Parenting is a hot topic. Everywhere you look these days you’ll find books, blogs, and articles promoting or critiquing everything from Tiger Moms to Free Range Kids. But one thing that rarely gets addressed is what's really important here — that parents strive to become better at parenting. Why bother?
Here are three reasons why I think moms and dads should bother to become better at parenting.
1. Parents Need to Be in Step with the Times
Some of our parents parenting skills were great, some not so great. Either way, all of those skills were based on the skills from previous generations. The skills they used were appropriate to their times. The kids from yesteryear were different too. Times were simpler, parents ruled with an iron fist, and kids behaved out of fear.
Today’s kids are far different. Our children face influences that are far more intense than the ones we were exposed to. This generation of kids seems faster, quicker and brighter than generations past. Kids demand more from their parents too. They challenge our knowledge and our parenting skills.
Other things have changed, as well. The economy has changed, the intensity of our work has changed and family life has changed.
One thing that hasn’t really changed are the methods we use to parent, we still believe that punishment is the only way to teach a child, even though we know there are many new methods available. Many of those new methods actually gain better results, too.
We update our computers each time a new version of a program comes out. We need to do the same thing with parenting—we need to upgrade our parenting skills so the family “program” works and doesn’t crash.
2. Childhood is a Test Run for Adulthood
Many regard childhood as nothing more than a frivolous and insignificant time in life. Researchers have told us that even though childhood is simple, playful and wondrous; it’s the most crucial and important time in person’s life.
Childhood is the time when things are logged into the subconscious to be retrieved in later life. A child’s misbehavior and how you correct it teaches them volumes about how the world works, how to get along in a family, who they are, and how to relate to others. In other words, childhood is a test run for adulthood.
All parents know that it’s not helpful to berate, yell or punish a child as they test a new skill. We know it’s far better to support, encourage and teach to help them succeed.
Use whatever you can -- experts on the Internet, sites like mine (Proactive Parenting), or more informal community sites to learn how to structure your corrections into mini-life-lessons that supportively guide your child toward what they need to know in order to control their own behavior.
3. We All Sometimes Need Help
Changing your parenting skills so you can stop reacting can be confusing. You read concept after concept. They seem do-able and yet when you try them, they fail. Why?
They fail because they are not broken down into steps. A lot of parenting experts only talk about concepts and never share the details of how to apply the concept. They never tell you what to look out for, what not to do, and what happens if it doesn’t work. Parents need all the steps in order to learn a new parenting skill.
Here’s a perfect example. Parents are told to listen to their child, give away some power in a situation, and use natural consequences. That’s great conceptual advice. But, is it enough information to truly switch from yelling, punishing and reacting?
A parent needs to know what active listening actually is and how to do it. Parents need to know how much power to give a child in a given situation so that the child doesn’t wind up thinking she’s in charge. And parents need to know how to keep a natural consequence from turning into punishment.
Learning new parenting skills is appropriate for our times. You need to find the methods you want to use and make sure you have all the “steps” to be successful. Sounds like something you would tell your kids, doesn’t it?
Sharon Silver is the author of Stop Reacting and Start Responding: 108 Ways to Discipline Consciously and Become the Parent You Want to Be, and the founder of Proactive Parenting. Her book and site help parents gain more patience by responding instead of reacting as they deal with the whirlwind of emotions created by raising kids ages 1-10. Keep up-to-date! Get parenting information sent straight to your inbox. Sign up today to get your Free Newsletter at http://proactiveparenting.net/proactive_parenting_newsletter. Find her on Twitter and Facebook.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.