Maybe you think that acquiring some essential parenting skills is going to be a complicated and rather expensive affair. It is much easier than you think. Do not be put off by such terms as behavioral parenting training. What counts is how effective these skills can be in helping you take control of your kids again and to start living as a happy family unit.
Recently, there has been a lot of attention to the work done by Dr. William Pelham and Gregory Fabiano who are distinguished scholars in the field of parenting training and ADHD. This work was extensive and dates from 2008. But, recently researchers wanted to establish if this type of training was really as effective as it was then and was it still as valid? Here is the good news:
• These methods are just as effective as before
• They are now accepted as well established treatments. They apply to all kids, not just those with special needs such as ADHD.
• Even after one session, parents can begin to apply the skills they learn
• Results may be obtained after just one session on the phone or face to face.
Positive parenting skills
Table of Contents
- 1 Positive parenting skills
- 2 Effective parenting skills
- 3 Parenting styles – how were you brought up?
- 4 List of parenting skills
- 5 How to acquire good parenting skills
- 6 Setting up parenting skills worksheets and checklist
Let us think for a moment where parents are unaware of the needs for these important skills. The atmosphere may oscillate between nagging, threats, sulking and the child feels alienated, rather than loved and supported.
Now contrast that with positive parenting skills and a much happier scenario emerges. The child feels loved, protected and will gladly co-operate in household tasks. Kids are held accountable and know that the world does not necessarily revolve around them. They also feel that communication is possible and that they are much happier and the parents are much more relaxed. Their efforts are praised. I bet you did not know that there are 101 ways of giving praise!
Parents are also instilling in the kids their values and ethics and do it by being a model themselves. The chances of their children growing up as caring, responsible and decent adults is multiplied a thousand fold in situations like these.
‘A child’s memory lasts a lifetime.’– Spanish saying
Effective parenting skills
Did you know that, just by giving the right type of instructions, you can greatly improve co-operation and get better results faster, than you would by repeating orders and limits? Here are some effective ways:-
- Forget shouting and angry tone. Just use a firm, normal type of voice. Anger is unlikely to build self esteem in a child.
- Give CLEAR instructions. Forget the insults such as telling them that they are always so untidy. They know that and so you! Much better is to give a precise instruction such as ‘Johnny, please pick up the pyjamas which are under the bed’. It is more difficult to ignore a specific request.
- Do not use instructions which are dressed up as favors or questions. ‘Isn’t it time you….’ is barely effective. Give a precise instruction.
- One instruction at a time because it is simply more effective.
- Don’t forget to praise.
These are just some example of effective parenting skills in giving instructions and they are really useful. The video below explains how the child’s brain will specialize and grow in response to supportive parenting.
Parenting styles – how were you brought up?
It is incredible how much our own upbringing can affect the way we parent. We can rebel against this and decide that our own upbringing was far too strict. Usually this means spoiling a child and can have disastrous results. The other extreme is just to copy exactly the ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’ blueprint and use iron discipline and rather military style tactics.
But of course your religious beliefs, economic status, sibling rivalry and your educational level will all impinge on which of the parenting styles you are going to adapt. Other factors which affect parenting styles is that there may be different approaches among the parents themselves. The ‘good cop, bad cop’ parenting can not only have disastrous effects but can easily be manipulated by a child to get what s/he wants.
Just by following a few basic parenting skills, you can easily change your parenting style. Remember that :-
• Yelling is rarely effective. It leaves a lot of toxic fallout
• There is no need for bribes
• Try to spend more time with your kids so that you could never be accused of being uninvolved.
These uninvolved parents run the danger of neglecting their kids and not even meeting their basic needs. One Yale Medical school study shows that neglected and/or abused adolescents were found to have less grey matter in their brains.
List of parenting skills
Have you considered whether you have some or all of the following list of parenting skills?
1. How consistent are you?
Are you making it easy or difficult for your child to easily recognize what your limits are? The child should have no problems in spotting the ‘no go’ areas and what gets rewarded. I can tell you that ‘good cop, bad cop parenting will not help here.
2. Do not expect fast results.
Sometimes, as we stated above, improvements can be spotted just by applying a new tactic. But overall, it is foolish to expect fantastic results overnight. Look out for changes which means that the end of the tunnel is in sight. Be sure to praise for efforts which are approaching the goals of reasonable behavior.
