|There are many different parenting styles and all can work for some parents and their children. Unfortunately, there is no one method of parenting or style that will work for everyone or in every situation. If there were, there wouldn't be so many different parenting books and parenting 'experts'.
Instead, you have to find what works best for your child and your family.
How do you find the best way to parent your child?
The first step is recognizing the importance of how you parent your child. Parenting does matter and you have much more influence over your children than you think.
Next, realize when your current methods aren't working and when you need extra help or advice. This help might come from talking to friends or family members, visiting parenting advice internet sites, reading a book, taking a class or seeing a professional, such as your Pedaitrician or a psychologist.
This step seems like it is a lot harder for parents than it should be.
How do you know if things aren't working?
Is there something that your child does on a regular basis that you are unhappy with and would like to change?
This might include a 1-2 hour battle over bedtime or meals, regular temper tantrums, always interupting you when you are on the phone, or not listening to rules and instructions.
For the average child, these types of problems are created by their parents. This is not to say that one day you decided to go out of your way to teach your child to have tantrums whenever he wants something, but by allowing these behaviors to continue, you are reinforcing that that is the correct way to act.
Or the problem goes on long enough that it becomes a habit or pattern for how the child and parent react to each other.
Instead of accepting these problems, you should take early steps to stop them. It may not be easy, and if you have a very difficult child, you may not be able to fix the problem or correct the behavior without professional help, but if things aren't working, you should be able to find a method that works better than what you are currently doing.
How do you know if the problem has just become a habit and that you don't have a really difficult child? One way is to see if he does the same thing with different people. If he is having tantrums a lot, does he also have them around other caregivers? Does he listen to other people more than he listens to you?
We often think that a child acts better around a new person or someone he isn't around a lot because he is afraid and he doesn't yet know how this person will respond to his behavior, but more often it is because no negative patterns have developed yet.
If he acts 'good' around someone else, he likely knows what he does is wrong and he has the ability to control himself if he wants.
You may just have to interupt the current patterns of behavior you and your child have created with each other, and try something else.
And it does not always need to be a big change in your parenting methods. Sometimes small changes can make a big difference. For example, in the book, The Good Son, the author talks about how it is normal for children under age four years 'to take five to ten seconds to respond to us.' After reading that, I learned to give our preschooler a little more time to respond to requests and commands and suprisingly to me, it worked. Instead of repeating myself and leading to some form of punishment, if I just waited 5 or 6 seconds, he would usually do what he was supposed to do.
Lastly, you should take some time and find parenting methods that fit with your beliefs and values, your temperament and with your child. And don't be afraid to try something new or change how you do things.
Again, fixing or preventing parenting problems isn't easy, and it is tempting to just give in to a tantrums, etc., but taking the time to learn or try different parenting methods can help make things better in the long run.
In future Parenting Matters articles we will talk about other important parenting topics.