Parent education involves discussion of behavior modification with children. We focus on setting limits and following through on consequences. Limits are stating what is expected clearly and in terms that are easily measurable and observable. This will not only help the child, but also the parent in being more successful. We emphasize being consistent and persistent even when the situation is stressful.
Structure and routine are critical. Be persistent in saying what you expect and following through on enforcing rules. Even more important is taking note of what is going right and validating this every chance you can. Often is the case where we pay attention only when we see things that are wrong or dismiss the importance of making equal time to acknowledge what we see is going well (even if they “should already know”). Parenting goes that much smoother when we start to motivate through what they are earning versus what they lose, validating to encourage repeating positive habits, and most especially—that you notice their achievements and efforts (even the ones they’re “supposed to do”).
Parents just need some support. No kid comes with instructions and we only have our own experiences to fall back on. We worry, we stress, we second guess ourselves or conclude we’ve done everything possible. Therapy is a great source of information but also reassurance that there are others out there who understand your challenges and can partner with you to build on what you are already doing right.
We are not here to point out how you are the problem. You are, to be sure, a major cog in the machinery. It’s so very difficult to consider how your past, your current stressers, your hopes and dreams for self and child, all contribute to the shaping of your perspective. Maybe you’ve had poor role modelling. perhaps your child has had extreme behaviors and has pressed you to your limits. Maybe, the child has issues that touch upon things you had to deal with as a youth. Whatever the case may be, before we can fully help your child, we would do well to tune up your skills. Keep in mind, that this is not the same as blame–this is introspection.
Through years of experiences, it is clear to me that I do not know everything [spoiler alert!]. You will at some point turn to me and say soemthing to the effect that “I’ve been saying that to them for ever, why do they listen to you?” The difference is I’m in the cheap seats. I am not emotionally involved, I don’t have bias nor anything at stake in your lives (except perhaps to see you find increased satisfaction in life), and the kids see me once a week or so and go back to their lives. I can say that in general, YOU’VE BEEN A GOOD PARENT. You just may have been inconsistent, unclear, or stuck in patterns. We always start with the position that we are just revitalizing your methods, not your values. Sometimes it’s enough to know that you’re on the right track, you need a little support, and often a bit more precision in your efforts makes all the difference. Come with an open mind and a willingness to accept, model, &implement change.