WHEN THE PARENT ACTS AS A GUIDE
Parents often wonder what their role is and how they can fulfill it. This question is perfectly legitimate and research shows that acting as a coach/guide toward our children is the most effective role a parent can have. Demonstrating in details how you would like your child to behave, having her practice the behavior, and praising her along with constructive criticism promote healthy emotional and social development.
Here are a few tips about how to be an accomplished parent:
1. Be a good listener. Use good eye contact and get physically down to the level of your small child. Do not interrupt your child and ask open ended questions rather than questions that can be answered with a yes or no. Make sure you understand what your child tells you by repeating back to her what you heard.
2. Rather than telling her what not to do, teach and show her what to do. For instance, instead of saying “Don’t hit your sister”, tell her: “If you are angry at your sister, use your words.” You may need to model the phrase that your child could use. For instance, tell her: “You could say to your sister: “I don’t like when you take my doll, that makes me feel angry. Please ask me next time.”
3. Use descriptive praising when your child does something you appreciate. Be specific. For example, say “I like when you buckle your seat belt when you get into the car.”
4. Whenever possible, give her choices of when and how to comply to a request. This gives a feeling of power and belonging to your child who will think she is part of the family.
5. Spend quality time with your child on a regular basis. Your child needs emotional connection more than anything else. By playing with her, reading to her, discussing with her, or collaborating with her on a project, you show her your interest in who she truly is. This equals love to your child.
6. Help your child learn how to express how she feels. Ask her questions about her emotional state. “You look angry.”, “How are you feeling?”, “You seem angry about that.” Then validate her feelings “It is OK to feel sad when your play date is cancelled. “ Or “It must be really frustrating to hear your friend cannot come over.”
When you see your role as a guide or a coach toward your child, then your approach becomes more collaborative and constructive. You are helping your child become a socially, emotionally, and physically balanced individual.
As a parent and a therapist, I want to offer some tips on how to raise happy and healthy kids. Please feel free to comment on my posts.