When you find yourself admonishing your child for bad behaviour, stop and do a spot check on yourself. Are you using the right words, the right tone and the right approach to solve your child’s problems?
In my coaching sessions with parents I often see parents following the ultimate ‘do-as-I-say-and-not-as-I-do’ parenting style. As a parent of preschoolers and a teenager myself, I know how it can all unfold so quickly. Your kids decide to throw a fit – in anger or out of resentment, because they feel their demands are not being heard. In an effort to control their tantrum, you counter with your own: “Stop Yelling, Now!” at the top of your voice. You have just entered into a disciplinary arms race in which there are no winners—only hurt feelings, sore throats and soaring blood pressure.
The parent-child journey is about mutual learning, mutual kinship and a spiritual partnership. When you are on the path to better behaviour—you will bear a stronger, more peaceful connection with your child.
I believe parenting doesn’t have to be a battle. Proponents of positive discipline teach that kids can and will behave without threats, bribes, yelling and physicality. In her book ‘Conscious Parenting’, Dr Shifali Tasbary says, “Parenting was always meant to be about the parent. It’s never about the child.” The parent-child journey is about mutual learning, mutual kinship and a spiritual partnership. When you are on the path to better behaviour—you will bear a stronger, more peaceful connection with your child.
“Understand the meaning behind the behaviour”. Naomi Aldort, the author of ‘Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves,’ says that children want to behave well. If they seem to miss the mark, it’s not without a valid reason. “The most important [thing] is to realize that whatever a child does, we may label as bad, [but really] the child is doing the best he can. It’s our job as parents to find out why [he is] doing it,” says Aldort. “Once we know the valid root of the behavior, we can easily remove the cause or heal the emotions, and the child won’t be driven to behave in that way anymore.”
So ask yourself, “Is your child hitting her sibling in a desperate bid for your attention?” Maybe you stayed on the phone too long or ignored her as you rushed to get dinner on the table. If so, what correction can you make to your own behavior that will satisfy your child’s need?
Focus on controlling yourself—not your child. We as parents need to model the types of behaviour that we want our children to emulate. Remember, yelling begets yelling, hitting begets hitting. “We should not do anything in front of [our children] that we don’t want them to do.”
I have learnt the art of keeping my voice in check – instead of yelling that your child is doing something wrong, try singing it! If one of my twins throws a toy after she’s been asked to stop, I start to sing, “Uh Oh, Ayaana, it makes mama sad you threw your torch again. I think it’s time the toys went away.”
Do something your child wants to do. Whisper in their ears how wonderful they are, how much you love them. It’s the best investment you can make in yours and your child’s world.
There is a well known parenting paradox. The more you yell the less they listen. The more calm, centered and in control of your emotions you are, the more everyone around you will be at ease. As parents we try to motivate our kids by downloading our anxiety onto them. This only makes everyone more tense and anxious. The best chanting you can do is, whenever there is a problem you tell yourself “I am the problem.”
Lastly, what works most in my life is the quality time I spend with each of my 3 kids. This is the key to happy, well-behaved children. Each parent should spend at least 15 minutes one-on-one connecting with a child every day. “Do something your child wants to do [during that time]. Whisper in their ears how wonderful they are, how much you love them. It’s the best investment you can make in yours and your child’s world.”