I have three girls, and I find that my styles change as I get to know them and their individual needs. I wonder if this is necessary though. In the "olden days" when there were huge families (10 or more) parents could NOT have had this kind of time. And I find myself quite overwhelmed at the end of each and most every day. So I'm trying new things that work for who I am, as well as who they are.
My eldest, 8, requires a lot of verbal explanations, and guidance in her every day life. She's very curious, smart, and also strong-willed. So I have to explain when I can, ahead of time to build up her trust. Then, when I need her to just obey without questioning, sometimes, we have that kind of respect for each other when it happens. Not that it happens all the time though! :)
My 4 year old is quite independant and plays wonderfully. I also think that she needs me to single her out and just delight in something about her. that just makes her face shine, and she's happy to go about her way. when I spend the whole day without noticing her, she crumbles into a little heap of emotions, usually crying, refusing to cooperate or do what she's asked. She is just overwhelmed, and she has no idea why.
My two year old, I haven't quite figured out yet. she is still quite attached to me, and exploring the boundaries of her own power. So I have to be quite strong and clear with her. Yet be gentle and affectionate. That is probably true of almost any toddler.
But this style of individual parenting is exhausting, and I'm not sure that it is good for them in teh long run. I think sometimes children need to solve their own problems, the siblings need to work out their differences without me supervising to make sure that everything is fair and apologies are handed out, ya know? They have to learn critical thinking and problem solving skills. And I think those are best learned in the school of real life. And that works for me too, because it simply isn't possible for this mommy to be all things to all children, and then to still be ME at the end of the day. And when the parenting thing is over, I'm all I'll have left. Just me. So ME is important. :)
As becoming a Certified Parent Educator (since my son was 2), I've incorporated the Firm & Loving methods that I have also been teaching through the Redirecting Children's Behavior course.
With this style of parenting, I teach my son a respectful way to handle emotions and consequences in a loving but firm manner. What this means, is that there are rules that we discuss ahead of time and after any misbehaviors have taken place.
If you'd like to learn more about it, you can visit my site: http://www.happyhealthyhip.com or simply ask me a specific question about any parenting challenges that you may be having right now, or in the future.
The best advice I can give parents is that it's extremely important to follow through. If not, your children will try to push your buttons each and every chance they can.
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