Being a parent is not easy and it is not meant to be easy, however there ARE things that you can do to ensure that it will get easier with time.
In order to do this… You have to ask what is the desired outcome of this parenting experience?
What do you want to get out of it and what do you want your children to get out of it?
Once you have identified that, then it is just a matter of techniques put into place to help ensure that this occurs.
The truth of the matter is, that those adorable little babies that you birthed will not stay adorable forever!… They will go through stages. Passing through being a toddler, being a teen and then being the various stages that are ultimately the adult life.
The goal should always be to raise strong and successful adults. What that means and what that will look like, will depend on each family and each parent.
For some that is financial success… For some that is your children becoming helpful parts of society… For some that is simply survival… Ensuring that your children know how to survive. For the latter, that brings me great sadness but for some that is the reality.
Despite your position, this article will prove helpful. Take whatever from it that you need!
The Three P’s:
* Protect * Praise * Provide
Protect: Children are vulnerable little people who look to us for safety as a means of their own survival. Children need to feel not just loved, but protected, daily.
So what does this protection look like: The short answer is just showing a conscious effort to ensure their safe in all settings around the clock…
This includes being conscious of whose care you leave your children in. Being selective is always best!
Your children’s lives and well-being can depend on it…
Working in the mental health field, I can tell you that child abuse occurs far to often and 90% of the time by people that parents trusted to watch and protect their child.
Be extra selective and listen to your children when they say that someone makes them feel uncomfortable or unsafe.
When you are at the store, ensure that you have them secured in a cart that you are pushing… or holding their hand. This shows that you care to keep them close and protected… If your child should venture too far from you while out, then inform them of why it is important to stay close… Warning them of the dangers that can sometimes be present while out in public (an unfortunate reality).
When you are home, keeping them from hot stoves or ovens, sharp items etc. Telling them why these type of things are dangerous and being sure to say things like “I don’t want you to get hurt”… “I don’t want anything happening to you” or other similar comments that allows the child to feel valued and protected by you.
When it comes to others… This is especially important.
Children need time to get to know others and build rapport with them. This is ok! Do not expect your child to automatically know someone. Do not allow your children to be in uncomfortable circumstances. Do not allow them to sit on the laps of adults.. Unless they are adults that you know and trust personally. (Even still this is questionable, but coming from a person who works in the mental health field and having been exposed to more cases then I would like to admit of sexual abuse… Most being trusted family and friends who have abused children) I find it best to never do this and to not allow your children to be alone with anyone who is not, again a trusted adult!
Listening to your children and being in tune with them. Sometimes it is just about being present and listening.
This is the best way to ensure your child feels not just loved but protected! … You must realize that children are constantly thinking and processing things. Learning their environment and how people interact with one another… They will be faced with uncomfortable circumstances at times from others that may make them feel rejected, hurt or sad. They need to know that YOU are their safe place…
How can you ensure that they know that you are their safe place?
One way is by simply being present and being an active listener… When I pick my girls up from school and daycare, I never turn on the radio… At least for the first 20 minutes of them being in the car… More often than not, I do not turn it on at all…
Why is that?
I NEED to know what happened in their day. Everything that they would like to share and I prompt them so that I can understand all the details of their day. (This will only work for children who can speak) For children who cannot their are other avenues of learning your child’s day, which will serve for another very detailed article.
When my girls get in the car… I ask “How was your day?”… Yet, I do not allow them to stop with “fine” or “ok”… I follow up with “What was your favorite part of the day?”… I give them my undivided attention. I do not answer calls or respond to messages (you shouldn’t be doing this while driving anyway)…
Most importantly; I listen and I encourage them to continue with what they are telling me, prompting for more. I do this by saying things like “What else?” or if they are telling me about a particular person I probe regarding that person.
This will help me do several things!
1. My child knows I care about her day… Translating to her that I also care about her. 2. I will learn of possible things that could be of concern or find relief that my child is not currently faced with any threats to their physical or emotional well-being. 3. Most importantly! This will build a pattern and learned behavior for your child… Your child will get in the habit of telling you all about their day.. The good, the bad and all in between. This will eventually serve as a great way to avert peer pressure and other challenges that your child(ren) will face.
Praise: Being sure to inform your child of the things that they do that are noticed, appreciated and that you are happy about… There really is magic in this phrase “I am proud of you”… I cannot tell you how far that one sentence will go with a child, who feels that there parent is proud of them.
Praising your child’s good behaviors and accomplishments will do many things: build self-esteem, confidence and make them want to continue to get that response from you daily… This is what you want… For them to want to do the right thing and for you to recognize it.
The response of you being proud. This is also known as positive reinforcement. It does not have to be with money, candy, toys or any other thing that kids will grow accustom to (that will become costly)… Simple praise for the good that is done (good report card grades, cleaning the room, being polite) etc. Goes a long way!!!
Here is another key factor:… Do this in front of others.
For example: If you are at a family gathering and someone mentions something that will give an opportunity to praise your child… Do it! especially if your child is listening… This solidifies how you feel and reinforces them wanting to do good in all settings.
I cannot tell you how many times I have people tell me how well behaved, kind, smart and funny my kids are. Surprised about their big personalities and confidence at such young ages… (Especially my oldest) as I’ve invested the most time in her at this point. My youngest is two and she is flourishing in the same ways and gaining her personality.
My thought is that… My kids are only going to feel comfortable to be their best selves… The best versions of who they are, if I encourage and promote them to do so!
I am their biggest fans and they have no doubt in their minds about that, as I remind them every chance I get!
Provide: My favorite theory has to be Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Maslow details how in general people are only able to focus on one step at a time.
If you are struggling to keep a roof over your head, naturally you are not able to focus on your well-being or anyone’s well-being outside of that… As at that time the most important thing… is survival.
Sometimes we get caught up in providing… Providing a home, providing food, providing financially… that we forget that there are other components to promote a persons well- being.
Mental well-being and spiritual well-being.
No matter the situation… try to incorporate the three P’s whenever you can. As often as you can… and know that your best is good enough!
Protect. Praise. Provide