Parenting Coach

Your Guide to Better Parenting

Archive for the month “June, 2012”

Parenting with Value- Parenting habits that inhibit our child

Many,many times, we, as parents resort to controlling our child because 1. it fulfills the task faster 2. When we are angry and frustrated and we aim at achieving obedience fast. 3. We feel/think that we know our child best and therefore, resort to controlling our child’s every action.

In parenting with value, control-free parenting means transforming us to being a mentor….Parenting with value requires that we understand the misbehavior as a teachable moment rather than something that makes us angry. When we take this viewpoint, we can calmly find the source of the problem and we can better provide guidance to our child. I believe that in taking this learning attitude, we and our child can understand why such misbehavior occurred, what caused the misbehavior, what emotions triggered such, and why it matters that she/he understands the consequences of such behavior. When our child understands this in her mind and heart, we have taken the first step to preventing a recurrence.

Examples of parenting habits that prevent our child from becoming self-reliant:1. Threats and ultimatums 2. Unfair or harsh Punishments 3. Illogical punishments 4. Competitive contests  ( this fuels the winner/loser mentality) 5. Truth-seeking techniques. 6. degrading punishments 7. Unreasonable denials 8. Negative words 9. Obstructions to communication.

In the book ‘Raising Everyday Heroes’ by Elisa Medhus,M.D., she states that ‘control tactics have a “you against me” aspect that breeds resentment, shame, and anger in your child.Children subjected to consistent parental domination or the  ‘might makes right’ attitude,  often become defiant and negative. Some develop the Oppositional Defiant Disorder, a condition in which children possess little respect for authority and show little or no remorse for their poor choices. Some lack self-confidence- they don’t stand up to negative peer pressure or the ridicule that comes from bulliues who often choosed kids like these as targets’.

Discipline must be logical for your child to understand the consequences of her/his behavior. This will help her/him prevent the recurrence and make amends. Children who are subjected to the truth-seeking techniques often learn to fear the truth and become mre skilled at sneakiness. Degrading punishments like ” you’re a very bad boy” erodes your child’s self-esteem and breeds feelings of resentment and vengeance. Negative words like ‘stop’,’no’,don’t can’t’, train us to see our child in terms of their flaws rather that what they do right. Let’s consider their self-worth.

Our child is uniques in every way. Let’s give them room to develop on their own.  Let us ask ourselves: 1. Is saying yes to my child reasonable? if not, why? 2. What is the worst that can happen if I say ‘yes’ ? 3. Will my child learn a lesson in what I am doing? What lesson is this?


Setting boundaries as a single parent

As a single parent, it is up to you to mangae your child/children effectively. Your child may be out of control today, but believe that in a few weeks or months, their behavior will be different. It is never too late to modify your child’s behavior , teach them to respect you and observe the boundaries, policies and practices that you choose to establish.

What is your primary responsibility as a parent? As an adult, it is to set appropriate boundaries and ensure that these boundries are kept. When a single parent fails to set these boundaries, your child may become confused, angry, upset and rebellious.

The first step to setting boundaries is deciding what language is accepatable at home, personal cleanliness, tasks, chores and other behaviors you require in your home. How would you like your home to function? State these boundaries as simple, direct and as clearly as you can making it age appropriate.What do you mean by a tidy room? How neat, how often? Try to begin with one or two, then have your child repeat this directions back to you.

Having effective boundaries means ensuring that these boundaries are followed by monitoring. A good example would be homework. Look at your child’s homework with her/him, reading it with her/him. Review the assignment with her/him and scan the worksheets, exercises and check the completion of the homeworks.This teaches your child that boundaries are actually being monitored by a parent who cares about compliance. When you expect your daughter’s/son’s room to be cleaned by five o’clock every Saturday, it would be helpful to check in one hour just to remind your her/him before the dealine you have set. This teaches your child that you say what you mean and what you mean you say. This teaches your child respect, consistency and integrity.

Compliant children love it when you notice they are complying. When you pay attention, complement their obedience or praise them, this energizes them. In the book ‘Raising Great Kids on Your Own’, authors David and Lisa Frisbie states that when boundaries don’t change, when your monitoring doesn’t let up and when enforcement keeps on happening, children begin to learn.

Approaches to appropriate enforcement vary with the age of the child and the general temperament and character of the child. How will you approach discipline? Think through the issues involved in child discipline and decide how will you handle it when rules are broken. Communicate these consequences to your child in very clear ways.

