worried, upset, angry, or overwhelmed? Consistency can help reduce those negative emotions and stresses in all areas of your life.
Consistency is the number one ingredient in parenting, yet it is the number one trait that is missing, and the reason many families experience challenges and stress due to misbehaved, unhappy children. Without consistency, your children feel like their lives are in chaos, and no one is to blame but you. It is completely unfair of you to think that your little one should know when they should follow rules that you do not regularly enforce upon them or yourself. You can’t expect your child to read your mind, or just know when you mean business.
Discipline is a word many parents shy away from or feel is too harsh. For many parents, discipline feels mean or is associated with bad parenting or physical abuse. The real meaning of discipline is the practice of holding yourself or others accountable to obey rules, teachings, directions, orders, and authority by enforcing consequences and encouraging a sense of ownership and commitment. Many parents may not realize it, but children crave discipline as much as they crave rules and affirmation. They may not tell us verbally, but their actions speak louder than words.
Discipline creates success and develops self-esteem. Think about it—how many have tried to lose weight and actually succeeded? What was the main ingredient of your success? I am sure that discipline played a big role in staying focused, eating healthy, and getting results. When you apply discipline to any situation, you have a better chance of succeeding. When we start to look at the valuable aspects of discipline with a positive energy filter, we can feel good about what we are doing, who will benefit, and what the results will be. Discipline is not about the punishment that will be administered when rules are not followed, and expectations are not met. Discipline is about setting clear expectations early, establishing appropriate consequences and enforcing those consequences. Discipline is about what those affected by your actions will do to make sure that rules are followed and expectations are met. This includes how we discipline ourselves to reach our own goals. Many times, we need to be the leaders and hold ourselves accountable so that our children will learn to hold themselves accountable in the future.
Many children act out because the rules are not clear and there is not enough discipline or structure in their environment. Although discipline may be challenging and difficult to consistently implement, it provides children with a challenge to correct behaviors or work hard to behave.
I don’t know anyone who can live without affirmation. Affirmation provides us with emotional support or encouragement. The lack of one or both parents’ affirmation leaves some children emotionally underdeveloped and unable to show true emotion or form healthy relationships. In order to succeed in life, we need to know someone is there to give us the support we need to move forward. As adults, if we can’t find someone, then we provide that for ourselves—we read words of affirmation, meditate, or read inspiring books. Unfortunately, children can’t do this for themselves. They need us, as their parents and mentors, to provide them with positive feedback, positive praise, and positive support. Children need attention—whether it’s positive or negative. Positive words or actions are very powerful tools that can be used to encourage your child to change their misbehaviors.
So, what are the steps to be followed to create harmony in your home? First, determine the rules and consequences for the household. Next, provide words of affirmation when the rules are followed, and enforce discipline when rules are not followed. Lastly, be consistent with your words of affirmation and discipline applied based on adherence to the rules.
The best part about being consistent with your children is cooperation. When you are consistent, your children know what to expect from you and that you mean what you say and say what you mean. No guessing games here—very black and white, very matter of fact. Once you understand this simple concept and understand that this could possibly be the game changer in your relationship with your children, raising them can be what you always expected it to be. It will take dedication and patience on your part, but it will be worth it in the end.
Changing your perspective is a process, and I hope you are starting to understand that our children are just an extension of who we are, though they certainly have their own thoughts, ideas, creativity, and emotions. My book, Change Your Perspective, Improve Your Parenting, is a journey in discovering that our children are not very different than us, and that they have the same needs and wants we do. To read more about our new book coming out at the end of October 2018, stay connected with us on Working with Parents on Facebook or Instagram. Join our email list at www.ourparentcoach.com
Author: Terry Manrique
Author Bio: Terry Manrique, is the Owner and Founder of Working with Parents, LLC. For the past 7 years, Terry has helped countless families change their child’s misbehaviors using her C.P.R. philosophy for long-lasting change and transform a family’s life around in less than one week! Her experience has allowed her to provide parents with a crash course in Early Childhood Development, helping parents better understand how their children think, and empower them to be empathetic to what their child’s needs are. Understanding your child and knowing WHY they behave the way they do can eliminate the frustration many parents face.
Terry is certified as a Strategic Intervention-Relationship Coach and a former Early Childhood Educator and Director. Terry is the author of two books, Revive Your Parenting and Change Your Perspective, Improve Your Parenting. She is a repeated guest on Good Day Columbus and other local news platforms. Terry also presented parenting workshops to The Ohio State University faculty, students and OSU members, Dublin City Schools and other various organizations.
Link to website: http://www.ourparentcoach.com