9 Ways To Raise Respectful Children (Part III)

We have come to the final post on how to raise respectful children. If you haven’t done so yet, go back to read Part I and Part II of this series.

8. Respectful Communication

Listen To Them

Nobody likes to be ignored, nobody likes to feel that they’re being ignored. The reason why I make this distinction is because it is all about how actions are perceived by others. If we are ‘listening’ to someone but we are not making eye contact or we are putting away groceries at the same time; the other person might feel she’s being ignored. This has the same effect as if we, in fact, were ignoring her.

When our children feel we are not listening to them, they feel unimportant, small, unappreciated, not valued, unworthy of our attention (and love). Children need us to fully listen to them, validate their message and respond accordingly. They need our undivided attention.

I’m not saying that you should drop everything as soon as your child wants to talk to you. That wouldn’t teach them respect, it would teach them that we don’t have enough respect for ourselves and that we are at their beck and call all the time. They will learn that lesson and believe that what we are doing at any given moment is not important and they can interrupt and demand immediate attention.

That’s not what I’m suggesting. What I am suggesting is that we acknowledge our child’s need for connection and conversation. If we are doing something else, we can let them know we heard them and we will be with them as soon as we can. While doing this, we need to be mindful to not make our children feel like they always have to wait, and that there’s always something more important than they are. We need to strike a balance, and that’s the tricky part!

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Let Them Finish

We all know the feeling of trying to make a point or express our opinion, while the other person is constantly interrupting us. We feel ignored, disrespected and frustrated, and we probably lose interest in talking to that person again.

When we do that to our children, we are showing them that we don’t care about what they are talking about, and that we feel that what we have to do is more important or interesting than what they’re saying. Whether we mean it or not, that’s the message our children receive.

Because of my childhood experiences, I feel specially hurt when I feel that someone is constantly highjacking my conversation. That’s why I am especially attentive when it comes to give my children the chance to finish their thoughts, and to fully express their ideas before interjecting mine.

Encourage Them To Use Their Voice

Our children need to know that what they think, feel and say matters. They need to know that their voices count, and they should use them. What better place to learn and practice this than at home?

Let your children make choice, solve problem, make decisions, and express their opinions -even if they’re different than yours.

Don’t belittle their opinions by saying “that makes no sense”, “what do you know?, you’re just a kid”, “don’t question my decisions”, “that’s ridiculous”… Instead invite them to share and explain their point of view with sentences such as “what do you think about that?”, “what do you think we should do?”, “can you explain me that better?”.

Avoid talking for your children. Let them answer for themselves when talking to other people. That will not only show them that you respect their opinions, but that you expect other people to respect them as well.

That’s a great way to let them know you respect them, that they should respect themselves and that they’re worth being respected by others. When our children learn how to use their voice, it becomes their biggest defense against bullying, low self-esteem, and even sexual abuse. Let them learn this at home!

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9. Foster Autonomy

Don’t Do For Your Children What They Can Do For Themselves

You might be wondering what does this have to do with raising respectful kids. When we treat our children like babies and do everything for them, we are in fact, disrespecting. In fact, you are crippling them. Undue service is disrespectful.

When our children learn that they are capable, and that they can be self-sufficient, they grow into responsible adults, with pride in their capabilities, and with great self-esteem. They know they can manage, and it makes them so much happier. You know how you feel when you accomplish something difficult. Let them enjoy the same joy and be their cheering section when they do.

In general, avoid doing for your children what he can do for themselves. Give them space and time to do things for themselves. There’s nothing to gain from stripping away our child’s autonomy – even when they are really little – other than the short-term relief of not having to be patient and calm, as our child struggles to do something on his own. Let them do it!

Allow Them To Make Their Own Decisions

Allowing your children to make their own decisions is one of the best ways to empower them, and show them that you respect them and their ideas. Obviously, I am not suggesting that our children should run our household. The idea is to let them make age-appropriate decisions, within certain parameters defined by you.

