Authoritative Parenting - Who's in Charge?
Many parents write to Consistent Parenting Advice.com asking for help.
They do so usually because the light has gone put of their parenting experience and they are struggling to enjoy their role as parents.
They often say they feel they have failed through their own mistakes. Most of the 'failures' are about ordinary daily events such as sleeping and eating and for toddlers, about listening to and carrying out simple instructions. Many recount how, through sheer exhaustion, they have just given in time and again and they are now reaping the sad rewards of their own making.
It is so easy to feel like a failure as a parent and so hard to remember that the early years are unbelievably testing times for all parents. We will all fail over and over, especially if we have set impossible standards for ourselves. Sadly, it is usually the parents who have the highest standards and ideals who feel they have let themselves down the most.
A common question is -
How could I have let this happen?
How can I begin again?
It sounds simplistic, but many parents gradually give away their sense of power to their little ones without really noticing that is what they are doing.
Tiredness means we often can't think clearly and again it is often the mothers who try their hardest to be the very best they can for their babies who end up overwhelmed by their children's demands.
It is a rude awakening to discover that you have given all the power over to an infant under the age of one. Especially if you came from a cracking career where you were very responsible for a great deal and did it extremely well!!
Authoritative Parenting means taking charge of your parenting. With love!
What is Authoritative Parenting?
Often I hear parents say - oh I just can't be consistent - I've tried and keep failing and so I just keep doing what I've done so far! I usually reply - (a la Dr Phil) and how's that working for you?
Being consistent and taking charge requires making a decision and sticking to it - surprisingly, it usually only takes a short time to change even some firmly embedded behaviour.
It pays us to remember that on a daily basis a child is constantly asking by their actions and reactions,
"Is this how I use power?"
Parents need to create consistent boundaries and serve fair consequences to answer the question.
Children learn about handling, and containing, and controlling their power in this way.
I truly believe that consistent parenting creates happy families.
More about parenting styles
Authoritative Parenting -
Rethink who's in charge
Are you in charge or do your children run your household?
It's a sure and certain fact that the only person you can really be in charge of is yourself! So consistent parenting begins here.
From a parenting perspective, once you take charge of yourself, the run on effect to your children can be mind blowing! It's almost as if they feel deeply relieved to know they can trust you so they can just get on with the business of being children.
Be consistent in yourself
Be clear, be firm and be consistent
By being consistent in yourself, you learn to trust your own responses and your children are surrounded by your loving constancy.
When your children know that they can trust you and take you at your word, they no longer attempt to manipulate you. They trust instead that it is pointless. Your direction is clear, fair and firm and they know that you will stick to it.
Your children need you to be the parent first, not their friend.
Take Charge of Your Parenting
They love you because you are their parent - your friendship with them is therefore a given. If you try to act as a friend would you are denying them the one thing they truly need - your parenthood!
They are children and you are in charge of them. When they are little, they need you to be in charge of all decisions while they get on with the business of just being.
I frequently hear mothers say, my baby doesn't like - her high chair, the car seat, lying on the floor, sleeping in her crib, eating carrots etc.
I usually ask them how they know that, and when they decided that the baby would be responsible for those decisions.
One young mum told me she was feeling desperately lonely as she had recently moved to a small country town, leaving all her friends and family about 30 minutes drive away. I replied that I really felt for her having no transport to visit them.
You are the parent - you take charge of the situation.
"Oh, no", she replied. "I have a car but my baby doesn't like the car seat so I can't go anywhere".
Her baby was 14 weeks old at the time.
You decide you need to go out in the car then they need to go in the car seat. If your child is distressed then look at a combination of factors to see what their triggers are, rather than deciding they don't like the car seat. Are they over tired? Over stimulated, hungry, thirsty, uncomfortable?
Take a deep breath and don't rush them. Be consistent and firm in your decision. Take charge! Nothing lasts for long in baby world and within a short time, the baby has moved on to another stage. It pays to take these things lightly.
I was asked to look after a nine month old girl for a stressed out mother who let her baby dictate. I remember taking that little one and holding her firmly, telling her that she had to spend the morning sleeping as she needed it and so did everyone else. With great precision I tucked her down and she went out like a light! She was still fast asleep when her mother arrived back several hours later. That baby needed someone to take charge!
This is very simple but profoundly effective!
Taking charge is about the way we frame questions
Many parents get into the habit of asking their children questions before they act, for instance:
"Do you want to eat your lunch now?"
"Are you ready to go to bed yet?"
"Do you want to get dressed?"
"Would you like to go for a walk?"
Instead of asking questions like these, try making statements instead -
"It's lunch time now. Would you like a banana or an apple?"
"It's bed time now and we will read a story. Would you like Mum or Dad to read with you?"
"We're getting dressed now. Would you like the green or the blue sweater?"
"We are going walking. Would you like this hat or this one?"
The decision to carry out the action is not for the child to make - this decision belongs to the adults.
Children nowadays seem to be expected to know, understand and formulate answers to questions that are not for them to make - often young children respond with tantrums to these questions simply because they are frustrated by the amount of power they are expected to hold.
Take charge consistently and your children will quickly respond
- they don't want or need to have all that power - that's your job!
Teaching your children how to make complex choices when they are too young is asking for trouble. How can they possibly know the answer to,"Do you want to go out now?" Especially if you ask them this because they are fractious, bored or needing a change of scene. Children are ego centric and can only make decisions based on what they feel in the moment - they have no notion of the different consequences inherent in many of the decisions that are constantly asked to make.
So, take charge of yourself
As the cabin attendant says when giving out the flight safety procedures,
Parents, look after your own needs first
before attending to the needs of your children.
How do you do that in real life?
Practice self awareness and pay attention.
It's so easy to drown and lose your self awareness in the busyness of parent hood. Self awareness is also about being aware of our feelings and our bodies - about being in the present moment - about self control, self esteem, self reliance and self respect and about functioning on an adult level emotionally. It is about you being the parent.
Get in touch with breathing!! Deep, long breathes. This is the greatest way of becoming aware - just breathe and breathe - you will find that while you are breathing in you cannot speak and this often provides the valuable moment in which you find clarity in your thinking and therefore make a more peaceful decision.
Keep in touch with your emotions and have an awareness of your thoughts and feelings. See yourself as needing care and love - cherish, nurture and think about yourself lovingly, just as you do your children!
Consistent Parenting runs courses on Taking Charge!
Decide to take charge and give clear instructions rather than questions.
You make the decisions in your parenting -
And your children will thank you for allowing them to be children.
Your life changes because of the decisions you make, not because of the conditions going on around you.
CONSISTENT PARENTING AND DISCIPLINE
||How to Discipline Children
Children learn best by being given
clear firm and consistent direction
from parents who are clear, firm and consistent in their approach.
The loving, respectful relationship that we grow with our children right from the start makes it possible for us to guide them toward positive behaviour.
It is about setting up trust and guiding our children toward being able to make good choices for themselves.
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