Being an effective parent can be one of the most rewarding things in life but at the same time it can be one of the most challenging.
From infancy right through to early adulthood, parents can face so many different situations where they can provide opportunities for children to make decisions, within limits, and to be accountable for these decisions. We need to be parents who use encouragement, valuing each child as a unique individual who requires love and respect. It’s imperative that we strive to understand each child’s behaviour, their misbehaviour and their emotions.
Children within the same family can have very different personalities and temperaments from that of their parents… or they may be similar, and this can create many diverse challenges for parents at the different stages of childhood, through to being teenagers.
The Parental Challenge
Our challenge as parents is, “How do we raise co-operative children who are respectful, well balanced, caring and thoughtful of others and will go on to be responsible citizens in the community”.
Parents often ask, “how can I get my children under control”? It’s the biggest frustration for parents when children don’t listen, they ignore their directions, or ignore the family’s rules. Parents get so frustrated when their children seem to be always challenging their authority. For example, choosing to make them wait when being asked repeatedly to do something such as pack up their toys, or when they choose to use the delay tactic when something is asked of them.
Despite your daily instructions of “BE nice to your sister”, the child’s behaviour does not change.
“Don’t do that again”,
“You need to let me do your seat belt up”
And so it goes on. Sometimes you feel as a parent that you have lost control of every situation and nothing seems to be working. Everyday seems to be a battle of wills. Who is going to win? Daily battles with dressing, packing up toys, getting in and out of the car or bath and going to sleep at night.
Parents can feel so worn out, despondent and feel they have lost control. All this can lead to increased stress, frustration and arguments as to how best to bring up their kids, and parents then start blaming each other.
Of course, we as parents, are responsible for their safety and well-being, but we are also the ones who need to teach independence, good decision-making skills whilst all the while building their self-esteem.
When it comes to parenting, we need to be the overseers of their safety and well-being, always taking care of them, guiding, explaining and more importantly, conducting ourselves so as to be examples of the right way to behave towards others. We need to show thoughtfulness and lead by example.
Good Parent or Bad Parent?
Parents worry a lot about their authority constantly being challenged or undermined in anyway and they especially don’t want to be seen as a “bad parent”. In simple terms, parents just want their children to do as they are told, when they are told.
We have to remember as parents, that we too can be stubborn, controlling and purposefully annoying to others. Being unreasonable or unkind brings about arguments and shouting, and when children are watching or perhaps listening in another room, they are receiving mixed messages.
Setting the Example
We as adults need to lead by example, showing our children how we as parents resolve disagreements, how we speak to each other. We need to watch our tone of voice. Children need to see that we can apologise to each other, our children and our broader family or friends.
Children from one-day-old are always listening, watching and learning from sounds, movements, eye contact, tone of voice and the world they live in, its surrounds or environment.
Children will always try to test their boundaries, it’s part of their learning and this shows their cognitive ability is developing by frequently challenging and trying new things and wanting and waiting for how you are going to respond. This goes on through into teenage and young adulthood and probably beyond. We as parents have a great responsibility in our child’s early childhood years to develop positive skill building abilities based around love, nurture and security,
What are the Child’s Needs?
Children need a good positive environment where together we can show honesty and respect, along with many other attributes that will stands them in good stead to become well balanced, responsible citizens who can show empathy and respect for themselves and others. It is our job as parents to develop these skills in our children, allowing for their individual personalities to shine and grow into healthy well-balanced responsible teenagers and adults who also have respect for others.
We want our children, over their formative years, to develop the skills to be capable of making good responsible decisions for themselves and to develop into independent thinking people who are thoughtful to those around them.
We, as parents, are of course in charge, but children have a great need to be understood and listened to, even when they misbehave. We expect our children to always remember the rules, but we need to remember that knowing the rules and putting them into practice at a given moment by a 3-year-old or older are two different things.