Parenting Ideas

by Tiffany Noll LPC-Intern
(Supervised by Sarah Kinsworthy, Ph.D., LPC-S, RPT)
Speaking as a fellow parent, it is our responsibility to raise our children to become reasonably responsible, productive and positive members of society. And unfortunately there is no book or manual on how to do this; we just have to figure it out as we go. So how do we develop rules, discipline, and communication to feel as though we have done our best to grow our children into the people we think they should be? This is by no means an all inclusive book or manual on how to be the perfect or ideal parent, but here are some tips that may help guide you in the right direction.
Children need clear, specific and consistent rules and boundaries. Though we feel our children hate to follow the rules and resist against them, deep down our children crave them. But how is it that what they show us on the outside is so different from what they feel on the inside? It’s because rules and boundaries provide structure, they teach about responsibility, respect, and independence. They teach our children the foundation of what their entire lives will revolve around. Without rules children can feel a sense of chaos and unpredictability. But be careful to not go overboard with the number and extensive details of the rules; make as few rules as possible and be clear and concise. Choose associated consequences that you will be willing or able to enforce. Without follow through and consistency, children are likely to learn that rules don’t have to be followed because nothing bad will happen. This is creating a false sense of reality. In the world outside of the home, there are rules that have to be followed and consequences given to those who break them. Take the time to clearly explain expectations, rules and associated consequences, and have them repeat in their own words to ensure understanding. If you find it to be appropriate, even include your children in the rule making process. They may be more likely to want to abide by the rules if they can be a part of the decision making process.
Although this may seem more difficult as your child gets older, take the time to encourage communication between your child and yourself. The positive communication between a parent and child helps them build self esteem and feelings of encouragement, understanding and acceptance. Show interest in your child’s interests and experiences, even when they are different than your own. When you allow and participate in conversation with your child about their lives, you are encouraging them to learn more about themselves and lessons from their own experiences. In listening to our children talk, we often want to give advice, criticism or directions on how we would handle particular situations, but try to avoid this as much as possible. Ask them what they think, problem solve with them, show them some respect. They are their own person, and they have their own ideas. Our children will only learn to solve problems by having their own experiences, making their own mistakes and learning from their own lessons. As parents, we often want to protect our children by teaching them from our own experiences and lessons, but the best and only way they will learn is to experience it themselves. Encourage and allow your children to have their own interests and ideas, and encourage them to keep open communication with you about these things. This shows your children than you are interested in them, accept them for who they are, and that they are unique and important individuals.