By Melissa Ford
“Remember, you’re smarter than they are!” my mom would repeatedly advise me when I’d feel frustrated or irritated about my children’s misbehavior. I sure didn’t feel smarter; I felt incompetent not knowing the best or smartest thing to do. Desperate times called for desperate measures, prompting me to search for the perfect parenting tools guaranteed to work miracles, “fix” my children, and bring peace to my home.
I tried them all: reward charts, counting, taking toys away, buying more toys (bribing!), showering my daughter with extra attention, ignoring unwanted behaviors (It’s only a phase, right?), and expressing my feelings with an “I” statement. These techniques were guaranteed to change my child, but I was failing miserably. What was going wrong?
Simply. . . my attitude! I finally learned that parenting doesn’t start with my child – it starts with me. How am I relating to my son when I want him to speak respectfully? Am I screaming or guilt-tripping as I ask him to treat me with dignity? When my daughter whines and begs to get her way – do I shove down my irritation and give her what she wants to silence her? Or, as my son meltdowns in the grocery store - do I have my own adult tantrum due to embarrassment, anger, and frustration as I drag him out of the store?
Whenever you parent from an attitudinal place of unhappiness – you lose and so does your child. You feel angry, disappointed, irritated, guilty . . . AND your child only hears your blaming and shaming. Before you jump in to change your child’s behavior, examine your attitude first. Coming from a place of love and acceptance will guarantee that your parenting strategies will be effective. Create a powerful positive attitude then calmly tell your son to speak to you respectfully, confidently say “no” to your daughter’s requests as she whines, and comfortably remove your child from the store to have his meltdown in the car. And, keep on practicing. . . being kind to yourself as you parent imperfectly.
You’ll win and so will your child. You’ll feel good, calm, confident and in charge AND your child will hear your clear messages and receive your guidance.