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  • Parenting Styles: Guidance vs Control

    In today’s unpredictable world, the route to raising kids who are kind, cooperative and happy can be hard to navigate.

    For parents, there’s an underlying pressure to bring up well-behaved children that meet societal expectations, while also providing them the space to become who they are meant to be. At times, these two concepts seem to be at odds.

    While doing research on the subject, I discovered a method to parenting that emphasizes guidance over control.

    As a positive parenting advocate, I have to say the distinction is a game changer, and I’m a huge fan of the guiding approach. It was a real eye opener to discover that most of my parenting was done via control!

    Guiding a child (rather than controlling) encourages their autonomy and agency as an individual, while allowing the parent to be in control of the situation. 

    Guidance can improve relationships and offer kids the room to explore their own choices within clearly defined boundaries.

    Guidance vs Control Parenting Styles Defined:

    Guidance: Encouraging a child to be their best self, while allowing them to make choices and decisions, with parental support and love.

    Control: Can be coercive, authoritative, manipulative or critical. Controlling a child may hinder their ability to build important decision making skills and impede self identity.

    A critical aspect of guiding a child is respect. Remember, your child is an individual with their own thoughts, feelings and ideas. Respecting their autonomy will instill trust in your relationship.

    It’s also important to have discussions with empathy. Get down on your child’s level to better understand their behavior, before immediately reacting and inflicting consequence. Follow the positive parenting mantra, to share calm, without contributing to escalation.

    Let’s break it down via conversation styles.

    Ordering vs Explaining:

    Examples:

    Order: Clean your room right now.

    Instead, try this:

    Explain: When your room is clean, it’s easier to find things when you need them. It also sets the tone for a good day, to wake up in an organized bedroom. Want to give it a try?

    Cooperation vs Coercion:

    Examples:

    Coercion: Clean your room or I’m going to take your tablet away.

    Instead, try this:

    Cooperation: Let’s clean your room together, and get it done faster.

    Criticism vs Feedback:

    Examples:

    Criticism: Your room is a disaster. You’re messy.

    Instead, try this:

    Feedback: I’ve noticed that your room is a little messy. You may find that you feel more organized if you keep your room clean.

    Dictate vs Discuss

    Examples:

    Dictate: You better have your room cleaned by the time I get home.

    Instead, try this:

    Discuss: Let’s come up with ways to organize your room so it is easier to keep clean.

    Notice the difference?

    Talk to kids about the “why” of what you are requesting. Help them understand, for example, why having a clean room will positively affect them, without criticizing for being messy.

    It’s important to note that yes, while controlling a child, temporary results are possible. For example, most children will act swiftly when a parent threatens removal of a favorite toy or game.

    However, if we place emphasis on raising kids with a growth mindset, control no longer fits in the equation.

    Children with a growth mindset know they can overcome challenges and learn new ways to accomplish things. It is resilience that we want to build, not concession. Ask yourself, do you want your child to comply out of fear? Or because it is the right thing to do?

    If guidance is the key, kids will come to their own conclusions about making good choices, as it is what they’ve been trained to do.

    positive parenting

    Lastly, use your best judgement to determine when control is absolutely necessary. In dangerous situations control over a child becomes paramount. If the behavior is risky or malicious, guidance may not be the correct approach. 

    There are times when controlling a child is the natural parental reaction, and that’s okay too! It’s not practical to assume guidance will always be the go-to method. These tools are meant to guide, not to guilt us into feeling like bad parents.

    And remember, we’re all in this together. 

    For more positive parenting techniques, read up on Positive Language Alternatives

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  • How to Discipline your Child with Logical Consequences

    With my child’s emotional health at the forefront of my parental priorities, positive parenting solutions have been a saving grace. Positive parenting allows for behavior correction while simultaneously building self-esteem and emotional intelligence. A key strategy of positive parenting is logical consequences.

    Logical consequences include a cause and effect relationship. They emphasize poor behavior without disparaging or belittling the child. And get this: they actually work! If you’ve hit a wall with discipline and are finding that punishments just aren’t working, give logical consequences a shot and watch as the relationship (and poor behaviors) improve.

    Photo of Logical consequences

    Logical Consequences

    First, let’s distinguish the difference between consequences and punishments. Punishments are designed to shame a child into compliance and are unrelated to the bad behavior or damage done. Logical consequences are related to the behavior, and should be reasonable for the offense committed.

    The message is clear with logical consequences; the behavior is unwanted, not the child. The behavior is bad, not the child. The behavior needs correction, not the child. The goal of logical consequences is to stop misbehaviors and allow children to make more constructive choices in the future.

    When implementing logical consequences consider the 3 Rs.

    Reasonable: the consequence should come from sound judgement, and needs to be fair and sensible. Try not to go overboard. A good way to ensure that a consequence is coming from a good place, is to step back from anger. Implement the reasonable consequence once the situation has deescalated.

