Simplifying parenting

During my 9 years of motherhood there have been some instances where I have questioned my parenting decisions and asked myself if certain outcomes could have been different if I had tried another approach. At times I have self-doubt, guilt and parental anxiety caused by reading about today’s most pressing issues harming our children.

In my quest to finding guidance for raising an emotionally, physically and mentally healthy child, I had read parenting books & articles, listen to TED talks and podcasts, talked with other parents, made notes and tried the suggestions. But none of the advice or the results from using the insights had me get to an “A-ha–love, love, love this!” moment.

In the past year, I came across two parenting books which resonated immensely with me. These books help me deal with my parental misgivings and help me bring my focus back on loving my child unconditionally. These two gems are ‘The Self Driven Child’ by William Stixrud, Ph.D., and Ned Johnson and ‘Kids are Worth’ it by Barbara Coloroso.  I wish I had chanced upon these books earlier in my parenting journey! Now I always these two books handy to overcome my parenting doubts. These authors approach the problems we face with our kids today, such as stress, depression, lack of focus, addiction to media and other such tribulations with advice based on brain science, case studies, experience and research. Therefore, the advice is scientific & practical, yet the bedrock of their approach is for a caregiver to be empathetic, nuanced and loving. I have used suggestions from these books and have experienced positive results. Here is my list of ideas/phrases/reminders from both the books.

Kids are worth it!
Give your child the gift of inner discipline
Author: Barbara Coloroso

At the age of 17 in 1960, Ms. Coloroso entered a Franciscan convent to become a nun, and began her freshman year at university to become a special education teacher. In the introduction Ms. Coloroso says that her first year special education courses were based on behaviorist model, full of rewards, punishments, stickers, stars, threats and bribes. She felt a certain sense of discomfort as something didn’t feel right in what she was learning and had no idea about the ways to replace it. The following year she entered canonical novitiate, also known as year of silence and reflection. During this time she writes, “I began to challenge what I had learned in my education courses.” “Since there was no decisive winner or loser, when I began my teaching career I tried to reconcile the teaching methods with my philosophical tenets, but that didn’t work either. Believing kids were worth it simply because they were, not because they produced or behaved in a way I wanted them to, didn’t match with rewarding “appropriate behavior” or ignoring or punishing “inappropriate behavior.” Furthermore, she questions the controlling and manipulative ways of parenting and asks many questions, if such an approach can make kids responsible, resilient and resourceful? Or ‘could they develop a sense of inner discipline if all the control came from outside?’ She says her answer is more an approach than techniques—believing kids are worth it and not treating them in a way we would not want to be treated and behaving in a way that leaves our dignity intact. With a husband and 3 kids Ms. Coloroso says she is obviously not a nun nor a perfect parent. But she lays out the approach beautifully and in simple, practical steps.

  • What is my goal in parenting–to influence and empower my children or to control them and make them mind?
  • Kids are worth it!
  • I will not treat a child in a way I myself would not want to be treated.
  • If it works and leaves a child’s and my dignity intact, do it.
  • Creative power is influence, not force.
  • Six critical life messages given every day:
    • I believe in you
    • I trust you
    • I know you can handle life situations
    • You are listened to
    • You are cared for
    • You are very important to me
  • Discipline means:
    • Show children what they have done wrong
    • Give them ownership of the problem
    • Help them find ways of solving the problem
    • Leave their dignity intact.
    • If natural consequences are not life-threatening, morally threatening or unhealthy, it is good to let a child experience them without warning or reminders.
  • Three Alternatives to No
    • Yes, Later
    • Give me a minute
    • Convince me
  • Teach children how to think, not what to think

The Self-Driven Child
The science and sense of giving your children more control over their lives
Author: William Stixrud, PhD and Ned Johnson

 

Working on it! 🙂

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