The Parenting Guide: What Your Children Need Most & How to Give It to Them

THE PARENTING GUIDE: What Your Children Need Most & How to Give It to Them

….on giving your child what they need from you:

Love:

“Showing love to your child in a way that he or she understands and believes they are special, valued, appreciated, and deeply loved by you is the goal. As with other relationships, loving someone means that you will put their needs ahead of your own to generate those feelings or beliefs within them. This is certainly true for children. You may not have had those things given to you as a child, but you can break that cycle of deprivation and give your child what he or she needs to thrive.”

“This doesn’t mean you give them everything they want. In fact, it would be most loving to deny them most of what they want—so they can develop maturity and the ability to be successful, resourceful adults. For example, putting their needs ahead of your own does not mean cooking them a different dinner if they don’t like what you prepared, or letting them sleep in your bed because they like it better, or allowing them to get out of doing their chores because they’ve mismanaged their time. Their “needs” should be seen as clearly different to you than their “wants”. Miniature human beings (children) very seldom want to do what they “need” to do to grow up successfully. They are all about doing what they “want” to do, which would cause them to grow up and be quite unhappy.

Your children will know if you love them enough to make the hard decisions—the decisions that create more work or hassle for you but ultimately are what the situation requires for them to learn a lesson, endure a consequence, etc.”

Leadership:

“Let’s be clear on one thing: being a great leader is not a personality contest. You should be a lot less concerned whether your children like or agree with your decisions and requirements, and put much more emphasis on executing your priorities, good judgments and actions in their best interest. Many parents make the mistake of chasing their child’s approval. Perhaps those parents are not feeling appreciated and validation from their work or their spouse, so they substitute the child’s favorable regard or affirmation. Since we already know children will act in the interest of what they “want” instead of what they “need”, this is a huge mistake for a parent to make.”

What’s your strategy for parenting? If you are too authoritarian and keep too much control over your child’s behaviors and decisions, they won’t know how to take over those jobs when it becomes their time to do so, and they lack confidence and can become incompetent. If you’ve spoiled them by allowing them to do mostly as they please, they develop a sense of entitlement and can’t handle the difficulty life will surely dish out.

Leadership requires setting the standards for behavior. Set the standards high. Let you children know you ‘expect’ a lot from them. Create an environment where they are accountable for their actions. Encourage initiative, helpfulness and keep your focus on the child’s behavior choices, judgments and attitude.”

A Structure of Reward and Discipline:

“If you find yourself yelling at the kids or becoming angry, you are not in control of the situation, and you’ve probably made five or six requests without success, and waited far too long to institute a punishment. Your frustration just got the better of you. Tighten it up. It’s easier on everyone if you do. Don’t ask repeatedly, getting angrier with each verbal volley. Ask twice then give a consequence.”

“The biggest mistake I see parents make is that when they get in a disagreement with a child—especially teenagers—they spend most of their time trying to persuade or convince the child to do what they’re asking. Generally you need to ask initially, unless you’re giving an instruction or making a statement. But either way, if you’re the leader, the authority figure, the one they should respect and obey, what you ask or tell should zoom to the top of your child’s ‘to do’ list.”

“The best way to create a stable, fair and loving home life for your children is to provide an environment where, as Dr. Phil says, “they can predict with 100% accuracy what the consequences of their behavior will be.” This means if they do the right things, make good choices and demonstrate mature, responsible behaviors, there should be rewards for those choices and actions. Remember, you’re more likely to see a behavior repeated which is rewarded.”

…on giving children what they need to take with them:

Maturity:

“Maturity is the ability to manage and resolve frustrated desires ALONE.

There are many immature adults running around the world, and since they are so handicapped by their inability to manage their emotions and frustrations, they tend to give up, bail out, avoid and run away from adult responsibilities and situations. This is the biggest reason there are as many divorces as there are. How you raise your children will affect them for the rest of their lives. Do a good job!

