By, Joseph Sacks, LCSW
Avoid Public Reprimands
One good piece of parenting advice is to try to avoid reprimanding kids for being energetic in a public place.
For healthy children, being active and making noise is normal behavior and should be tolerated to a certain extent. Try to ignore people who might look disapprovingly at you. The emotional health and well-being of your own children is more important than a stranger’s desire to see perfectly behaved children. Therefore you shouldn’t scold your child to satisfy onlookers. The truth is, many people honor and respect parents who display patience and generosity towards energetic children.
Don’t Insist on Table Manners Too Soon.
Don’t expect kids to always eat with a fork too early. If they resist it’s usually a sign they’re simply not ready for it. Just because they can do it physically, that does not mean they can emotionally handle the responsibility all the time. It is a skill that must be learned gradually and therefore requires patience. Don’t worry, when he’s 25, he’ll eat with a fork.
Don’t Lose Patience When They Lose Things.
Don’t scold or blame kids for losing personal items such as a hat, book, sweater or cell phone. They are just not capable of being that responsible all the time. Even adults lose things occasionally, so it is certainly expected and normal for kids to do it more often. It is not their fault. It’s better to simply replace lost items if possible. Scolding, excessive reprimands and punishment just causes trauma and will not help at all to prevent such losses in the future. Don’t fear that it will lead to them being irresponsible. They will learn to be careful when they’re older and more mature. You may express your angry feelings without insulting or attacking, by saying, “It makes me upset and angry when you lose things!” Express your values, “In our house we are careful with our possessions.”
Don’t Set Too Many Limits.
Don’t think that the way to solve misbehavior is by setting more limits. Yes some limits are necessary, but too many actually create more misbehavior. Most parents make the mistake of setting too many limits. Set 10 percent fewer limits and the child will feel much less restricted, be happier and will behave better. Check out this post: How to set limits for your child.
Let Them Take Their Time.
Avoid rushing children. They naturally respond at a slow pace and lack the maturity of adults who are able to hurry determinedly. They need to smell the roses and to explore their world along the way. Plan to give extra time to get ready in the morning, or even to walk down the street. 10 extra minutes is 10 minutes well spent! Forget the idea of walking quickly somewhere with a young child, for that is truly impossible. Use a stroller as much as possible.
Dealing With Disrespectful Behavior.
If a child yells at or insults a parent, don’t respond with harsh punishment. Instead try saying, “It makes me angry when you speak to me that way. In our house we speak to each other with respect.” Children are completely dependent on their parents. This is a vital link - one that is threatened by the conflict which might arise when a child is disrespectful. Such conflict hurts the child more than it hurts you! A child who is disrespectful behaves this way is because he is upset and frustrated. The only real solution is to find out what is bothering him and to resolve the problem. Yelling or punishing will just make it worse by heaping more anguish on the child than he already has. You can say, “I see you’re angry” and “I’m sorry you feel that way.” Try and learn what was bothering the child and make him happy. Remember fulfilling the child’s needs always brings improved behavior. Don’t fear this will begin a spiral of disrespect toward you. Handling it calmly and wisely and not responding harshly will only deeply increase his respect for you. Check out my post: What to do when a child says "I hate you!"
A Good Mood is Good!
Try to avoid being in an irritable or sour mood around children as it has a negative emotional effect on them. It makes them feel that there’s something wrong with them. They think “It’s my fault that Mommy’s that way.” Remember to fulfill your own needs through your spouse, partner, family, friends, or therapist, or through leisure activities, so you can be in as happy a state as possible for your children.
Children Are Neither Malicious Nor Manipulative.
Don’t ascribe malicious intent to children. There is literally no such thing as a bad child. They are just reacting to their frustrations and feelings of powerlessness. Always assume the best in them, and that they had good intentions. Assume your child is a wonderful person and act as if you fully trust he will behave that way, and you will see that he will. Give him the benefit of the doubt. Don’t think that a child is manipulative. Children are quite naturally nearly powerless in the face of their parents, and are only trying to survive challenging situations. Therefore they react in a way that sometimes seems manipulative. Have patience and assume the child has good intentions.
Following this parenting advice will work wonders for your relationship with your child!
Please bear in mind that the above principles represent a parenting ideal, and no one should expect to fulfill them perfectly. Therefore have patience with yourself and try to implement new ideas gradually.
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