    Respectful: the consequence needs to be free from shame or disparagement, and should not be intended to manipulate or coerce. Logical consequences should provide an opportunity for a child to grow and learn from their mistake without stifling emotional development.

    Relatable: the consequence should have a definitive correlation to the behavior itself. The child needs to be able to connect the bad behavior to its consequence, in order to understand the wrongdoing.

    Examples of Logical Consequences:

    • If a child doesn’t brush his teeth, he isn’t allowed dessert.
    • If a child throws a toy at someone, the toy is taken away.
    • If a child receives a poor grade, they must spend extra time after school studying.
    • If a child is mean to little brother at bath time, they are no longer allowed to bathe together.

    For instance, in a fit of frustration, my son threw a straw from his capri sun at me. The logical consequence to that action, is no capri suns for lunch the next day. Reasonable, respectful and relatable. Those are the key elements of a logical consequence.

    Another component to logical consequences is setting expectations and following through. Be sure that the child knows what the standards are for good behavior, and call out when they exceed those limits. And remember, a logical consequence that is simply a “threat” with no follow up will be ineffective. Consistency and execution are crucial to implementing logical consequences that work.

    Restorative Practices

    Subsequent to logical consequence are restorative practices. If a bad behavior causes damage or harm, a good way to teach and rectify, is to use restorative practices. A key element of restorative practices or justice is empathy. When a child is obligated to remedy a wrong-doing, they begin to understand the extent of the damage caused by their poor choice and the effort it takes to fix it.

    Examples of Restorative Practices:

    • If a child colors on the walls, she cleans the wall.
    • If a child knocks down another’s tower, she rebuilds it for them.
    • If a child dumps their milk out, they clean up the mess.
    • If a child throws trash on the floor, they come back to take it to the proper receptacle.

    It makes perfect sense, right? You break it, you fix it. You dump it, you clean it.

    With restorative practices, the offender is responsible for making things right, which builds the kind of character we want to see in our children. In addition, restorative practices can develop personal responsibility and accountability. Two important things that imposing punishment alone, will not accomplish.

    Natural Consequences

    As the old saying goes, “If you don’t listen, you feel.”

    What we “feel” is the natural consequence of not making a good decision.

    Similar to logical consequences yet slightly different, natural consequences happen as the result of an action, but aren’t implemented or enforced by a caregiver.

    Examples of Natural Consequences:

    • Not wearing a coat and feeling cold.
    • Leaving toys outside and finding them ruined by the rain.
    • Forgetting homework at home and not receiving credit for it.

    As parents, we often feel the urge to remove obstacles our children face in order to spare them discomfort. The reality is, it can be beneficial to let kids experience things firsthand in order for it to have a lasting impact. If a child has their stuffed animal ruined or stolen after leaving it outside, the pain or discomfort they feel will propel them to consider a behavior change, such as leaving stuffed animals inside next time.

    Natural consequences can be hard to allow without parental interference. However, allowing a consequence to happen naturally can build resiliency and encourage healthy decision making skills.

    A few key components to natural consequences:

    There are definitely situations where allowing a natural consequence would not be appropriate. When a child’s safety or overall well-being is in jeopardy, another form of discipline should be implemented. For example, a child playing in the road or refusing to brush their teeth. The danger of playing in the street and the health implications of not brushing teeth override the learning experience of a natural consequence. The child should also be old enough to comprehend the reason for the consequence.

    Additionally, a parent should not participate in “I told you so” shaming of a child after experiencing a natural consequence. Always approach a child with empathy and validate their feelings to promote emotional health. Respect works both ways! The goal is not to shame a child into making better choices, but to provide them the opportunity to do so.

    We hope these strategies work for you and improve the relationship you have with your child! For more positive parenting advice, check out our Positive Language Alternatives to Tame a Child’s Tantrum.

    More guidelines for positive parenting here.

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  • 5 Simple Tips for Taming Tantrums

    I came across this quote from author L.R. Knost not long ago and it has become my mantra for calming meltdowns, tantrums and anything in between.

    “When little people are overwhelmed by big emotions, it is our job to share our calm not join their chaos.”

    Tantrums are a completely normal part of child development. It’s how our little ones express themselves over anything from discomfort to simply not getting what they want. But that doesn’t mean it’s not exhausting, frustrating and down right chaotic to try and diffuse them. Sometimes the response that our children need the most is the hardest to offer in the moment.

    In my experience, the most effective method for disarming a tantrum is a calming, positive approach. Here are 5 Simple Tips for Taming Tantrums that may help to deescalate meltdowns and preserve your sanity.

    1.) Remain Calm

    It is entirely true that children feed off of our emotions. If we treat a child’s tantrum with fierce anger and frustration it is possible to intensify the tantrum rather than mitigate it. Try to remove all emotion and focus on yourself, especially the guilt or embarrassment which can heighten feelings of overwhelm (remember, every parent has been there!) Your child isn’t trying to give you a tough time, they’re having a tough time.

    2.) Use Positive Language Alternatives

    Avoid the use of “no” if at all possible and try these positive language alternatives.

