Over the years of being a Parenting Consultant, I’ve spoken with may parents about what they see as their role, and what they want for their children. So many parents have said, that they want to be their child’s friend.
I believe that when you gave birth, you became a parent, and that is your role!
Over their lifetime, your children will (hopefully) have many friends – some short term, some long term, but they will only ever have you as parents – that is your role!
All children need parents to guide, teach and encourage them – and that is your role.
Let’s look at the components of parenting by looking at what a child needs:
‘Love’ Children need unconditional love – by that I mean, that they need to be loved just because they exist – not because they tidied their room, or because they got a good report card. As parents we value these behaviours or results, but they have nothing to do with love. Love is what you give someone, because they exist; because you smile when they are around; you enjoy their company; and you’d be sad without them in your life – that’s love! All children need this. Love comes in many forms: hugs and kisses, High- 5’s; telling them how special they are to you, smiling, and spending time together. Does this mean you always ‘like’ their behaviour – probably not when they hit their brother, or draw on the wall etc – but it’s the behaviour you don’t like! And, that’s where discipline comes in…
Discipline Parents need to discipline their children. The word discipline means ‘to teach’ – it’s not about punishing the child, it’s about showing them a different or better way of behaving or of doing something. It involves patience, compassion and time.
All children benefit from boundaries, structure and routines – it provides them with a trust in you and your ‘systems’, because the results are the same each time – ie they learn consistency. Children without these boundaries are often the children with difficulties, because they don’t know when to stop (the behaviour). It’s up to us parents to provide this.
To be Taught
We need to teach our children – we are their first and most important teachers. Look at what we teach our children in the first 3 years: words, play activities, colours, numbers, their name, how to use a potty, to feed themselves, to ask nicely, to say please and thank you, and so much more.
We also need to teach them, when they make mistakes or poor choices. Eg they draw on the wall. Yelling at them or smacking them won’t teach them what to do next time (it just teaches them you are angry). It would be the same if I asked you to spell an unfamiliar word and when you got it wrong, I yelled at you! A better way would be to teach you how to spell it. One of your roles as a parent, is to not yell, but to show, or teach them!
Playtime with you Parents will say: He’s got a room full of toy, but he doesn’t play with them. If you (the parent) pull out the toy and engage with the child, they will want to play. This tells you, that you are their favourite one – not a toy! Playing together, regularly, is of huge benefit to your relationship with your child(ren)
To be Supported and Encouraged We need to encourage kids not just when they achieve a skill, but equally when they are working on a skill eg learning to feed themselves. Acknowledge their efforts and support them in continuing – and just watch their smiles and sense of pride develop!
As parents we need to give our children: our time, patience,
compassion, strength, consistency and love.
Image by Leonid Mamchenkov via Flickr