By Joseph Sacks, LCSW
Haim Ginott, famed psychologist, came up with some fantastic parenting tips in the 1960’s. I’ve synthesized some of his work with my own ideas and added elucidation as follows.
1. Be Patient With Schoolwork
If you help your child with schoolwork, you must be extremely patient and noncritical. Otherwise, you will do more harm than good, and you’re better off hiring a tutor. When the parents get too emotionally involved in the child's success in school, the child may feel like he's working to fulfill his parents’ needs. This takes away his sense of autonomy and self-determination, and he may rebel and not do schoolwork in order to preserve his sense of self. Therefore, parents need to avoid pressuring the child to do well in school and avoid letting the child's success in school be a reflection on the parent’s self-esteem.
Parenting Tips: Number 2: Don't Say It's Easy!
A child is encouraged most when he knows his difficulties are understood and appreciated. Sometimes, listening can be more valuable than advice, praise or ready-made solutions. When a child is struggling with something, never say, “It’s easy, you can do it.” Because then, if the child fails, he thinks, “I failed at a task that wasn’t even hard,” and he feels bad. And, if he succeeds he thinks, “It was easy anyway,” and doesn’t feel very proud. Rather say, “It can be hard to tie your shoelaces.” Then, if the child fails, he is comforted by the fact that it was a very difficult task anyway, and if he succeeds, his is very proud of succeeding at a perceived difficult task. This technique is very important and should be used whenever a child is struggling with a task. It provides tremendous encouragement and validation when he feels we understand and value the challenges he is going through.
3. Help Your Child Make Friends
It takes time and money to acquire friends for children. As a parent, you may need to go out of your way to find appropriate friends that will be a good influence on your child. You may find that you need to spend money on entertaining those friends. It’s well worth the investment. We need to make an effort to bond or be friendly with the parents of the children that we want our child to be friends with. We need to work hard to fit social time in our schedules, dropping off our child and picking him up from play dates. We need to use wisdom to help our child choose appropriate friends. We can't be too strict in deciding who they can spend time with, but we can't be too lenient either. It’s not easy being a parent, but the effort you put into these parenting tips can pay off great dividends!
4. Help Your Child Develop a Sense of Agency
In conversations with your child, consciously use phrases that indicate your belief in his capacity to make wise decisions for himself. Use golden phrases such as, “Whatever you decide is good,” and “I trust you to make the right decision.”
5. Talk About Trips or Time Apart
If mommy or daddy has to go away for a time, the child should be prepared and told about it in advance. Invite your child to express his feelings about the absence. He can even be encouraged to play pretend games about a parent leaving for a while and then coming back, acting the scene out with dolls. This will help him process the loss.
6. Allow Disagreement
Don't insist that your child has to agree with you on everything. Show him that he can have different opinions from his parents. This fosters healthy independence and assertiveness. In addition, try not to voice very strong opinions in front of children at all, even if the opinions are true and valuable to adults. Strong opinions tend to scare and overwhelm children. If you have fervent opinions about certain political issues, don't share them with your child until he’s an older teenager. The same thing goes for religious issues. See my report, How to deal with your teenager, at the bottom of this page.
7. Build Confidence and Trust
One of the secrets of parenting is getting children to feel safe confiding in us. We can't help them if we don't know what's going on in their lives. How do we build this confidence? By responding well to unpleasant truths they reveal to us. Don't respond with anger, shame or criticism. Do not dismiss anything that they tell you. You don't have to agree with what your child says – you just have to acknowledge it. If a child is met with disapproval by his parents, this'll make him feel guilty, and he will have anxiety over his efforts to try to please his parents. Therefore calmly accepting everything a child tells us will encourage him to share more openly in the future.
Parenting Tips Can Help You Connect With Your Child
Please keep in mind that the above Parenting Tips represent a parenting ideal, which although worth striving for, is impossible to achieve perfectly. Therefore have patience with yourself and implement new parenting tips gradually.
Feel free to peruse the rest of my informative parenting blog, the specialties on this website, or download one of my interesting free reports.
If you have a child who is a challenge and would like more Parenting tips from a child psychotherapist in lower Manhattan,
you may call me at 646-681-1707 for a free 15-minute consultation. I look forward to speaking with you!