Parenting Coach

Your Guide to Better Parenting

How to teach your child to express feelings

When we, as parents, are asked the question: Who is the most important person in our life? Most, if not all, say “its my children”.

And yet, why do I see a lot of parents spending much time on the cell or computer when they are at home, istead of being ‘with’ their child,experiencing her/his different moods, feelings and expressions?  

Most prents just teach the basic emotions of happy, sad, angry. A child needs to be familiar and recognize the different feelings in herself/himself. If a child is not familiar with other emotions life frustration, being envious, embarrassed, timid, worried, nervous, disgusted, impatient, she won’t learn to recognize these feelings in herself/himself  nor will she/ he understand that everyone experiences these different feelings sometimes.

Can you imagine what it would be like if  the only expression of  feelings your child knew is “You hurt my feelings!” She will be using this same expression whenever things do not go her way. Would it not be quite a relief  if you, as the parent, knew exactly what was bothering your child, because she/he is able to express her/his feelings?

In the book,’You’re Not the Boss of Me’ by Betsy Brown Braun, she states, ‘ Model your healthy expression of feelings.’ Label and discuss your own feelings,positive or negative with your child. Tell our child what she/he can do to express her/his feelings, instead of always saying how she/he should not express her/his feelings like hitting, pinching, etc. Take every opportunity to give your child new language for describing her/his feelings.Tell her/him about the physical signs of feelings, like blushing . Help her/him to see these different facial expressions and learn from them. These will help her/him greatly in the future. Compare, use books, pictures. Then ask, ” what would you feel if…”- this way she/he can picture the situations and accompanying feelings better in her/his mind.

Most of all, honor her/his feelings- no matter how invaluable it may seem to you. Because to her/him, these feelings are valid.

Most

Barriers to Helping our Child in the Development of Her/His Systemic Skills

When we discipline our child, where do we draw the line between strictness and permissiveness?

In the book: ‘Raising Self-Reliant Children in a Self- Indulgent World’ by H. Stephen Glenn,PH.D and Jane Nelson,Ed.D, it states that both strictness and permissivness should be avaoided in child raising. Strictness usually involves some type of threat and requires childrent to comply or rebel rather than think and respond. Permissiveness teaches children to manipulate the parents into rescuing and protecting them from the consequences and results of their behavior.This can be devastating to the child when she/he learns that she/ he cannot manipulate other people the way they do their parents.

What can we do as parents? 1. Understand and acknowledge that each of our child differs in her/his perceptions, learning styles, and development levels.When we are able to understand, accept and acknowledge each of our children, we give them unqualifid positive regard, love and respect.2. We have to reinforce each of our child’s acceptable behavior and accomplishment with specific recognition and appreciation. In the same way, we have to provide them with feedback on their unacceptable behavior. 3. We follow up on the aggreements which we have set as a family, with firmness, dignity, and respect.

One of the biggest mistakes parents make is trying to disguise punishment by making their children ‘pay for the wrongdoing , or by  ‘grounding’ the child. When ‘grounding’ is used for revenge, this shows the child that ‘might is right’ and makes the child suffer. A good example is,” I don’t want to hear what you have to say. Just go to your room. I am disappointed in you.” Instead, ” We all make mistakes . Go to your room until you feel better and we can work out a solution so you would know how best to deal with this problem should it happen again in the future.”  However, it is recommended that we discuss the possible grounding process in advance, lettng our child know that the purpose is not to humiliate her/him or cause suffering, but rather to give everyone a chance to calm down and work on solutions  in a climate of respect, harmony and love. When we make our child feel worse, we only create a threatening environment and no constructive learning can take place.

As parents, we have to think seriously if the consequences we give our children will make them perceive these consequences as a life sentence or as a learning process. I believe that when we take the time to go through the learning process with our child, we are giving our child the best tools that will buffer, if not shield her/his from many of life’s challenges….it would be so good if we always remembered that we have been blessed by our children and that as guardians, we have the responsibility to treat them the way we,too, would like to be treated.

Should you spank your child?

I am currently reading the book ‘1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for children 2-12’ by Thomas W. Phelan,PH.D. He says that its about time that people face up to the reality: the vast majority of spankings are parental  temper tantrums. They are no way attempts to train or educate a child.

Physical hurt, verbal abuse,threatening, coercing, put-downs, ridicules, isolation and all negative acts towards our child diminishes her/his self-esteem, degrade and humiliate her/him. 

Dr. Phelan further states that parents who have problems with anger management and self-control try to justify and rationalize spanking by saying that its for their child’s own good, or that this is a way of setting limits and “having to hit my kid hurts me more than it does her/him”.

However, even if so much research says that spanking may result to having aggressive children, generally speaking, adults who do spank do not care one bit about research.

In the book ‘Kids are Worth It’: ‘Character builds slowly,but it can be torn down with incredible switftness’.

‘Where did we ever get the crazy idea that in order to make our children do better, first we have to make them feel worst?’ by Jane Nelson

I have three wonderful daughters who I have never spanked and they are all successful and continue to be my wonderful daughters even when they have their own families now….many say that the children now are so different from the children of yesterday….i believe, one thing remains very basic:  Our children are given to us and it is our responsibility to act as ‘guardians’ . It is our job to C- champion our child to be the best of himself, H- Harness his abilities, talents and gifts, I- Instill the values that will make him a person that she/ he can be proud of, as well as you can be proud of, too, L- Love him, lift up his spirits to greatness, be the light of his world, and D- Discipline him with your devotion because she/ he is God’s divine masterpiece. Why, then, does it become such a challenge to see our child as who we are? Or to treat her/him the way we would like to be treated?

What is your parenting philosophy on this?

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.

Gratitude

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 rosesaratan@gmail.com

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