* Agree to Disagree in a Respectful Manner

By Dawn Tedrow, LCSW, Dec. 5, 2017 –

There are a lot of things to be unhappy about in our world today.  Everyone has their own opinion when it comes to politics and current affairs, and many are not shy about expressing their feelings. If you open up your social media news feed and read through the comments, you will see a lot of negativity.

What about you? Have you taken a look at your own attitude and behavior lately?

We try to raise our children to be well rounded individuals, to know the difference between right and wrong and to handle conflict appropriately.

Sometimes things are said just for the sake of stirring up an argument with someone who posted their opinion.  We feel hurt by things people post, and want them to know they have offended us.  But what is the right way to handle this conflict?

We must remember that our children are observing our reactions to these situations and they are often mirroring our behavior.

As a parent, I am entitled to my own beliefs that influence how I raise my child.  However, I am also responsible for ensuring they conduct themselves in a way that is respectful.  Perhaps it is time to review the idea that we can “agree to disagree.”

Be mindful of how you respond to situations you disagree with.  I am also guilty of uttering something under my breath about the latest news.  What I would like my child to take away from the moment is that I don’t agree with what is being said or done.  But your child is also hearing the words you are saying and thinking of how to apply it to situations in their young life.

Unfortunately, our bad behaviors may teach our children to handle a situation in an inappropriate way and they may ultimately be punished for it.  We are setting our children up for failure by not keeping our own reactions in check.

The next time you are watching the news and disagree with what is being reported, take a moment to think about how you should respond.  What do you want your child to learn from your reaction?  How would you like them to react to a difficult situation at school when you are not present?

The first step in expressing yourself in a positive manner is by starting with “I feel.”  Surprisingly, many children don’t know how to describe their feelings, so it might be helpful to have a list of feelings available for them to look at while instructing them in this skill.  “I feel angry” and “I feel sad” are some examples.

Once the child understands how to identify their feelings, you can begin teaching them to identify what is making them have this feeling. For example, “I feel angry when you tell me to pick up my toys.”

Practice modeling this behavior around your children and continue to encourage them to use their words instead of acting out inappropriately.  As always, be sure to praise them for using their words in a respectful and appropriate manner.

 

* Avoiding Parent-Child Power Struggles

by Terra Ours, LCSW, Courier & Press, July 25, 2017 –

It’s the end of the day and you’re exhausted.  Suddenly, you find yourself engaged in a war with your child – one you are determined to win.

You’re staring at him; he’s staring at you.  You’ve told him to go clean his room and received a firm response of, “No!”

Panic sets in as you struggle to come up with your next move and think, “What do I do? I’m angry and he’s angry.”  The result is an explosion as you hear yourself yell, “I said go clean your room NOW!”

This is an example of a parent-child power struggle.  Power struggles can leave parents wondering, “Why won’t he listen to me? Why do I have to yell to get him to listen?  Why won’t he just do what I ask?”

Fortunately there are simple solutions to avoid power struggles and increase desired behavior. The first suggestion for avoiding a power struggle is to not engage in one.  Once you have engaged in a power struggle with your child, the odds of winning are not in your favor.

Decide what rules are most important to you.  For example, you may decide your child cannot use electronics until homework is complete.  Be firm but gentle when reminding your child of your expectations.  Children learn more from a gentle approach and action versus screaming, negative words and idle threats.

If your child attempts to engage you in a power struggle, simply wait for everyone to calm down and utilize it as a teachable moment.  This may mean delaying the conversation until the next day.

Explain to your child that it is okay to feel angry; however, it is not okay to yell at you.  Ask your child to identify a more healthy way they could respond the next time they feel angry.  Role play more healthy responses to prepare safe ways to manage difficult feelings.

If this happens, explain to your child that you set the consequence when you were angry or upset and you now realize the consequence is too harsh.  Set a fair consequence and be sure to follow through.

Find ways to empower your child.  Give them choices.  For example, “You can clean your room now or you can clean your room after supper.”  You are stating your expectation but empowering your child to decide when to complete the task.

You may also decide to problem-solve together.  Try to come to an agreement on rules and family expectations.  Create a family contract and have everyone sign it.  This creates a win-win for everyone.

Praise your child when he follows through on expectations. Offering positive praise will motivate your child to have more positive behavior. Always focus on what your child is doing right and not just on what he is doing wrong.

Use empathy.  Try to understand your child’s side of the story or how they view something.  This will build trust and open healthy paths of communication.

Always remember to take a time-out if you feel angry.  Children learn by what they see, and our best teaching moments are when we can calmly show our children how to respond to stressful situations.