As parents, it’s our desire to want to give our kids the best. We expect a lot from ourselves to be the best parent for them and hope that we are able to raise them healthy and well.
The way we parent our children is very much affected by how we were raised as a child. If we were ‘punished’ for experiencing and showing strong and intense emotions such as anger and frustration, we are more likely to react in the same way when our children express these emotions. However, that does not mean we can’t change or do things differently.
It is my opinion that there is no ‘one size fits’ all parenting style that will suit and work for every family. Nonetheless, there are some general rules of thumb that we can keep in mind to help us navigate our way through this journey called parenting.
1) Address the emotion first
- Have you ever experienced being ‘lectured’ while you’re about to explode or are experiencing a strong emotion such as anger or sadness? How did you feel? If I had to guess, you probably weren’t listening to much of what was being said. In fact, the ‘lecture’ may have intensified how you were feeling. That’s because the amygdala (the part of the brain that controls how we feel) takes over, and the part of the brain that helps us to be rational and problem solve does not function as effectively.
- To be able to have a conducive conversation with another individual, we need to first ensure that the amygdala is not in control. The way to do this is to first address the emotion being expressed. Acknowledge how your child is feelings and try understanding where this emotion is coming from. When children feel heard and understood, the amygdala calms down and they are then able to use their rational and problem-solving part of brain to have those meaningful conversations we all wish to have with others (including our partners!).
- Positive reinforcements have longer lasting effects on our children’s learning.
- Praising, complementing, and rewarding them for good and appropriate behaviours can increase the likelihood of them continuing to exhibit these behaviours.
- I believe that there is a role of consequences. However, these consequences are the natural consequences one will need to bear for the decisions we make. Assist your child to connect specific consequences to specific behaviour. For example, if a child enjoys throwing things around the house, or drawing on the wall, a natural consequence of that would be to pack their things away or clean up the mess they made. If a child hits and hurts another person, conversations around how they can mend that relationship will help them develop an understanding that their actions can have a negative impact on others.
- Actions speak louder than words.
- In addition to talking to our children about what is right from wrong, and what is appropriate or inappropriate, they are more likely to act as we do. In other words, we need to ‘walk the talk’ and lead by example. Let’s model the behaviours and values we want our children to learn.
4) Consistency is key
- Children love their parents to be consistent as this helps them predict how parents will act.
- Consistency means as parents we follow through and do as we say we will.
The following are some resources that you may find beneficial:
- The Whole-Brain Child- 12 revolutionary strategies to nurture your child’s developing mind, survive everyday parenting struggles, and help your family thrive. By: Daniel J. Siegel, Tina Payne Bryson
- No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind. Book by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson.
This blog was written by Dr Aiyuen (Shannon) Choong, Psychologist at Your Mind Matters. Aiyuen is fluent in English and Mandarin, and is passionate about working with children from preschool years through to adolescence.
To learn more about Aiyuen, click here.