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Exercising Your Parenting Power

Jun 17, 2008
Are there areas in your relationship with the children in your life where you feel powerless to change the situation? Times when "the kids" seem out of control and no matter what you've done to get them to change, they keep being uncooperative.

For whatever comfort this is--you are not alone. Most parents, teachers, and grandparents struggle with some aspect of their relationship with children. Children who ignore your requests to pick up their toys or to come to the dinner table on time. Children who scream when you tell them "No."

The sad part of these stories is we adults too often persist in doing the same things over and over to solve these challenges even though our strategies don't produce the results we want. Parents and teachers frequently tell me the same list of strategies they have tried--bribes, threats, punishment, reasoning, explaining--all of which do not create the desired long-term results.

The commonality in all of these approaches is they are intended to get the child to change her behavior. You unconsciously reason, "If only my child would act the way I want, everything would be all right." You keep hoping you can threaten, cajole, reason, bribe, or punish your child into compliance.

Many of you have heard me say this before. There is only one person whose behavior you can change, and it is your own. Yet how much time do you devote to trying to get your child to change? Or your boss or your spouse or your parents? We waste a lot of our time, energy and power trying to get others to change. If we put that same attention, power, and energy into our own change, we might actually get the results we want.

The good news is your child will change her behavior in response to your changed behavior. It can seem to work like magic.

Changing your own behavior can feel difficult. Doing new things requires courage, awareness, and lots of self-love. Your new behavior feels unfamiliar and uncomfortable, and you don't know what's going to happen when you do it consistently.

Here are a couple of suggestions to get you started.

~Determine which situations are not working for you. You'll discover some things are more important to you than others. Pay attention to your highest priorities first.

~~Choose one thing you will do differently to improve your own behavior and choices in the situation. Focus on this new behavior daily so you can successfully follow through.

~~Observe the results in how you feel and how your child / student acts. Are you feeling better about the situation? How is your child responding?

When you use the power you have, you can create a wonderful connection with your child and have a lot of fun. Parenting becomes so much easier, and your child flourishes as an emotionally healthy person.
About the Author
Connie Allen, M.A. of Joy with Children. Connie helps parents and educators who are unsure how to best empower their child. . For information on how you can nurture the joyous inner spirit of children, subscribe to her free e-newsletter "Joy with Children". Visit her blog.
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