For example, your toddler can choose his outfit out of two you have already picked out. Your preschooler can decide whether he wants to eat the broccoli and the mashed potatoes together or separately. Your elementary school child can choose whether he reads the book to you or whether you read it to him. Your high schooler can choose when it’s the best time for him to do his homework.

When we don’t give our children the choice to make their own decision, it will foster an inability to make their own decisions later in life. They will not be able to respect their own opinions and ideas, because they have learned that those ideas are wrong or not worth considering. Therefore, they will navigate life with no self-confidence, no self- esteem, and. no respect for themselves.

I hope this series about how to raise respectful children was helpful to you. Is there anything I’ve missed? Let me know!

Much love, Diana-

Read Part I of the series 9 Ways to Raise Respectful Children

Read Part II of the series 9 Ways to Raise Respectful Children

Respectful Parents, Respectful Kids

In line with our April Parenting Resolution, I was thinking about what is the best book about ‘RESPECT.’ This book is a gem in that regard!

It covers everything we’ve been talking about this month about how respectful parents raise respectful children, and more. In this book, the authors invite parents to move beyond common discipline gimmicks, into practical advice on how foster mutual respect and connection.

This book focuses on understanding what makes us tick, why we feel the way we do, why we do the things we do. As I have mentioned many times, everything begins with us, the parents.  This book does a great job helping us understand our own thoughts, feelings, triggers and behaviors, as well as those of our children.

As you go through it, you will realize that the philosophy taught in this book, applies to every relationship, not just the one with your children. I’d invite you to get a copy and enjoy the read.

If you don’t have time to read, listen to it! Audible is my best discovery! Check it out!

Let me know what you think! What are the key lessons you got out of it?

Much love, Diana-

9 Ways To Raise Respectful Children (Part II)

We continue with our series on how to raise respectful children, if you haven’t done so already, head back to my previous article to read the first 3 tips I shared.

4. Identify The Cause For Disrespect

When our child disrespects us by yelling at us, talking back, hitting, bitting… we should first try to figure out what is causing him to act this way.

  • Is it because he is harboring some resentment towards us from something that happened in the past? Remember the story I shared before about my 9 year old blatantly yelling “NO” to me?
  • Is it because he doesn’t have the ability to communicate his feelings? Does he lack the vocabulary or knowledge to describe his feelings?
  • Is it because he doesn’t have the tools to work through the situation and his feelings are overwhelming him?
  • Is it because it is developmentally appropriate for him to be testing boundaries?
  • Is it because that is what we have modeled for him?
  • Is it because our boundaries and rules have been shaky, and he has learned that he can get what he wants by pushing back long enough?

What is the cause for the disrespect? Children aren’t born with the intention to disrespect their parents. There’s always a reason behind their behavior. The tough part of parenting here is to stay calm, figure out the reason behind the behavior, and then address that reason.

5. Kind And Firm Discipline

Many of us fall in the trap of becoming too permissive when we try to follow conscious and positive parenting. However, positive parenting calls for having kind but firm boundaries and rules. Set few, but clear and firm boundaries, and stick to them all the time. This way your child will know what to expect in every situation.

When the boundaries are broken, respond with kindness, acknowledging feelings, needs and wants, while still maintaining the boundary. Yelling and punishing in response to theirs is not helpful and often only escalates behavior.

If you are in public,  don’t discipline them for everyone to see, don’t shout at them, admonish them loudly, criticize them or correct them in front of others, or embarrass them. Instead, pull them aside in a calm manner, and quietly address the disrespect or misbehavior making your expectations firm and clear, and following through with consequences if necessary.

For example, before you take your toddler to a playground remind him of acceptable and not-acceptable behavior (i.e. hitting, pushing, taking away toys…), and the consequences (i.e. leaving the playground). If your toddler breaks those rules in the playground, pull him aside and remind him what’s expected once. If the disrespectful behavior continues, calmly follow through and leave the playground.

Your toddler will learn that your word is to be trusted, that the boundaries are firm, that his actions and decisions have consequences, and that despite his behavior he is loved and respected. 

