(And What to do About It)
by Mark Brandenburg
My kids are driving me crazy! It’s a refrain that’s being heard around the country. My kids are driving me crazy! Help!
And when you conduct parent workshops, the same issues that produce that refrain come up over and over for parents. No matter where you go, parents are talking about the same problems with their kids. And the sad truth about these problems is that parents are usually major contributors to them.
Here are three of the problems that keep coming up for parents, and an explanation of how parents can solve their own problems.
Problem #1: My kids don’t listen to me
To expect that kids will listen to you perfectly all the time is an irrational thought. Kids don’t listen and attend to things in the same way that adults do. They can be intensely focused on the activity they’re involved with. Kids will often need you to repeat things a number of times in a patient, pleasant tone. And yes, your job is to be very patient with them.
It is often the “parental” tone of parents’ voices that is part of the problem when kids don’t listen. After all, who wants to be lectured constantly about what to do? If things still don’t work, take action-kids will respond to action much better than they will to words.
Problem #2: My kids aren’t respectful-they talk back and argue too much
One of the problems with not having obedient kids anymore is that kids feel more freedom to speak their mind. This can be irritating, but it’s far better than obedient kids who do what they’re told out of fear.
If your child talks to you in a disrespectful way, you have choices. One choice is to be angry with them and to actually create more of the very behavior that you dislike. Getting angry when your child talks back to you is a great example of creating your own problems.
A better choice is to ask them what’s bothering them in a compassionate way. Kids will often take out their feelings on someone who they feel safe with-you! And remember that you can tell them in a calm and firm manner that it’s not OK to talk to you that way.
Arguing is a choice for parents. It still takes two to tango. Most parents who complain about their kids arguing are pretty good at it themselves. You may disagree often with your kids, but arguments can usually be avoided if parents stay disciplined.
Problem #3: My kids aren’t achieving as well as they should
Whether its’ tying their shoes, getting better grades, or success at sports, parents will always be worried about how well their kids are measuring up. While there certainly are situations that require extra help and support, most of the extreme concern about your child’s development is a problem itself. When parents worry about their child’s capability, it sends a powerful message to your child. Einstein and Edison, by the way, were very poor students as children!
The responsibility of parents is to believe in their child’s ability to succeed and to set high expectations for them. The rest is to be patient and to be aware of your own insecurities. It is these insecurities that may be part of the reason your child isn’t doing well.
While it’s easy to point fingers at your kids, remember the old saying: “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
Parents who attend to their own issues first will find far fewer “rotten apples” in their tree.
About the Author: Mark Brandenburg MA, CPCC, coaches fathers by phone to balance their life and improve family relationships-immediately! He is an Instructor for the Academy for Coaching Parents and author of “Secrets of Emotionally Intelligent Fathers” Ecourse
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