I know loads of parents who dread taking their kids shopping. I cannot blame them because the range of snacks at the checkout is just the perfect scenario for a temper tantrum! Supermarkets could be a bit more parent-friendly. Read about the junk-free campaign here which is awesome.
This is just the tip of the iceberg because parenting can be a full-time job and very often, you have another full-time job!
The other thing that drives parents mad is all the advice we are given. We never asked for it! It is usually useless and leaves you feeling even more frustrated.
Here are 5 action points to help you through some of the most common parenting challenges.
1. You are not imposing limits and consequences
When they go off the rails, you can see and hear them screaming, struggling and crying. If you start shouting, nothing will be achieved and neighbors will start wondering what is going on.
Action:- Try to get closer to your child and connect with them by using eye contact or trying to hold them gently. Then repeat what the limit is — some experts say do not use more than 5 words.
You can also use a timeout. Great for calming down and removing them from the scene of the crime!
You have to be near an appropriate spot. If you are in the car or the supermarket, then this is not practical
The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends only one minute per year of age.
The kids know what consequences you have imposed and the essential thing is to make sure you follow through with these.
A great idea is to have these written down on the noticeboard or stuck on the fridge door so you can just point to these without going into long explanations.
Of course, you have to be realistic and you can never say:-
“You will never play with your play-doh again!”
Be consistent and impose the consequences as soon as possible.
If not, the child thinks “That worked, I got what I wanted. I can try it another time!”
With tweens, you can always use a compromise. You explain why such behavior is not on and you ask why they did it. What were they hoping to achieve? You can be a bit more flexible with kids at this age because they are collaborating.
2. Kids are going through a tough patch
There may be problems at school or your child may be a target of bullies. If you can empathize with kids, you will be teaching them a great life lesson. They will learn how to show empathy too.
Look at what some kids have to put with when they are bullied. They may learn that someone is bad-mouthing them on social media. They might have to hand over money in order not to be beaten up.
Action:- Often kids just do not want to open up. If you suspect bullying, then talk about how you had to deal with it at school.
Then offer help and support and try to do something practical like talking to a teacher.
With older kids or teens, you will be off to a great start if they openly tell you what is really making them angry, frustrated or just simply down. If they do that it is a sign that your relationship with them is healthy because they are not fearful of being reprimanded or even punished.
When kids are not so frank, you have to let them know that you have their back and are always open to having a chat about it.
3. You are micromanaging your kids
Yes, you are beside them every step of the way. This is sometimes called helicopter parenting. Always hovering, watching, supervising, helping and in the end never giving them a break.
Here is another Medium story I wrote about the helicopters!
What is it like to be raised by helicopter parents?
The strangest thing of all about helicopter parents is that they never leave their kids go out alone. They are…
Action:- The thing you want most for them is that they will be independent, confident or self-reliant.
This is what we did. We allowed our kids (depending on their age) to:-
· Be responsible for various household jobs such as trash, cleaning up and so on
· Manage their own finances
· Allow them to play safe and be adventurous
· Give them guidance when they need it
· Teach them how to stay safe on social media and the Internet. Warn them about personal info and how important it is to protect that.
· Guide them as regards cyberbullying which can be really harmful.
Start using with your kids Google’s great Be Internet Awesome which has digital games such as Interland. It is great fun and will teach your kids to be great digital citizens.
4. You are spoiling your kids
You can spot these spoiled kids a mile away. Their parents want them to have a happy childhood they never had themselves. They are showered with gifts and basically allowed to do what they want. They are never made to face the consequences of their actions. They think the world revolves around them and they feel entitled.
Action:- We found that the best way was to negotiate a deal when they wanted us to buy them something. We would offer to pay for half of it if they promised to save up the rest.
We also taught them to be more patient and tried to limit our own impatience when we are surfing on the Internet, for example. We can get everything we want at the flick of a switch or swiping right or left.
We wanted them to be more aware of how hard work and patience especially with homework, are the best way to go.
We also praised our kids when they reached various milestones at school or in sports.
We kept these to a minimum so that our kids were not so big-headed and might think they were the bees’ knees! We wanted them to be aware of how things can go wrong and also that they will have to face challenges.
Laura Markham (a parenting expert) has remarked:-
“Praise works only while you’re there to dispense it. For instance, children who are praised for sharing begin to share less unless adults are watching.”
The bottom line is that kids should only be praised when and if they have really earned it.
5. Comparing your kids to other kids
Many parents often compare their own kids with the top kid in the class or the best player on the team.
This is wrong because it will destroy a kid’s
Action:- We always found that when our kid was getting poor results, we asked them what the problem was and how they could do better. We never mentioned the super kids Johnny or Jill because this would only encourage jealousy, resentment, and negativity.
We talked a lot to our kids about their successes and qualities in lots of other areas. We tried to analyze with them what a better solution would be to solve this problem.
Above all, we found that parenting got easier when our kids knew that we had their back and were there to love, support and guide them.
“As fathers (and mothers), we need to be involved in our children’s lives not just when it’s convenient or easy, and not just when they’re doing well — but when it’s difficult and thankless, and they’re struggling. That is when they need us most.” — Barack Obama