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6. Apologize When You Mess Up

A mature, respectful grownup takes responsibility and apologizes when he or she makes mistakes. That’s what we hope our children to learn, and that’s what we should expect from ourselves.

Parents who respect their kids, acknowledge their mistakes, and apologize for them, even when that means that their kids were right and they were wrong. There’s nothing wrong with being wrong, or with making mistakes. It’s important to show our kids that we are fully capable of not only recognizing when we are incorrect, but showing them how we learn from our mistakes, learn the lesson, correct our behaviors, and become a better version of ourselves.

I mess up more than I would like to admit. I sometimes lose my temper,  let the stress of the moment overcome my better judgement, yell, bend my rules because I exhausted… I sometimes am not the best example for my daughters. However, every time I mess up, I apologize. I don’t let them go to sleep without letting them know that I acknowledge my shortcomings, and that I’m working to avoid them in the future.

7. Praise Respectful Behavior

Don’t miss any chance to let your child know when he’s acting well, and be specific when doing so. Go back to my previous post and read all about how to point out and encourage your child’s respectful behavior.

Much love, Diana-

Read Part I of the series 9 Ways to Raise Respectful Children

Read Part III of the series 9 Ways to Raise Respectful Children

9 Ways To Raise Respectful Children (Part I)

As I mentioned yesterday, we can’t expect our children to be respectful by being disrespectful to them. It all start with us. When we treat our children disrespectfully, we are making them lose their respect for us. If our child is strong will, we will surely face rebellion and constant confrontation. If our child is more easy going, we might get temporary compliance out of him, that may resemblance respect. But as soon as he can make their own decisions, we will find ourselves wondering why he doesn’t respect us anymore.

How can we make sure our children grow up being respectful, not only to us, but to themselves and to others?

1. Define What Respect Is

We often get confused as to what respect means. Many of us equate respect with blind obedience. That is though, a dangerous goal to have when raising your children. Most of us would say that we want our children to grow up into adults who are self-confident, outspoken, curious, strong, determined… How will they grow up to be that when we don’t let them practice those characteristics when they are little?

We do our children a disservice, when we demand our children to do as they’re told, without questioning our requests; when we constantly tell them what to do and how to think; or when we expect them to never speak their mind. When we do that, we are not teaching them to be respectful to us, we are teaching them to be fearful of us, and to lose respect for themselves.

2. Set Realistic Expectations For Your Children’s Behavior

We sometimes forget that our children are that, children. We usually expect too much of them, too soon. There is usually a change in our expectations as soon as our child becomes verbal and mobile. We somehow assume that they can think rationally, that they can control their feelings, that they can stop and breathe when they get frustrated, that they can listen and do what we ask of them… That’s neither realistic, nor fair.

As adults have trouble regulating our own emotions at times. We have trouble doing what we set out to do or what we know we need to do. We make mistakes. We forget things. We snap out when we don’t sleep well… We are humans, and so are our children. Make sure you place unrealistic and age-appropriate expectations on your child, and that you are forgiving when the behavior is not as you expected.

Be consistent in your expectations. When you are lax one day and firm the next day, you are showing disrespect for the relationship with your child. It tells your child that you can’t be trusted and that the boundaries are not really there to stick.

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3. Demonstrate Respectful Behavior

“We don’t generally give our children the kind of respect that we demand from them.” Jerry Wyckoff

Think about this. We often demand a behavior from our children that we don’t display ourselves. Let’s focus on teaching our child  how to respect by respecting her, by treating your child as a person in the same way you would treat adults.

What better way to teach a behavior than modeling the behavior we want to teach? It is hypocritical to expect our children to respect us, when we don’t respect them. Would you respect someone who tells you that smoking is horrible as they light up a cigarette? Would you respect someone who tells you that you need to exercise and eat healthy as they sit around on the couch all day eating chips? The answer is no. The same goes with respect!

Respect cannot be demanded. It can only be earned. Let’s earn our children’s respect and they will grown up into respectful people.

