Raising Successful Children
I know none of us are perfect parents. I try to be an excellent parent. I (most of the time) am honest with my children, consistent with rules and consequences, loving and encouraging, feed them nutritious food, teach them important things like their phone number and address (you would not believe how many children don't know their phone number and address!) and read to them every day. I truly try not to helicopter and let them make their own mistakes. But I also have my faults and I am acutely aware of them even when I am actively screwing up, and it doesn't seem to stop me. I yell at them when I am frustrated. I spend way too much time in front of screens, either phone, computer, or TV. I put them in front of the TV too much. I don't play with them enough - just get down on the floor and play. I spend way too much time wrapped up in my "to-do" list. I tell them "in a minute" ALL the time. There's more, but you get the picture.
I noticed the other day that Maddie has become very full of herself. She's smart, sarcastic, easily frustrated, and she's bossy. This combination may not be such a great one if she wants to make friends when school starts. And according to the article, this is partly (mostly) our fault for telling her how fabulous she is all the time (because, of course, she is amazing and fabulous). I tried explaining to her last night how important it is to be kind to others rather than trying to seem like the smartest one in the room all the time. So maybe I should start praising her for being kind instead of being smart.
From the article, "A loving parent is warm, willing to set limits and unwilling to breach a child’s psychological boundaries by invoking shame or guilt. Parents must acknowledge their own anxiety." I have a lot of anxiety and feel that I was raised to feel a lot of shame and guilt (sorry mom, but really, most people are). This quote really struck me. I definitely use shame when parenting ("Maddie, how could you color on the wall, you know better!" or even worse "Maddie how could you let your brother color on the wall, you know better!). I don't like the way shaming my children into good behavior makes me feel. And now I think I understand why: I am forcing my own anxiety onto them. And that really, for lack of a better word at the moment, sucks.
"The happiest, most successful children have parents who do not do for them what they are capable of doing, or almost capable of doing; and their parents do not do things for them that satisfy their own needs rather than the needs of the child."
So much easier said than done. But recognizing where the behavior is coming from (and I mean my behavior) is a beginning. And as I have learned from my weight loss journey, it all starts with a few small steps and a committment to making a change.