Parenting is a great adventure… but like most great adventures, it can be hard! Kids don’t come with an owner’s manual, and their needs are so different, that even reading several books on the topic can leave a parent feeling like they need more answers.
Here are a few brief thoughts about parenting.
I realize this is pretty obvious! There are lots of outside forces that can put your child at risk – and I’m guessing you know about those already. In addition to keeping your child physically safe, you also want to protect them emotionally as well. Kids can also be at risk in their own homes, when their parents are possibly overwhelmed, worn down, or even preoccupied.
Here are some ideas of ways to foster a safe environment that can lead to healthy growth and development.
One of the best things you can do for your child is to take care of your own emotional well-being.
Sometimes as parents we spend so much time “putting our kids first”, (and sacrificing our own need fulfillment in the process) that we become worn out emotionally. When this happens, forget “best” parenting practices! It’s all about survival.
Taking the time you need to do your own self care (healthy eating, exercising, adequate sleep, etc) can go a long way in setting you up for patience with your child during trying times. Everyone’s needs are different, and it’s appropriate to take some time to figure out what YOU need in order to be at your best.
I realize that sometimes this can seem impossible… but I’ve found that keeping your needs in the back of your mind (not in a desperate, “I’m never gonna be able to do that” way – rather an “I’m watching for opportunities” way) as you go about other business can open you up to some creative solutions.
TIME OUTS ARE FOR PARENTS TOO!
I’m not talking about self-care here. I’m talking about the same kind of time-out we use for kids.
I’m pretty sure that all children come with the ability to push buttons… repeatedly. There is most likely something your child does over and over that you’ve asked them to change multiple times, in multiple ways. You’ve asked nicely, you’ve bribed them, you’ve pleaded, you’ve begged… and they keep doing it. You’d be the exception if you didn’t get angry!
When we are angry or emotionally charged, the frontal lobe of our brain is “off line”, and we are making decisions based on whatever emotion is driving us – NOT the rational thought processes that we’d like to have be directing us.
When you notice yourself getting reactive in this way, if you’re able to take some time away from the situation before disciplining your child, you will be able to approach things more calmly and rationally (and hopefully more effectively).
It’s okay to teach your child by modeling that “I need to go cool off before we talk about this” and “I sorry, I didn’t handle that well” are good ways to deal with conflict resolution.
Parenting can be particularly hard when there is conflict between Mom and Dad. Whether you’re still together and experiencing high conflict, or divorced or separated – it complicates parenting.
In situations like these, focus on what you have control over. Keep your own behavior appropriate, respectful, and kind. Support what you can with the other parent (discipline, attending events, etc).
Find someone who will validate how you feel (if you’re still married and planning on staying married, it would be good to have this be a qualified therapist). Vent your feelings somewhere aside from around your child.
Utilize your support group.
THERAPY WITH PARENTS
It’s not unusual for me to work with both a child and their parent. Sometimes both parents come in, but more often it’s just one parent. Even when there are family members who contribute to the problem but don’t come in to therapy, it can still be helpful.
I will work with whoever comes in!
I have an obligation to report the suspicion of child abuse to Child Protective Services. I want you to be safe, and I want your family to be successful.
I look forward to seeing how I can help you.
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