Much love, Diana-

Read Part II of the series 9 Ways to Raise Respectful Children

Read Part III of the series 9 Ways to Raise Respectful Children

Which comes first, a respectful child or a respectful parent?

Many parents would say that they yell at their kids, grab their kids, spank their kids… because they aren’t listening, they aren’t doing their chores… Insert whatever you want your kids to do that they’re not doing.

This argument is often followed by the sentence ‘If only he… I wouldn’t have to…’ The truth is that our children aren’t making us do anything, they aren’t making us respond in a certain way, they aren’t making us be disrespectful to them.

If a parent treats a child in an unkind, inpatient, abusive, overpowering manner (i.e. disrespectful manner), the child will either retreat and become a people pleaser, or the child will treat the parent the same way. However, if a parent treats a child with kindness and respect, the child will treat the parent with kindness and respect.

The answer to the question ‘which comes first, a respectful parent or a respectful child?’ is obviously ‘the parent.’ As everything in life, it all begins with us, the parents. Our children are still learning how to relate to other people. We need to help them do it by setting an example, starting by how we relate to them.

 

Think of this situation…

My nine-year-old daughter blatantly yells at me “NO” when I ask her to go brush her teeth. The tone and the attitude cut me deeply, I feel disrespected, and my mind goes immediately into reaction. My thoughts range from “how dare she talk to me like that?”, to “I should be stricter with her, and punish her to end this attitude.”

However, I pause, I breath and I don’t react. Instead, I respond “I don’t like it when you talk to me like that.” As I remove myself from the situation for a few seconds, I try to understand what may be upsetting my daughter, because to me, that disproportionate reaction has nothing to do with brushing her teeth.

I remember than she had been trying to show me a world she had built in Minecraft all afternoon. I was busy with my three-year-old, and helping her twin with homework. I kept saying “not right now” and “I’ll come find you when I can sit down and see it.” However, that moment never came. We carried on with our crazy afternoon, took showers, prepared dinner, had dinner, and before I knew it, it was time for bed. So, I sent her to brush her teeth. Then, it hit me. I realized I had done the same to her with my actions. I told her “No” repeatedly ruring the afternoon.

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After she brushed her teeth and got into her bed. I sat down with her and told her “You’re the sweetest girl I know. I had never heard you yell at me like that. Is there something bothering you? How can I help?.”

She opened up about how I had been ignoring her all afternoon, and how she really wanted to share with me this really cool world she had created in Minecraft. She had been patient all afternoon and had cooperated with me, and trusted that I was going to follow through with my promise to sit with her and let her tell me all about her exciting accomplishment. When she realized that wasn’t going to happen she snapped at me.

After this conversation, we hugged, I apologized for not having kept my word, and I promised I would sit with her the following day. Immediately after, without being prompt or asked to, she apologized for yelling at me and being rude. See? I modeled the behavior I expected from her, and she learned it.

Had I reacted to her “NO” in the heat of the moment, the situation would’ve been very different. It would’ve probably escalated, we would’ve entered a power struggle, I would’ve probably yelled at her for yelling at me, I would’ve missed the chance to connect with her, she would’ve resented me, she would’ve lost interest in sharing her important things with me, and our relationship would’ve suffered.

I am certainly not perfect. I mess up on a daily basis, but I wanted to share with you a situation in which I chose the right way to act, setting a good example for my daughter.

Respectful children are raised by respectful parents. To Learn Respect, Children Must First Be Respected

Much love, Diana-

5 Ways to Stop Being a Toxic Critical Parent

After my last two posts, you might have realized that you are more critical than you would like with your child. No need to go into instant panic mode if you’ve caught yourself being overly critical, but it is time to change your ways. Experts say that the negative impact on wellbeing that overly critical parents have, is comparable in scale to that observed in people who have suffered a bereavement. Thankfully, We can overcome our natural tendencies and break the cycle.

1. Awareness

You’re probably the last to know whether you’re an overly critical person. If someone says you’re too critical, you probably are. The first step to change our ways to be aware that we need to change. Go back to my previous post and check yourself.