3. Safety Issues
You are ware of all the safety issues but at the same time, you are not going to be a helicopter parent who is always hovering over the child whenever a problem or issue arises. Starting to teach child to make wise and sensible decisions from early on is going to lead to a responsible and caring adult. It takes years!
4. Coercion is out
You know that coercion and forcing kids to do what you want is not going to work in the long term. Aim for collaboration and co-operation rather than a policing attitude.
Show that you understand when things are difficult. Explain why the child feels like that and offer help and encouragement. Ten times more effective than laying down the law. It also is a wonderful bonding experience. The child will feel encouraged and supported.
6. Negotiations are necessary
Sometimes, you have to negotiate but it is essential that these take place before any decision is taken by you. If they take place afterwards, your child is probably using techniques not to comply and get you to give in. Teens are great at doing this! Dr. Judith Smetana, (University of Rochester) has done useful research on this. Disagreements with teens is normal and it does help teens to become better adjusted adults, she found.
7. Be the role model
So you want your kid to do homework, chat less on Facebook or eat healthily? What role model are you setting? Are you always on the smartphone and computer too? Are you always eating the wrong things? Children are copy cats so don’t expect great results if you are idly surfing the Internet or the fridge has loads of junk food.
8. Teach tolerance
Your child is probably much more exposed to different cultures and traditions through a great mix of kids from different backgrounds in their class or sports teams. That is great. But how do you react? Are you teaching tolerance of different traditions and emphasizing that these are positive elements in society and that hatred shown towards minorities is destructive? Remember that kids who are more open are going to do better in life.
9. Quality time
We all know about spending quality time with kids. But is your smartphone switched off when you do that? Do you switch off your device as you enter the house and greet your kids after being away or at work? These are the things that count because giving your child only half of your attention and being distracted is easily spotted by kids and resented.
Lots of parents brag about their kids and will photo every opportunity to put on Facebook. They also talk incessantly about how great their kids are. Actually, this is over the top and is not going to do your parenting or child much good.
How to acquire good parenting skills
Do you learn all this stuff by chance, by gut instinct or do you just attend a few classes? This depends very much on what is available in your area. But there are certain foundations to parenting which are going to make all this a breeze. Here are my favourites:-
- Make sure your kids get enough sleep. Maintain the same schedule at weekends. There is now enough research to show that teens need sufficient sleep. Otherwise there may be mental and physical health problems and they will get poor grades. Dr. Kyla Wahlstrom of the University of Minnesota surveyed students and found that the A students were getting 15 minutes more sleep than B students and they in turn were sleeping a bit longer than the C students.
- Reward them for their efforts, rather than their intelligence. This will prevent them from sitting back and making no effort at all as they go through life.
- Teach the value of truth as a foundation block for a happy life. Telling lies rarely pays off in the long term. Role model this and stop telling lies to get out of going to a boring dinner party!
- Consistency pays handsome dividends. Researchers have shown that these children feel supported, have better communication with their kids. They also tell fewer lies!
- Intelligent parents recognize that adolescents will want to experiment with drugs, alcohol and sex. But your kids know what your views, values and risks are because you have talked about these.
Setting up parenting skills worksheets and checklist
It is a great idea to have a parenting skills worksheet or check list that you can refer to when you want to note your progress or lack of it. Obviously, every parent will have a different set. but most parents, when aware of the need for active parenting and acquisition of the parenting skills that we have talked about in this post, will include :-
1. Behavior charts/rewards/prizes are displayed on the fridge or notice board.
2. Talk to your child about when and how to make decisions. Start with getting clothes ready for school, for example.
3. Make sure that the structure/routine is known by all, the family and they are all signed up to it
4. Communication takes place on a regular basis. That means talking and listening to your child/teen.
5. Eating together is done as far as possible. There is also a chance to have a family get together/ meeting every week.
6. You know what is happening at school and are in regular contact with teachers and so on.
7. You have established a routine for sharing in household chores so that everyone is involved. These are linked to the behavior charts, mentioned above.
8. You have regular family events, rather than everyone dashing off to do their own thing.
9. You praise your child more often than criticizing them. The emphasis is always on the effort made.
10. You limit social media, TV and video games to reasonable levels. Encourage kids to do a wide variety of activities such as sport and exercise, in which you are actively involved.
As we have seen, parenting skills are not rocket science. The main point is to communicate with your child so that they know the limits, the consequences, the rewards and most important of all, your love and support.
Misbehaviors Driving You Crazy
From Parenting Expert Amy McCready
A Step-By-Step Process That Really Works. Free Trial!