Parents & Frustration – Part 2

Posted on December 11, 2011

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In Part 2 we will outline the steps all parents must take in order to gain maximum influence over our children and their behavior.  Also, we will explain why control is not the best word to use when discussing the relationships we have with our children.

Technically speaking, there is no such thing as control.  No, this is not a spiritual or zen-like technicality, this is a physical reality that defines cause and effect in our universe.  A more accurate word to use here would be “influence”…and parents need to use theirs wisely if they want to feel like their are in control of their children.

When a child is physically abused, they are influenced.  When a child is loved and/or respected, they are influenced.  When a child is ignored or criticized, they are influenced.  All parents influence their children.  However, parents only become frustrated when their influence doesn’t yield them the results they are looking for.

Again, children will continue to test their boundaries…and some more than others.  The age and development of your child will determine which boundaries are tested…but no matter what parents do, they will never prevent their children from testing their boundaries.

So what’s the answer?

Walk side by side with your child as they test their boundaries.  Don’t tell them to stop and hope it works.  Instead, get in there with them and show them why certain boundaries don’t need any more testing.  Parents should look to use their experience rather than preach their experience.  “Don’t stick your finger in that light socket” is a command.  “When I stuck my finger in a light socket when I was a kid, I went flying across the room and had to go to the hospital” is an experience.  Believe it or not, flying across the room and going to the hospital is not a preferred option by many people…including toddlers.  When parents present their experience in the proper way, kids will naturally become mindful of what could happen.

This does not mean to stop baby-proofing houses and awarding children autonomy, it means that parents can use their influence to ensure that children make the right decision without arguing or fighting.  And this starts from day one.  Infants can’t always understand everything we say, but they can recognize the difference between anger and being direct.  Repetition works, so reviewing the rules and asking children to teach you the rules is a fool proof way to ensure that they know their boundaries.  Anytime you see them creeping up on another boundary, be there to guide them through as you always have.

Boundaries and circumstances will always change…but the influence of a parents loving hand will not.  As parents, our job is to prepare our children for life.  This means that our real goal is to prepare our children to make their own decisions.  While we may not be able to control anything, we can all leverage the natural powers of a loving and respectful connection with our child.

Posted in: Bad Parents