Authority over yourself is commonly referred to as authoritative parenting. This means that you can be clear with expectations and boundaries without sounding uncertain. Kids do not need to feel your self-doubt and if you put it out there, they will go along with you and doubt you, too.
Many parents have a pleading tone when they ask their children to do something. Pleading doesn’t get the attention you want and when that happens your pleading will most certainly turn into annoyance and then anger. Oops, now your stuck in the cycle: getting angry, feeling guilty, trying to be nicer, doing more pleading and getting annoyed all over again. This is not good for your kids and not great for your confidence or self-regard.
What this doesn’t mean is being authoritarian and disrespecting kids. That old-school method of parenting doesn’t work today. In an attempt to change this, parents often swing over to a more permissive, chaotic position—of course all with the best of intentions. Now we have anxiety about being a mean parent and crushing our kid’s spirit. Having clear boundaries is not being mean and kids will have much better relationships with people now and in their future if we can figure this out.
What to do? Think about the limits that matter in your home. Most of the important ones have to do with responsibility, respect for other beings and safety. As children mature, we expect more from them. We state boundaries regarding our needs and values which teaches them kindness and regard.
Requests can be stated clearly with choices attached. “We need to leave the house at 8 a.m. tomorrow. What could this look like?”
State your needs, “I’d like to finish my conversation with your dad, please wait for two minutes.”
Now, you may not expect this from a two-year-old, but as your child reaches four, it could be a reasonable expectation. Expectations expand as your child matures.
Point out the needs of others, “People like to relax and enjoy their meals when they eat out. Yelling disturbs them.”
Instead of feeling sorry for your child—“Oh, you poor thing!”—show faith that your child can handle some frustration. “You felt excluded today with your friend. What ideas do you have to deal with this?”
Show up with confidence and watch your child grow.
LIFE Seminars has two books available, Sidestepping the Power Struggle and The Parent Child Connection. See lifeseminars.com.