M0st children learn by repetition.This is what we do when we are mastering a new skill, right? Everytime it becomes clear to your child that you mean what you say, you are building a foundation  in which you achieve more, make your life as a parent simpler and easier in the furure.

All these you do because you love your child/children. All these are done as a way of helping your daughter/son to learn, mature and grow. Express this love to your daughter/son. After enforcing a consequence, particularly with yonger children, David and Lisa Frisbie states that it may be useful to restate your love, while also adding that you expect a change in your child’s behvior in the future. Your child needs to learn that you care enough to keep on helping her/him.


It appears to me that with the struggles we all are facing everyday of our lives, our energies get so consumed that we unknowingly fail to see the greatness around us.

When was the last time you ever said THANK YOU to the higher power (whether you believe it’s the universe, God, Buddha,…)? Thank you for the sun and the moon and the stars. Thank you for our life, for our comfort, for having the abundance of a good and serene life, the abundance of good health, the abundance of friends and the love of our family.

Appreciation is one of the most important ways we can teach our child to form strong relations with others. Much of our human connection is about giving, receiving and repaying. For this reason, we need to remember to express gratitude even to the people who help us outside our family.

How do we practice gratitude? Persistence is key. At night, before bed, I sit with my grandaughter Claudia and we both say thank you for each of our family members, for our friends, for our home, for her toys, her new clothes and shoes and for being healthy. I believe it sets the right mood for sleep…

Gratitude is the most exquisite form of courtesy, says Jaques Maritain.

What are the benefits of being grateful? In the book ‘Raising Happiness‘ by Christine Carter, Ph.D., she states, “Getting kids in the habit of practicing gratitude comes with all sorts of other bonuses besides less brattiness. Scientists have found that people who practice gratefulness are 1. Considerably more enthusiatic,interested, and determined. 2. Feel 25% happier. 3. Are more likely to be kind and helpful to others. 4. Sleep better.

Encouraging our child to look for a reason to feel grateful for unpleasant events or difficult relationships teaches growth and promotes change. This is what we term as ‘Looking for the silver lining in every bad situation.’

Sometimes we just need to slow down and smell the roses and enjoy the beauty of the mountains and tress and say thanks for the fragrance and the shade that they provide us on a warm, sunny day.

Thank you for taking the time to appreciate this post.

How to Express Anger Constructively to our Child

All close relationships cause friction and in modern parent-children relationships, most parents have a problem with displaying their own anger with their child.

Anger is sometimes necessary to get our child’s attention when we are giving a directive.

Being angry upfront is important in pareting as it gives us a chance to show our child how to express anger constructively.  In the book ‘Take Back Your Kids’ by William J. Doherty, Ph.D, he states that if our children never see us express anger, from whom will they learn how to express their angry feelings in constructive ways? They need to learn that anger is a natural emotion, that it serves a natural purpose without hurting anyone, and that it goes away.

What happens if we do not express our anger directly to our child in constructive ways? We either end up being sarcastic towards them, withdraw our attention, avoid spending time with our child, or complain about our own child (sometimes, infront of them).

How do we express anger constructively? We have to understand that anger is like gasoline to a car. While it is necessary in a parent-child relationship, it can also be dangerous and explosive.

We, as parents, have greater physical and psychological power than our child, and we have a moral responsibility to use this power wisely. Here are a few guidleines from the book ‘Take Your Kids Back ‘: 1. Make eye contact with your child. Doing this will keep you focus on your child and you will see her/his response right away. 2. Make sure your words and non-verbal behavior are consistent. 3. Never call your child names. Name-calling does not change your child’s behavior and may result to long term negative consequences,if your child takes to heart the negative label. 4. Speak personally, using the ‘I’ expressions. The anger of the moment is yours and not somebody else’s and the child needs to know this. 5. Do not expect your child to immediately apologize or say much at all.  Avoid angrily asking,”Why did you do that?”, because often children don’t know why they misbehave, or even if they know, they won’t tell us. Just expect behavioral compliance at that moment. 6. If an angry situation is upsetting you or your child, talk about it later when everyone is calm. If your anger was disrespectful or excessive, then do apologize for the element of it; the point is to learn from what happend and to avoid the need for these confrontations in the future.

I am almost certain that as a parent, you have tried many different ways of being angry when your patience was tried – how did you respond? Was the effect positive or negative? Feel that positive effect, remember the process. What did you do that gave you that positive effect?

