I get this daily email about parenting and often delete it right away. But sometimes I don't. Pasted below is today's, a list of 10 tips--the most useful and surprising for me is number three. And I think it's true. When I get mad and punish a kid, send him to his room or something, it feels temporarily good to get that mad out but serves no real long term good. The worst is if I ever see Arthur acting out of fear I might get mad. That makes me feel really bad. Anyway, here they are after the jump:
1. The most important parenting commitment: Be your child's advocate
and don’t give up on him. You don't yell at a flower that isn't
thriving, you water it. Appreciate who your child is and respond to
what she needs, not what you think she should need. Every child
deserves at least one person who is 110% on their side.
2. The most important parenting skill: Manage yourself. Take care of
yourself so you aren’t venting on your child. Intervene before your own
feelings get out of hand. Keep your cup full. The more you care for
yourself with compassion, the more love and compassion you'll have for
your child. Remember that your child will do every single thing you
do, whether that's yelling or making self-disparaging remarks about
3. The most important parenting secret: Discipline, despite all the
books written on it, doesn’t work. Punishment always worsens your
child's behavior. Avoiding it is the most important thing you can do to
raise children who are responsible and considerate. Instead of
punishment, guide kindly and set limits on behavior but always
empathize with feelings, including the feelings your child has about
the limits you set. Both empathy and guidance/limits are essential,
neither by itself is successful.
4. What kids need that no one tells you: A safe place to express
feelings while you "listen." If you want to raise a child who can
manage his behavior, he first has to manage the emotions that drive
that behavior. And if you want a child who can manage his emotions, he
first needs to know he has a safe place (your arms) to cry and rage
where he won't be shushed or told to calm himself. Laughter releases
the same tensions as tears, so playing with children is also a terrific
way to support them in expressing their fears and frustrations. Kids
who get help with their big emotions when they're little learn to
manage their own feelings (and therefore behavior) at an early age.
5. See it from your child's perspective --- and expect age appropriate
behavior. Be reasonable. They're kids. Don’t expect perfection, from
your kids or yourself, and keep your priorities straight. Your child
is taking shape before your very eyes -- she's still developing, and
she'll grow out of most of her inappropriate behavior. Her messy room
matters much less than how she treats her little brother.
6. Don't take it personally. Whatever your child does, it will be a
lot easier for you to respond productively if you avoid getting hooked.
This isn't about you, it's about your child, who's an immature human
doing his best to learn and grow, with your support. Cultivate a sense
of humor. This will also help you avoid power struggles. No one wins a
power struggle. Don't insist on being right; help them save face. When
your buttons get pushed, use it as an opportunity to excavate that
button (which was installed in your own childhood) so it isn't
7. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. All misbehavior
comes from basic needs that aren't met. Meet their needs for sleep,
nutrition, chill-out time, cuddling, connection, fun and safety. Let
kids know in advance the behavior you expect. Give them "scaffolding"
-- teaching, little by little -- so they can manage what's expected of
them. Children WANT to be successful. (If they don't, that's a
relationship problem, not a behavior problem.)
8. Your child is your best teacher about what he or she needs, from
infancy on. Listen more than you talk. Listen with your heart. Be
willing to change and grow. Enjoy your child!
9. Embrace change. What worked yesterday will not work tomorrow, so
your parenting strategies need to evolve as your kids do. Each of us
seems to get the perfect child to learn whatever we need to know.
10. Stay Connected and never withdraw your love, even for a moment.
The deepest reason kids cooperate is that they love you and want to
please you. Above all, safeguard your relationship with your child.
That's your only leverage to have any influence on your child. It's
what your child needs most. And, let's face it, that closeness is what
makes parenting worth it!