Parenting Resource: The Parenting Resource that is Always Available
Your greatest parenting resource is always at your disposal, whether you are aware of it or not. The problem is most parents do not use it, especially when it is needed most. They reserve its use for happy, relaxed times because they do not realize that when their children are misbehaving is when they need them most. In this article, you will learn how to use your most important parenting tool.
What I'm about to talk about may seem contrary to your beliefs about parenting. This is because, most likely, you were raised by parents who believed that blame, shame and punishment were tools for teaching you to be a good person. Although your parents believed that they were acting in your best interests, today, we know how damaging such tactics are. Additionally, research has shown that punishing children for inappropriate behavior and rewarding them for being good does not raise children to become moral human beings.
If nothing gets your attention in this article, my last statement should. What this means is that what you've learned about parenting is ineffective in the long run. Although it may seem like punishment is working, it isn't because it fails to address the source of the problem. What it does is create a change in surface behavior. A child may act good only to avoid punishment. The same goes for rewarding good behavior—it does nothing to teach a child important values—but it does give them a bunch of "should's." "Should-behavior" is driven by guilt and the fear of being judged, rather than a genuine desire to help or respond to the needs of another.
So what is this parenting resource?
It's the heart. Your heart. When you're connected to your heart and to your children, they feel "seen" and "heard" and find it easy to treat others in a loving, respectful way.
When children have a strong connection to their primary caregivers—to the people who are supposed to love them more than anyone else in the world and do—they have little need to act out or participate in negative attention-getting schemes.
Tips for Using Your Best Parenting Resource
- Be attuned to your child's needs. When your child acts out or throws a tantrum, let him express his feelings. Those feelings need to come out. If they don't, they will be repressed and will explode as cruel behavior or show themselves physically, as stomach aches, headaches or other illnesses. Ask questions and use your intuition to find the deeper need that is driving his behavior. The need could be physical (the child is hungry, tired, etc.) or emotional (the child needs cuddling, hugs or physical closeness) or perceived (the child feels you don't spend enough time with him or that other things have higher priority). Alternatively, your child may just need to let off some steam.
- Know your child and his relationships with his friends. Keep a pulse on what is happening in his life. This isn't a license to pry, it means you show a genuine interest in his life and create a safe space in which he can share his experiences and feelings.
- Engage your child in what he loves to do. Let him teach you things, so he has a sense of competence and contribution. Find out what he thinks, what he dreams of, what he wants and needs.
By following your heart, you are using your most effective parenting resource which is always with you, always accessible.
Here's to a creating a beautiful, loving and enduring relationship with your child.
About the author: Laura Ramirez is the author of the award-winning parenting book,
Keepers of the Children: Native American Wisdom and Parenting
. The book combines ancient native concepts (like stewardship) with heart-centered psychology to show parents how to raise children to develop their strengths and create fulfilling and purposeful lives.
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Copyright © 2005 by Laura Ramirez. All rights reserved. You may not copy this article in full or in part without the express written consent of the author, but you may link to it from your web site, blog or forum. parenting resource