In my experience as a parenting educator and coach, parents who struggle with finding discipline solutions are often approaching their kids from a controlling perspective. They come to me because they have tried every tactic they know to get their kids to comply and they still aren’t successful.
They are hoping there is one more strategy that they just haven’t learned that will fix the problem. They keep looking and hoping until they find me.
Let’s first look at the common questions parents ask.
How do I control my child so he will stop hitting his brother?
How do I get my teen to do their homework?
Why is my child so lazy, selfish, uncooperative, or ungrateful?
Why doesn’t she try harder?
Why is my child so difficult? Why do they always argue?
How do I get my child off of their phone, computer games, or videos?
Each of these questions come from a parent’s feeling of powerlessness, fear, discouragement, confusion, judgment, misunderstanding, or hopelessness. Parents feel a lack of connection and positive influence with their children. There is a gap that they can’t figure out how to bridge.
These questions are adversarial because they blame children for the struggles parents have with them rather than taking joint ownership.
This creates an “us against them” mindset. Since the children are the source of the problems, then the parents must fix them in order to fix the problems. This leads to parental attempts at controlling and managing them which often brings out rebellion and revenge in return.
Think of a parent-child equation where the parents’ thoughts and actions on one side of the equation influence the child’s thoughts and actions on the other side of the equation. When your side changes, the other side changes in response. I have never heard of parents changing and their kids not changing in return. You may say, “but what if I do what you say and they still act the same?” They won’t.
True power, to create greater family happiness, lies in parents focusing on how they can change first. This ally approach of standing alongside your children is the most influential and respectful way to address problems and bring about the positive changes everyone desires.
Children, too, don’t like strife in the family. They act the best they can for their maturity level so that is why it is up to us to make the changes. I’m working with a mom of two teenagers. She feels stuck because she is not able to change her son. She asks me adversarial questions to find controlling solutions. Instead, I explain how the parent-child equation works. She is skeptical.
At our first session, I told her to go home and tell the children that she is trying to make changes. To also show them what she is working on and to get their input. Two days later, I contacted her to find out her teens’ response. This is what she said, “The children were very receptive to my new instructions from you and willing to see what evolves. I did get some feedback on things they’d like to see change in the home as well.”
With just her willingness to take responsibility to make changes and get input from her children, she has already experienced greater cooperation and happiness in her home. She is now learning to be an ally, walking alongside her children, working together to make everyone happier in the family.
Here are examples of ally parenting questions that will lead you to your true power to make positive changes between you and your children.
How do I create a supportive home?
How do I listen better?
How do I help my child?
What do I need to change about myself?
How do I manage my emotions and respond with logic instead when making decisions?
What will make our family members feel more connected to each other?
What am I doing that continues this negative cycle?
Can I open up to my children and have dialogue about how we can all improve the family together?
Can I demonstrate vulnerability and courage to my children by taking responsibility for our challenges without asking them to change as well? (Knowing that they will automatically)
Try these ally questions and see how much more hopeful you will feel that change can happen. Know that your children want a happier family, too. They are just waiting for you to lead the way.
Here are more great articles on how to be your children’s ally and win cooperation.
©2016 Cynthia Klein, Bridges 2 Understanding, has been a Family Success Coach since 1994. She works with parents and organizations who want more cooperation, mutual respect and understanding between adults and children. Cynthia presents her expertise through speaking and private parenting coaching sessions. She writes the Middle School Mom column for the Parenting on the Peninsula magazine. She works with parents of 4 – 25 year-old children.
To learn how Cynthia can help you solve your specific challenges, contact Cynthia at bridges2understa.wpstagecoach.com, , or 650. 679.8138 to have a complementary 45-minute discovery session. Why keep suffering? It’s time to change!