Three years ago, I was at my wit’s end. The situation was so bad that I was counting down the years till my kids left home. In desperation, I abandoned traditional parenting and discovered a loving relationship with my kids. On the plus side, we also listen and cooperate with each other far more!
Use these inclusive tips by Sharon Eshmade, a counsellor, parenting coach, teacher, author, and mum-of-a-teen with behaviour and learning difficulties, to help you confidently parent in challenging times.
Acknowledge the problem
Einstein’s definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. I lived my parenting insanity for a decade before I stopped and was different. If you are struggling, as I was, perhaps it’s time to do something different. Are you open to a change?
Evaluate your parenting style
Are you warm and loving or strict and punitive? I didn’t have the balance right. Research validates that the best parenting style is authoritative, where warmth is balanced with firm authority.
Don’t be indulgent
Research also confirms that permissive parents create kids who don’t listen and take no responsibility so indulgent parenting is out! Our kids need us to be the authority in their lives.
Don’t be traditional
Interestingly, our kids often don’t listen, have poor self-esteem and lack trust in our relationship because we punish them. Authoritarian parents often expect behaviour perfection, which is unobtainable. So, what can we do?
Find the balance
Aim for ‘good enough’ parenting, balancing unconditional love with holding your kids kindly accountable. When we treat them like adults (where they are heading) but expect them to behave like kids (where they are), we are accepting as they make mistakes while they learn. Enormous levels of patience are required as they slowly mature into responsible individuals.
Be a role model
I think we can all agree that good listeners are usually kind. Learning to be kind can be challenging for adults and especially kids. To help our kids learn, we must aim to be role models of respect, patience, and kindness.
Good parenting is excruciatingly hard, with no quick fixes but it does get easier! Treating disrespectful kids with respect and kindness is not indulgent, as long as you hold them accountable and teach them what behaviour is expected.
I get so annoyed and can’t help it!
I was so reactive too! Use ‘How to Self-regulate Your Emotions’ to stop acting out or suppressing your feelings. Be self-compassionate too. Criticised kids, often become self-critical adults.
It’s not personal
Parenting requires compassion in letting go as soon as we have held our kids accountable. Don’t take their poor behaviour personally. They honestly aren’t thinking of how their behaviour choices affect you, they are just trying to get their needs met.
Kids are known to be poor listeners, as they are not mini-adults. They are mostly messy, childish, needy, and hard work. They are kids. We can support them to ‘fail forward’ in a safe environment, so they grow and learn quicker.
Ask for help
Thank you for being open to thinking about a change. You may be asking, “But then how do we hold them accountable for their behaviour?” Read my blog on ‘How to Discipline without Hitting and Yelling’. It requires work, but it is possible. Visit me on social media, go to my website or email me at email@example.com for support.
For all references to specific points of view and research, please visit my website, download my book, and refer to the Appendix section.