24 Aug 8 Tips for Parents to Help Your Children Blossom
Part 1: The Blossoming Child
Children learn best by example more than any advice we can ever give them. The life we live is the lesson we teach.
“Example is not one way to teach – It is the ONLY way to teach”.
All parents want their children to grow up to live happy lives. The “punishment and reward system” is generally what parents think and have grown up to believe is the best way to ensure that their children grow up into successful adults. However, we can see in our society today that this system is the root cause for why there is an increasing number of “rebellious” children now than ever before and why parents are having an extremely difficult time in trying to control their children.
It is impossible to punish a child into the behaviour that is seen as good. All this does, is to teach the child to either act out of fear or to rebel, and not because they are intrinsically motivated to behave in a certain way.
Here are a few tips on how to provide a nourishing environment for children to flourish
Do not strip your child of their self-concept. This is done unknowingly when parents
1) Find fault and criticise their children
2) When you do everything for them
Let them make their own choices while teaching them that every choice has a consequence. Consequences are not the same as punishment, lecturing and threats. Here’s a scenario to demonstrate the difference:
Let’s say the child is running around with a toy and hitting a dog with it.
The parent who understands consequence versus punishment would say something like this (utilising empathy), “oh, how sad- looks like the toy is gone”. Then they would go down and immediately pick the toy up and put it out of the child’s reach. They would not follow up with any kind of lecturing, time-out, they would not get mad and scream and yell at their child which is what punishment looks like and does nothing but destroy the child’s self-concept.
Allow children to think for themselves. So often when children get themselves into situations, we tell them what they should think. For example, if your child wants to go to school in slippers, you may just say “that’s a bad idea, go put your shoes on”. That’s stripping them of their ability to reason things out for themselves. Instead, you can make them reflect on their choice by asking them “ well are your slippers going to work at recess time?” If they say, “yes, slippers are going to work at recess time” then you got to allow yourself to let go of it and let them experience why slippers don’t work at recess time. But more likely, your child is going to decide to change their shoes because you’ve let them think about the consequence of the choice to wear slippers to school. Take every opportunity you can to help them think for themselves. This is going to set them up for a successful adulthood.
Let children learn from their choices, both the good and “bad” ones. Ultimately there are no failures or bad choices but learning experiences. We see from our world today that successful people have mastered the art of turning their “failures” into a stepping stone for success by learning and growing from every life lesson.
Let children solve their own problems. This provides them with the opportunity to learn from things. We can guide them by giving suggestions but we need to allow them to decide on their own, so as to empower them and to let them understand that they have the power to solve their own conflicts. This will help them build an incredibly strong self-concept where you play the role of a guide instead of lecturing them on what they should be doing.
Offer children empathy and understanding instead of lecturing and “I-Told-You-So”. Children are meant to learn from the consequences of their own actions- not from your lecturing. This is why it is natural for children or anyone to rebel against something, which is pushing negative energy towards them. When they make a “bad” choice/decision or what you would see as a “failure” traditionally, offer them empathy and understanding for that decision that they made. This will make the enemy the bad choice instead of them viewing you as the enemy and thus they have no reason to rebel or close up to you.
Let children make choices. This is incredibly important as they already don’t feel like they have a lot of freedom and they want it. You will notice this more blatantly with teenagers as they are in the stage where it’s all about fostering their own independence. To avoid the child versus parent dynamic you could allow them to make choices within parameters of what you think is acceptable. This is a win-win situation, as it will help them feel freedom as well as you putting forth your boundaries. For example: They have been playing in the playground for some time and at some point during the day you would need to leave with their child. You have this valuable opportunity to look at your child and say, “ Do you want to leave now or do you want to leave in 5 minutes?” The child, of course, will pick 5 minutes. What you have done is to provide them freedom within the parameters of something that you can live with.
Allow them to make a ton of mistakes. This is incredibly important as we only ever truly learn by actually experiencing things ourselves. It’s not enough for them to just take your word for it. When you let them make a ton of mistakes when they’re little, the price tag is super, super small compared to making a lot of mistakes in their teenage-hood.
Use only enforceable statements. Ultimately you have no control over another person and so the same applies with your child. You will realise that more obviously with teenagers when they are trying to find their place in society. The only thing you have control over is You. For example, if you child does not want to brush his/her teeth, then telling him/her repeatedly to do that is not going to work. That is something, which is completely out of your control. What you can do is control yourself by which I mean saying “well that’s so sad, because Mummy only reads books to babies who brush their teeth”. Then, you’ve allowed them to make a decision and the ball is back in their court. This is an example of an enforceable statement as you can then follow-through on, which has nothing to do with “controlling” their behaviour. This reinforces the fact that though you are not controlling them by telling them what they should do, you do control You.
Set limits for your children because we’re bringing them into a society which believes in limits. It is possible for you to explain that there are no limits while also setting them up to succeed within a society of limits. This is important so that they do no push the limit and end-up in jail.
Our children are our greatest teachers because they are the excuse, which forces us to become the manifestation of that which we really want to be. The best thing you can do for your children or anyone in general is to believe in them, and to trust them with themselves. Nothing erodes the self-concept like saying: “I know better and I know what is right for you, more than you do”.
When you look at your child’s face and say:
“I believe in you”,
“I believe that you can do anything”,
“I trust for you to know what’s Right for you versus Wrong for you”,
“I trust you to go in the direction of what’s Right for you all the time and I trust you with what that is”,
You are giving your child an incredibly invaluable gift, which is, you’re handling them this self-concept and freedom to create their lives and to create themselves in line with their own true self.
Thus, the most important thing you can do is to trust your children with themselves, and to teach them how to do the same. When you start doing this, you will literally see them bloom right in front of your eyes.
~ Teacher Nisha