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How to Launch Better Behaviour (and Better Learning) in your Child
Children of all ages develop, learn and behave better when their parents are warm and nurturing.
All parents function somewhere on a continuum, with positive “warm and nurturing” at one end and negative “cold and unapproachable” at the other. And, regardless of how much you love your child, the number of sacrifices you make as a parent, or how noble your intentions may be, your child’s experience of you is more directly influenced by where he or she knowingly or unknowingly positions you on this continuum than by anything else that you may regard as important.
Children aren’t the only ones who look at people this way.
People of all ages gauge the depth of their relationship with another person by looking at that person’s attitude towards them. As Maya Angelou once wrote, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
We shape our children by the way we make them feel.
Let’s take this one step further. If a parent’s relationship with a child is the foundation of his emotional well-being, and children judge the quality of their relationship with a parent based on how that parent makes them feel most of the time, the deduction is that we shape our children by the way we make them feel.
The expectation places a new kind of pressure on parents.
“We shape our children by the way we make them feel.” This message is profound and worth repeating. But it’s not new!
In fact, many parents are so used to the idea that it haunts them to the point where they feel insecure in their role as parents. They become “obedient parents” who are constantly second guessing themselves with questions like: “How does my child experience me? Am I making him feel good about himself?”
Are you feeling the pressure?
The good news is: you can be assertive as a parent without coming across as cold and unapproachable. And, you can be warm and nurturing without side-stepping your responsibilities as a parent, buddying up to your child and feeling anxious whenever he doesn’t seem to like you or disagrees with what you’re saying.
The solution is to buffer your message by saying what needs to be said against a backdrop of acceptance.
We’re being super practical this month by providing you with a plan of action that can train you to do this realistically.
Have a look at the table below, read through the descriptions and put a check mark next to the items which best describe how you discipline your child and handle bad behaviour.
Then ask yourself: “Overall, are the techniques I am presently using sending a positive message? Or are they negative techniques?”
Choose one or two areas in which you are presently using negative techniques and start from there.
Make a conscious effort in the next week to use the alternative techniques that are described in the column below. If necessary, jot a reminder to yourself on “post-it” sticky notes and place it on the refrigerator door or elsewhere to help you remember.
Review your progress at the end of every week.
Choose additional positive techniques to try for the coming week. Keep going until you feel confident that you know how to deliver even the most unpopular message in a way that is as warm and nurturing as possible.
Then relax and get on with the difficult job of being a good parent.
Raising a child is difficult enough without being plagued by the fear of ruining his emotional foundation with overwhelmingly negative childhood experiences or worrying about whether or not you’re going to be the number one point of discussion during his therapy sessions one day.
Once you’ve got this down, you can let all of that go. Your conscience will be clear!