One possible solution parents may wish to think about, is applying the strategy of: parenting attitude.
There are several ways to interpret the phrase “parenting attitude.”
One way is to stop parenting behavior, and to start parenting attitude. Huh? What does that mean?
What I mean is: don’t focus on your child’s current behavior, instead focus on the “attitude” that results in the behavior being exhibited. Basically, it’s just: “take one step back and parent the attitude of your child instead of getting all huffy about momentary behavior.”
Really, this is the approach I use with my daughter, and when her friends visit, it is the approach I use with my daughter’s friends.
I can publish on “my single rule for happy babysitting” later.
So, anyway, I enjoy “parenting attitude” instead of just correcting momentary behavior. In general, it allows my daughter to make decisions for herself, while getting feedback from me about her attitude.
If she starts whining, I tell her I do not enjoy communicating with someone who is whining. Sometimes, the “whining” is because of a legitimate concern or issue or situation, and if I call her expression of her valid and true emotions “whining,” in general, my daughter will cry (or express unhappiness) and I will correct my behavior and exhibit more compassion and truly listen (which I generally do first, but sometimes people slip up).
But, if she is just whining because she wants an expensive toy that really needs to wait for a bigger occasion, or if she wants to eat donuts and only donuts for dinner, well, I can calmly state that I do not enjoy talking with people who are whining — and she — adjusts her demeanor. Which is amazing to watch.
She goes from a negatively tuned, stomping, demanding girl (which is just simply not her “normal” character), to a reasonable, caring person with needs and wants and desires and the ability to express them effectively for someone her age.
So, I “parent attitude,” why? Because attitude comes before behavior, and because it works.
At least, it’s working for me, and if it helps you, awesome!
It’s also easy to compliment the “attitude” from which certain good decisions come.
Here are a few examples:
- If she is on a high ledge and she gets scared and backs away from a more dangerous “play task” that other kids are doing, but she is not yet ready for, I can compliment her on her ability to judge her own skill level, and I can praise her for keeping herself safe.
- If she accepts that I say we will not be purchasing that nasty bag of toxic sweets in the super appealing bag with the happy bunnies on it, I can say: I think it’s great that you were able to appreciate the nice artwork on that bag, that you found the package appealing, and that you accepted my “no we will not be buying those candies because they are unhealthy” so well. It is an absolute joy to go shopping with you, Emi, and you’ve seen many children crying and stomping in stores, with their parents sometimes even yelling at them. It’s such a relief we are not like that.
- If she says excuse me after burping without my needing to remind her, I can compliment her on being polite.
- If she really gets nasty and in a funk, I can ask “how are you feeling right now?” And without fail, there is a valid reason why her behavior is off (for a short time).
In general, we just have a pleasant, conversational, happy, fun parent-child experience.
I like it that I can summarize my parental strategy in two words: “parenting attitude.”
How else can one interpret the phrase “parenting attitude?”
Well, I can ask: what is your parenting attitude? There are parents who I have observed, and it really looks like their “parenting attitude” or “parental attitude” is one of constant annoyance with their children.
I find such a “parenting attitude” really uncomfortable, and I avoid parents like that. If I hear you insulting your child, you can bet I won’t be hanging out with you at the park anytime soon!
So, I would describe my parenting attitude as one that
- parents attitude (LOL)
- is calm caring and considerate
- listens and understands
- grants reasonable requests
- allows exploration and fun
- answers child-questions as well as possible
- keeps promises
- is reliably “there for” my child
- is dedicated to consistent kindness and honesty
- is clear about specific dangers and how to avoid them
- is preparatory, not reactive
…and probably some other descriptions. So that is my “parenting attitude.” 🙂