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Instruction Manual for Kids: Parenting Nuggets

Over the past two months that Vintage Kids has been up and running we have taken parenting to task, and really hit hard the reality that YOU are the parent.  For those of you new to CBB here are some of the articles (Parenting in the Check Out Lane, Rock Their World, Secret Handshake, Center of The Universe, Big Red Hairy Monster, Discipline and Praise, An Instruction Manual for Kids).

Now that we are coming to grips with the (sometimes harsh) reality of our roles and jobs as parents, I’m going to start giving some quick and practical parenting tips—that to be quite honest has kept our household sane!

First, and this tends to be a hard one, you must, must, must always remember that you are always ‘training’ your kids; and they are always assessing how much you are allowing them to ‘get away with’.  Lucy Kessler’s article (Parenting in the Check Out Lane) really focuses on this one, as well as offering good and practical suggestions on how to train your kids.

Second, you need to take time and actually decide what your family boundaries are and why (if you always respond to situations out of frustration and irritation, then you will be hopelessly inconsistent and leave your kids confused -take a look at The Importance of Follow Through).  You need to know the ‘why’s’ of your boundaries, and be able to explain them in a way your child will understand.  Sorry, but ‘because I’m the parent and I said so’ doesn’t count. You must be able to explain why you have the boundaries that you have.

Third,  you need to learn to recognize the difference in your child when they are ignorant/forgetting the rules vs. rebellion—and correct them accordingly.  Rebellion and disobedience must always be corrected…always.  Are there times I do pull the ‘I’m the parent and I said so’ card?  Absolutely, but I don’t just throw that out there by itself.  If I can see that look in my kids eye where they are deciding whether to challenge me, and they throw down a ‘WHY?’; then I respond with, ‘First, I shouldn’t have to tell you why and explain myself, I am your parent and I have instructed you.  I will explain my ‘why’ (then I do- this is where I’m sneaking in a teachable moment and helping to develop their critical thinking skills, so they can learn to think).  After this I repeat that I should not have to explain myself, in order for them to obey.  They must obey FIRST, and then they are more than welcome to ask me “why?”.  This whole encounter sounds very ‘methodical’ and in a way it almost is. But instead of methodical it is actually intentional. I definitely put my personality into it and soften it as necessary, but I am extremely aware of my word selection and use ‘weighty’ words like: obey, instruction, not permitted, choose, etc.

Fourth,  you must always be in charge of your child and their attitude.  This one, again, is one of those tricky ones that you will have to develop within yourself over time.  When our kids come to us whining we immediately tell them to stop and talk clearly.  This usually takes several times of telling them to stop.  We tell them that we want to hear what they are saying, but we cannot understand whining.  This is a delicate place where you don’t want them to think you don’t care what has upset them, but you are teaching them to control their emotions and calm themselves.  We never let them proceed with their story if they are whining.  We firmly and lovingly tell them they need to calm themselves down and choose to stop whining.  (yes, we ALWAYS tell them they are choosing to whine and they need to choose to stop).  We never let them walk off with a huffy and bad attitude.  If you allow your kids to stomp off huffy then that is a sure sign that they don’t understand what you are trying to teach them.  Their feelings will be hurt, and they will be convinced that you don’t care.  More important than their story or even the reason they are whining is the fact they cannot calm themselves and talk clearly.  We start with where they are at presently (whiny and fussy), correct the present then work our way backwards to their story.  We then ask them why they responded the way they did and how they should have responded.  Yes, this whole deal takes a lot of time… but…you know what…it’s called parenting!

This brief list is a good starting place, and hopefully encourages you to get a different perspective on how to interact with your children.

What are some other tips that you have?


This post was shared on Women Living Well Wednesdays at Women Living Well

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