You may have a career that requires a lot of your attention. Yet, you work hard to provide many opportunities for your children. You make sure they are well supervised, eat healthy food, get a good night’s sleep, have plenty of toys to play with, monitor their homework, enroll them in activities and take them places.
Whew! Why then, oh why, do they seem unappreciative? Don’t they realize how much you do for them? Why do they complain of being bored when you provide so much for them? Why do they bicker? What’s with their attitude? Are they anxious? Are they depressed? Why do I feel so exhausted and grouchy? Am I a failure at parenting?
What am I doing wrong?
As a psychologist, I often consult with frustrated parents who really do have honorable intentions. Sometimes they feel embarrassed that they have “lost it” with angry reactions. They usually say they have “tried everything.” But have they really? I think they have come to see me because they believe there must be something else they can do. And generally, that is true.
Will you fix my children, Dr. Barb?
So they schedule appointments for the children they identify as problematic with hopes I will “fix” them. Actually, I utilize a team approach. Even the best parents and children can all benefit from different understandings and strategies. We work on their issues and concerns together.
I like to share my philosophy of good parenting with the parents I work with. I believe it is vital that parents have the same tools in their toolbox as I do when working with kids. Doesn’t that make sense? After all, they spend much more time with their children than I do.
How can I raise emotionally healthy children?
There are many parenting programs and they all have value. The program I defer to the most is Parenting With Love and Logic. It works well with children in the play therapy room. It works well with adolescents. It is user-friendly for parents. It is a very caring and respectful approach.
The Love and Logic Parenting website describes the underlying philosophy in this way:
• The “Love” in Love and Logic means that we love our kids so much that we are willing to set and enforce limits.
• This “Love” also means that we do so with sincere compassion and empathy.
• The “Logic” in Love and Logic happens when we allow children to make decisions, affordable mistakes, and experience the natural or logical consequences.
What secret tips does Dr. Barb like to start with?
1. Give children 2 choices that are both okay with you. “Would you like to eat a brownie or cookie for dessert?” Sometimes parents give a choice that they hope their children will not choose, i.e., “Would you like to eat dessert first or your dinner first?”
2. Avoid the word “NO”—also shouldn’t, can’t,won’t, etc. Save NO for emergencies. Instead of “No, you can’t play with your friends now”, try “As soon as your homework is done correctly, you can play with your friends.” Focus on what you are willing to allow.
3. Dr. Barb’s all-time favorite is to make eye contact and smile, even when there is going to be a consequence and it seems awkward. It is hard for children to be angry with you when you look and sound so nice and loving. It is easier for children to be upset with themselves for their role in problem behavior.
What are some benefits of good parenting?
• Children will grow up feeling loved and secure.
• Children will learn wise decision-making skills to ultimately be responsible for how their lives turn out.
• Children will become parents who know how to be good parents!!