Always one interested in improving my own parenting skills while learning tips from others, I attended yet another seminar designed to do just that. I practically retain my own parenting-self-help library at home; even still, I’m far from being an expert. Just when I’ve figured things out, my kids enter another stage and I have to start all over again. That, and having two children with completely different personalities, I wonder if I’ll ever perfect what it means to be a good parent.
We all struggle with this at times. I think it’s the nature of parenting. So, for those of you also collecting parenting words of wisdom, here are some gems to share from what I learned:
*Expectations are powerful. If you expect cooperation, your child will be more likely to cooperate. Likewise, if you expect misbehavior, that’s likely what you will get.
*Body language and facial expression is 55% of communication. That beats tone of voice (38%) and words used (7%) by quite a bit. What is your nonverbal communication like when you talk with your children?
*As yourself: What if I treated my friends the way I sometimes treat my children? Am I showing respect? No matter what the kids’ ages, if your communication style is that much different, it’s time to re-think.
*There’s a difference between praise and encouragement. Praise is a reward, where children learn to please others. Encouragement is a gift, where kids learn to feel capable and worthwhile.
*Develop the courage to be imperfect. Encourage your children to make efforts, not to expect perfection. In the animated movie, “Meet the Robinsons,” Louis is hailed by the Robinson family when he isn’t able to fix a peanut butter and jelly dispensing machine. He’s heart-broken, but the rest break out into cheers and toast “…to Louis, for his brilliant failure, may it lead to success in the future.” The character’s confidence and self-worth soar.
*Look at your child in a second way. Find perceptual alternatives – if your child is stubborn, see him/her as determined.
*The only behavior you can change is your own. To help a child stop misbehaving, concentrate on changing how you respond.
*Family meetings allow children to have input, promoting cooperation. Children want to belong and be accepted. Family meetings help them increase responsibility for their own behaviors.
*How many adults drive through an intersection when there is a yellow traffic light (this point might not apply in China)? Are your limits for your children yellow lights or red lights? If they are “soft” (yellow), then directives appear optional. If they are “red” (firm), they are required. If adults go through an intersection on yellow because they can, it is logical to expect children to misbehave when given a “yellow” limit. Don’t confuse them, and be firm in your expectations.