Welcome to Raising Beaut Kids: Recipes for parents on when to say 'yes' and how to say 'no', a magazine styled 'parenting cookbook' filled with resourceful, relational recipes to steer parents in the best directions to build better behaviours in children.
Beaut Kids just don't happen! Children begin life by being naturally impulsive, immature and self-motivated. This is because they are young, inexperienced, growing and frantic to belong. In the midst of all this, kids and teens look to parents to show sound judgement, compassionate leadership and the capacity to develop predictable structures, boundaries and routines. Kids need parents who can make the tough calls when required, even when making these tough calls inconveniences parents a little. In short, our kids need parents that know 'when to say yes, how to say no'.
Being a parent - what a test!
In the beginning parenthood seems so natural.
Most of us never dream the extent to which our children will challenge us, and push our intellectual and emotional growth. We don't realise that they trigger a second stage of growth in human beings. They grow us up! It's from being a mum or a dad that we learn so much more about ourselves, and it isn't always pleasant or painless. Our kids provide us with powerful evidence about our temperament, anxieties, frailties, fears, dreams and hopes, lost opportunities and how we deal with these. In reflective moments, some of us begin to see that our children's behaviour, just like our own, has a purpose. It's always trying to tell us something, and we must be smart enough to figure out what it's really saying. We also need to be honest enough to acknowledge how their behaviour makes us 'feel'. Only then, can we look at whether our response is actually refining their behaviour and improving our relationship with them. Yes, Raising Beaut Kids has as much to do with our relationship with them as it has to do with shaping their behaviour - the two go hand in hand.
The all-important 'relationship' balance
As parents, the best way to keep our 'relationship' with the kids in check is by continually reviewing what our interactions with them look and sound like, especially when things get tough. Life with kids is always easier when we retain a respectful and friendly air - the notion of keeping the big picture in focus, not sweating over the small stuff and being mindful of our moods and emotional tone. Life also improves when we deliberately construct opportunities to connect; times to talk, listen, share, laugh and play. On the flip side, just watch the kids bite back, withdraw or become reactive when we get too snippy at them for too long! Parents who know 'when to say yes and how to say no' are able to make expectations clear, or, when necessary, let the kids matter-of-factly experience the consequences of poor choices, whether they just happen or are intelligently imposed.
Learn your style by parenting in windows
A helpful way to think about how our kids experience our parenting style - how we lead and use authority - is to use the Social Control Window (McCold and Wachtell, adapted from Glaser, 1969).It offers two broad styles of 'parenting' or 'being in authority'.
Style one: Firmness, how 'strict' our kids see us as being
When we are high on firmness we set tight behavioural boundaries so our kids experience the limits fast. When they don't meet our expectations we call them on it to keep them accountable. "What consequences should be dished out, and how tough should they be?" are key questions asked by parents who work at this high end of firmness.
Style two: Fairness, how 'nice' our kids see us as being
When we are high on fairness we're absorbed by encouraging approaches; flexibility, nurturance, tolerance, and leniency. We try to be highly sensitive to the needs of the kids. We value good relationship with our children and always try to understand what might be driving their behaviour. Sometimes our quest to be flexible and fair can trigger us to make too many excuses for them.
As we merge these two general 'parenting styles' into the Social Control Window you can see that four possible leadership styles are generated.
Adapted from Wachtel & McCold (2001)
Remember, your style is the one that your kids experience, it's not the window you 'think' you work from, or 'wish' you could work from. Hey, don't despair, because in truth, all of us spend time in each of the four windows. The length and intensity of our visits are ruled by our emotional states; moods, motivations, engagement, levels of stress, how fresh we feel and other life forces. Most of us are able to identify a window we tend to live in, a window we default to when the going gets tough, and a window that would be healthier to spend a lot more time in.
So, let's begin the unveiling...
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