Kids are growing and adapting every single day. Shouldn't your parenting strategies adapt with them?
Too many adults today talk TO their kids and not WITH their kids. Adults are constantly “telling” kdis what to do and how to think. From the time that babies are able to move around their home, they are barraged with negative reinforcement. “No, No baby. Don’t touch that. Don’t eat that. Don’t pull Fido’s ears.” Sound familiar? Infants and toddlers need constant supervision. Until they can communicate with us grown ups, we have few other options to keep them safe.
The experience of watching kids grow up is one of the true gifts and wonders of life. You laugh together and you cry together. Your bond grows stronger every day. What could possibly go wrong?
This is where the parenting disconnect between kids and adults happens over time and is nearly imperceptible. Kids grow. Their bodies get bigger and stronger allowing them to explore new heights and horizons. Their minds grow as they begin to develop cognitive thoughts processes and think for themselves. They are adapting to their environment and growing as individuals. The problem is that most parents never adapt with them. They continue to employ the same “telling” parenting strategy.
Parenting should have the same disclaimer as investment brokers: Past results are not a guarantee of future results. You need to adapt to the circumstances and people in present day terms – not the past.
When kids stop responding to the "No" Technique, parents think kids are rebelling. Most often it is just a person not responding to the same parenting technique that was used on them as a toddler. Think about it. What is the same about anyone as when they were a toddler? Do they still eat the same food? Do they wear the same clothes? Do they laugh at the same silly songs and shows? Do they think or act the same as they did when they were a toddler? So, why would you employ the same parenting techniques and expect positive results? The answer is that most people don’t know any better.
Kids must feel significant. Like adults, they have thoughts and opinions. They have a world view that is unique to their limited scope of knowledge and experience. Just because their outlook may be based on different criteria than yours, doesn’t make it any less valid. It is their viewpoint and should be respected as such. That is the starting point for Parenting Secret #9 – Talk With Your Kids not To Your Kids. Try having a discussion with your kids rather than lecturing them. Take a page from their playbook and ask them questions. Why did…? How did you…? How do you feel when you…? You’ll be amazed the level of conversation you’ll have with kids even as young as five or six years old. The key is to keep the questions coming and encourage them to keep asking you. This enables you to learn what’s on their minds, how they’re seeing things, and how they’re interpreting what they’re learning.
Secret #9 Talk With Your Kids not To Your Kids works hand-in-hand with Secret #5 Decisions have Consequences. Discuss with your kids their goals and responsibilities. Chat about your expectations of them and their expectations for themselves. Allow them some ownership over their own decisions. Ask what they believe should be their rewards for achieving a goal or completing a responsibility. Also ask what the consequences should be for negative actions.
Remember that because they’re not your “Mini-Me” what you choose as a reward or punishment may not mean much to them. It may surprise you how well their choices motivate them. Now, as the adult you’ll always have veto power over these choices. But, talking with - instead of to - your kids will help in their identity discovery process.
For example, if they have a task to complete you can ask them when they think they’ll have it done.
Parent: “So you’re saying you’ll have this done by [then].”
Parent: “Do you need anything from me, any help, to ensure you’ll have it done by then?”
Parent: “OK, so if you are finished, what should your reward be?”
If it’s a big goal they should get a bigger reward. If it’s a small goal then a smaller reward is in order. And, the same should be true for the consequences. For example when my kids have misbehaved in some way, shape or form, I’ll ask them, “What do you think is an appropriate punishment for this behavior?” More often than not, they’ll come up with a harsher punishment than I would have given out on my own. Sometimes I’ll even say, “Ya know I think that’s a little too much. Let’s scale that back a bit.”
Mark Papadas is a nationally recognized children’s empowerment expert and author of the highly acclaimed book “10 Secrets to Empower Kids and Awaken the Child in You” as well as President of The I AM 4 Kids Foundation – a recognized 501c3 charity committed to providing its personal empowering programs to public schools across the U.S. at NO COST to the SCHOOLS.