I know you don't want to hear this BUT...there is no rule book to parenting and there is NO specific strategy to parenting that is a slam dunk. And just in case you needed to hear this, too, there is no medication we can take or a program we can pay to "fix" parent/child issues.
I'm sorry about that but just like we tell our children...if you want something and it's worth it to you, then you will have to work for the level up.
The Game Starts with Parental Involvement
The intention of most parents is found in this basic statement, "I want what is BEST for my child." So, what do we do? We force feed our children lessons we think they should know, tell them how we think they should act. We try to control our children and try to "fix" them.
We gotta stop that...it's not working. If we really want what is BEST for our children then we have to connect with them. I mean really embrace who they are and what interests them. I am not saying this means to except disrespect or difficult behaviors, I just mean start with seeing your children as unique individuals who actually have dreams, goals, wants, desires and wishes of their own..key words here...their own not yours FOR them. They really aren't your Mini Me so stop thinking you are raising one and start looking at them as individuals. Great...so now what??
The Basic Level Up Rules
Use understanding, compassion, empathy and unconditional love as a general rule.
Remember that children teach us about ourselves as much as we teach them. So, be open to the lessons we can and will learn from them.
Ditch the superiority position. You really don't know it all, no one really does.
Be authentic (check out my blog Throwing Shade on Knock offs, Fakes and Phonies)
Use everyday moments to create connections don't wait for crisis.
Stop yelling, bribing and negotiating with your children instead use natural and logical consequences.
Listening without fixing encourages intrinsic motivation.
Be fully present with your children; its about quality not quantity so let go of the prefect scenario and just embrace the basics.
Encourage instead of criticize means focusing more on the highlights.
Let the past stay in the past, bringing up a mistake or poor decisions again is an automatic game over.
Lead by example. Behave like you want your children to behave, this means when they are watching and when they aren't.
Take care of your mental health, too. If you are anxious and don't use coping skills then trust me, they won't either.
Should I seek professional help for my parenting concerns?
YES... therapists love to help when families are not in crisis. There is so much to learn so when we are not feeling overwhelmed and upset we are able to get more from the experience. Seeking counseling so you can Level Up your relationship with your child is a WIN WIN and can actually be fun, too.
But I promise therapists are prepared and trained for families in crisis. Therapists are often faced with families feeling angry, sad, anxious, guilt, shame and discontent with each other. Most often in these situations, counseling will start with with de-escalating methods to create a somewhat neutral atmosphere.
Sometimes, these families have even attempted counseling before. Parents often share with me their views on why counseling didn't work. It's true that sometimes therapists are not a good match for a family due to personality and professional differences...that is natural and for those parents who understand that and seek another counselor I give them bonus points for not giving up!
But usually parents who have tried therapy before do one of two things
Seek counseling for the child only
Stop counseling and be resigned to "it is what it is" for years before attempting to try again when things are worse.
If Leveling Up your Parenting Game is something you want, go back and re- read the part on Basic Level Up Rules.
And keep in mind, no one is perfect! If you want change and you want a better relationship with your child that's an excellent first step. Now don't fall into the trap that everything you do has to be perfect to be better. One baby step at a time is still Leveling Up.
Try the 70/30 life rule.
70% of the time we try our best, this allows 30% for mistakes.
Sounds like winning to me.
Help other families level up their parenting game by liking and sharing this blog! If you like what you read and want more contact Galloway Counseling Services at 337-258-5199.