There is no such thing as a perfect parent. And while we all have to pass a test to legally drive a car, there is no such requirement for handling our most precious cargo, our children. Most of us have learned to parent from watching our parents raise us. They in turn, learned by watching their parents. As it turns out, some effective techniques are passed on for generations and so are ineffective ones. Untrained for this enormous task, many parents remain confused about basic child rearing and management skills.
In my Psychological practice, I conducted parenting classes for people who wanted to become better parents. I often asked them to describe their typical discipline process. Most of the time, it looked something like this– “I told him to clean his room. He didn’t. So, I took away his play station. He still didn’t clean the room. Then I banned watching TV. Still no room cleaning. I decided it was time to put him in time out for the day. Still he wouldn’t clean the room. In total frustration, I used the belt. That got him moving but he threw his dirty clothes and toys under the bed. I grounded him for a month but I felt like I was the one in prison. It doesn’t matter what I do, it’s always a battle. I either have to give up to keep the peace in the household of get abusive to get compliance.”
So I explain that Psychologists have found that children have four motives for misbehaving. Number 1 is to get attention, 2 to gain Power, 3 to get even and 4 to display inadequacy. I ask the class to figure out the child’s motive that’s operating in the story. And so, the discussion begins. Some would say the parent is not tough enough; that her job is to do whatever it takes to see that the child complies. Others argued that different tactics are needed. But couldn’t say which ones. Not many parents could see that she are in the midst of a power struggle with the child. Even if she beat the child and get compliance, she is still in the midst of the a power struggle and has failed at the goal toward growing a happy, responsible child. Being a parent is a hard job. Parents are expected to be fair, just, and most of us believe we are right. In addition we are supposed to be caring and loving and willing to put our children’s welfare above their own. These are expectations that are hard to meet when trying to build a strong stable family while dealing with children who have needs of their own.
Nurturing children can be rewarding too. In the role as nurturer, parents take care of their children's basic needs, such as food, clothes, shelter, medical care, education, and give them love, attention, understanding, acceptance, time, and support.
Discipline must be carried out. But discipline is teaching rather than punishment. In fact, the hardest part of being a parent is to carry out discipline while relaying love and affection.
It’s important to remember that each child is unique. There is noone else on earth like him or her. That uniqueness needs to be nourished and encouraged. Indeed, being a parent requires skills.
What’s a Person To Do?
1. Treat your child with the respect you wish to recieve from him or her.
2. Start early and teach age appropriate skills so they and become independent. Show the child how the task should be done. Be clear with your expectations. Whether it’s tying shoes, making the bed or writing his or her name or doing his or her homework. Let them practice in your presence until he or she gets it right. 3. Set realistic limits for desirable behavior and hold him or her accountable. Encourage behaviors you want to see in the child Such as, “When you’ve done what you have to do, then you may do what you want to do.” or “This is the way we talk to people.”
4. Be a role model for the child. Parents must show the child what matters through the way they live. If parents want to raise a kind and responsible child, they must lead by modeling kind and responsible behavior.
5. Catch the child doing good. Children love being noticed and receiving recognition. Most undesirable behavior can be avoided when the child get positive attention for desirable behavior.
6. Give the child an important role or responsibility within the family. Whether is setting the table for family meals or feeding the family pet, let him or her know why it’s important and how it helps the family.
7. Avoid nagging, yelling, and criticizing. Those behaviors merely teaches undesirable ways of dealing with conflict.
8. Most of all, withdraw from the power struggle. Cool off and try again with instructions. Stay tuned for more in this subject.
Dr. Rachell Anderson is a native of Tunica, a licensed Clinical Psychologist, a Professor Emeritus and author. She taught at the University of Illinois and ran a Private Clinical Practice in Springfield, Illinois for many years. She now lives in Tunica and writes with the Tunica Chapter of the Mississippi Writers Guild in Tunica, Mississippi. Check out her website at WWW.drrachellanderson.com for more articles and books she has written.