Parents spend an abundance of time trying to understand their children and assist in making their goals a reality, while the stress on parents during the school year is often accepted and/or ignored. Psychotherapist and Life Coach Didi Zahariades, MA, joined us to talk about the importance of having a parenting strategy to support Mom and Dad throughout the school year:
- You Need a Strategy: Be Pro-active In Your Response. Proactive parenting is based on consistency and the ability to tackle tough issues before they actually occur. This makes Mom's job much easier! This allows for frank, honest discussions about what behaviors may or may not occur; this provides an opportunity for multiple conversations with your child. (This works for all school-age kids.) Remember you can't be afraid of a subject and expect an honest talk, regardless of the age of your child when you are direct, conversation will flow easily. Whether this is about missing curfew or back-talk, your family responds best when they know your expectations and their consequences.
- Gain Respect: Implement Structure In The Family. Seems obvious yet isn't. Many families operate as a democracy and create relationships based on friendship. This is nice, but someone has to make the tough decisions and this doesn't work if you only step into this role during conflict. When you 'own' the role, on a regular basis, it makes it easier for everyone and decreases the pressure of being perfect when you are put on the spot. Children do best with well-set boundaries and consistent guidance. In order to have respect you have to earn it. Earn your role as leader and act the part. You can't be a friend and a leader. You can be friendly and supportive, but that isn't being a BFF.
- Conflict Happens: Focus On The Facts, Not Your Emotions. It is tough to be a parent and easy to get your feelings hurt in the process. Regardless if you are Mom or Dad, it is tough when your kid blatantly disregards your advice, thoughts, or previous discussion. BUT if you get caught up in the drama of your emotions around the situation, you may lose the ability to respond like a responsible adult. (The kids are allowed drama; it is exhausting for the parent!)
- Don't Be A Wimp, But Do Admit You Were Wrong. You must stand by your word or else what are you teaching your child? Parenting is extremely difficult and you must remind yourself of this regularly! Yet, you also must be consistent or it becomes confusing for everyone. It isn't okay to go back on your word because it is too hard or your child is whining & complaining so much you can't stand it, or worse you feel bad. Once your child knows your words are non-negotiable, he is more apt to accept and move on rather than badger you. When you do make a mistake, it is powerful to say, 'I'm sorry I realize what I said wasn't right and I want to apologize to you.' And then You must move on.
- Recognize You Are The Most Important Role Model In Your Child's Life. Parenting is a 24/7 job. What you eat --- your child sees; it makes it tough to say 'Be Healthy' if you aren't. What you say --- your child hears; it makes it tough to tell your child not to swear if you swear. What you do your child copies --- the kid in trouble on the soccer field, where did he learn this behavior? Give yourself the gift of healthy habits so you have the energy to deal with the difficulties of parenthood. You must find some time for you each day to replenish, so you have something to give to your family.
For more help with parenting issues, visit Didi's website.