Parenting is tricky. Many people feel like they should innately know how to parent their children. The truth is there are probably aspects of parenting that are innate; biologically we are designed to feel bonded towards our children. A hormone called oxytocin is partly responsible for the immediate attraction we have towards babies and children. Oxytocin also facilitates production of breast milk and enhances contractions during birth. Part of parenting, however, is a learned process. We learn from our parents what to do, and what not to do.
A third part of parenting is based on situational factors; different temperaments call for different parenting styles. Because parenting behaviors are multi-faceted, they are complicated and therefore not necessarily easy to figure out or implement. Over the years there have been many different schools of thought about parenting; some are focused on making sure that children do not get spoiled, while others are especially focused on preserving and enhancing the attachment process between parent and child.
The parenting philosophy and methods you use need to be adapted to children’s individual personalities and life circumstances. Some children only need to be told something once, and they do it. Some children hardly argue. Some children are calm and quiet. Other children are talkative, ask a thousand questions and get into everything. Some children argue, don’t like schedules, and always say no before they say yes. How we parent our children affects how they respond to us.
There are other factors too that may impact your child’s behavior. Children who are under stress, not feeling well or are anxious, hurt or angry are more likely to act out. Acting out and tantrums are not simply a sign of oppositionalityor being spoiled.
SOME UNIVERSAL TIPS
There are a few principles that can be universally applied to all types of children.
1. Set expectations for your children that are developmentally appropriate.
2. Express those expectations in clear and age-appropriate terms to your child.
3. Set consequences that relate logically to the direction or limit that you are trying to set are appropriate for the limits – Ideally, consequences should be both positive if the expectations are met, and negative if they are not.
4. Try to make sure your consequences flow naturally from the expectation.>
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