It’s not an easy proposition. An essential parenting duty is to teach, and to facilitate growth. That involves change. But sometimes, we might find ourselves trying to mold instead, and we might also find our kids fighting back.
What’s the difference between molding and teaching? And what does it mean to truly accept your child?
But awareness is where better starts. So here we go:
1) Doing too much for your toddler.
What I mean is, doing what they should be learning to do for themselves. An example would be picking up their toys for them as they flounce on to the next thing, instead of insisting that every time, they clean up first.
I’m guilty of this one sometimes. It just seems like too much work to make her do it, and she seems so happy and excited about the next thing. What’s the harm ,really?
2) The harm is the inconsistency. We’re teaching our kids all the time, even when we don’t realize it.
Behavior modification is a regular part of life. We’re teaching children how to treat us and others by what we pay attention to and what we ignore.
A basic rule of behavior modification is this: Behaviors that are intermittently reinforced are the most resistant to change. What that means is, if I tell my daughter to do something and I let her ignore me 20% of the time, then she might try to get away with it 100% of the time. She’s learning that it works sometimes, so why not try her luck? This could be one of those times.
That’s why it is important to have her put her toys away 100% of the time. It’s the rule; she has to follow it, even if I feel tired. Because I don’t want her to learn that when Mommy’s tired, she can just do whatever she wants.
And always remember, they’re smart cookies, these toddlers. Like I said, learning all the time, just not necessarily what we’re trying to teach.
3) Using redirection all the time, and avoiding a simple “no.”
It’s hard to say no to your toddler. For one thing, they often don’t take it well (tantrums and the like). For another, we like to see our kids happy, and “no” is not likely to produce that …
Many parents can see their teens floundering, but aren’t sure what to do about it. They might overdo and become intrusive (which causes their children to want to push them away) or underdo (not say anything and just hope the problem goes away.)
I’ve got some suggestions about how to walk the middle ground and emotionally connect with your teenager.
When I was trying to get pregnant, I saw happy parents and children everywhere. I saw what I most wanted for myself.
Now that I am a parent, I notice how stressed parents of young children often seem. And I know myself just how demanding (and frankly, tedious) parenting can feel. There’s so much to get done, and it leaves much less time for what I imagined the rewards to be.
So what if the mundane tasks can be made more rewarding? What if instead of waiting for the good stuff, those tasks can become the good stuff?
This seems to be the eternal question whenever something’s wrong with your child. They’re lagging behind other kids; they’re biting; they’re not social; they’re failing classes; they’re getting into drugs.
(Yes, you’ll notice that short list spanned the ages.)
That’s because whatever age your child is, he or she will likely have some problems. And when they do, you may very well ask yourself that timeless question: Is it my fault?
I received this e-mail in response to my recent post, The Parent I Want to Be:
“What about when you know you’re not the parent you want to be, but you just can’t seem to do anything about it? I have a teenage daughter and despite all my good intentions, I just keep getting sucked into doing the same old things that never work. Any thoughts?”
The new year is always a great time for self-reflection. So I thought I’d post about some general parenting tenets. These are, of course, subjective, in that my aspirations as a parent might be different from yours. But it might provide a jumping off point for you to consider your own goals.
As a parent, you want to see your child healthy and happy. But it’s not really within your control. What is within your control is how you respond when you see your child struggling. So here are some suggestions that might help, when you suspect your teen might be depressed.
As a married mother, a therapist, and a novelist, I’d like to think my worst rejections are behind me. (Wouldn’t we all like to think that?) But small rejections abound every day.
We can feel rejected by our kids who, despite our best efforts, only want Daddy; we can feel rejected at work, where we’re not in with a certain clique, or where our contributions are not recognized; we can feel rejected by our spouses, who miss our cues or overlook our offerings; we can feel rejected by friends who get busy, or by people we wish would be our friends.
Most of us shake these off, most of the time. But how to handle the ones that prove unusually sticky?
My daughter’s almost two, and out of nowhere, she’s become a picky eater, which absolutely grates on me. She pushes away foods she’s eaten for months without taking even a single bite, and then she’s gesturing for the food she wants in its place (98% of the time it’s bread.)
So my husband and I are going to have to outlast her. She has to learn that she’s going to eat what we serve her (or at least try it before rejecting it.) That means no replacement foods: If she says no, she’ll just have to be hungry. She’s going to cave before we are. That’s my vow.
It feels mean, I’ll admit it. And she certainly howls like I’m the worst mommy in the whole world. And I’ll admit that bothers me, too: Not just her discomfort, but her being upset with me, specifically, for inflicting her discomfort.
So read on for the methods I’m employing to outlast her. Please write in with any comments (or to tell me I’m going about it all wrong, that’s good food for thought, too. This parenthood thing has an unending learning curve.)