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Parenting: a short summary!

Big picture objectives: (adapted from ‘Young Children’s Behaviour’ Louise Porter)
  • My child should know the difference between right and wrong
  • My child should be able to practice emotional modulation and develop emotional resilience
  • My child should recognise the advantages of co-operation with family, friends and society in general
  • My child should become increasingly self-sufficient and independent; both physically and emotionally
Available tools:
  • Connection – this involves calming the child’s limbic system by providing calm, consistent parenting. This involves modeling emotional coping and problem solving. Good ‘attachment’ is the basis of socio-emotional development. If the limbic (stress response) is overheated you cannot do the next step.
  • Reasoning – which involves left pre-frontal cortex thinking and processing. The prefrontal cortex is only fully developed in one’s early twenties. Children can sometimes be physically incapable of good reasoning/comprehension/evaluation and judgement. Parents and teachers ‘coach’ children into developing these skills.
  • Boundaries and expectations – there is a delicate balance between recognising and meeting your child’s emotional and social needs and being the ‘authoratative’ (rather than authoritarian) parent who sets the rules and boundaries and sets reasonable expectations of behaviour.
The younger the child is the easier it is to set boundaries and have expectations: as children hit puberty this becomes a tussle as the child strives for ‘separation individuation’ and it is best if those boundaries/expectations are clear and the child is accustomed to co-operating.
As part of training self-sufficiency teenagers should be allowed to develop the skill of negotiation and become involved in the setting of their own standards of behaviour and achievement.
Each family has different values and norms:
-if boundaries/expectations are unrealistic, inconsistent, or too harsh children lose confidence and become avoidant, to the point of aggressive non-compliance or by becoming sneaky.
-if boundaries and expectations are too ‘loose‘ children struggle to becoming self-sufficient and independent, and may not accept societal structures and struggle to acquire the skill of emotional modulation.
In a nutshell –
A – acknowledge your child’s needs/opinion. Do emotional literacy training. Name the emotions if they are not able to do so. Acknowledge their right to have those feelings. (Neuroscience – you are calming the limbic system, stopping the production of adrenalin, cortisol and glutamate which affect rational coping)
B- BUT
C – choices – point out your child’s options in terms of behaviour and attitude. Do so calmly. You are enhancing left brain analytical/evaluative thinking.
C – consequences – connect the consequences to the behaviour and attitude.This is an opportunity to ‘coach’ reasoning, self-control and functional self-discipline.
D –Decide – giving children some control and the opportunity to learn life lessons from situations in a safe and controlled way enhances self-esteem and a sense of self-efficacy.

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