2. Listening

There is no better cure for constant criticism than patient and respectful listening. Listening to our children doesn’t mean we have to agree with what they’re saying, or that we have to give in to all of their demands. It just means that we make a sincere effort to understand their point of view, and to acknowledge their feelings and perspective.

If you find yourself constantly repeating things, and frustrated because your child doesn’t listen; check how you’re modeling what listening is.

 

3. Avoid Overreacting and Creating Mountains Out Of Molehills

Before opening your mouth to criticize or point out something wrong about your child, stop and question yourself. Is that really a necessary, useful, constructive and uplifting feedback? If the answer is no, learn to put things in perspective and let things slide every once in a while.

Strike a balance between being in charge and letting your child have freedom. Even if you don’t like the mismatched socks or the messy playroom, swallow your criticism and give your child space to learn from his mistakes and become the person he’s meant to be.

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4. Describe Behavior, Not The Child

When there’s really a behavior that needs to be addressed, show respect to your child and focus on the negative behavior rather than speaking negatively about your child. By focusing on behavior, you can help your child see her actions as something she needs to work on rather than questioning her self-worth.

Of course, avoid any kind of insults and character assassination. As you know, our words become our child’s inner voice. We want that inner voice to be positive and empowering, not critical and destructive.

Finally, avoid making generalizations. When correcting your child, describe the specific situation. Instead of “you never listen,” try “you did not listen to me now when I asked you to empty your backpack.” That way, your child understand that there’s something specific they can work on and change. Whereas if it’s something they ‘always’ do, they will assume it’s part of their character and will feel less capable of changing it.

 

5. Give 5 Positive Comments For Every Negative One

Like Dr. Phil says “It takes 1,000 ‘atta boys’ to erase one ‘you’re an idiot.” Make it a rule for yourself to make sure you give 5 positive comments to your child for every negative one. At the beginning it’ll be difficult to focus on the positive and embrace your child as she is, but the more you do it, the easier it will be.

Make your praise and positive comments as descriptive as possible. Avoid using empty or vague comments such as “Great job” or “Good girl.” Instead describe what they’ve done that you felt needed to be note “You were very loving when you helped your sister climb up the stairs,” or “You did a tremendous job cleaning up your toys after your playdate.”

Try to make you statements about them, not about you. Notice I didn’t say “I like how you cleaned up your toys,” but “You did a tremendous job cleaning up your toys.” There’s no condition for my liking them. The idea here is to help your child develop a sense of internal evaluation, allowing them to take responsibility for their actions and pride in their achievements.

Let’s all work on being less critical to our children!

Much love, Diana-

My child doesn’t listen!

Do you repeat the same thing over and over again without response? Are you frustrated because your child doesn’t listen to you?

If your answer is ‘yes’, you’re not alone! Those are some of the most common complaints I hear from parents during my private consultations; and whenever I hear that, two questions always come to my mind:

1. What do we really mean by ‘listening’?

Is it a synonym of ‘obeying’? More often than not, when parents complain about their children not listening, what they really mean is that their children do not drop whatever it is they’re doing, right the second the parent asks them to do something.

Therefore, the issue is not so much about ‘listening’ as it is about ‘compliance and obedience.’ I believe in parenting with love and respect, and ‘obedience’ does not fit into this definition. The same way I wouldn’t expect my spouse or any other adult to blindly obey what I say, I don’t expect that from my daughters either. Obedience, in my book, is NOT the epitome of good parenting.

As Alphie Kohn points out in his book ‘Unconditional Parenting’ that when parents are asked what their long term goals for their children are, they say they want their kids to be ethical, compassionate, independent, happy, accomplished, self-confident, etc. No parent says they want their children to grow up into obedient adults. I certainly do not want my daughters to grow up to be compliant women, I want them to question authority, to have their own opinions, to make their own decisions (and their own mistakes), to be creative… and to not mindlessly obey anybody (not even me!).