Set the rules, determine the consequences for failing to follow them, and consistently require your children to adhere to them. When they pout, become moody, self absorbed or disrespectful, demonstrate poor judgment or bad attitudes, provide lots of reasons why continuing that behavior would be a bad idea.

Allow them to manage their frustrations and come out on the other side with a resolution. When their grades, attitudes and judgments are mature and appropriate, praise them and reward those behaviors with benefits and positive consequences. When they excel at doing well, bonus them with more rewards. Mimic how life works so they won’t be surprised when they get out there on their own. Teach them how to be resourceful and independent.”

Confidence:

“Confidence and competence are two different things. To raise a child with a high level of competence they must experience success or mastery in the things they attempt to learn or accomplish. It’s not difficult. Confidence, as the dictionary will tell you, is the same as ‘self assurance, self-belief, self-reliance’. Knowing he or she is okay no matter what, or will be able to ‘figure it out’ on their own—and especially when things are tough, or NOT going their way—is the heart of confidence. As we have all experienced, it’s pretty easy to feel buoyant and full of yourself when things are going according to plan and not much is required of you. It’s quite another in the middle of a problem or stressful situation, or a challenge to have the calmness that comes with an inner knowing you’ll be okay in the end.”

“Parents can help their children develop this certainty and confidence by ‘testing’ their inner resources and challenging them to go past the limits of what they know or think they can do. This should happen in the context of school, socially, in their hobbies and recreational activities. Push the envelope—think outside the box, be creative, dig deep, have a ‘can do’ attitude and press on to the solution. This includes visualizing success and imagining the solutions. Teach your kids to do what successful people do: believe in yourself, assume the best, plan for the worst, and always set your goals high.”

Compassion:

“The ability to have feelings for, or understand the plight of another in need and respond to that situation with kindness, sympathy or assistance is one of the very best traits a human can have. Call it what you will; sensitivity, decency, thoughtfulness, consideration, empathy, insight, they all are hallmarks of a caring, decent person.”

“Notice how the perspective of considering the feelings, needs and thoughts of others is critical to being compassionate? The same skills needed to be a successful spouse and parent later in life are necessary to learn at a younger age. To do so is the building block of a rich and satisfying life.

In fostering compassion in your child, you will help them develop empathy, sensitivity, tenderness, tolerance and even mercy.”

… on Parenting Teenagers:

“If you have a teenager, your time to influence and shape their future is rapidly drawing to a close. Your teenager will be pulling further away from you, making more decisions on their own and putting into practice the lessons—good and bad—you’ve taught. They aren’t ‘all grown up’ yet… but they’ll be making more and more choices that have grown-up consequences. As we adults know only too well, a seemingly small or innocent decision can have very undesirable impacts or life-altering results. Teenagers haven’t perfected the art of thinking through the outcome of the decisions they make, and they need the independence to learn that which is learned best through experience.

“Having a bad attitude just seems to go hand-in-hand with being a teenager sometimes. But just so you’ll clearly understand, the temper tantrum they throw when they’re 3 is the same kind of defiance and bad attitude they display with the dreaded eye-roll and heavy, exasperated sigh. And if that ‘I’ve got one last nerve and you’re standing on it’ behavior is something you consider unwanted, consequence it. Acting like your parent is a moron, debating or challenging what an authority figure tells you is disrespectful and should be treated as such.”

“Having a good attitude about things is a sign of maturity. Learning to handle and then overcome their feelings or annoyances so they can do what is required of them is the skill you’re looking for them to develop. They’ll certainly need that skill in a job or in any serious relationship they ever have. Overcome feelings and act in the right way. What a great day when they master that! Then they’re ready for the benefits which come with maturity.”

Resources:

“Contracts” – agreement of what is expected from both parties, rules for how to accomplish the expectations, and promises of performance. To be effective, contracts need to be a “win-win”— both sides need to benefit from participating.

“House Rules” – the ultimate family document with details to create stability and consistency

“Token Economy” – A fun system of multi-level rewards – motivate young children to produce good grades

and good behavior without nagging or reminding them!