Welcome to Week 02 of the Mini-Family-Makeover, brought to you by Mums Lounge and Parent Wellbeing.
Last week, we talked about the top 5 parenting problems, and our top 5 wishes. Thanks to everyone for sharing your issues and aspirations. I think it is so useful to understand that other parents have similar concerns.
This week, we’re discussing the 3 things our kids really need from us, and how they can help us to raise our kids confidently.
The first statement to make is that there is no one ‘right’ way to raise kids. There are many ways. But kids do benefit from these three basic things:
3 things our kids need from us
￼We all need to feel loved. We let our kids know they are loved by being warm, affectionate and attentive.
Kids can’t just run amok and do whatever they like! Boundaries are our way of explaining to kids what is appropriate (and inappropriate) behaviour.
The more consistent we are when setting boundaries, the quicker our kids will learn.
Most parents have few problems with the love bit. We generally know how to love our kids. But it’s setting boundaries and being consistent – otherwise known as discipline – that can get us unstuck.
It’s easy to understand why.
It’s our job as parents to set boundaries, but it is our kids’ job to push the boundaries.
This can lead to power struggles, and constantly having to enforce house rules, which can be exhausting!
But the bigger lesson here is significant. One of our most important roles are parents is to teach our kids how to be decent human beings.
Kids learn how to be decent human beings by emulating us. Yes our kids are watching us! But our kids also learn through the consequences of their own actions. They do something, and then they learn about the consequences.
The consequences of giving their parent a hug may be a beautiful hug back. But the consequences of hitting their sibling will be altogether different.
The consequences set the boundaries, and in turn the boundaries establish acceptable or appropriate ways to behave. Our kids need this guidance.
So why do many parents struggle with discipline?
A recent comment from a member of the Parent Wellbeing site was revealing. One mum said:
“I try to remain firm and consistent with our son, but sometimes it is really hard having to follow through with something we’ve used as a consequence when I know how upset he’ll be. But somewhere deep down I know that showing him I mean what we say will help in the long run (I hope!)”
There seem to be a couple of issues going on here, and I think they can be overcome by keeping the bigger picture in mind.
Yes it may not be fun for our children to be upset, but what is more important, a momentarily upset child or teaching your child how to be a decent human being? Most parents would agree that the latter is more important.
And consequences don’t have to be punitive or draconian to be effective. You might prefer to have a good chat with your child about her or his behaviour or withdraw a treat.
What’s important is choosing consequences that fit with your values because then consistency is so much easier for you to achieve.
These three basic principles provide a broad idea about how to raise your kids. But within these broad guidelines, you can find your way to raise your kids with confidence.
Tell us below about your experience of setting boundaries. What has worked for you? What hasn’t worked for you?
Next week, we’re going to look at the truth about your child’s behavior. It may not be what you think! But it will help you to raise your kids with more confidence.
Until next week! Jodie.
Jodie is the creator of the Parent Manifesto online parenting program, and the author of four parenting books including the highly acclaimed Full Belly: Comfort and inspiration for pregnancy and birth, Little Bundle: Comfort and inspiration for new parents, and The Parent Manifesto: How to create a parenting approach that’s perfect for your family.
She has been featured on national TV, newspapers Australia wide, on ABC and commercial radio, and in all the top parenting magazines, and is a regular on The Morning Show on Channel 7.
She is Affiliate Lecturer in the School of Psychology at the University of Adelaide, and is Editorial Advisor for Family Fun Magazine. She is also mum to two young children.
Unlike many parenting ‘experts’, Jodie doesn’t try to show you the ‘right way’ to raise your kids. Instead, she believes in a few key principles that can be easily adapted to each family, to create the approach that’s right for you.