Most of what we see as disobedience in our children is either natural, curious, discovering, learning, developmentally appropriate behavior; a way of letting you know that one of their needs is not being met; or a reaction to a situation in which they do not feel comfortable or safe with, or have no control over.

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The need for children’s obedience that many parents have is usually associated with parents’ fear that…

  • the child will grow up to be a rebellious, sociopath, anarchist monster. This terrible view of humane nature is not based on any empirical evidence.
  • they will be misunderstood by their peers and by family. After all, most people still believe a good child is an obedient child.
  • their child will have trouble at school with her teachers. Many teachers are still not open to the idea of having their students questioning their lessons.

Forcing children into blind obedience has terrible consequences. Children might not learn to think for themselves and will always value their parents’ (or other authoritative figure’s) voice over their own. They might not learn how to make their own decisions. They might be pushed around and manipulated by their peers.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating permissive parenting, I am not arguing that children can be disrespectful and have no limits, I am not suggesting that children can do as they please whenever they want. I am proposing a way of parenting that is based on mutual respect, love and cooperation; and that will eliminate the power struggles between the parent and the child and will allow the child to turn into an independent, confident and mindful adult.

 

2. How well do we listen to our children?

As with many other issues in parenting, the way our children do something tends to be a direct reflection of how we do that same thing. What does this mean? It means that in order to get your child to listen, you first have to listen to her. If they feel listened to, they will be more inclined to listen to you. It is that simple and that complicated!

We are giving our children the best example of what listening is all about. We are modeling a certain way of listening and communicating for them. How do you listen when your child talks to you? How do you usually respond when your child talks to you or asks you to do something for her (read a book, tell a story, play on the floor, go see a bug…)? Is your common response any of these…?

  • Delay request (i.e. ‘Just a minute,’ ‘I can’t right now, I doing something else’)
  • Casual nod, but no eye-to-eye connection (i.e. ‘Umm’)
  • Uninterested response while you’re still looking at your cellphone (i.e. ‘I see’)
  • No response, just ignore and go on with what you’re doing
  • Repeated (and not very uplifting) lecture (i.e. ‘I told you many times not to…,’ ‘That happened because you….’)
  • Constant interruptions
  • Frequent commands
  • Response before they are done talking

Ignoring

As parents we often create communication problems with our children, because we don’t really listen to what they are saying. Whenever we don’t listen to our children, they notice. Not listening does not only mean that we are not hearing what they are saying, it also means that we are not plugged in with what they are trying to tell us. We make assumptions about what they are trying to say, we draw conclusions without making sure we understood the message. We talk too much or launch into lectures.

The best way I know to get children to listen is to listening to them first. Listening intently, listening with interest, listening making sure we ‘get’ what they are saying, listening making sure we understand what’s not being said, and listening making sure our children know they are loved, always and that we are listening.

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Parenting is a journey in which we have the opportunity to learn about ourselves, about our children and about human nature. Parenting is the best journey towards self-understanding, personal improvement, mindfulness and consciousness.

Let’s love the ride!

Much love, Diana-

 

April Parenting Resolution: Respect

It is always easier to lose our temper when we are tired, stressed, trying to figure out what to do, improvising what to do each day, and completely disconnected from our kids. Therefore, now that we are taking care of ourselves and our relationships, we have re-connected with our kids and know how to love on them a little bit better, and we have established good routines that work for our family, we can start focusing more on modeling good behavior. Good behavior has its roots in respect, it all begins with respect.

The overarching theme is a respect for children, and treating them with the same importance and positive regard as I would want to be treated.

One of the most important aspects of respectful parenting is treating children like people. Our children are whole people from the moment they are born, deserving of the same respect as anyone else.

Unfortunately, in our society, children are not often treated with enough respect. They are often seen as inferior to adults. Respecting our children means not to treat them in ways that would be offensive if done to an adult. That means they shouldn’t be yelled at, grabbed, disregarded, belittled, hit, insulted, manipulated…

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Children are unique people with unique personalities, unique likes and dislikes, unique preferences, and unique points of view that we should respect. Respecting our children means controlling our impulse to lose it when they act like the immature little human beings that they are, to listen to what they have to say and to take their perspectives into consideration.

