In families, parents are tasked with the responsibility to lead. If we want our children to learn self-control, respect, responsibility and love, we need to model it in our daily lives. Greg Baer in “Real Love in Parenting” says “Our children can’t achieve those qualities…until they feel more loved, and that is our responsibility, which requires that we find Real Love for ourselves and then share it with them. It all starts with a desire to change ourselves.”
Kids’ greatest sense of security comes from the confidence that the people that they love the most—their parents and family—love each other. It has been said that the family is the school of love, the place where loving relationships are meant to be learned. Through our examples as parents, we can teach and show that happiness comes from being loving. We also model accepting and loving other people that we interact with and talk about—employers, co-workers, store clerks, neighbors, friends, relatives and other drivers on the road.
The way that children learn to be responsible is the same way they learn to play an instrument or ride a bike--practice. Give them plenty of practice and opportunities. We model through our actions but also, we can think out loud saying things like: “I feel so much better when I keep my desk neat and organized.” “This task is difficult, but I know I can finish it.” It is important for children to know that we sometimes have to work hard at tasks that we don’t like.
We can teach our children respect, self-control and so many other qualities through our relationships and daily interactions. The entire goal of life is to be happy, a feeling of profound peace that does not come and go with changing circumstances. Real happiness comes from feeling loved and from loving other people, and that feeling stays with us through struggle and hardship.
As parents, we are responsible for loving our children and teaching them to love others. All of us are doing the best we can but we need the support and love of others to become more loving ourselves. I invite you to check out my upcoming webinars to find out more about Real Love. Webinars
By sharing the thinking with our children, we provide them the opportunity to grapple with the consequences of their choices. When our child misbehaves or makes mistakes, we can hand the problem back to her by asking, “How are you going to solve this?” Giving a child some guidance and allowing him to struggle to find a solution builds responsibility and self-esteem. For the child, having the satisfaction of saying, “I did it!” is key.
Thinking is just like any other skill—it takes practice. The key is asking lots of questions instead of telling your child what to do. Questions cause children to think, commands cause them to resist. Wise parents choose thinking over resistance any day.
The five-step process from Love and Logic Parenting listed below clearly hands the problem back to the child and gives the message that he is capable. With this tool, parents can look forward to the poor choices of their children as learning opportunities. After all, the road to responsibility and wisdom is paved with many “affordable” mistakes!
Guiding Children to Solve Their Own Problems—Love and Logic Parenting
Step One: Empathy.
“I bet that hurts.”
Step Two: Send the “Power Message.”
“What do you think you’re going to do?”
Step Three: Offer choices.
“Would you like to hear what other kids have tried?”
At this point, offer a variety of choices that range from bad to good. It’s usually best to start out with the poor choices. Each time a choice is offered, go on to step four, forcing the child to state the consequence in his/her own words. This means that you will be going back and forth
between Love and Logic steps three and four.
Step Four: Have the child state the consequences.
“And how will that work?”
Step Five: Give permission for the child to solve the problem or not.
“Good luck. I hope it works out.”
Have no fear. If the child is fortunate enough to make a poor
choice, he/she may have a double learning lesson.
Imagine that you are an athlete and as your trainer, I’m concerned that you might overexert or injure yourself during training. Each time you show up for a practice session, I do all the exercises and routines. I spare you a lot of sweat and pain, but when it is time for you to perform in a competition, you will discover that you are not prepared. In fact, I have crippled you.
Our children need to gain their own experience, wisdom, strength and confidence through making their own choices. If we make their decisions for them and rescue them when they make mistakes, they will not learn the important skills needed for their future. Of course, as parents we need to be available to encourage, support, guide and challenge our children as they develop these skills. Let’s think for a moment about different parenting styles.
Love and Logic Parenting describes three basic parenting styles. The helicopter parent hovers, protects and rescues his/her child from any kind of harm. In doing this, such parents don’t allow their child to fail or make mistakes. Helicopter parents steal the learning opportunities in the name of love.
Drill sergeant parents bark orders and expect blind obedience. They can be heard saying, “Do it or else.” This style of parenting often uses punishment as a consequence. Punishment breeds resentment and keeps children from pausing for self-examination of their mistakes. Drill sergeants are great in a battle but difficult as a parenting model.
Consultant parents allow their child to experience the natural consequences of their choices. By asking guiding questions and offering suggestions, they help the child find a solution and own the problem. Instead of telling them what to do, consultant parents help establish time frames and guidelines within which to work, allowing the child to be responsible. Children who grow in responsibility also grow in self-esteem, a prerequisite for achievement and happiness in the real world. Consultant parents have discovered that it is key to model the kinds of characteristics that they want their children to inherit.
God gave each of us considerable freedom and that includes making mistakes. Failure and success are two sides of the same coin. The older the child gets, the bigger the decisions become and the graver the consequences of those decisions. It is wise to allow our children to make many mistakes when they are young and the consequences are “affordable.” As painful as it is to stand by and allow our children to learn through the natural consequences of their choices, this is the price that we must pay in raising responsible children who grow into amazing young adults.
To learn more about becoming a consultant parent with your children, visit my website and check out the upcoming webinars Blog and Young Parent Coaching Group Young Parents' Coaching Group
As we begin 2019, I would like to offer a series of article about gifts that we can give our children. For some of these gifts, you will see immediate evidence in your relationship with your child. For other gifts, the impact may not show up until far into the future.
Empathy opens our children’s mind to learning. When we emphasize with the challenge or mistake that our child is facing, we create a supportive connection. Sincere empathy expressing our sadness and sorrow works wonders. It allows the parent to remain the “good guy” and the poor choice the child made to be the “bad guy.”
If we respond to our child’s mistakes with anger, lectures, warnings or sarcasm, it creates a fight-or-flight response. There are two parts to the human brain: frontal cortex where thinking, reasoning and impulse-control happen and the brain stem which is responsible for our basic survival and the “fight-or-flight” response.
When we deliver consequences with anger, children’s brains go into “survival” mode rather than “learning” mode. “Fight or flight” response exists in all of us and is a basic part of our survival. Children in flight mode are thinking more about how to escape or maybe how to get revenge. Anger backfires every time and short-circuits learning.
Therefore, responding with empathy prevents fight or flight and allows children to learn from their mistakes. The child has a harder time blaming their parent for the problem and is forced to look inside to learn from the consequence of his poor choice. When we use empathy, we allow our child’s reasoning brain to turn on. It promotes the development of a healthy voice or conscience that can ask, “How will this decision impact my life? Which choice is wiser?”
As parents, we can give our child the gift of empathy by turning mistakes or misbehaviors into a learning opportunity. By giving a strong dose of sadness or empathy before delivering a consequence, we allow our child to gain wisdom from the consequence instead of having a meltdown of anger, frustration or resentment. Empathy maintains lifelong loving relationships.
To learn more about how to apply empathy and other gifts to the relationships with your children, visit my website and checkout the upcoming webinars Webinars and Young Parent Coaching Group Young Parents' Coaching Group .