Children often use play and not words as a means of communicating.
In my role as a clinical psychologist I get to witness many parenting successes as well as mistakes. I try to remind the parents who I work with that parenting is challenging and that each child is unique, requiring their own customized approach. In other words, what may work for one may not work for another. However, there are a couple of universal tactics that parents can use to help improve the odds of having a headache-free day.
I remember getting angry with my parents when I was a teenager. My mom would allow me to visit a friend and then my dad would veto that approval. I can’t begin to tell you how common it is for parents to confuse and anger their kids because they don’t seem to agree about parenting or how to discipline their kids.
Here are six mistakes and lessons I have encountered from both my personal and professional life experiences that may just save you a headache:
- Not talking about parenting: It is so important to discuss parenting preferences because we each come from our own very distinct family cultures with varying rules and expectations for children. The key here is to talk about your parenting styles, which will increase your united front and help you come to an agreement about any differences.
- Not deciding ahead of time: Parents can avoid parental conflict by identifying common behavioral problems and coming to an agreement ahead of time on how to deal with a particular situation. Discipline usually is most effective when done consistently, which means both parents agreeing on rules, consequences, and rewards and then following through.
- Complicated discipline: This is probably one of the most important rules about parenting. Make it easy. Make the consequences easy. Make the rewards easy. If the consequences or rewards are complicated and a hassle to dish out then we simply stop doing it. When it comes to behavioral change, consistency rules.
- Not offering choices: Remind your kids about their choices and the consequences of their decisions, especially when you foresee undesirable behavior. For example, remind your son that you hope he chooses to brush his teeth so that he has time to read a book before bedtime. Otherwise, if he chooses to goof off then he will not have time for a book although he will still have to brush his teeth.
- Not encouraging the good choice: You also want to encourage they make the desired choice but, keep in mind, ultimately it is their choice. Let them know you hope they make a good choice and praise them when they do make the right choice. Allowing kids to make mistakes is a great way to teach kids the value of how failing or mistakes leads to growth and opportunities.
- Poor or inconsistent example: Parents are their children’s primary role models and they pick up our good, bad and ugly habits. It is so important that parents practice what they preach. Otherwise, your kids will not take your rules seriously.
Question: So what parenting strategies do you use that help you avoid tantrums and arguments?
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Written by: Yoendry Torres, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist & Administrative Director
Image by: Ben Francis