Top 10 Parenting Strategies- Timeless Guidelines from Love & Logic
As a new parent, I remember a friend saying,
“Parenting is the hardest job you’ll ever love.”
This description definitely fit for my son’s first year when he barely slept and cried a lot as a colicky baby and yet I still had the deepest love for him. Children are generally a source of incredible joy for parents who dreamed of having children and experience a natural unconditional love for them. While parenting well is hard work, children generally make it worth it- they renew laughter, love, play, creativity, curiosity, being in the present moment, awe, etc.
Even the tween and teen years can be rewarding (I seriously said that because I have willingly worked with teens for 20+ years). You can finally share some mutual interests (versus watching another Disney movie on Saturday night!), have profound conversations and help them navigate a potentially extremely difficult stage- adolescence.
But, what if you’re NOT “loving” the job of parenting? What if your children are really driving you crazy?!
Another well-known and accurate saying is,
“This too shall pass.”
“Whatever challenging behavior I’m facing with my child, I know to give it just a few weeks or months and we’ll have moved past it.” This was an observation from an experienced parent and friend of mine when I was struggling during my son’s first year.
Sometimes our children’s behavior is just a phase.
However, learning effective parenting skills is crucial at ALL times to help cultivate positive behavior and interactions with our children AND ourselves.
While no one set of guidelines or handbook can fit every child and parent (because parents too have their own strengths and challenging behaviors), THE TOP 10 list below is drawn from:
- Research from the highly respected Love and Logic program created by three professionals (a doctor, school principal, and therapist) in Golden, CO
- My experience when I taught elementary through high school students identified as having severe emotional and behavioral disorders, served as a 504/special education coordinator, and school social worker in public and therapeutic day schools. I am a parent as well.
Take what you like and leave the rest.
Since each child and parent are unique, different life cycle stages and dynamics will be more challenging and others will be more rewarding. I hope you will find some new strategies to EMPOWER you to be a more effective parent so you can more enjoy your experience more of doing the most important job in the world- impacting another life.
Top 10 Parenting Strategies- Timeless Guidelines (from Love & Logic & more):
1. I take good care of myself (body, mind, emotions, spirit) & I model the behavior I wish to see in my child. This might include creating an emotionally safe and caring relationship, focusing on the positive/expressing appreciation, listening to what’s important to my children, doing activities with them that they enjoy, fulfilling responsibilities, admitting when I make a mistake, and repairing a hurtful interaction as quickly as possible.
2. I put forth the effort to build a positive, trusting, & loving relationship with my children and give myself grace when I do a “good enough” job at parenting. It’s not easy juggling all of our roles in life.
3. I find compassion in order to express genuine empathy first, then hold my children accountable (with a parent-imposed or a natural consequence) when my children make poor decisions or mistakes.
Ex. This is so sad. You left your bike out & it got stolen. How are you planning to pay for another one?
4. I want my children (before age 18) to make lots of mistakes and learn from natural consequences because this is the road to wisdom. I also believe that it is my children’s life journey & I support their learning.
5. I am a loving authority figure, set firm limits when handling misbehavior, and stay the course when my children express anger or sadness. (vs. giving repeated warnings, threats, and expressing anger or backing down if fear child will worsen). I also demonstrate flexibility when the issue is “not the hill to die on”.
“Kids who view their parents as both powerful and loving are far more likely to grow into
respectful and responsible adults.”
6. My words are golden (I can follow through with what I say because I state what I’m willing to do) and I’m consistent with my words and my actions.
Ex. 1, “I’ll be happy to let you go out with friends as soon as your chores are finished.” (vs. “Do your chores!”)
Ex. 2, “I’ll be glad to discuss this when respect is shown.” (vs. “Be respectful!”)
7. We’re a united front. (with spouse in home or other family member who has influence on children)
8. I stay in my integrity, self-regulate and avoid power struggles/arguments with my child. Instead, I might use a one-liner, ex. “I know” or “I love you too much to argue”, set a limit, say “no”, and walk away. (because if your kids can argue or manipulate you out of setting limits or you fly off the handle, L & L won’t work!)
9. Everybody in my home does their fair share of the work (or has to deal with the consequences.) I fulfill my responsibilities to insure that I model what I would like to see in my children.
10. When my children cause a problem, I hand it back to them so they have the empowering opportunity to learn from it and solve it. (ex. Use the 5 step problem solving process)
a. Empathize first, “I bet that’s frustrating.”
b. Lovingly hand the problem back, ex. “What do you think you’re going to do?”
c. Get permission before sharing ideas, ex. “Would you like to hear what other kids have tried?”
d. Provide a few ideas & help them evaluate each one, “Some kids decide to ______. How would that work for you?”
e. Allow them to learn from solving or not solving the problem, “I love you. If any kid can solve a problem like this, you can. Let me know how it works out.”
In closing, a less well-known parenting quote I like is:
“Motherhood- the fastest path to enlightenment”
How we CHOOSE to view parenting matters. Parenting can press ALL of our buttons and feel overwhelming, frustrating, and even panic-inducing for some families. This is especially true if you have children with a disability or mental health issues or a family dynamic with the added challenges of adoption or step-parenting.
For another perspective on parenting, click on this title link for Brene Brown’s outstanding “The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting” presentation that I summarized in another blog.
Brown explains how parents sharing how they cope with some of their daily struggles can be a gift, how important it is to continue learning and growing alongside your children, and her guideposts for wholehearted parenting.
Being open to receiving help in any endeavor allows us the support and guidance we need to improve our skills. This is not just limited to parenting. You will improve in your work, your marriage, and even in hobbies (ex. a golf or dance instructor) when you’re open to feedback and willing to make some changes.
Even with my many years of experience as a successful professional working with some of the most difficult teens, seeking feedback by mentors and supervisors made a huge difference in my effectiveness!
It’s also worth considering that you might have some unfinished business from your childhood that needs to be worked through, for your benefit and your children, to change the patterns in your family and change the legacy for the next generation.
Parenting can also allow us the gift of GROWTH that is priceless. We usually only learn, grow, and move beyond past generations when we have a profound emotional experience that pushes us to our edge. If you are struggling, perhaps you can consider this positive perspective.
Would you like parenting support? I’m here for you.
Contact Lana Isaacson, LCSW, CAC III, MFTC, at 720.432.5262, [email protected] or schedule your session or free consultation today.