Parenting Insights

12 Aug

Parenting Insights

One of the best models I use for helping folks with their parenting skills is the SUPPORT/GUIDANCE MODEL. If you can imagine a circle bisected both horizontally and vertically, you will note that there are now four quadrants within the circle. First, let’s look at the horizontal line. This line represents SUPPORT and goes from low support on the left to high support on the right. By support we mean being there emotionally for your child. So when your child comes home from school and seems down, you will want to make note of that and ask what might be bothering him/her.

If your child opens up — great! Now you can just LISTEN without offering advice. If you listen not only with your ears but with your whole being, your child will feel understood. Already he or she is on the way to dealing with the painful emotion(s) on her own. You can ratify the emotions or help your child to name them. This gives your young one a sense of empowerment over the feelings. Then they can probably discuss how they would like to handle the situation. Remember, though, that listening on your part is KEY!
Emotional support may mean ultimately agreeing with your child about the unfairness of a situation, for example. But it may also mean sharing a different perspective with him/her. This other perspective may sometimes be called “tough love.” Give your child a chance to “digest” what you have said. S/he may want to write or draw in a journal. You can bring up the subject at a later time when your child is ready to talk about it again.

Now let’s introduce the GUIDANCE part of the model. Guidance is the vertical dimension of our model, and it goes from low guidance (or discipline) on the bottom to high guidance (or discipline) on the top. Guidance (or discipline) is not to be confused with punishment. In parenting, as in other situations — for example, the supervisory role in the workplace — guidance means setting down the rules and procedures clearly. In this way, your children know what is expected of them, when they can expect praise or some sort of reward and when, conversely, they know they have done poorly, not met your expectations, and can expect a reprimand or other consequences. GUIDANCE makes children and teens feel safe. They may think they want complete freedom, but what they really need is parameters for their behavior. We will discuss each of the four quadrants, the style of parenting associated with each, and provide a parenting questionnaire for you to determine YOUR style of parenting.

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