- I don't care who they are or how many degrees they have behind their name (or no degrees at all), if it doesn't "feel" right for you and your child, it isn't right.
- As for the multitude of parenting blogs out in the digital universe, just because a technique works for their child, doesn't mean it will work for yours.
- Look for the science, psychology or sociology underneath "what" is being said.
- Trust your gut.
- Don't expect immediate results. Remember, small "corrections".
Here it is: You're not fulfilling your obligation to actually be a parent. And, it goes like this:
These parents have no choice. They have to get up and show up everyday or their babies die. It's that simple to them. They fight off predators and prey on what their kids can eat. They don't have to worry about reading, social development and raising a person from an incredibly dependent little pooper to a full-grown human with all the bells and whistles in order to be self-sufficient and satisfied. Scared yet? The cheetahs have got it down. Cool and confident.
- Practice what you preach. Walk the walk and talk the talk. Lead a life of character. Model it consistently and predictably. Don't be a liar and tell me to be honest.
- Teach me how to grow up. We're afraid to let them move toward adulthood. Look around at other kids their age. Are they as independent and self-confident? We don't give them responsibility, let them take responsibility and develop greater self-reliance. Give them the chance. Teach them the skills to "make it so". Start early. Here's a list of age-appropriate chores that will allow them to take pride in themselves and their environment. Help them to contribute, meaningfully, to the family.
- Don't let me get away with bad behavior. Parents tell themselves (and others), "She's just expressing herself". No way. It's your job to socialize them, help them to develop coping skills, hold them accountable for their current behavior and for working toward healthier behaviors.
- Let me fall down. How do people learn how to get up once they've fallen down? They figure it out. They problem solve, learn how and then, practice. It's a model for every day of the rest of their lives.
- Tell me about the times you fell down and what you did to get back up. They've got to steer their own ship, but they may need a sextant. That's you, by the way. You can share with them the appropriate and relevant mistakes you made, how you fell down and what you did to get up. Remember when you were a kid? You just never thought about your parents as people who actually had a life before you took your first breath. Change that perspective with them. When they come back with, "But, it's not the same", acknowledge that they're right, it's not a perfect replica of their situation, but if you take it apart, there's something that can be applied to the current situation.
- Primate Mommies and Daddies do not jump and down and cheer their kids' accomplishments. Primate kids learn skills and quickly have to move onto the next one. Their survival and the survival of the community depends on it. Give sincere reinforcement that focuses on how the kid must feel about him/herself when their efforts have earned them the reward. And remember, demonstrating a positive attitude and genuine effort are to be acknowledged. When they "stick with it" , reinforce this behavior. It's critical for success.
- It's very unlikely that monkey parents get their feelings hurt when their kids resist them. It's unlikely they spoil their kids. Teach your child that if your relationship is built on material rewards, they won't learn how to tap their inner motivation and the relationships they develop will be "conditional".
- Monkey parents don't even think about what each kid needs, but you do, so you treat each child according to their own needs. Not every kid in the family gets a reward. If you earn it, you get it. I can tolerate your upsettedness and protests of unfairness in order to teach you how to cope with the global unfairness of life.
- Put limitations on your kids in terms of their consumption of media and digital entertainment. Monkeys don't have media. They don't have to compete with the unhealthy lessons it teaches. Kids will imitate the behavior they see just as primates do, so be careful about the lessons they are learning. Monkeys have used fairly advanced problem-solving such as using a stick to slide into a log to get ants to come out of the log so they can be eaten. These skills quickly generalized throughout the group by modeling and were improved upon. Some monkeys learned how to lick the stick to attract more ants. That "discovery" lead to more food. Perfect. If you let your kids see violence, rudeness, and overall unhealthy behavior, it's not their fault, it's yours, but society will make the consequences for such conduct their responsibility.
