Parents can get into power struggles with very young children. It can start from toddler time when parents are unable or unclear about how to set appropriate boundaries with children and then they start to wonder who is in charge.
Setting boundaries and clear rules with children from infancy is the key to parenting successfully. Parents must assert themselves in their role as the parent. Children must understand from a very young age that the parent must take the lead. Of course, it’s also important to listen to children, to ask them what they think, what they need, what they want and how they see things working. You must involve them in decisions made in the family.
Here are our ’10 ways’ to help resolve these issues:
- Identify the key issue you have. Sit with your child and tell them what the issue is.
- Ask them what they think and how they feel about it. You can work with children in this way from as young as three years old. Never underestimate children.
- Hear what your child has to say about the issue and tell them what you would like to see happen.
- Ask them to come up with ideas of how you can work together to solve the issue. Children will have a lot to say when they feel safe to express themselves. Give them permission to say what they would like.
- Be open and creative about their ideas. Don’t just shoot them down or they will not see the point in expressing their opinion. Remember children should be active participants in their lives. Make sure they know you value what they have to say.
- Facilitate them to come up with plans and ideas. You may have to use games or art work to help them talk and express feelings. Once children become familiar with this style of parenting they will get better at it. What a great life skill you will be teaching them.
- When all the ideas are on the table, agree a plan, write it down or draw pictures to show the plan if children are very young. Then put the plan up somewhere so everyone can see it.
- Everyone in the family should have a part to play in the plan. You as the parent are the person in charge of ensuring the plan is implemented. You need to find ways to support children to follow through on their part of the plan.
- You need to find ways to support yourself to follow through too. Remember you are in this position because you find it hard to make rules and stick with them so finding ways to stick with the plan is key to role modelling for your child. Both you and your children will be delighted when you resolve issues together.
- If you start with something small that you can be successful in this will support you to look at the next issue and develop more plans together. If your child is under 3 years old and you feel you cannot involve them in this type of process, you can still work through many of the issues yourself. Draw out a map of what is wrong and write down all the ideas you come up with. Explore your needs, the child’s needs and then come up with plans to meet the needs. Put some rules in place for yourself to help you stick with it. Making changes can be hard and parenting in this way if you are not familiar with this style will take time, but if you stick with it you will see positive changes.
This week’s ‘10 Ways’ parenting tips is written by Geraldine Kelly, One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services.
For support and advice on any of these topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email firstname.lastname@example.org