Being a parent is one of the toughest jobs in the world, if not the toughest. It’s also one that doesn’t require a degree. How wonderful would it be if along with a positive pregnancy test came a free intensive parenting techniques program! Oh sure, there are tons of books on parenting techniques out there, but with so many different voices often giving contradictory advice, it can be frustrating. Therefore, I’d like to use the next few blog posts to discuss some of the techniques that make the most sense to me.
Remove Emotions from Parenting
While it might seem to go against our nature, one of the most important parenting techniques is to remove emotions from the parenting process. Our kids stress us out, but when we show frustration in our interactions with them, we lose. Exchanges with irritated parents immediately put children on the defensive and make them more prone to dig their heels in rather than to comply. This hurts our relationships with them and also causes more stress in the family.
The old way of thinking in the psychological world was that if you were angry, it was best to let it all out in order to feel better. Fortunately, we now know that this is a faulty parenting technique that doesn’t work. Expressing anger in an angry voice and with angry words merely increases anger. The best way to interact with a child, despite feeling angry, is to speak in a soft, monotone voice and simply and kindly put forth what needs to be done and what choices the child has. For example, instead of shouting, “How many times do I have to tell you to clean the table?!” it is better to say, “Hey Johnny, I need you to clean the table now. If you decide to get it done in the next five minutes then you can enjoy your dessert, but if you decide not to, then unfortunately dessert is not going to be an option today.” And the most beautiful part is that you don’t have to wait around for a response! You can walk away and let him make his choice.
As parents, we aren’t robots, so there will certainly be times that our emotions carry through, especially if our patience has worn thin. However, the more we can engage in emotionless confrontations, the better we’ll feel and the less fighting and stress there will be overall.