- You're just not leadership material. In my family, the following sentence was heard oh so frequently..."I am the adult and I am in charge". Oh, the monkey Mommies would have been so proud of us. It wasn't that we lorded our power over our son, it was purely and simply that we were the leaders and he would have his turn, just not today. Predictability, responsibility and consistency. Those behaviors reduce kids' anxiety and set the standard for their future conduct.
Ever have a job where you absolutely, positively LOVE every single aspect of it? Yeah, I didn't think so. Nothing is perfect. We're not supposed to be comfortable all of the time. So, in order to be an effective parent who is raising a kid to be healthy, self-sufficient and satisfied by the time they're 25, here's the stuff that's got to happen...
- Honestly look at your kid through other people's eyes. Do they know how to conduct themselves with respect and integrity? Is it "me, me, me" all the time? Can you have a conversation without them trying to get your attention? Do they own you? If your child isn't "there" yet, think about ways to help them learn to be patient and that, golly gee, at least some of the time you can't be their cheerleader or butler.
- Oh, he's only 6. Don't minimize or excuse their behavior because of their age. Discipline starts very, very young. If you don't model and guide their behavior, don't expect them to grow up. And, yes, even at age 6, they can hold you emotionally hostage.
- ...and a Rubbermaid of chips. We keep our chips in a Rubbermaid as soon as the bag gets opened. They're too expensive to let get stale a day later. Yesterday, I said, "Oh, he thinks he's all that and a bag of chips". The hubs responds, "Yeah, he's no Rubbermaid of chips". Might not be funny to you, but I just fell out all over the kitchen. More lingo to add to the McCulloch family dialogue. Stop entitling your kids. Let them be uncomfortable. Teach them that "no" isn't going to kill them. They don't deserve everything. Everything is not going to be OK and you can't have everything the way you want it all the time. Those rich kids in the news who are arrested, doing drugs, acting dangerously, they're looking for a solution to their boredom. Life is too predictable. Everything goes their way....right into the grave. So, let your kid get on the roller coaster of life. Some fear is a good thing. It's not that you have to be mean, but you have to be realistic. He's not always going to be a rock star. A girl will reject him. A professor, boss or cop will be unfair to him. He'll get fired and get a ticket. Get over it. Teach them to cope. Help them to develop some emotional armor or life will be so intolerable that they will start to self-medicate.
- Don't ever ever ever let them treat you with disrespect. Never. If they can treat you this way, they'll take this show on the road and the world will not be kind. If they disrespect someone else, they just might get arrested or hurt.
- Head for 25. If you hold a meeting without an agenda and a time line, don't bother, nothing will get done. Do you get into your car and just drive or do you have a destination nearly every time you turn the key? Yeah, it's like that. Starting at this moment, educate and train your child for the person you want them to be at age 25. And yes, they will need every second of that time in order to be ready.
- You're afraid to be strong with your child. Now, this does not mean that you're cruel, harsh, scary or unkind, but you do have to make an impression. Yes, a kid can have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and milk for dinner while she sits in her room because you need to make the point.
- Take two cars. Leave the store, leave the movies, leave the party and leave the restaurant if they are misbehaving. Most parents have to do this just once. It makes a big statement if you just leave. Don't make those around you suffer. Don't reinforce your child's misbehavior. Don't let them take you as an emotional or social hostage. You're not trapped. You have options.
- Cause and effect is a powerful teacher. If you pull the cat's tail, she's gonna take a chunk out of you with those claws. Some people are wired in such a way that if they don't experience pain, they don't learn. The good news? Life is full of painful ways to teach us what we need to know. Let some of them happen. Don't interfere with life and its natural consequences. There's a reason you don't put your hand on a hot stove. You've learned your lesson.
- Just because she's smart, doesn't mean she's mature. Smart doesn't make them ready. It only means that she's likely to benefit from your education. She needs the experience that will help her to expand her judgment about the world. She needs knowledge. Giver her the opportunities and adjust your expectations accordingly.