Are you a Well-Behaved Parent? We are all so concerned about our children’s behavior, and yet so often, we are acting like jerks to our kids. We lose our patience with them, yell at them, tell them what to do without saying please or thank you, turn the TV channel without asking, tell them to move when we want sit somewhere and expect them to have cleanliness and discipline skills we do not have ourselves. Let’s just say that children do not do what we say, they do what we do. If you are not liking the behavior of your children, maybe it is time to take a look in the mirror. Here are seven steps to becoming a well-behaved parent.
1. Grow UP: Being a grown up is more than age and more than an attitude. The more you learn about yourself and learn to identify your own tendencies, the closer to grown up you’ll be. We must be more mature than our children so they have someone to be inspired by, to look up to and want to model. Get to know yourself and your immature habits so you can most benefit the little people you are raising.
2. Watch Your Tone of Voice: If you speak down to your children or yell at them, they will speak that same way to you. They will get in trouble for speaking to you this way, while you get away with it because you are the parent. This unfairness creates anger and confusion in your children, who will then act it out on you and others. Talk to your children with love and respect. You can discipline them and still be respectful of their side of the story. When you are calm and understanding, you help them to understand themselves and their behavior better.
3. Don’t Throw Tantrums: If when life goes wrong you lose emotional control on a consistent basis, you are teaching your children to handle themselves in that same way. If you look at your children and are annoyed with their response to a setback in life, before punishing them, look at yourself and see if they learned this from you. Having a tantrum, playing the victim or any type of childish emotional noise creates angst in your children. If you have a setback and are upset, express your disappointments from a place of mindfulness and truth. This teaches your children their emotions will be OK and that it is also not the end of the world. Teach them there is a bigger picture and a way to stay calm through challenge.
4. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff: Children are growing and they are not going to be perfect or exactly what you think and want them to be. If you ride them on all of their “flaws” according to you, they will learn to not like themselves and feel they are not good enough. Be flexible as a parent, understand that they are little people and need to learn and grow into their own people. Embrace their differences.
5. Avoid Passive-Aggressive Actions: Joking down is a cut down. Let’s be clear on that. Any time you are joking down, you are humiliating and damaging the self-esteem of your children. When they show hurt to your sarcasm and you say you were just joking, you humiliate them even more for being sensitive and human. The best way to tease is to tease them with love and affection, not on their personal idiosyncrasies. Play with them in loving and positive ways. It is much more fun.
6. Stop Complaining: If you are complaining and whining all the time about life and how things are never how you want them, you not only fill your household and children full of negative energy, but unconsciously, they learn to complain. They will get in trouble for complaining, all the while you continue to model it for them and you teach them the world is a negative and unfair place. Keep things positive. See the bigger picture. Find a way to see the positive in each situation and model this for your children.
7. Give Up Laziness: If you are lazy, sitting around watching TV, sleeping, not helping with household chores, but demanding your children do what you won’t, you teach them to rebel and to be lazy and entitled to do whatever they want, which usually is nothing. Hard work is an essential ingredient in being an adult. As their parent and role model, you need to be an active participant in the family “business” of keeping things happy, clean, organized and put together. This way, you teach your children that hard work and participation are essential for success in any area of life.
Who you are directly influences, shapes and largely determines how your children turn out. We cannot have kids and expect them to raise themselves or to look at our negative qualities and “know better” than to take them on. We become what we are around, and this is even truer for your children, as their brains are developing all the way up to age 25. They are more vulnerable than you are and take things in much more literal. You have to be what you want them to become.
Sherapy Advice: Be a well-behaved parent and you will have well-behaved children.
Sherrie Campbell, PhD is a veteran, licensed Psychologist with two decades of clinical training and experience providing counseling and psychotherapy services to residents of Yorba Linda, Irvine, Anaheim, Fullerton and Brea, California.