Want to know how to be the best parent that any child could have?
Here are the secrets to positive parenting in a nutshell:
3. Gain compliance
4. Use effective consequences
5. Have family meetings
6. Create win-win solutions
7. Build your child’s self-esteem
Now let’s look at each of these individually…
1. Listen--The most valuable gift you can give your youngster is to listen to the little and big things in her life. Begin early so that the lines of communication will be open during the adolescent years:
- Stop what you are doing.
- Look at your youngster.
- Pay attention to your youngster's nonverbal language (e.g., does the youngster look happy, sad, or afraid?).
- Be silent.
- Use simple acknowledgement responses that show you are listening (e.g., "I see. Oh. Uh-Huh. Hmmm.").
- Use door-openers, phrases that encourage further talking (e.g., "Tell me more. Go on. How do you feel about that? I know what you mean. Then what?").
- Listen for and name the feelings you think you hear from what your youngster is telling you (e.g., "That made you pretty mad, didn't it? You seem really happy about that!").
- Use problem-solving phrases when needed (e.g., "What do you wish you could do? What do you want to happen? What do you think will happen if you do that?").
- Don't feel that you must advise or help your youngster come up with a solution all the time. The value of listening is in the listening itself.
- Listening helps moms and dads and kids avoid the power struggle cycle. Instead of arguing, listen. Show your understanding while maintaining your position.
- Don't try to deny, discount, or distract the youngster from the feelings they are expressing.
2. Praise--The behavioral effect of praise is to reinforce your youngster's correct behavior and self-discipline. Praise increases the bond of affection between parent and youngster and builds self-esteem:
- Look your youngster in the eye.
- Move close to your youngster.
- Praise a specific behavior (e.g., "You did a great job cleaning up your room.").
- Speak with feeling and sincerity.
- Touch your youngster affectionately, maybe a pat on the back.
- Praise immediately, as soon as you notice commendable behavior.
- Praise should be honest and specific.
- Don't dilute the effectiveness of praise by overdoing it or being insincere.
3. Gain compliance--Following these steps to gain compliance from your youngster will prevent frustration, anger and resentment between parent and youngster:
- Stop and decide what you want your youngster to do.
- Get the youngster's attention. Move closer to your child or call him to come to you. Make direct eye contact.
- Tell your child what to do directly and firmly. Don't ask, though you may offer a choice if you wish. Don't end your instruction with "OK?"
- Don't let your child sidetrack you with whining, excuses, or arguing. Restate your instructions one more time if necessary then watch to make sure he begins.
- Praise your child when he does the task quickly and well (e.g., "You did a good job with those dishes.").
- If he doesn't begin doing what you said or doesn't finish, say: "What did I tell you to do?" When he answers correctly, say, "Good, now do it."
- If he doesn't do it, then stop the world. He doesn't do another thing until he does what you told him to do.
- Decide the consequence you will impose and go to the youngster to warn him of the consequence.
- Move closer to your child than normal, conversational distance. Make direct prolonged eye contact and tell your child the consequence of not doing what you asked.
- Give your child the opportunity to complete the task now. When he does, praise him.
- If he still doesn't comply, send him to his room to cool off while you do the same.
- Go into his room and tell him that the consequence you stated earlier is now in effect (e.g., grounding, no TV, extra chore, removal of privilege, etc.).
- Do not let your child return to the family group until he has completed the original task that you gave him.
- Use your facial expression and tone of voice to convey your disapproval if your youngster does not comply with your instruction in the time frame that you set.
- Don't become distracted so that you overlook compliance or non-compliance. Remember to praise compliance or follow-up on non-compliance.
- Remain calm and unemotional when you implement consequences. That is the reason to take a short break while he is in Siberia before you implement the consequences.
4. Use effective consequences--The purpose of discipline is to teach self-control and self-discipline. Using effective consequences can break the cycle of non-compliance by your youngster:
- When you notice non-compliance, first give a reminder. Remember to make direct eye contact. This simple strategy will work most of the time.
- Begin to think of an effective consequence if the reminder doesn't work.
- An effective consequence is: (1) clear and specific; (2) logically related to the misbehavior; (3) time-limited; and (4) varied.
- Continued misbehavior requires a warning of the consequence. Move closer to the youngster than normal conversational distance and make direct and prolonged eye contact.
- Be very specific about your expectation and the time frame for compliance. Tell your child exactly what the consequence of noncompliance will be.
- Walk away and give your child the opportunity to comply.
- If the warning doesn't work, send the youngster to his room while you both cool off.
- Ignore arguing, whining, or expressions of anger.
- After a few minutes go to the youngster's room. Speak calmly and without emotion. Explain that the consequence is now in effect and how long it will last.
- Avoid power struggles by listening to your youngster and helping him plan how he will do what it is that you ask of him.
- Don't let the consequence slide. Enforce it.
- Forgive your youngster for his misbehavior. Start with a clean slate. Don't dwell on past mistakes.
- Don't use yelling, sarcasm, name calling, insulting or hitting. Keep your own emotions in control.
- Show respect for your youngster and recognize his good intentions. Let your child know that you know he wants to do the right thing and you are here to help him learn how.
- Don't keep a running tab of your youngster's misbehavior. Implement consequences for misbehavior then let it go.
