5 Behaviors to Stop Doing Around Your Child
As adults, we often think we should never show our kids the ugly, sad, or enraging side of the world.
“No. Mom and Dad are never stressed and do whatever you want”. You understand that I’m painting a silly picture because that’s what it is. Silly.
Kids should (and need) to see emotions, responses, and stability from us to understand and process their own emotions.
I am by no means an expert, but I have 2 young kids with 1 on the way. My wife, Kim, and I have really looked into how our kids respond to OUR actions and found that cutting out the following 5 behaviors has allowed our kids to express their feelings better, socialize with others more deeply and communicate their needs more effectively:
- Hiding Anger
It is ok to get mad at your kids and other people, but how you show that anger directly impacts how your kid will express it. If you start screaming profanities, not caring if anyone is around, why should your kid stop crying for you on a dime? Learning self-restraint is good for you and your kid. Get mad! Show you are upset, then show them how to deal with it like an adult: taking a time out, writing, deep breathing, talking it out to a friend or the kid! Don’t think time outs are for adults? How many times have you walked out of a room because you can’t handle what is happening in there? (Yep… you just put yourself in time out). Hiding your emotions is negative for both of you. You should not have to scream at your kid but letting them learn social ques of anger or stress is important.
Your kids are not your Facebook feed. You must break the habit if you don’t want little whiners yourself. Telling them to “Stop whining”, then proceed to talk about how bad your day was at dinner does not send the same signal. Plus, your spouse/partner doesn’t need to hear that after a long day too. You can always instill the “Put Up” rule if you can’t break the cycle. Every time you say something negative you have to say something good about your day. Even if it is the smallest, most insignificant thing. Examples: I’m having a good hair day, the wash is done, etc.
- Celebrating mediocrity
Think about one of the best things you did this year or one of your greatest accomplishments. The most rewarding things in life are generally something complicated or something you worked hard to achieve. Example: completing a marathon, losing a bunch of weight, starting a new business, etc. Unfortunately, celebrating good performance as well as bad performance leads to very little learning. The hardest lesson I had to learn as a parent was to let my kids FAIL. Obviously there are parameters like safety and such, but they need to feel some struggle so they can problem solve on their own. The process of learning and growing is stressful and hard sometimes. Kids need to feel that! One of the most powerful habits a child can learn is grit: persevering when things get hard and not leaning so much on mom and dad to do the work for them.
This leads me into #4…
- Having No Follow Through
Every time we don’t follow through with what we say, whether it is a punishment or reward, you are teaching kids that they really don’t have to do what you say. An important lesson Kim and I learned was that sticking to our guns showed stability, not necessarily stubbornness. We have core values and principles that are important and if our kids don’t hear the word, “NO” occasionally, we lose the power of those. I know we run out of time in our busy lives as parents, so I made a rule early on in my life that has helped: I never break a promise. If I promise to take the kids to the park, even if it is raining I’ll let them choose. It at least sets a tone of mutual respect that there are things that should never be broken. Think to the future when you want your kids to promise some big things: curfew times, don’t drink and drive, drug use, peer pressure... do you want them to think that a little white lie is ok to protect you, as a parent, from the truth?
I cannot tell you how many times I have said, “Here, let me help you with that”. Not because my kids can’t do the task, but because they weren’t doing it fast enough and we need to get out the door because we’re late for something… We are all busy so there are moments when we need to just get to the task at hand. When we help too much, though, this is what it teaches our kids:
- Parents have little patience and no time.
- I am dependent and can’t do things.
The take-home message is that there is a difference between teaching, helping, and doing things for our children.
It takes a healthy mix of all 3 to maintain balance and to raise compassionate, understanding, patient, adventurous AND independent kids.
Thank you for taking the time to read our blog and keep an eye out for videos and posts on our Facebook page!
Dr. Brandon Fletcher
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