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As the weather gets cooler and the year of 2009 comes to an end, I will become a mom for the first time. That is right, my husband and I are expecting our first child in early December and we are of course overjoyed! I have been helping families for years on how to parent and as motherhood is fast approaching I am wondering if all those years of talking to my clients will pay off. I believe that there are three techniques to successful parenting which is consistency, consequences and caring, the three C's.
Children keep us in check.
Their laughter prevents our hearts from hardening. Their dreams ensure we never lose our drive to make ours a better world. They are the greatest disciplinarians known to mankind.
-- Queen Rania of Jordan, Hello Magazine
by Dr. Jennifer Lagrotte, DMFT
In negotiation, consistency, or the consistency principle, refers to a negotiator's strong psychological need to be consistent with prior acts and statements.
When you say something mean it and when you mean it say it. The most effective way to do this is to wait until you and your child are calm in order to talk. Time outs have lost there purpose along with way, but they are supposed to be a time to reflect, understand and relax in order to not repeat the same mistakes again. Who is the time out for the parent or the child? I would say both in order for the child to understand and for you as the parent to have time to reflect. If you are consistent in your parenting your children will appreciate you even more. Children need rules, boundaries and discipline in order to learn and they crave it. If you do not give it to them, they will not know how to succeed. How do you stay consistent?
- Have a daily routine and stick to it. If you are a morning person, then wake up before the kids and do what you need to do, if you are a night person, after the kids are asleep, have your time and get your next day organized. Remember the more organized you are, the better off your children will be.
- Once the kids are up, stick to a routine, whether its brush teeth, eat breakfast, get dressed, whatever it is, keep it the same each morning.
- Nighttime can be either fun or stressful, you can make it fun by establishing a night time routine early on and sticking to it in and your children will know that when you say bath time, the night is winding down.
- Take a 5 minute break if you need. Yes, you are allowed and it will help you get back on track with your day.
Once you have your routine down, you need to establish and stick to the consequences that you make. This is the time when you need to breathe and think about what will make the most sense. When your child does something wrong, it is best to take some time for both of you and reflect on how to help them learn the right way to do something. Remember, we learn from mistakes so help them learn how to do the right thing by setting a good example as well as good consequences.
- Never make the consequence harder for yourself than for your child
- Never rebuke another person.s consequence if it is already established. You can do this in private and both learn from this event on different parenting styles
- Always, keep the whole consequence. If you say no electronics for 30 days, then stick to your promise. If that is too hard for you, do not make it for so long.
- Make the consequence match the crime. Remember, these are learning experiences, not punishment. Your goal is to get them to learn how to remember the next time it happens not to do it again.
- Do not keep on adding on to the consequence, once it is established then stick to it, if your child is always in punishment, neither of you will have any sense of balance.
Once the consequence is given, its time to show that you care. Children have a wonderful way of ignoring adult speak so when I say show, that means hugs, kisses and time spent together. Kids hear you the first time even if they do not act like they do. If you are unsure if your child is listening, the ask them to repeat back what you said. Eye contact is always a good indicator if your child is tuning you in or tuning you out. I will let you come up with your own idea on how to show that you care.
That being said, the 3 C's can be used each and everyday by all family members to ensure continued growth and enrichment in your lives.
Dr. Jennifer B Lagrotte, DMFT
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