5. Have family meetings--Family meetings help busy families stay connected. Other benefits of this simple tool are improved communication, self-esteem, emotional support and problem solving:
- Moms and dads decide together to begin holding family meetings.
- Tell kids that you will begin holding family meetings to talk about what's going on in everyone's life.
- Let everyone decide together when and where to hold meetings.
- Mom and dad should be the co-moderators for meetings at the beginning. Share the moderator duties with kids as you go along.
- At the first meeting remind everyone to contribute to the conversation, listen to others, and be supportive not critical.
- Use the "Around the Circle" method. Go around the circle giving each family member the opportunity to respond to the topic.
- Around the Circle Subject 1 - Something that made you feel good this week.
- Moms and dads offer praise, encouragement, and support for the good things that each person mentions.
- Around the Circle Subject 2 - Something that bothered you this week.
- Moms and dads listen for and acknowledge the feelings that are expressed, ask open-ended questions to clarify the problem, and then brainstorm solutions with the entire family.
- Around the Circle Subject 3 - Something that you want to work on or accomplish next week.
- Moms and dads model making an action plan and help kids set a specific goal to continue positive experiences or address problems identified this week.
- Around the Circle Subject 4 - Your schedule for the week. What meetings, appointments, tests, special events or projects you have this week.
- Moms and dads identify any scheduling conflicts and individual responsibilities necessitated by the week's schedule. Plan your week. Teach good time management.
- Set a scheduled time for meetings, post it where everyone will see, and keep the time. If moms and dads are committed to the project, it will have more impact.
- Make the meetings fun too. Tell a story or a joke, play games, have contests.
6. Create win-win solutions--Use the family meeting to work on family problems in a structured and non-threatening way. The objective of the meeting should be to arrive at a Win-Win solution for everyone:
- Clarify the problem. The parent moderator should introduce the general nature of the problem, and then use the "Around the Circle" technique to get each person's view of the problem.
- Around the Circle Questions: "What is the problem as you see it? How does it affect you? What is your contribution to the problem?"
- These are challenging questions. The family should listen to each speaker with respect and an attempt at understanding. Avoid interrupting or becoming defensive.
- The moderator should write down the points of agreement and disagreement as they arise.
- Brainstorm solutions. Go around as many times as necessary to come up with a list of possible solutions to the problem. Don't analyze the solutions now. Just write them all down.
- Go through the list of possible solutions to narrow them down to the best solution for all family members.
- Use the "Around the Circle" technique to get each person's view on what is the best solution for everyone. Ask, "Which of these do you think is the best solution? Why? Is it fair to everyone?"
- Select the best solution. Get commitment from each person to make the solution work.
- Decide what each person will do to implement the solution. This is the time to come up with responsibilities, rewards, limits, consequences, and other agreed upon commitments.
- Now you should go around one more time with each family member stating what specific action they will take to solve the problem.
- Follow up on each person's commitment. Meet again when needed to evaluate and strengthen the solution.
- For the solution to work, everyone has to be convinced that their input has been considered and that it is the best thing for each of them.
- If someone's comments hit your emotional hot button, don't respond defensively. Remain silent then communicate your position while maintaining respect for the other's viewpoint.
- Use the open-ended questions, restatement; reflection, clarification, and I messages when disagreements arise.
7. Build your youngster’s self-esteem--
- Build your youngster's sense of connectedness. Physical touch and loving words from moms and dads are the first step.
- Provide opportunities for your child to feel that he is a functional and important member of his family, school class, friends, sports team, church, neighborhood, and community.
- Teach your youngster good social and conversational skills by modeling, direct teaching, and guided practice. These skills will enable him to have positive interactions with others.
- Tell your child your family stories and talk about his ancestors, heritage, and nationality in a positive way.
- Build your youngster's sense of uniqueness. Kids need to feel that others think they have special qualities and talents. Find opportunities to point these out to him.
- Let your youngster express himself in his own way. Show respect for his thoughts and feelings so he will learn to do the same.
- Encourage your youngster's curiosity, creativity, and imagination. Teach your child to satisfy curiosity with learning and convey the joy of learning in everything you do.
- Build your youngster's sense of power. Help your child succeed by providing the support, teaching, and resources he needs to accomplish what he sets out to do.
- Give your child responsibilities in the family and allow his input into decisions that affect him.
- Provide many opportunities for your child to practice new skills he learns. Teach him to cope with failure by analyzing it, setting reasonable standards, and not overreacting.
- Teach your child good problem-solving and decision-making skills. Teach him to prioritize, think about consequences, and plan a course of action.
- Build your youngster's sense of models. Show by your own actions the appropriate way to behave.
- Teach your youngster right from wrong. Discuss your own values as you encounter dilemmas and decisions. Encourage your child to apply those values to his own decision-making.
- Provide a broad range of experiences for your youngster so he will have more confidence in facing new experiences. At the same time maintain structure and order in your day-to-day life.
- Teach your youngster to set minor and major goals. Be specific in your expectations and the standards and consequences for his behavior.
- Poor self-esteem can often be traced to a deficit in one of the four conditions of self-esteem – connectedness, uniqueness, power, or models.
- If your youngster shows signs of poor self-esteem determine the deficit condition and make a plan to improve that condition.
My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents