By Joseph Sacks, LCSW
Famed psychologist of the 1960’s, Haim Ginott, came up with some amazing parenting ideas. I’ve synthesized his work with some of my own ideas and added explanation and advice, as follows:
Parenting Ideas: Number One: Explore Your Child’s Feelings
Before offering advice or direction, explore your child’s ambivalence about his feelings. Use the “on the one hand” technique. Say, “On the one hand, you really want to go away to sleepaway camp because it’s a new adventure, but on the other hand, you want to stay home because you don’t want to miss the family vacations and be homesick.” This helps the child to explore his ideas and teaches him that it’s ok to have mixed up or conflicting feelings. In addition, this empowers the child to come up with his own solutions. Remember, some of us have been taught that negative feelings are bad, but the truth is, only negative actions are bad. All feelings are acceptable. To see a great post on validating children's feelings, click here.
2. Don’t Criticize
Never call a child clumsy, lazy or stubborn. Even if it’s true. Never call a child selfish, irresponsible or manipulative. When children are “misbehaving,” are just reacting to their frustrations and feelings of powerlessness. They are preserving their very selves. Always assume your child has the best intentions. Give him the benefit of the doubt.
Criticism, even so called constructive criticism, is unfortunately very harmful to children’s self-esteem and if given over a long period of time, can cause anxiety disorders. Over-criticism is the number one parenting error! Don’t fear that without criticism your child will lead a life of error. He will correct most mistakes on his own by learning through example. The damage done from criticism outweighs any possible benefits it may have. For a detailed discussion of the pitfalls of criticism, click here.
3. Help Your Child Find Answers
When a child asks a question, before you answer, encourage him to find an answer himself. This promotes independence, self-esteem and autonomy. Before you rush to provide advice or information, say, “Hmm that’s a good question. I wonder about that.” The child will value an answer much more if he comes up with himself.
4. Avoid Making Promises
Promises suggest that your unpromised word is not trustworthy. Rather, do what you say you will do, and if you can’t, don’t say that you will. Don’t ask children to make promises, as it puts them in a difficult position because they generally don’t have the maturity, responsibility or resources to keep them.
5. Be Polite and Considerate
Politeness must be taught politely. Many parents teach politeness rudely. When you point out that a child didn’t say thank you in front of others, it is embarrassing to the child, and that is rude. How is that expected to teach politeness? Instead, you can say thank you for the child, and he will learn by example. Later on, in private, you can remind the child about the value of saying thank you. When a child interrupts you, it can be frustrating, but calling the child rude is also rude. Instead, kindly express your feeling that you’d like to finish speaking first. Demonstrate consideration, and you child will learn by observing you. For great advice about teaching kids manners, click here.
6. Teach and Guide With Patience
We all want our children to be responsible, but you can’t force a child to learn responsibility. If you force a child to do chores, the only thing you teach him is to hate the one who’s forcing him, which damages the parent-child relationship. Children must be inspired to help out. How do you get children to perform acts of kindness? By performing acts of kindness to them. Then, the child will eventually learn by example. It takes years to learn the responsibility of chores. As parents, we must have patience. We’re not living on a farm in “Little House on the Prairie.” Don’t fear that if he doesn’t do chores right now he will become a lazy, selfish and irresponsible adult. Responsibility is like fine wine –it take years to develop a taste for it. True responsibility comes from internal motivation. For tricks how to get kids to clean up, click here.
7. Offer Understanding
When a child comes home looking upset, don’t inquire about what happened. Rather, reflect empathetic statements, such as, “It looks like something unpleasant happened to you,” and “Looks like you had a hard time.” This way the child knows you know how he feels, which brings him relief. The main point is to focus on the child’s emotional experience and not the intellectual. Asking him to discuss why things happen intellectually distracts him from the ever-important work of processing his emotions. For great advice on dealing with kids' emotions, click here.
Explore New Parenting Ideas With Patience and Openness
Please bear in mind that the above Parenting ideas represent a parenting ideal, and although you may strive for it, I do not expect anyone to fulfill it perfectly. Rather have patience with yourself and try to implement these new parenting ideas gradually.
Feel free to peruse other posts in my informative parenting blog, the specialties on this website, or download one of my interesting free reports.
If you have a child with behavioral or emotional issues and are looking for more Parenting ideas from a child psychotherapist in lower Manhattan,
you may call me for a free 15-minute consultation at 646-681-1707. I look forward to speaking with you!