There a 3 different types of parenting styles that create very different outcomes in your household and your parent/child relationship. Parents who are of the mind-set (authoritarian parenting) that they are ‘in charge,’ often fear what would happen if they gave their child any amount of control/power. They are the boss, the adult, and parent and what they say goes. On the other hand, (permissive parenting) are parents who have no boundaries in place and their kids are in control. Permissive parents are afraid to upset their kids and will do anything to be sure they are happy. These first 2 parenting styles are both missing the key factor of how to get their kids’ power to be balanced in a positive way. By creating an environment where your kids are given power in a controlled manner (positive discipline), you will notice that the negative power struggles diminish. With the above parenting types: authoritarian and permissive, the power is not directed or guided. The power is, more or less, flying around aimlessly between the parents and kids. No one quite knows where they stand. No one quite knows where their place lies within the family. This leaves everyone feeling frustrated and out of control.
The idea that all human beings were born hard-wired to need a certain amount of attention and power each day was first established by Alfred Adler. Years ago, he was the first philosopher to state that kids deserved to be treated with respect and dignity. They were equal to adults and they had the right to have choice and a voice. This was a true turning point for parenting.
Today, I suggest we think about our kids’ current power and attention. Are they getting a sufficient amount of both each day? Are we spending quality time and offering them lots of choice during their day? Kids need their power and attention buckets filled each day and as parents it’s our job to try and achieve this by allowing our kids freedom within limits. I don’t mean that all of a sudden your kids are in complete control. If I went this route we’d be heading back into the permissive parenting approach we talked about above. What I am talking about is a place where you are still the parent and you are there to make sure your child remains safe in their world. Some things such as seat belts and helmets are just non-negotiables. They have to happen in order to keep your kids safe. Other areas such as coats, hats and sweaters in the winter are not going to cause harm to your child if they don’t get worn. Allow them the POWER to have the CHOICE to wear or not to wear. You ENCOURAGE them to wear the warm winter clothes, but allow them to make the final choice. By doing so, you are giving them a certain amount of power in their power bucket. Making them feel significant and important. Now, when they are cold throughout the day and not comfortable, they will realize that they didn’t like their choice. They will LEARN from this experience, thus making this a note of positive discipline. You avoided a power struggle and decided not to battle it out with your kids. You did let your kids have freedom within limits. You did let them follow through on their choice and you did let them learn that their choices have consequences. All of this is positive. Now when they come home cold and miserable and tell you how uncomfortable they were, it gives you the opportunity to sit down with them and problem solve. Help them find a solution for next time. You don’t need to tell them, ‘I told you so,’ because all that does is make them feel bad about their choice. Our goal as parents is not to make our kids feel bad about themselves, but rather we want them to feel good. Jane Nelson of Positive Discipline states, “kids do better when they feel better.” This is our goal! Lets help our kids feel confident and competent!
Examples like this happen throughout all of our days. It’s how we decide to deal with these issues that creates a positive or negative relationship between you and your kids. It’s not that you are letting your kids suffer, but it’s that you are allowing oppotunitites to learn. Opportunities to understand that ‘MY’ choices have an impact on ‘MY’ life. You are giving them POWER, which gives them a great sense of significance. All of this added up together helps decrease the negative power struggles and increase the positive power that helps your child grow, develop and mature into the independent adult we are striving for them to be.
Lets all take a long hard look at our current parenting styles and see if there are changes we can make to create a more positive relationship with our kids. The changes have to include you, as well as, your kids. After all, parenting does start with YOU!!!!
Read more about the positives of giving your child power and tools to accomplish this in an article I wrote for Kindercare Pediatrics.
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