If you have been following my blog for anytime now, you know I am weeks away from being a first time mommy. I know what you are thinking, “how can this girl be giving parenting advice when her baby isn’t even here yet.” You are right, I am not a “parent” just yet. However, I have worked with kids of all ages since I was 16 years old and have come to learn that 99% of the problems I have dealt with make COMPLETE SENSE once you meet the parents.
I may not be a parent just yet, but I maintain a number of classes a day that range from 25-40 students. This is my 6th year of teaching and within those years I have had to write one referral. Here are some basic principles I have learned throughout my years of teaching that I truly believe would eliminate most behavioral problems at home.
Be Present– I can’t tell you how many times I see parents pick their kids up while on the phone. I understand that some people’s work needs them to be on the phone for a big chunk of the day, but your kids just sat in school for 7.5 hours and are trying to tell you about their day. MAKE TIME FOR THEM. As parents, we must always treat our kids like they are our first priority (and they should be). So hang up the phone and say “hi” to your kid. Ask them how their day was. Give them a big hug and tell them you missed them. And then, call that client, friend, spouse, or whomever it was you were talking to back. Or simply, wait until your conversation is over before getting your kid so you can give them your undivided attention for 5 minutes.
Teach Them- This is one that really erks me. I’ve seen so many parents that have smacked, yelled, or gritted their teeth at their child before they even know the whole story. Instead of being so eager to “discipline” your child, take a minute to learn the whole situation and explain to them why they are in trouble and the behavior you’d rather see. Give your child a chance to correct whatever it is they did wrong. I am all for having consequences. I am all for discipline. However, so many parents miss those important, teachable moments that will impact a kid way more than a smack in the back of the head.
Stop Giving In- It is pretty typical to see 2 working parents now-a-days. So, I understand most people work long weeks and at the end of each day they are exhausted. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard parents say “no” to their kid numerous times and then get so fed up that they keep asking that they eventually say “yes.” YOU ARE THE PARENT. When you give your child an answer- stick to it! If you said “no ice cream” because your kid had a bad report at school, then it’s NO ICE CREAM! It’s not, you’re annoying the fire out of me by asking, so I’ll get ice cream to shut you up. IT’S NO! Plain and simple- NO! If they continue to ask- set consequences AND STICK TO THEM. Which brings me to my last and probably most important piece of advice:
FOLLOW THROUGH- This is one I see over and over again. “You’re going to time out if I have to tell you again.” Or, “you’re getting a spanking if you continue to do that.” You should say this ONE TIME. If they don’t do what was asked of them- then the punishment you threatened them with NEEDS to happen. Kids will continue to do whatever it is that is bothering you again and again and again if they know they will get away with it. Set boundaries and explain what will happen if they cross the line. WHEN they cross the line, the consequence you put forth should be done IMMEDIATELY. Not “when dad comes home” not “when your off the phone,” IMMEDIATELY.
Last but certainly not least, CONSISTENCY- you must, must, must be consistent. Consistent with rules and punishments. I don’t really know how to elaborate on this one because it seems self-explanatory. Basically, if a kid wasn’t allowed to do it yesterday they shouldn’t be able to today.
Again, I am not a parent yet, but I have worked with kids (and parents) long enough that I know when parents are present, teach their child, stick to their guns, follow through, and are consistent with consequences- their kid has very little to no issues in school and are MUCH more pleasant to be around. And, I’m sure when I am a parent, I will need to be reminded of these things as well- because, lets face it… none of us are perfect and we all will lose control (and our minds) while raising these cute, messy, crazy, moody, humans!