Informed Families Blog
It is not surprising then that many parents have mixed feelings about imposing rules. On the one hand they want their children to learn what is expected of them so they can get on with others. At the same time they do not want their children to be blindly obedient to adult authority.
For children to become socially responsible they must learn that reasonable rules and limits are there for their safety and well-being, not because it’s convenient for parents. Rules help children learn exactly what sorts of behaviors are considered appropriate by their parents and what is not acceptable. They also help children learn an understanding of how fair rules are developed.
News in the past of reported violent incidents at children’s sporting events must leave some parents wondering whether they want their children to be involved in sports at all.
The fact is, playing sports helps children gain regular exercise, make new friends and learn valuable social lessons about teamwork, responsibility and competition. But too much pressure by parents excessively keen on winning can create anxiety and other emotional problems.
Standing at the sidelines yelling about dropped catches, missed tackles, or the suspect familial origins of the referee or opposition players isn’t such a good role model for your children. And for some children the pressure to perform may bring tears and sore tummies on Saturday morning prior to a sporting event.
Of course it is perfectly normal to take pride in your child’s sporting activities and to enjoy watching them participate in sports. What is more important though then your child becoming good at sports is to see them become a ‘good sport.’
Many adults will probably recall a time in their childhood when they were guilty of a little stealing. Perhaps it was just a few dollars you found lying around the house, or a tempting trinket off a shop counter.
The truth is that young children do not always understand exactly what stealing is, and those that do sometimes steal to impress their friends or for a dare. For most children this “experiment” in dishonesty is short-lived, especially when they are caught and appropriately disciplined.
Stealing needs to be considered as a potentially serious problem, especially if it occurs outside the home. Of course if your child has stolen something, it doesn’t make them a delinquent. Rather, you need to discourage stealing, find out the reasons your child has stolen, and take steps to prevent it leading to further problems at school and in the wider community.
The traditional view of children out in the backyard laughing while running around playing games is indeed a good antidote for too much indoors computer time, but we need to also remember that an interest in creative arts such as music, dance, drama, painting, drawing and sculpture are just as important to our child’s development.
3 Ways To Prevent Your Kids From Lying
Lying — it's something politicians are often accused of doing, something most adults do at sometime or another in the form of a ’little white lie,’ and something we don’t want children to do.
So why would your child lie? The consequences of telling the truth might have something to do with it. If a child tells the truth and believes they will be severely or unfairly punished, they may learn to avoid punishment in the future by lying. It is important to separate the consequences of lying from the consequences of what happened.
Children can also learn how to lie simply by watching other children and adults. If children see others getting away with lying, they may be tempted to try it themselves. In other cases lying serves to gain attention and approval. Your child may tell stories to other children to be seen as ‘cool’ by their friends. Children who tell such boastful lies may also be lonely, bored, or have low self-esteem.
That said, it’s obvious we need to know when children are lying so we can intervene to teach them not to. That’s often the hard part though — when are you sure your child is not telling the truth? Younger children can sometimes give the game away themselves. They may tell a story that just doesn’t sound right, or the child may break into a smile as their hastily concocted plot unravels.
A few simple questions can help reveal a lie, although a rigorous interrogation is likely to be interpreted as a threat of punishment and will not help the situation. For example, querying how your child came to have $10 in their pocket might include some calm, clear questions about when, where, who was with them, or the order of events.
Here are three ways to prevent your kids from lying:
- To discourage lying in children parents need to discuss the problem with their children. It is important your child knows that lying is unacceptable, but it is equally important for your child to understand some of the effects of lying. You might like to briefly and calmly tell your child how lying affects you and why you think it is a problem.
For example:“Tania, I feel angry and disappointed when you lie. It makes it hard to believe anything you say. If you keep telling lies, you will find that nobody will trust you.”
You can also give your child opportunities to be honest and reward and praise them for telling the truth. This gives your child a positive response to their behavior and they are more likely to repeat their honesty in future. Try telling them that you will give them opportunities to be honest and try it out occasionally. For example, if you know that they haven’t yet cleaned their room, ask them. You will know immediately whether they are being honest or not.
- If your child is finding it hard to learn not to tell lies, you might need to set up a written contract signed by both yourself and your child. This contract should state what you expect your child to do and the rewards and consequences that will follow. Put the contract up on the refrigerator to help avoid getting into a debate with your child. If they have lied, the consequences for that behavior are clearly listed in the contract for all to see.
PARENTING TIPIf your child owns up to doing something they know you would not have allowed them to do make sure you praise them for their honesty, before you deal with the misbehavior. No matter what else has happened they should be rewarded for telling the truth.
