With so many of us at home 24/7 with our children right now, it’s not surprising to have moments (days?) where we wish we had a little more experience in dealing with the day-to-day issues of working with our children.
If you feel that a few more tools to add to your parenting toolbelt might be helpful, I encourage you to read this series of Kids Talk articles, An Iron Hand In A Velvet Glove.
All of us deal with the basic of issue of balancing firmness and kindness.
On one hand we don’t want to always feel like we are the meanie. But we don’t want to be the pushover either.
This series, An Iron Hand In a Velvet Glove, offers practical tips that you can use right away. Welcome to the series.
An Iron Hand In A Velvet Glove
Oh, what challenges we have as parents trying to find the right fit for our parenting style.
If we come down too strong on an issue, we think perhaps our need for control is bubbling over.
If we ignore a problem or allow bad behavior to get its way, maybe we’ve given our power away.
When we vacillate between an authoritarian and permissive style, our children flounder under the inconsistencies. Many of us are plagued with guilt as we over-react and then back down in dealing with our children.
How can we be both kind and firm?
Think Before You Talk
“You throw that ball and you’re grounded for a month.”
“You talk back one more time and I’ll give your bicycle away.”
“You don’t eat your peas, you won’t be able to have dessert.”
The traps we can fall into as we work with children.
Walk Your Talk
Our children are inundated with demands from the adults in their lives.
At times all those words may sound like a never-ending torrent.
I’m reminded of a YouTube video that made the rounds a couple years ago of The Mom Song, three minutes of commands sung to the William Tell Overture.
What an exhausting way to parent, especially when there are more effective ways to get the job done.
And Keep Walking Your Talk
An effective parenting principle is to not talk “at” our children, but to talk less, listen more and walk our talk.
The challenge becomes one of being able to keep on walking our talk. It’s the hard work of follow-through, that becomes our bug-a-boo, when we’d really, really like to do something else.
The paradox is that once our children learn that we follow-through, that is they trust us, the less follow-through we have to do.
Talk Less, Listen More
When I asked one of my elementary students what he didn’t like about his life he told me that it was when people started to sound like blah-blah-blah.
Too often our good intentions of telling our children what to do, how to do it, where to do it, when to do, and why to do begin to sound like unintelligible garble. In the process we get tuned out, sometimes for life.
Stop! Look! Listen!
An effective, yet, counter-intuitive teaching and parenting suggestion took me a while to understand and put into use.
The idea? “Don’t just do something; stand there.”
Our first inclination when we see things that we think we need to stop is to jump right in and fix it.
Don’t Live In La-La Land
Most of our fears as parents about protecting our children involve situations that rarely occur.
But many of us tend to spend a disproportionate amount of time worrying about circumstances that will never happen, or planning for perfectionism, either in ourselves or in our children.
Our fears and our guilt hold us hostage in a land of fantasy, la-la land.
As parent leaders, we have many tools we can learn to help us create an atmosphere of trust in our families. One tool is using family meetings.
Family meetings can help our families learn how to problem solve together, as well as learn important communication tools, cooperation, creativity, respect, appropriate expression of emotions, and how to have fun as a family. Children as young as three-years-old can participate.
Offer Freedom Within Limits
Many of the difficult situations we have with our children involves getting them to do something they don’t want to do in a reasonable amount of time.
Eating, getting dressed, going to bed, or taking a bath may be familiar conflict areas.
When we give our children choices we can avoid conflict.
These choices, or freedom within limits, help our children feel in control of themselves, foster cooperation and develop independence.
At a neighborhood coffee, my friend, Cheryl, announced that she had stopped eating sugar for several months. Several women gasped at the thought. “But that’s so limiting,” said one.
Cheryl smiled and said, “Actually I find the limitation is quite freeing. I don’t worry any more whether I should eat something or not. Drawing the line at no sugar has increased my freedom and creativity in what I do eat.”
An interesting thought, that by actually limiting one’s actions or choices, a new found freedom is found in the choices still available.