Common Do's and Don'ts in Parenting
- Always listen for the feelings behind the words; then address them and validate them.
- Allow your positive feelings (love for the child) to take priority over anger. Remember, anger is just a cover for your own fear and pain. If you acknowledge your own underlying feelings (fear and/or pain) you will not feel the anger so intensely and will be able to problem solve instead of creating chaos.
- Listen, Listen, Listen! Stop flying into emotional responses. Stop formulating your response before the child has finished speaking.
- Become aware of your feelings, and express them in "I" messages (I feel ___, when___, because___).
- Don't participate in an emotional escalation - walk away or take a time out to collect yourself before continuing the conversation...
- Never resort to name calling.("Are you a moron or something!?")
- Don't denigrate or size up their character.("Your so selfish!")
- Don't act superior. ("I told you so!" or "If you acted like me instead of like your father you would be better off.")
- Don't act on assumptions - Try to get all the puzzle pieces before before making a judgment call. ("Don't try to fool me buster, I know exactly what you were doing.")
- Don't talk more than you listen. ("I'm talking; you listen to ME!")
Emotionally children are much like adults, except that they cannot manipulate or hide their emotions like we can. They feel fear when their parents fight. They feel insecure when their schedule or their surrounding change. They feel worthless when they are ridiculed. They feel angry when wronged and they act out when they have intense feelings that they don't know how (or aren't allowed) to express. When we act out our feelings in healthy ways, we are teaching our children how to deal with their feelings. When we are out of control we are giving them permission to behave badly. Children learn how to deal with their feelings largely from their parents. If we yell, hit or throw a tantrum when we are angry or hurt, they will learn to deal with their feelings in the same way. When we hit them because they hit a sibling we are sending a confusing message that only exacerbates the child's frustration, and delays his/her ability to deal with their emotions in a nonviolent way.