Parenting is a sacred role, but sometimes it feels like something else. If compassion and empathy are ever difficult, particularly when repeating yourself to get your child to comply with your expectations, please keep the following in mind:
1. Your approach is everything
How you are internally when you approach your child will typically determine the outcome. If you approach your child with anger or shame about their performance, the outcome will probably be more defiance and less cooperation. Keep in mind that parents have ultimate control over this part of the interaction.
Approach the child as if there is an unmet need underneath their behavior. If you remain calm and centered, things generally turn out better. And that’s the goal, right?
2. Remember that children require repetition to learn
How many times do children want to watch videos like Frozen or Mary Poppins over and over and over? And over? And over. And over.
They need the repetition in order to master some skill or some understanding of the concepts involved in the story. It’s the same with directives from parents. Don’t feel disrespected if your child needs you to repeat yourself.
The underlying need causing a behavior problem could be any number of things. If the child’s need is repetition, it is fine as a parent to repeat. The need could be blood sugar related. Has the child had water and a snack in the past two hours? Or it could be that the child is unwilling to comply because they don’t understand your instructions.
3. Break down instructions
It’s OK to assume a child does not fully understand complicated directives. Break instructions down to one thing at a time and watch the child accomplish what you ask.
And of course, always communicate how much you love and accept your child. And then give the directive in a simple form.
Parenting is a sacred job
It’s a job that helps children become who they will be for the rest of their lives. How we parent today shapes the coming generation, teaching them how to raise their own children someday. How we parent affects psychological and biological changes in our children – so much so that it’s kind of a miracle when children successfully secure attachments.
But they do. Which makes you pretty special in the world. With respect and awe, we think parents are amazing!