Respecting our children is not forcing them into blind compliance, but meeting them where they are and leading them with gentle guidance in the direction we want them to go, just the way we would do with an adult.

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The heart of respectful parenting is following the Golden Rule and treating your kids the way you’d want to be treated — if you were a kid.

When we treat our kids with respect, we open paths of communication and build a relationship built on trust. I would consider myself a pretty respectful parent, but there are times when I lose it or when I give my daughters orders without acknowledging their point of view. During the month of April, I will focus on RESPECT.

How are you going to meet this month’s resolution?

Much love, Diana-

Are your discipline methods turning you into a bully?

Children need boundaries, rules and discipline. Children need know limits and to have a structure in their lives. Having said that, how do you discipline your kids? When I talk about discipline I’m not talking about punitive actions, I’m talking about teaching our children consequences and raising them to become healthy, happy, succesful and contributing members of our society.

Every child is different and we must adjust our parenting and disciplining techniques to each of them. However, there are major lines that I belive we should never cross as parents. You know where I stand on spanking and/or physical punishments.

I’ve been puzzled by all the news about extreme parenting and discipline measures that have come up over the last few months, such as parents shaming their children on facebook for not listening, a house of horrors where multiple kids are abused and neglected… The list goes on and on, and on. What’s really happening? Are parents getting more out of control? Why do they think these parenting techniques are appropriate? Are some parents becoming their own children’s bullies?

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We all get angry, feel stressed and sometimes don’t know what to do with our kids. We all do! However causing emotional and/or physical pain to our children should never be the course of action, no matter what the lesson we are trying to teach them is.

As parents, we need to remember that part of our job is to guarantee the safety and wellbeing of our kids. We cannot let ourselves become the bully we fear they’ll encounter in school, by acting like this. It is not ok to privately or publicly humiliate our children, it is not ok to cause them physical harm, it is not ok to make them feel unloved, it is just not ok!

When it comes to disciplining, these are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Maintain your cool and composure. If you need to take a break (time-out), do so. But do not depart from the good behavior you want your kids to emulate.
  • Teach them by doing. If it’s not ok to lie, don’t lie to them; if it’s not ok to hit, don’t hit them; if it’s good to have a balanced diet, eat a balanced diet with them…
  • You’re not the disciplinarian, their actions are. Their actions are the ones creating consequences. Help them understand that they are disciplining themselves, not you.
  • Don’t become the ‘bad guy’. We cannot become ‘the bad guy’ in our kids’ lives. As I mentioned in my previous post, they need to feel unconditionally loved, even when they’re misbehaving.
  • There’s nothing wrong with them, their behavior is the problem. Make sure your children understand that they are not bad or naughty, but that their behavior can be improved.
  • Don’t hold grudges. Once the action has passed, once your child has been disciplined and learned the lesson, let it go! Forgive and move on. Do not stay mad at your child for long, avoid dirty looks or bad answers.
  • Choose consequences that match the behavior.
  • Remember that our child is not trying to give us a hard time, he’s having a hard time (managing his emotions, controlling his impulses, trying to communicate with us, being tired or hungry…).

When it comes to raising our children, we need to always have present in our mind, that we love them and that they need to feel that love. If you ever feel that you’re getting out of control, that you need to physically or psychologically harm your children to teach them a lesson, that you don’t know what else to do, that you are about to snap… seek help! Help in the form of a friend, a spouse, a relative, a childcare professional, a parenting coach… Don’t let yourself go to the extreme when it comes to disciplining your children.

I know this is easier said than done, and I also know that most of us will fail a this at some point. What’s important though is that we keep this is mind and that we do our best every day.

Much love, Diana-

10 Things To Do When You Lose It With Your Child

We have all been there. None of us is perfect, and we all have days or moments when we lose control and our ‘positive and gentle parenting’ goes out the window.