“Don’t argue in front of the children,” is an admonishment many parents may have heard at one time or another.
As a psychologist, I know the wisdom in this advice, but after many years working with families, I don’t believe in giving parents a hard time simply for disagreeing about how to deal with their children’s behavior — conflict between partners over parenting issues is common and to be expected.
What is important for parents to learn is how to deal positively with these differences through good communication. Communication allows parents to work together as a team and thus minimizes the impact of any conflict on their child’s development.
And why is this so important?
Because children do best in a stable, predictable, caring home environment where conflict is low, communication is clear and disagreements are resolved without recourse to anger, violence or repression.
Of course working as a team isn’t always easy. Each parent brings to the relationship their own beliefs, values, expectations and skills. They are influenced by childhood memories of their own parents, their life experiences, the opinions of relatives and friends — even what they may read about in a daily newspaper!
It is understandable then that parents will have different ideas about how to raise children and how family life should operate.
It is also difficult to work together as parents when a couple’s relationship may be strained by the day-to-day demands of a family, particularly if children are young or their behavior is difficult to manage.
But that’s no reason to be pessimistic about the prospects for a united parenting front.
I have seen many couples over the past 10 years learn new ways to work together on parenting issues, look after their relationship, and use specific problem solving steps to resolve disagreements. These parents were able to present a consistent approach in the way each of them responded to their child’s behavior and so made the job of parenting less stressful and their family life more enjoyable.
One of the keys to working well together as parents is to support each other. For example, if your partner is managing a problem behavior, you can support them by following through with discipline. Better to back up your partner than to interfere by coming to the rescue or taking the tough guy role.
If you are unhappy with the way your partner has handled a situation, wait until it is over and find a time to calmly discuss what happened. Remember though, that talking and sharing your ideas effectively involves also listening to your partner’s points of view and acknowledging that you have understood them correctly.
Bad communication habits to be avoided when discussing parenting issues with your partner include raising your voice, interrupting, being sarcastic, not listening, and talking over each other.
It also helps to put aside a little time each day to talk together about your partner’s day, especially where only one parent has been with your child. Talk about pleasant, fun things that occurred as well as any problems. And remember to praise and congratulate your partner when you think they’ve done a good job.
PARENTING TIPSometimes one parent can be unhappy in a relationship without the other knowing. If you are unhappy, you need to talk to your partner about how you feel, because otherwise you face the risk of this stress affecting your relationship with your children as well as your partner. It may be difficult for you to talk, but plan a time where you will not be interrupted by your children and try to speak calmly about how you feel without dumping on your partner. Seek professional advice if you find yourself unable to resolve the problem.
Although school holidays are a great time to relax and rejuvenate they can also be stressful for parents searching for ways to keep children “amused”. So here are my top five tips to survive the school holidays.
Tip No 1: Sit down with your kids and plan activities that they can look forward to. Make a list of free activities, activities they can do at home, and activities with a budget. Check your local papers or log the internet to see what’s happening in your area. Put the full list on the fridge and refer kids to the “activities at home” section when you’re hit with the “I’m bored” syndrome!
Tip No 2: Organize a holiday budget and discuss this with the children. It’s important for children to understand that you don’t have a bottomless pit of money and that, in fact, you don’t need lots of money to have fun. You may like to plan some activities with a dollar tag attached but there are plenty of free activities in parks, museums, and libraries.
Tip No 3: Don’t fall into the trap of “full time entertainer”. Children need to learn to amuse themselves and to find interesting and fun things to do in a safe environment. Depending on your child’s age you may need to help them start an activity but don’t take it over. And remember, it’s important to show an interest when your child is busy and absorbed and not just when they’re bored and seeking an audience.
Tip No 4: Set ground rules for computer and TV use such as turn taking and time limits. Although it’s ok for children to watch a little more TV or use the computer more often during the holidays, it’s important that children have a balance of indoor and outdoor activities. Set a time limit and monitor programs and computer games. If turn taking is a problem, set a timer and allocate a time limit for each child.
Tip No 5: It’s easier to look after children’s needs if we also look after our own needs as parents. Set aside some child free time. Organize a play at a friend’s house or enlist the help of relatives to give you a break. If our own needs as adults are neglected, it’s much more difficult to be calm, patient, and consistent with our children.
Positive parenting aims to promote children's development and manage children's behavior and emotions in a constructive and non-hurtful way. It is based on strong, nurturing relationships, good communication and positive attention to help children develop.