Welcome to Educated, Common Sense Parenting! This is my parenting education/commentary blog. Start here and read About This Blog.

I believe too many parents today have let their children rule their households. Their children dictate their daily lives, demand every ounce of their attention and do not show any respect for their parents. This needs to change. The only way to do this is if parents start letting good old common sense start dictating their parenting practices and stop letting their children run the show. You're the parent. Act like one.

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Monday, July 6, 2009

Being a P.C. Parent

It's not what you think. I don't care whether you're Politically Correct or not. I highly doubt that type of "PC" has any affect on your parenting abilities. The "PC" I am referring to is a reference in The Baby Whisperer series that stands for Patience and Consciousness--two skills that are absolutely essential to good parenting.

Patience: If you're a mom of a child of ANY age--from 4 weeks to 4,000 weeks, you understand that parenting demands patience. Some people, Pre-School and Kindergarten teachers in particular, are born with patience. They could have a classroom full of kids--some kids have decided it would be fun to paint each other green over at the art station, in the class library area two kids are screaming over a book, another kid just spilled an 1,000 piece puzzle, Susie is whining she has to go to the bathroom--and still this teacher is smiling and calmly speaking with a parent telling her that yes, Johnny is doing just GREAT in her class. Nothing ruffles her feathers. For the other 99% of us--patience is a learned skill.

I recently heard the quote, "With kids, the days are long but the years are short." If you take a step back from the daily hustle and bustle of parenting, it seems like days are weeks and weeks are years. I remember when I was in the midst of potty training Brooke. I was hunched over her potty chair begging her to poop and she simply refused. I remember being in TEARS thinking my kid is NEVER, EVER going to poop in the potty, convinced she'd be going to go to middle school with Pull Ups. Then a few days later, she pooped and I realized I had technically only been trying to potty train her for a little over a WEEK!! Why did it seem like 5 years??! And when you're in the heat of taking care of a newborn, why does it seem like it's taking a YEAR for them to sleep through the night when really, it's a few months or less??? Patience, my friend. This too shall pass.

When your kids get a little older, patience takes on a whole new meaning. Ever tried to leave the house with a 3 year old? Putting on shoes "by herself"=3 minutes. Going pee "by herself"=3 minutes. Get a drink or snack "by herself"=4 minutes. 10 minutes later you can FINALLY leave but then you realize that YOU have to pee and get a snack! Of course, you could do all of this for her-put on her shoes, take her to the potty and grab a snack in under a minute--and sometimes that is what you HAVE to do. But the majority of the time, kids should learn to do things for themselves. That's how they learn. They'll never learn to put their shoes on the right feet if you are constantly doing it for them. It's important for us to take a step back and not be in such a rush to rescue our kids at every moment. Our job as parents is to effectively guide our children, not to specifically show them the way every single time. Our lack of patience often gets in the way of everyday learning opportunities for our kids.

Consciousness: The word conscious is defined as "being aware of one's existence, thoughts and surroundings." As parents, we need to become extremely conscious of our little one's existence, thoughts and surroundings. That may seem like a no-brainer, but is it?

How well do you tune into your baby? Have you learned her cries, her quirks, what sets her off? What's her overall style? Content? Grumpy? Easygoing? Feisty? Touchy? Active? It's important to know our kids as who they ARE, not who we want them to be. Learn WHO your child is and appreciate, accept and nurture it. Learning this takes time and a heightened sense of awareness--something that cannot be accomplished if you're just going through the motions everyday. Slow down. OBSERVE. LISTEN to your kids. From the moment they come into the world, if you pay close attention they will tell you something about their personality every single day.

Being a conscious parent also means being aware of what you say and do with your child. How do you speak to your child? Is your tone generally that of respect? Or are you constantly trying to fix, criticize or correct your child? Do you take time to actually sit and talk with your child or are most of your days so busy you only have time "go through the motions" of school, soccer, dinner, homework, bath and bed? How much do you talk to your child? How much do you listen? How consistent are you with your child? Is his bedtime 7pm one day and 10pm the next? Do you give into his whining one day but not the other? Do you put him in timeout for talking back to you one day but let it slide the next?

The more you are aware of what you do as a parent, the better you will be able to troubleshoot various problems throughout your child's life. A (teeny) tiny part of me wishes I had an invisible camera crew around to record my interactions with my kids. I don't want to end up like the Gosslins, though so I guess I'll pass on the camera crew. I do however, try to reflect on my parenting everyday. I am my biggest critic. That's how we learn and get better at something. After all, none of us were born perfect parents. And none of us were born knowing how to BE a parent.

Our kids need our patience and their need us to be tuned into them (conscious). Both take practice but both can make us happier parents which in turn, make for happier kids.

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