In my previous blog post I discussed the importance of determining your parenting style and trying whenever possible to be consistent to it. Just like children, parents grow and change and our styles change. We need to remain compassionate for ourselves and our children as we trip and fall on our quest to become better parents. Our goal is common, we are all trying to be the best we can be.
Focus on the present and on moving forward with enthusiasm and zest. Just remember that a strong warm connection and a fair method of discipline provides an excellent platform for a successful parenting style which will allow your children to manage life’s ups and downs including their relationship with us.
This is the first of a two part blog where I will explore the ways you can become more of a democratic or backbone parent. In this blog I will discuss CONNECTION, RESPECT, ENCOURAGEMENT, using GUIDANCE in your DISCIPLINE PLAN and being FIRM and KIND.
Commit to staying CONNECTED
Without water, a plant will wither and die. Without connection, a relationship will also wither and die.
Connection and attachment are primal needs, even more so than having food. To maintain a close relationship with your child, connection needs to be worked on every day. Make sure you hug your child every morning and when you say goodbye. Spend quality time with each child every day, with no distractions, especially digital ones. Listen to them, let them feel heard. Have a snuggle and chat at bed-time with each child each night.
Commit to role modeling RESPECT
Children need to learn to have respect for themselves, respect for others and respect for order. You are the role model. You need to be respectful even when you are angry, upset or frustrated – not always easy but incredibly important. Try to treat your children the way you would like to be treated yourself. Remember, also, that for the comments we may regret saying, apologizing for them sends a very powerful message to our children: a. we learn from our mistakes and b. apologizing role models respect.
Commit to being ENCOURAGING
In my previous posts “Encouraging your Child” and “Encouragement & Praise- What’s the difference?“, I have discussed the power that encouragement has as a parenting tool and how you can bring encouragement to your parenting style drawing your attention to the pitfalls associated with confusing it with praise.
Commit to using GUIDANCE rather than punishment, bribes and rewards in your DISCIPLINE plan
“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for a reward, we are a sorry lot indeed” Albert Einstein
The Adlerian parenting goal is to stimulate cooperative behaviour without the use of punishment, bribes or rewards. We want to have children who are self-disciplined and WANT to behave rather than have children who are forced to behave by the use of punitive measures. We want to foster intrinsic motivation over extrinsic motivation in our children. Since we can’t MAKE them cooperate, we have to make them WANT to cooperate. Discipline is most effective when it comes from a place of warmth and connection.
Commit to being FIRM and KIND
These two very powerful words are key to democratic parenting success. It has been shown that parents who are clear about expectations and use consequences with firmness and kindness have teenagers who are more capable of adhering to parental standards. The other key element is one of containment. “Containment” refers to whether your child believes that you have the capacity to impose firm limits.
Rules will vary from home to home, the actual rules are not what is so important, it is whether the rules are taken seriously.
Commit to nurturing your children with warmth, connection, respect, guidance and encouragement all the while remaining firm and kind. This will give your children the best chance of developing a strong sense of self and the vital life skills and values required to help them on their journey into adulthood.
If you have any questions I am always happy to hear them. In my next blog, I will discuss more ways in which you can make positive changes and modifications to your parenting style. I will be looking specifically at SETTING LIMITS, COSEQUENCES, BEHAVIOR, SELF REGULATION, EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE, MISTAKES, GRATITUDE and FAMILY MEETINGS. I encourage you to look out for them and read them to help you continue your parenting journey with success. Take each step at a time, focus on one thing at a time and try committing to some of these things and adding them to your parenting repertoire.