I have never spanked, hit, pushed… or used any other form of corporal punishment with my daughters. But… I have yelled at them, I have taken their ‘priviledges’ (whatever that means) as a consequence for ‘bad behavior,’ I have even done a couple of time-outs (yes! not time-ins, time-outs). I KNOW none of those actions are right, but in the heat of the moment, on those (rare) occasions when I lose it, for a few seconds, I thought it was fine to do it (but it wasn’t!).

Did they work? No; Did they scare, anger, sadden… my girls? Yes; Do I regret it? Absolutely! And that’s why every day, I work on myself, to better myself as a parent. Because, at the end of the day… when we lose it, it has nothing to do with our children, it has to do with ourselves. It has to do with our lack of ability to cope in a positive, constructive, respectful way in that particular moment. So… to avoid those situations, we shouldn’t try to change our children, but ourselves! Now, that’s another article!

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While I know each day is better, and this ‘crazy momma‘ moments are very rare; I also know that they might never completely dissapear. I wish they would, but I’m human, and therefore, imperfect. So, just in case, I lose it again, I make sure I know what to do AFTER the storm, to repair the connection with my daughters, learn and move forward. This is it:

1 – ACKNOWLEDGE

My feelings: “I got really angry with you when you made a huge mess in the bathroom”

My actions: “I yelled at you for it, and that was not nice or respectful”

My intentions: “I was trying to get you to understand that it is not nice to throw all the bath toys, body soap and towels on the batroom floor. I also wanted for you to fix it. But yelling didn’t accomplish any of that, right?”

My child’s feelings: “I scared you very much, didn’t I?”

2 – APOLOGIZE

“I am so sorry for having yelled at you. That wasn’t nice at all. I disrespected you and scared you, and I’m very sorry about it.”

3 – LET THE LOVE FLOW

“I love you very much, regardless of what you do”

My kids tend to hug my by this point, which is tremendously heartwarming, and a lesson on forgiveness. Our children are incredibly forgiving of our mistakes, especially while they’re young.

4 – PROMISE TO IMPROVE

“I promise I will do my very best, every day, to find ways to control my temper, and not to yell at you again. If I ever do it again, please know that I’m having a hard time controlling myself, that it has nothing to do with you, and that it doesn’t mean that I don’t love you”

I don’t promise them I will never do something again, because you can only promise to do your best to change that behavior. I don’t like lying to my kids, and wouldn’t make them a promise that I might break if I lose control.

5 – ASK FOR HELP

“Will you help me avoid yelling again at you? If you ever see me about to yell, or if I start yelling, please remind me that I am a nice mom and that I don’t want to yell because it scares you and makes things worse not better”

6 – THANK AND CONNECT

“Thank you for being so understanding. I love you! What can we do to have some special time together now?”

It can be hugging, reading a book, racing, having a snack… anything that brings back the love and connection with your child. Always connection, before correction! We will deal with the mess later.

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7 – DEAL WITH THE ISSUE

Now it’s the time to deal with the issue at hand, the one that drove me crazy to beging with.

“How can we fix this mess together?”

8 – PREVENT

“How can I help you remember not to do this again in the future?”

9 – FORGIVE YOURSELF

This is one of the hardest steps for me, because I know better, because I am a parent coach; and for some reason, even though I know I am not perfect and will never be, in my mind I still require that of myself from time time and I’m pretty hard on myself when I’m not the best I can be.

10 – SELFCARE

The last step is figuring out what made me lose it, was I too tired?, was I sleep deprived?, was I stressed about something?… what was it that put me in a state in which I couldn’t control my temper? It was not what my daughters did or didn’t do, that I know, so I always try to figure out what was going on with me, that made me too stressed, too tired, too overwhelmed, too distracted… to control my reactions.

More often than not, I blow up because I’m too tired or because I haven’t had the time to just relax and leave my mind wonder. If that’s the case, I make sure to go to sleep early that night and rest, and to take a bath before that to relax and free my mind.

Do you find yourself losing your temper with your children? What are your strategies to reconnect with your children after you blow up?

Much love, gentle mamas!

Diana Blanco~