How adult perfection may conflict with your child’s tasks

Children are not adults. Children learn by doing and by making mistakes.

When a child is motivated to make up her/his bed, or clean her/his room, it will, undoubtedly not be perfect in the beginning, right?  The sheets may not be folded in accordance to how we would want it to be- neat and orderly. She/he may clean her/his room, but some areas may still be ‘not so clean’, the way we would expect ‘clean’ to be.  That’s ok. She/he is learning. Your role as a parent is to guide him to take the baby steps to perfection. Your role is to keep her/him motivated to keep trying, keep learning.

When you have a very busy schedule during the week, you can take a moment over the weekend and go through the process with her/him, showing her/him how it is really done, then allowing her/him to do it herself/himself.

Don’t criticize the imperfection. Accept her/his imperfections as part of the learning process. Praise his efforts and do not redo or correct the task.

In the book ‘You’re not the Boss of Me’, Betsy Brown Braun states, ‘It is the independent initiative that counts, not the outcome.’

Wouldn’t it be so nice if one day we no longer have to fix the beds of our children or clean their rooms  and spend that time just doing the things we would love to do for ourselves?

Ending the Morning Madness

It is not an unusual scenario to see school-age children having a difficult time getting up in the morning, dressing up for school and having  breakfast in time for the school bus – without some kind of madness! There is screaming, struggling and the more we push for our child to move, the more there is resistance.

The first words of the day sets the tone. A smile, a soft touch, singing a favorite tune can go a long way to making a hectic morning go much smoother. I vividly remember how one of my daughters would sing a song (which she and my granddaughter would often sing ) to start the day bright and happy for her daughter. It would somehow spark a beautiful smile and somehow the struggles are not as challenging….

As parents, we can save time and anxiety by: 1. Preparing the night before 2. By actively involving our child to participate in the responsibilities which are cognitive to her age and emotional ability. 3. By allowing extra time for sleeping earlier, so waking up time can be a bit earlier too, in order to allow time for the child to take her/his pace in the mornings.

We can involve our child in the preparation of her/his clothes the night before. She/ he can also be involved in deciding what she/he will be bringing to school for her/his snacks.

Some parents make a picture calendar of activities for her/his  child for certain times of the day.

Sometimes, as parents, our impatience leads to conflict that thwarts our child’s independence. ‘Quick’ is a word that’s hard for our child when she/he wants to do things by herself/himself. When you take out from your child whatever it is that she/he is trying to accomplish, you are sending the message ‘ I might as well not do it coz mommy does it faster.’ Bye-bye independence. In the book ‘You’re Not the Boss of Me’ by Betsy Brown Braun, she recommends: when you are really in a hurry and are not just being impatient, you can say, ” You are working so hard on that zipper. Next time you can show me how you can do it all by yourself. Today is not a day when I have time to wait for you. I’m going to help you finish. I love that you are learning to zip .”

In my next post- How does our adult standard for perfection conflict with our child’s execution of her/his task?

Teaching our Children to Make Decisions and Solve Prolems

Everyday, there are opportunities when our child will be needing to make a choice and a decision- even just a small one.

In his book ‘Raising Resilient Children‘ by Robert Brooks, Ph.D. and Sam Goldstein, Ph.D., they say, “When children struggle to problem solve, they often lack the ability to articulate and define problems, to think of options, to plan, or to navigate diversity. Their actions are characterized by actions seemingly in the absence of thought.”

What are the guiding principles to teach your child how to solve problems and make decisions? 1. Believe your child’s capacity to solve problems.This, of course, does not mean that we  allow our child to have the final say in making decisions. There must be guidelines, but there must also be opportunities to offer choices that are within a child’s cognitive and emotional abilities. 2. Set goals and expectations that are within reach of your child’s age and emotional abilities. Example: you and your daughter/son goes to the grocery and you both decide that you will only buy her/him one inexpensive item. Unfortunately, the item your daughter/son chose was not in your range of ‘inexpensive’. Your daughter/son will, undoubtedly, be disappointed, demand to have what she/he wants or cry. It is difficult to get our child involved in the task of problem solving when the rules are not clear and specific. 3. Allow our child to make her/his own decisions even if it is not what we feel reasonably comfortable with. Example: Your daughter/son and you go shopping for a pair of shoes. Your daughter/son likes the green pair. You like the white one. Some parents would say, “I like the green one but I think you will look better in the white one.” Some children would say, “You told me I had a choice, mom!” Some children would just go by what you would want, so as not to have further disagreements or to make you happy. What would be the consquence of this? The child would feel deceived, lose trust in what her/his parents have to say, and be drawn into power struggles.

