We have all watched at some point in our adult life a parent barking at their children in the grocery store or the playground. Unfortunately this is often not the last resort but the first tool out of the box. Parents assume an authority that indeed they have but often time abuse it. I mean that they assume that because they are a parent that their word is law. However, without positive engagement with your kids your word is law idea will fade to the background.
Positive engagement can take many forms. Reading a story or going outside to play shows the kids that you are interested in them when they do well not only when they are being bad. This message that is communicated to the children is that they are important and not just noticed when they make a mistake.
The more engaged I am with my kids the better the discipline results. Being engaged in a meaningful way, whether reading, or playing or doing homework with them reinforces lessons learned from the one to one problem solving approach that my wife and I have taken.
Now I am guilty of trying to settle problems that my kids are having while sitting on the couch. Often times I will bellow in a deep tone “Cut that out!” or “Do you need to go to your room?” But these are veiled threats and my kids know it.
They have learned that when I get up and walk towards them then I am serious. They know this from experience and respect it. The respect does not flow from the discipline but quite the opposite it flows from the positive engagement that my wife and I have with our kids. They know that we are serious because they know that they are important.
I have learned that the longer I bellow the less serious my kids take me. You see if you yell, or bellow or warn children and do not actually follow up with some sort of action then you will be ignored. And being ignored simply further aggravates parents. As the aggravation rises so does the frustration level.
For me the aggravation and frustration does not end until I stand up and engage my kids. They know I am serious because I am right next to them. Whether they are arguing over a toy, a book or simply tattling on each other I simply ask “What happened?” This is important because it is non-judgmental. If I get up and bark at the kids and said, “What did you do?” they immediately break into a defensive he said she said routine.
Now we didn’t invent this. These are acquired skills learned from other parents, jobs and friends. They are important skills because often time people believe that once they have children they are a parent, and they are. We all start out as a parent in the noun form.
The real difficulty is making that change from parent to parenting. As the kids get older engagement is more important. Because frankly sitting on your couch and yelling at kids to stop this or stop that will lead to the aforementioned frustration. This type of yelling has the opposite effect of what is intended. The more children are yelled at the more they tune you out. So get up and play with the kids it will make you a more effective parent.
This article was written by Daniel Mahan, a writer for dusk magazine.