We all grow into adults who don’t always use the best ways to communicate, discipline and interact with children. Sometimes, we are unaware of little things that we do or say that have negative effects on kids. Recognizing those issues is the first step, and then learning to model more appropriate behaviors comes next.
Although I am sure this won’t come as a shock to most of you, I love watching Supernanny on television. Many of her techniques are similar to those that I teach and use. While there are few points of disagreement, for the most part I find it engaging and interesting.
I must add that I believe I watch it more to learn about parents than to witness the transformation in the children. I have been able to observe many bad parenting habits while given the opportunity to be a proverbial “fly on the wall” of some of these families’ homes. Here are few that I feel are common and correctable.
1. Pointing fingers at children to get a point across when you are angry. There was recently a mom who got in her children’s faces and pointed her finger at them when she was enforcing a rule. This not only is berating and rude, but it communicates that the adult is trying to demand respect that has not been earned.
Solution: Hold on to your child’s arms or hands while talking to prevent the finger pointing. This will also require that you are on the child’s level (see next point).
2. Standing over children when communicating.
Many parents are guilty of this without even realizing it can have adverse effects on kids. Children are constantly looking up to adults, literally. This immediately creates a feeling of inferiority, which makes it difficult to establish open communication.
Solution: Get into a position where you can have eye-to-eye contact with your child. This may mean sitting, kneeling or squatting.
3. Yelling for any reason other than excitement.
We expect our kids to control themselves, speak with respect, and learn to communicate effectively. Unfortunately, we often do not set healthy examples. When we yell in anger, frustration, or in an attempt to gain control we express acceptance of losing control.
Solution: If you feel yourself ready to yell, practice stopping yourself and self-regulating before you speak. With practice, you can break the habit.
4. Talking about kids in front of them.
Kids are twice as intuitive and aware as adults give them credit for. Parents often believe they can talk around and in front of kids and “they aren’t paying attention”. This is not true! This makes kids feel betrayed and hurt, especially if what is said is about them.
Solution: Save all adult conversation for kid-free times. This includes arguments, behavior discussions, etc. Do NOT resort to spelling words, whispering, or using code words to get around waiting for the appropriate time to talk.
These are fairly common issues that parents face and are certainly challenges at times. However, recognizing habits and practicing alternatives are easy methods of making positive changes for you and your family!