In our last few posts we’ve been talking about how we talk about ourselves and parents. We’ve agreed that using the terms “good” and “bad” isn’t very helpful, and in our last post we looked at four words we can use instead that are based on aspects of parenting that research has shown are important.
The first of those four words is EFFECTIVE parenting – which the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development defines as when “your words and actions influence your child the way you want them to”. This sounds pretty straightforward, right? The things I try to get my child to do is what they actually do. Wait…. maybe that only sounds easy to someone who has never raised a toddler or had a tough conversation with a hormonal teenager!
For most of us parents, we have had some great moments where we are really pleased with how effectively we got our child to listen and other times where we feel like throwing our hands in the air. At our house, my recent challenge was getting our toddler to stay in bed at night. We tried talking about why sleep is important, setting some expectations and consequences, and even planning a small reward system. NONE of it was working!
I found myself totally slipping into labeling myself as a “bad mom” because we could not get it figured out. However, calling myself a bad mom was not helping me find a solution – in fact all it really did was make me feel worse about an already challenging situation! So I had to change my frame of mind. Instead of saying “I’m bad at this,” I had to find a way to look at the problem that gave me a way to seek a solution. I realized this was really a challenge in being EFFECTIVE, because I was struggling to find a way to influence my child the way I was hoping to.
Sometimes the journey toward being an effective parent, or influencing your child the way you hope to, takes some thought and trial and error. Whether it’s trying to get a toddler to stay in bed, getting your teen to do their chores, making sure your child is kind to others, or whatever else, considering if we are being effective (rather than good or bad) gives us a concrete way to find some solutions!
After a few more ideas, we did find a solution that works for our family and our child’s temperament. An important step in getting there for me was realizing that I wasn’t being a bad parent, but that I was working toward being more effective, and that in order to do so, I had to keep looking for an idea that worked for us.
Come back next time to explore the idea of consistent parenting!
Source: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, https://www.nichd.nih.gov/sites/default/files/publications/pubs/documents/adventures_in_parenting_rev.pdf