As they grow, kids need to develop a sense of self. They need to explore, to learn, to master skills. In doing this they move back and forth between testing themselves and reconnecting with the security of the trusted parent.
Trying new things can involve the children in pushing against parental restrictions. We parents are constantly balancing between encouraging growth and limiting risk while maintaining expectations for safety and good behavior. Parents are the first sounding boards for their children’s ideas and feelings until the children develop their own judgment.
As every parent knows, different children respond differently. Even one child responds differently sometimes. Nothing always works. Parents need many approaches. Counselling can help.
Reflective listening by parents encourages children to talk through their problems. Parents show respect for the child’s ideas by commenting on them with interest and by asking leading questions. This can be easier said than done, especially if you do not particularly like your child’s immature ideas. It is only too easy to lapse into giving adult-style advice.
Adolescents often avoid talking in depth with their parents, so there is not much to reflect. Also teens can carry experimentation and confrontation to extremes. At such times parents need considerable self control to remain calm and firm, to act as adult role models. If you can do it, it works.
We all remember ways our own parents raised us. We may copy some of those ways, or we may decide to do the opposite with our own kids. One day, especially in stressful situations, we may find ourselves sounding just like our parents. That may be okay. Or we may want to stop, take a deep breath, and start over. Definitely we want to demonstrate adult behavior.
Above all have some good fun with your child. Memories of happy, loving times are the glue that holds the relationship together when differences arise.
RESOURCES for Parents:
- 1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2 – 12, by Thomas Phelan
- Between Parent and Child, by Haim Ginott
- Children the Challenge, by Rudolf Dreikurs
- Get Out of My Life . . . , by Anthony Wolf
- How to Talk so Kids Will Listen . . . , by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish
- Kids Are Worth It!: Giving Your Child the Gift of Inner Discipline, by Barbara Coloroso
- The Whole-Brain Child, or No-Drama Discipline, by Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson
- Parent Effectiveness Training, by T. Gordon
- Raising Good Children, by Thomas Lickona
- Still a Family: a Guide to Good Parenting Through Divorce, by Dr. Lisa Rene Reynolds
- The Hyperactive Child Book, by Kennedy, Terdal and Fusetti
- What About the Kids . . . Before, During and After Divorce, by Wallerstein and Blakeslee
- Pathstone Mental Health workshops pathstonementalhealth.ca/services/workshops-parents-professionals
- Niagara Region Tripple parenting classes niagararegion.ca/living/health_wellness/parenting/triplep/