If there’s one thing you can rely on about being a parent, it’s that your child’s behaviour will sometimes (and maybe often) frustrate you. This certainly doesn’t mean you are a bad parent. And it doesn’t mean that your child’s behaviour isn’t manageable.
Even the happiest of family households (those ones you see on Facebook!) can feel tense and stressed when a child’s behaviour crosses the line too often. It’s natural for parents to feel upset and drained if they seem to ‘battle’ with their child over everyday issues such as shopping, bedtime, homework, or curfew times for teenagers.
Because you love and care for your children, you will try your best to deal with that behaviour. But it’s unreasonable to think that you can be a perfect parent, and you shouldn’t even try; no-one can be a superman or superwoman.
Let’s face it: it’s usually trial and error.
It’s not surprising though, that being a parent can be quite tough at times. Raising the next generation is so important, and it takes effort and patience (so much patience!).
But most of us begin our parenting careers unprepared for what lies ahead. Usually, we learn through trial and error. And no matter how much experience we get along the way, our kids and life itself always seems to throw up something new to deal with.
So how do we know if we are bringing up our kids well? And how do we go about reducing the stress that comes when we’re struggling with behaviours we just can’t seem to get a handle on?
You decide what’s right for you.
As a parent and psychologist who’s spent more than 35 years researching why children behave the way they do, I know there is simply no single right way to be a parent. It’s up to you to decide the values, skills and behaviours you want to encourage in your child. And it’s up to you to develop your own approach to dealing with your child's behaviour.
That said, we all know that good advice at the right time can be a big help. Practical tips on why your baby cries, how to cope when your toddler throws food at the table, or helping your teenager through the rough patches can make being a parent less stressful and more enjoyable.
That's the idea behind the Triple P — Positive Parenting Program ('Triple P' for short) which we have developed at The University of Queensland. The program is based on decades of scientific research and offers parenting strategies and ideas that have proven effective across a wide cross-section of families in Australia and around the world.
Positive parenting is more than a label.
You might think ‘positive parenting’ has become one of the many buzz phrases that seem to label the way parents raise their kids, but it’s so much more than a trendy term. Positive parenting aims to make it easier for you to develop a positive, loving relationship with your child – and who doesn’t want that? Positive parenting also gives you ways to encourage your child, give them attention that doesn’t pander to them, and helps you communicate well. And it also helps you set rules that will be followed.
With positive parenting, your family life should run a little smoother. And when you’ve got the pieces in place, we have research that shows it’s less likely your child will develop more serious behaviour problems in adolescence and later in life, and more likely your child will do better at school and feel more confident. Oh, and you’ll feel less stressed too!
I’m very pleased that Mamamia has invited me to share some positive parenting approaches with you.
I’ll be looking at everything from how children learn to misbehave to the common parent traps that you may be falling into, without even knowing it.
No matter what your parenting situation – nuclear family, single mum, single dad, grandparent, 10 kids or an only child – I hope you will find something of interest you might like to use in your own family or even talk about with your friends.
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Quick Parenting Tip: Feeling a little impatient? Find time for yourself! Taking care of your own needs for intimacy, adult company, recreation and time alone will help make parenting easier. If you are spending plenty of quality time with your child already, and they are able to be looked after in a safe environment, take a break. It will do both you, and your child, the world of good.
Remember though, if you are having continual problems managing your child's behaviour, be prepared to seek professional advice. Small problems managed early and well can prevent more serious problems from developing down the track.
Professor Matt Sanders is the founder of Australia’s Triple P – Positive Parenting Program, which has helped more than 4 million children and their families in more than 25 countries. Find out more about Triple P near you.