Parents often see their kids doing things they don’t like such as drinking soda or texting during the dinner table etc. What’s your immediate response to that? Probably to yell at them or ground them, right? This is the last kind of response to give! Parents need to be a guide, not a guard. This implies that parents must adopt certain behaviors to create happy and responsible children.
Normally, parents try a long list of punishments to change the behavior of their children. Here are common examples; if she doesn’t clean her room, I will ban the TV for the night, cancel play dates or take away her tablet. The thing is, it doesn’t matter how tough punishments you set for your kids to change their attitude or make them responsible. They simply won’t care. I am pretty sure your child already doesn’t care. If you keep wondering why it’s because you are parenting like a guard. In case you didn’t know, most of the anti-social children are those who are raised this way. They don’t care about rules instead; they choose to comply with their own choices. They never get to realize the rules they break are meant for their good. In fact, controlling parents create mental health problems in their kids.
Independent Magazine talks about a study that says overly-controlling parents can cause lifelong psychological damage to their child. Childhood influences can leave a profound effect on brain development. Children who are fortunate enough to secure an emotional bond with their parents are more likely to have happy and secure relationships later on in their lives. When parents give their kids a stable base, it promotes social and emotional development. On the other hand, when parents control their children, it limits their independence and they are unable to regulate their own behavior as they become older.
When we raise our kids like a guard, we are actually trying to alter their behavior through control. We use consequences to get rid of the behaviors we don’t like. While acting like a guard, you don’t really care if your child is feeling sad or doesn’t feel like he belongs. You only care if he complies. You are not flexible and you simply escalate the consequences to make them stop what they are doing.
It’s time parents work as guides
The right approach is to parent your kid as a guide and encourage the kind of behaviors you want to see in them. Such type of parenting calls for compassion. Your job as a parent is to motivate your kids to do what’s right because it is right, not because it is a way to avoid punishment. Our kids need to understand the value of the behavior they choose whether it is in their personal, professional or digital lives.
So what can parents do to become a guide for their kids? Perhaps this might help:
- See things from your child’s perspective
The first thing you can do is to try and see things from your child’s perspective. It will help you understand how to motivate your child. Eventually, you will figure out that difficult behaviors are related to emotional or skill deficit. This does not mean you accept their behavior, it means there is a reason why your child is acting a certain way and you address that.
- Encourage positive behavior through appreciation
Kids love to receive praise. If they feel their parents care about them, they are motivated to do what pleases them. You need to be very careful in picking the right words and actions to encourage positive behavior.
- Be flexible
Instead of controlling their choices, give your kid opportunities to choose from. Help them make the right decision and if they mess up, be a bit flexible. Don’t scold them or scare them away.
- Be a good role model
“Monkey see; monkey do” is actually true. There are lots of things you do on an everyday basis that your child copies very naturally. So why not use this as an opportunity to foster good behavior? Don’t text while you drive. Always speak politely. Don’t get obsessed with social media etc. and your kid will do the exact same without even you asking them.
Psychologists say that parents must treat their kids the way they want to treat others. If you are compassionate and understanding towards your kids, they will be compassionate and understanding towards others. On the contrary, if you punish, spank or yell at your kids all the time, they will grow into aggressive adults.