Parenting techniques may range from permissive and tolerant to authoritarian, severe and pushy. I think they must be somewhere at the middle and let’s call them assertive techniques. Be aware that parents and children are often stuck in an unhelpful and vicious cycle of chaotic and angry based actions and reactions, when it comes to solve a conflict. So be attentive how you manage your behavior in the relationship with your child! Also keep in mind that better parenting techniques predict better psychosocial skills and less psychological problems in child. Improving your parenting methods is likely to improve your child’s abilities to cope with social and emotional problems and conflicts.
Empathize. When your child misbehaves, don’t evaluate his behavior from within your skin, but put yourself in his position if you want to understand what have caused his behavior. Only from this perspective you will be able to offer him assistance and emotional support. Be attentive with your child; watch him deliberately so that he feels your attentiveness. Most important, say him often “I love you”, don’t rely only on the fact that you love him, he need to hear you saying it, this will make him feel accepted, even if you showed him that you don’t accept his misbehavior.
Discipline gently. Some say that parenting methods are linked to punishing due to the image of a punishing God in religious imagery. I think that was in the Old Testament, but in the New Testament the central rule is Love. So all of your actions and reactions toward your child must rise from Love and end in Love. Comment on your child negative behavior, but avoid hard punishment. Discipline doesn’t mean punish, but explanation and teaching. Show him consequences of his misbehavior, consequences that will affect him and others. Combine the discipline with the reward of appropriate behavior. When your child is irritable and misbehave, don’t take his behavior personally, but take it as a sign or symptom that something wrong is going on. Don’t escalate the problem by yelling, just step back, relax and try to figure out what is going on in your child inner and outer world. Remain calm and don’t engage in negative responses. There are four common causes of a child misbehavior: a) your child want your or others attention (so make sure he get what he want), b) they want to gain power over you (avoid confrontation and discuss things when situation is calmer or distract your child attention to something else), c) your child may seek revenge for what he interpreted as an injustice (his misbehavior come from hurt so don’t respond with anger, but with a caring attitude), d) he misbehave because he want to avoid a possible failure (don’t ask your child to perform something in others presence or something that he may see as being over his possibilities).
Write down home rules and stick them on the wall. Read and explain them each week or daily if necessary. Negotiate limits and agreements with your child.
Combine logic with love. Associate the parental control or limit-setting and direction with warmth and affection. Remain verbally and physically affectionate with your children, especially in conflictual situations, because this will make your child feel secure in your relationship. Treat your child with respect, even if you are angry and frustrated and put the accent on affection and acceptance, rather than on punitive discipline (so you will get the desired results). Use reasoning and ask your child to think at what he have done (why? is it good or bad? it is right or wrong?). Explain … explain … explain …, not only command to do something or interdict something, but explain why (causes, consequences). Use “when … then” inference, both in a positive and negative way.
Provide choices to avoid power struggle. To diffuse his strong reactions, be prepared to offer him alternative activities and distractions. Also anticipate reactions and have ready at least one kind of optimal reaction to his negative action or reaction. Anticipate both, yourself and your child’s reactions in order to be able to respond appropriate. Most important is to anticipate child’s emotional responses in different situations, then develop strategies of reactions. All this mean to rely on a wide choice of parenting techniques so that you will be effective in your parental interventions.
Build on child’s strengths and interests. Maximize his strengths and minimize his weaknesses. Encourage self-help attitude and behavior and also physical activities. Give your child small tasks to do, because accomplishing tasks and attaining goals form and strengthen his skills, at the same time giving him a healthy self-esteem.
Meet your child needs and most important understand your child’s fears. They may seem senseless to you, but for your child it is something very serious and real. Be humorous and playful, your child need you to play with him.
Ignore your child’s negative behaviors. Ignoring (avoiding giving any attention to your child) is an effective way to discourage a “not OK” behavior only and only if it is practiced consequently and consistently. Plan ahead which behaviors you want to ignore. Begin to ignore (no eye, verbal and physical contact) when negative behavior begin and stop ignoring when it ends, then give attention and praise positive behaviors.
Practice positive reinforcement – provide your kid with praise and positive feedback when he is doing something well. Praise positive behaviors more than negative ones are criticized. Use praise, not blame and criticism to change your kid behavior. Make use of your own behavior as a model to change the habits of the entire family and combine praise (for positive actions) with withdrawal of privileges (for negative ones).
Practice “time out” or isolation for a negative behavior – this mean not given attention for a short period of time or let him in another room for reflection. This time let child reflect on his behavior, because in a social situation he can’t do this in silence.
Connect with your child through stories. Therapeutic stories are a powerful way of reaching your child’s affective comprehension, because they allow kids to safely identify with the characters of the stories. This kind of stories speaks to your child in a powerful metaphorical way; they are entertaining and give messages to the unconscious dimension of your child’s mind.
Don’t try to be a superparent, you can’t be perfect. Don’t expect your child to be perfect too or to behave as an adult. Be patient and realize that each child is different, so don’t compare your child with others. Your expectations have to be a little over child’s possibilities, too high expectations make your child avoid what you want to do, because of the fear of failure. Be consistent and clear in your expectations. Also be consistent in your attitudes and behaviors, don’t shift them unpredictable. Parental inconsistency makes the child confuse.
Monitor and modify your parenting behavior as needed. For example, change your attitude and behavior from abusive to nonabusive, but assertive. Be aware of your automatic attitudes, reactions and responses in specific conflictual situations. Are they optimal and appropriate or aggressive and intolerant? Creatively generate your own (personal and appropriate) various child management strategies. When the usual and customary parenting techniques or methods don’t work, try to be more creative and flexible!
This is a matter of effective and efficient parenting and education: think for the long run too, not only for “here and now”. Your method may solve a conflict “here and now”, but think how the way you acted will affect your child’s future. An intelligent and wise parent must adjust his parenting techniques to the developmental level of his kid; you can’t apply the same methods in the same ways to a ten years old child as to a three years old child. Also you have to individualize (match with child’s temperament traits) and contextualize parenting methods for different children and different situations. An optimum technique will work best and bring you and your child best results, while a bad technique will bring you more difficulties and your child more frustration.