Tuesday, September 11, 2012
I loved raising my kids. And I always loved each new stage even more than the last one!
Certainly there was some misbehavior. But the misbehavior doesn’t come close to defining my parenting experience – it was just a subplot woven through the grand story.
I think my adherence to traditional parenting methods was the key element that made discipline not a big deal. Sometimes when I write about Rosemond leadership parenting, people get the impression that traditional parenting is a cruel, heartless dictatorship. It is not. It is a clear, calm set of expectations that children learn to accept. With that acceptance, they develop more responsibility. With responsibility comes more freedom. As they grow through the preteen and teenage years, they often have more freedom than their friends. They also learn to think for themselves, manage their own time and persevere when things are difficult.
Traditional parents solve many problems before they ever get started. Their leadership guides children’s behavior from the time they leave infancy. They rarely have to implement a complicated or long term solution to misbehavior. They use consequences thoughtfully and wisely such that their children learn that being a good citizen member of the family is one of their most important responsibilities. But they certainly do use them and don’t apologize or fret about it.
Because my kids were reasonably well behaved and enjoyable for family and friends to be around, they had a lot of fun experiences. They really didn’t spend a lot of time in time-out or being grounded or having privileges withheld.
Within the traditional parenting framework, we had a rich and fun family life. Family vacations – from cottages to Disney World. And the birthday parties! Not the most creative person in the world, I somehow was a wiz at giving parties that kids loved – treasure hunts, face painting, dramatic skits, making masks, painting t-shirts and a wonderful afternoon at the beach for 13 year old boys – I worried they would be bored but all had a ball! And the daily routine that went with dance lessons, ball practices, scouting and school musicals. We insisted on a calm balance when the kids were in grade school, but as they got older, more independent and had more individual interests, they did get very busy. But by then, the planning and logistics were on their shoulders, not mine.
In the meantime I had a busy career and many other adult interests. That is another key to traditional parenting – you are available to your children when they truly need you, but you are actively involved in your adult interests and not at your child’s side every minute of every day. I did not have time to micromanage them, so they had to do it themselves if they wanted to pursue their interests.
Many people feel that parenting is the hardest thing they have ever done, but with traditional approaches, I found it generally easy and generally calm. No wonder I loved my parenting years!
Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Some children believe they are the center of the universe. They can be demanding or adorable -whatever behavior is needed to get what they want; right now, immediately.
Their parents allow these behaviors to keep the peace or protect their child’s “fragile” self-esteem. But one day they wake up with defiant, disobedient children and wonder how they got into this mess. Parents report children who tell them: “I make the rules, not you”; refuse to do what they are told, defy authority at school and throw tantrums long after “the terrible twos”.
Most parents don’t consciously seek this outcome! They enjoy treating their children, their friends raise children the same way, they want their children to have things they didn’t have when they were kids. But all that focus on ME with no regard for others teaches kids that they deserve whatever they want.
The very first thing I teach parents, is to simply become the adults in charge – to use leadership speech, to assume their legitimate authority, and to absolutely mean what they say when giving directions. Don’t explain yourself, don’t bargain, don’t threaten, don’t give second chances.
Some very simple things that parents have implemented:
Tantrums – Give your child permission to scream whenever he wants; but only in one location – such as the bathroom! Tell him tonight about the new rule and start it tomorrow. Two families I worked with were sure it wouldn’t work – said the child would come out of the room repeatedly, or destroy the room. But in both of those instances, simply telling the child the rule (very calmly, very clearly) stopped the behavior. Neither family ever had to use the room!!!
Unbuckling the car seat – What a neat skill when your child first figures this out. He is proud of himself and utterly delighted with the ruckus he can create! Take your child for a ride when you have spare time. As soon as he unbuckles, pull over and calmly tell him you can’t continue until he buckles. Turn on the radio, read a magazine and ignore him. When he buckles, continue on. When he unbuckles, pull over….. You may pull over 5 or 6 times, but if you mean it, he will get the message.
Chores - Set a time for them to be done and then walk away; don’t remind, don’t nag. Come back at the appointed time to check if it is done. For several parents, just walking away looked SO different from the usual nagging and micromanagement, that the child accepted the leadership and followed the direction. Others had to impose a consequence for chores that didn’t get done. But the point is leadership skills ALONE often do the trick!!!!
Well led children learn they are not the most important people in the world – and that lays the ground work for becoming good citizens, both in their home and the world around them!