Over and over again, books have mentioned the strength of setting a good example.

Have family meetings where each child can be participatory in setting the ground rules and everyone can have an uninterrupted chance to help or contribute to ways on how to resolve conflicts or how to solve problems, no matter how small they may seem.

How else can we reinforce the ways to help our child in problem solving and decision making? Contact me

How can we make our child see the importance of helping/contributing?

There are times when we see our child trying to help us with the house chores and/or asking to help in what we do.

And, in most instances, we, as parents tell our child to just go and play with her/his toys because: 1. we do not have the time,energy or patience to have her/him assist in the task 2. because the way she/he would do the task, would, in effect, give us more things to do after like cleaning more things or arranging the clothes in a neater way.

Children are children- they are not adults. When we were a child, we had to stumble and fall many times, in order to finally learn to walk properly. We had to be assisted and guided on many occasions and it took a lot of time, patience an energy from our own parents to get us to where we are today.

Perhaps those times have not been as fast paced as they are now. Perhaps money was not as necessary as they are today, and our parents did not have to work as much as they do now.

But, how do we make our child see the importance of contributing and helping? 1. By believing that she/he can be contributory to our needs and demands. 2. By giving  the same kind of love and patience that we were priviledged with, in order to learn. 3. By understanding and envisioning that it may be difficult now, but it will make life much easier for us in the end. 4. By giving her/him the same opportunities to make mistakes, make the mess, regularly fold the clothes until she/he has finally learned to really make it in the same way that we would want the clothes to be. 5. By seeing the beauty in her/his creativity instead of seeing it as added work for us.

Our tone of voice and our belief in our child will set the tone for cooperation.

For younger children, it is the fun of matching socks, sorting out colors, putting clothes in the hamper.

Allowing our child to help us with the chores gives her/him the opportunity to be contributory, gives her/him the confidence and happiness of being creative. This also allows her/him to see the connection between task, benefits and consequences.

A good example would be to ask your child what she/he thinks if she/he forgot to put the ice cream in the freezer? Or what would happen if the dishes were not washed or the food was left on the table overnight?

How do you reinforce the message of task and consequence? In the book,”Loving without Spoiling” by Nancy Samalin, she states,” Don’t keep repeating your order. Ask once and make the consequence plain.”

Reinforcing Your Values

Why are values inportant in a parent-child relationship? Lets take the television scenario as an example here.

When you watch television with your child, you can use this opportunity to gain insight into your child’s thoughts, as well as get your values across by expressing your opinions indirectly.

In the book by Nancy Samalin, on ‘Loving without Spoiling’, she states, “You can ask your older children what they think about the character’s actions and decisions.”

You can probe deeper about asking what they think caused the character to make a particular decision…. what would she/he feel if she/he were in the same sitiuation? what would she/he do? What kind of decision would she/he make? Why would she/he make such a decision? What resources would she/he use in order to help him obtain the result that she/he wants?

In probing, you stimulate your child’s ability to be creative and feel confident in handling herself/himself in specific situations. When you gain insight into her/his thoughts, it will give you also the opportunity to provide her/him with the necessary guidance that she/he may need in the given situation. Knowing how your child will behave in that particular situation will help you feel confident about your child’s abilities.

Question: What if your daughter/son wants to watch a movie that you consider as violent?

In situations wherein values are compromised, it is recommended that you exercise your authority and stand on your decision.

In what way can you show this authority? What kind of discipline would you enforce in a situation like this?

In our next post, let’s discuss about how we can make chores matter…..

How can we change a child’s perception?

Children have to gain their own wisdom.This is something we cannot give to them

When we patiently explore the WHAT,WHEN and HOW in a climate of support, we can greatly help our children take meaning from their experiences. Jane Nelson,Ed.D and H.Stephen Glenn,PH.D vividly describes this process in their book,’Raising Self-Reliant Children in a Self-Indulgent World’.

What is a climate of support? A very good example would be,” Please let me understand what caused you to see things that way”. The tone of voice is an important factor in making our children see and feel that we sincerely and truly support their thoughts and feelings.

We have stressed the word ‘patiently’ because this one virtue is not so easy to achieve, especially if both parents are working .

How can we, as parents, have a balanced life so we can also have the patience to help our children explore their own experiences?

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