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Parenting a child today is an undaunting challenge which can be overwhelming. Dr. Ron Rice knows this, and specializes in assisting parents to better raise their children in a way that’s fulfilling to both the parent and the child. Call Dr. Rice today at (248) 760-2571 and begin the journey to a more fulfilling parent/child relationship.
It is not uncommon for children and adolescents to come to my attention for a variety of problems. For kids, as well as teens, some of the problems include:
- Behavioral problems at home and/or school
- Underachieving at school
- Attention Deficit Disorder
- Difficulty getting along with siblings or parents
- Problems following rules and limits
- Problems taking responsibility for actions
- For teens, concerns about substance abuse
- Problems dealing with anger
For young children up to the age of around 10-12, I have found that it is most useful to deal almost exclusively with parents to help their child overcome his or her problem. When parents change their parenting style, children respond positively and most problems are solved in a reasonable length of time. For teens or adolescents, it is more appropriate to handle and solve problems by counseling with all members of the family individually and conjointly, i.e. family therapy.
Today’s pace, changing values, and unpredictable financial trends can make being a parent a tough job. Choosing to have children brings awesome responsibility. Perhaps you are a parent who has often felt like giving up. Unfortunately, we do not get much training in being an effective parent. Even when we want more training, it’s easy to become confused as to which values to select for the “best” parenting techniques. Most experts in child rearing practices, however, in spite of differing values, will agree there is a basic core of good general rules from which responsible behavior can be taught.
One place to begin is by examining the overall style which you most often practice as a parent. No one would disagree that the end goal that every parent has in mind is to teach the child or adolescent to be responsible for his or her actions. Parents tend to use distinctive styles most frequently. However, three of these do not produce responsible behavior:
- The authoritarian parent demands responsible behavior by virtue of his or her authority. The cost is an angry child or teen who often rebels against this type of parent.
- The inconsistent parent won’t set limits and thereby teaches that it’s okay to do whatever one wants at everyone else’s expense.
- The overprotective parent thinks responsible behavior is a gift rather than something expected.
And so the question becomes, what type of parenting style works best for both parents and child or teen? This is the flexible parent who, in small steps, teaches responsible behavior and builds self esteem in the child and/or teen by allowing the child and/or adolescent to participate in defining the consequences of his or her behavior. These consequences will be natural and logical.
After examining your style, you may wish to focus on these truths:
- First, all behavior is goal-directed or has a purpose. That is the act can be explained by the goal. Goals of misbehavior may be:
- getting attention,
- struggling for power,
- retaliation, or
- displaying inadequacy in order to escape expectations.
- Second, everyone has the basic needs of love and acceptance, security, belonging, approval and the desire to be independent or responsible. Sometimes we believe, mistakenly, that independence comes with age. It doesn’t — it is taught. A parent’s job is to nurture children with kindness and firmness until they can respond by acting, not reacting.
The following “Memorandum from your Child” may help you discover some other ways to respond to a child’s behavior. Most of the statements listed below can be applied to teens as well. “Listening” to these behaviors is a skill which can be learned.
A Memorandum From Your Child
- Don’t spoil me. I know quite well that I ought not have all that I ask for. I’m only testing you.
- Don’t be afraid to be firm with me. I prefer it. It lets me know where I stand.
- Don’t use force with me. It teaches me that power is all that counts. I respond more to being led.
- Don’t be inconsistent. That confuses me and makes me try harder to get away with everything.
- Don’t make promises: you may not be able to keep them. That will discourage my trust in you.
- Don’t fall for my provocations when I say or do things just to upset you. Then I’ll try more “victories”.
- Don’t be too upset when I say “I hate you.” I don’t mean it, but I want you to feel sorry for what you have done to me.
- Don’t make me feel smaller than I am. I will make up for it by behaving like a “big shot”.
- Don’t do things that I can do for myself. It makes me feel like a baby and I may continue to put you in my service.
- Don’t correct me in front of people. I’ll take much more notice if you talk quietly with me in private.
- Don’t try to discuss my behavior in the heat of conflict. For some reason, my hearing is not very good at this time and my cooperation is even worse. It is all right to take the action required, but let’s not talk about it until later.
- Don’t try to preach to me. You’d be surprised how well I know what’s right and wrong.
- Don’t make me feel like my mistakes are sins. I have to learn to make mistakes without feeling that I am no good.
- Don’t nag. If you do, I shall have to protect myself by appearing deaf.
- Don’t demand explanation for my wrong behavior. I really don’t know why I did it.
- Don’t tax my honesty too much. I am easily frightened into telling lies.
- Don’t forget that I love and use experimenting. I learn from it, so please put up with it.
- Don’t protect me from consequences. I need to learn from experience.
- Dont take too much notice of my small ailments. I may learn to enjoy poor health if it gets me too much attention.
- Don’t put me off when I ask HONEST questions. If you do, you will find that I get my information elsewhere.
- Don’t ever think it is beneath your dignity to apologize to me. An honest apology makes me feel surprisingly warm toward you.
- Don’t ever suggest that you are perfect or infallible. It gives me too much to live up to.
- Don’t worry about the little amount of time we spend together. It is HOW we spend it that counts.
- Don’t let my fears arouse your anxiety. Then I will become more afraid. Show me courage.
- Don’t forget that I can’t thrive without lots of understanding and encouragement, but I don’t need to tell you that, do I?
- Treat me the way you treat your friends,. Remember, I learn more from a model than a critic.
If your child or teen is having problems, learn to become a more effective parent by developing better skills. It is not easy; it takes work and practice. However, you can do it. The results will be a much closer and effective parent/child/teen relationship.
Counseling is an excellent way to explore your child/teen problem while at the same time looking more closely at your parenting skills in a non-defensive manner.