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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Rearick

Parenting: There is No Easy Button (but here are three tips to make it easier)





It is often said that being a parent is the hardest job that exists. There is no fool proof procedure to follow, perfect step by step guide or 100% accurate blueprint that helps you parent your children perfectly. In fact, parenting is so complex that there are thousands of experts, books, and articles in existence about the subject; all claiming that they have the best approach to raising children. The reality is that all children are different and unique; requiring attention in different areas and ways. Additionally, no two parents are identical, leading to a variety of parenting styles and techniques.


However, despite the many sources of parenting advice that exist throughout the world, there are some underlying similarities. As a licensed mental health counselor who has worked with children and their families for over 10 years, I am going to share with you three parenting tips that are consistent across the board regardless of their source.

1. Keep Yourself in Check

As a parent, you are responsible for helping a tiny human manage and understand their emotions and learn how to live and interact in the world. At times, this can become quite overwhelming; especially when you are overworked, sleep deprived,

stressed, etc. When dealing with your children's emotions and disciplining, it is

imperative that you keep a level head and manage your own emotions appropriately.

Our brains are filled with mirror neurons which are involved in observation and imitation of others’ behaviors. This can explain why we can feel someone else’s emotion even though we are not experiencing it. If you are overwhelmed and begin yelling at your child because they are not listening, your child senses your emotions and may feel them too. Children have a diminished capacity to regulate their emotions so if a parent is yelling, stomping or acting aggressively, children will start to do this as well. This escalates situations which leads to increased frustration both for the parent and the child. It is important as a parent to model and maintain a sense of calm to help teach your children how to remain calm as well. Ways in which to do this are walking away for a short period of time when angry, taking deep breaths, making sure that you are engaging in ongoing self-care activities, and/or seeking mental health counseling when needed if you are feeling too much stress, anxiety or depression.


It is also important to recognize how you are feeling when discipling your child(ren). Are you disciplining because they broke a rule and needed correction? Or are you disciplining because you are frustrated? It is important to take emotions out of the equation when implementing discipline strategies in order to ensure that you are not

taking out your anger and frustration on your child and are using discipline strategies as a way to help keep your children safe and help them learn limits and boundaries. If your child needs discipline but you are feeling angry, annoyed or irritable, take a moment to calm down before implementing the discipline strategy or enlist another adult to help so you can take a break.

2. Meet Your Kids at Their Level

Research shows that the brain is not fully developed until someone is in their mid-late twenties. Additionally, our brains form from the “bottom up”, starting at the spinal cord and finishing with the frontal lobe. The frontal lobe houses our prefrontal cortex which helps with executive functioning and thinking through situations. Since this is the case, it is important to remember that children are incapable of rationalizing on

the same level as adults. We cannot expect that a child will understand something from a parents’ point of view or reasoning. We need to meet them at their developmental level. This means using clear, concise language they can understand, only giving one command or prompt at a time, and sometimes literally getting down to floor so you can see them eye to eye. Remembering that children are still learning and growing can also help alleviate the frustration that parents feel when children are misbehaving or being disobedient. Their brains are learning how to slow down and understand consequences of their actions but they will continue to make mistakes and not always think through their actions. This is a normal part of development and parental modeling of responding to mistakes will continue to shape your child(ren)’s brains until they become adults.

3. Consistency is Key


Parenting is hard and there is no “right” way to do it. There will be days that are

really good and days that are difficult and taxing. Just remember that your children are

young only once. The time you have with them as they are learning and growing is

precious. Always be willing to learn and grow with your children and you will create a

lasting bond that will see you both through all of the ups and downs of life.


If you are in need of additional parenting support, please see one of the following

resources:


● Triple P Parenting Program-free online course for parents in Ohio

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