    3.) Try a Calming Diversion

    Does your child have a favorite book or comforting blanket? Offering these items could help console a child during a tantrum. Other tools could be a calming jar (such as these), relaxation activities such as deep breaths or yoga poses, essential oils, and songs. When the meltdown occurs in a public place without access to these tools, try removing them from the environment in which the situation began. If your child runs, throws or hits during a meltdown assess surroundings to ensure safety before approaching.

    Hugging is an excellent use of diversion, but always ask if they need a hug beforehand. Studies have shown that proprioceptive input through hugging is extremely helpful for regulating the senses and helping tame a tantrum. Something as simple as a tight squeeze can provide a sense of calm & return your child to the moment.

    4.) Observing and Learning

    Is there a pattern or trend for where these tantrums occur? Say, in the toy section at Target or when deciding on what to wear in the morning? Research indicates that events leading up to a tantrum can be critical to whether or not it actually occurs. Noticing where and when your child is likely to have a tantrum is essential in diffusing or avoiding it altogether. Maybe bypass the toys next time at the store, or offer options on outfits in the morning so your child feels in control. Another thing to keep in mind is choosing battles wisely. Ask yourself this question:

    Will this decision impact my child down the road?

    Examples: Something like, wearing a helmet on the tricycle could potentially have long term effects and is probably a battle to be fought. Forcing a child to hug a relative before they leave (and thus inducing an incident) is likely not life altering. Maybe have a conversation later about hugging and why we show affection instead of ensnaring yourself in an emotionally escalated situation.

    5.) Consistency and Not Caving

    A sure-fire way to keep the tantrums coming is to cave or give in to the tantrum. For example, if a child melts down in the candy aisle begging for a lollipop, giving her the lollipop will underline the negative behavior and reinforce it for next time. If the child is denied the lollipop repeatedly, it’s possible for them to learn that a tantrum in this particular instance will not get them what they want. Be consistent and confident with your choices as you know best for the child, not vice versa.

    Hey mama, taming tantrums can be tough! Check out our Mental Health Task List to encourage self care and preserve your sanity!

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  • Fostering Your Child’s Mental Health & Ways to Build a Strong Foundation

    As my son gets older and more submerged into the world around him, I often find myself hard-pressed on how well he will be able to cope. Have I prepared my child for the trials and tribulations of life that is to come? Have I implemented all the tools necessary to ensure a happy life for him? Surely I can’t guarantee his happiness, but I can give him a strong foundation for his mental health – and that could be everything.

    Children learn from the behavior modeled by the important adults in their life.

    The month of May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a topic near and dear to my heart. And as an advocate for mental health (and a parent), it is not lost on me how influential my role is on my sons childhood mental health.

    As described in a 2013 MMWR report, mental health in childhood is characterized by “…the achievement of development and emotional milestones, healthy social development, and effective coping skills, such that mentally healthy children have a positive quality of life and can function well at home, in school, and in their communities.”

    There are many other ways to foster your child’s mental health. Here are some daily steps to keep your child as mentally healthy as possible.

    First and foremost, our children learn by example. As parents, there is so much we can offer to help nurture their mental health during the most developmental stages of their life. Here are just a few:

    1. Build Their Self-esteem

    • Be on Your Child’s Team: Regularly support and encourage your child. Make sure to praise their efforts, not their achievements, and to believe them and believe in them.
    • Let Them Learn Naturally: Promote independent learning. Have your child experience and accept the natural consequences of life and experience the benefits of positive actions as well.
    • Encourage Healthy Self-Talk: Use words of encouragement and daily affirmations. See our list of affirmations for kids here.
    • Ensure Their Sense of Belonging: Your child needs to feel like they are invited, accepted and loved. Make sure to spend family time together, play with them and remind them how valuable they are.

    2. Create a Safe and Comfortable Environment

    Provide an environment that demonstrates love, compassion, trust and understanding every day. Let your child know you are a safe place and confidant when it comes to their feelings and thoughts. Implement a predictable routine in the household, as to create a sense of stability and comfort.

    3. Establish Healthy Habits

    Make sure your child is getting enough rest, eating healthy foods and getting enough play time/exercise. Physical health is just as important.

    4. Explain Feelings and Reactions

    Listen to how your child is feeling and validate their emotions. Guide your child through big feelings and show them important coping mechanisms and ways to manage challenges (like meditation). Teach them the importance of expressing their emotions through language.

    5. Model Healthy Behavior

    Children learn from the behavior modeled by the important adults in their life – so be sure to lead by example the best strategies regarding self-care, healthy social interactions, communication and emotional stability.

    These guidelines aren’t just for children either, but are important for everyone looking to take care of their mental health! If you enjoyed this post, you might want to read this post on building your child’s confidence.

    Note: Through research, I was able to find these helpful tips on nurturing children’s mental health. If you have suggestions or advice, we would love to hear it! Comment below or email us at contact@rockitmama.com.

     

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