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Principle Parenting

Updated on May 7, 2015

Leave The Shame Out Of It

I would hate to give any type of shame based message to a parent, firstly because shame is not helpful and secondly, because parenting might already be the single most vulnerable place for shame to fester. However, shame can also cause us as parents to treat our children unfairly, to project our ill emotions about ourselves or our less than perfect day onto our children. They are an easy place to poor out that negativity because they are so perfectly loving. The children of very angry and shame based parents still love their parents deeply. Children also require so much time, attention and energy which can quickly bring up some of those triggers you've been avoiding throughout the day.

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Create Family Rules Based On Principles

In my unprofessional opinion, parenting ought to be based on solid principles you've thought through and dedicated yourselves to following through on. With energetic inexperienced little kids they will touch everything, climb on things, jump on and off of everything. They will ask thousands of questions, copy every word they hear and the list goes on and on. The point is, you cannot micro manage a child to the point that you can win every battle, and lessons taught will most likely be forgotten the first few times.

You must pick the principles you are passionate about and teach them over and over, with patients, compassion, kindness and therapeutic language. Do not shame your child by scolding, yelling or laughing at them inappropriately. Don't leave it a "Thou Shalt Not" statement either. Ask questions so you know how they feel about the scenario and how much they know about your rules. Find out where they stand before you continue on to the teaching portion. Sometimes they just forgot, other times they had no idea what you were talking about the first four times you laid down the law. You have to understand them before you can get them to understand you.

Explain using examples and feelings that they can identify with. Help them understand and feel like the principle is important and then say that's why we have rules. Follow it up with a question that includes them like "can you help me remember the rules to so neither of us forgets?"

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Family Rules, Not Kids Rules

Cater to the principle. How many times have you seen a parent reach over and flip a child and say "don't hit"? How stupid and ironic is that? What that parent just taught their child, is don't hit others when I'm around, but if you are for some dumb reason in an authoritarian role or a situation you won't get caught, then go ahead and hit others, that's what I do.

Follow you're own rules as well as consequences. If the kids have to sit on time out for breaking the rules, then so do you. Teach by example, your kids will become more like you than you may hope, so don't act like telling them to do things differently while you continue in your ways is sufficient. We create family cultures and those cultures take every type of interaction and communication into account. Plus, we all make mistakes, so being accountable for your mistakes right in front of your children helps take the shame out of their mistakes. It makes it ok to have accidents and make mistakes without taking away the consequences of the mistakes. The real point is we want to do our best to avoid the natural unhelpful consequences, not to say we are perfect, or better than others. It's not a statement about who you are it's an honest effort to do good for goodness sake.

Follow Through

Choose the principles you value with careful consideration and then follow through. You can add more later. Each principle will become second nature with practice. Nothing says the rules are a joke like a lack of commitment. You must follow through every time. So you have to be committed before you state the rule and consequence.

In any situation, make sure your child knows you love them first, and that you have compassion. Don't make it about you, love them and gently enforce the consequence. Once they have moved on from their fear doubt and shame, then you can re-teach and talk about what to do next time.

Love Parenting, Love Your Kids.

Parenting is so fun and extremely difficult for hundreds of reasons. We all live and learn, each kid is different, with different ideas, thoughts feelings and perspective. One thing we have learned is that love always works better than anger. Love your kids first, love parenting and helping a child grow daily and enjoy the experience.

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