Great Parenting Ideas Work Well in the Long Run for Raising Responsible, Respectful Children
by Kathy Slattengren, M. Ed., Priceless Parenting (more parenting articles are available)
Some parenting ideas come and go like fads. Others stick around for decades. The ideas that last are those that work well in the long run to help parents with the challenging job of raising children.
The common foundation for many current parenting ideas is Alfred Adler’s (1870-1937) philosophy of treating each other with mutual respect. Parent education pioneers like Rudolf Dreikurs, Jane Nelsen and Adele Faber extended the Adlerian ideas into practical parenting tools.
Guess what year a child psychiatrist wrote the following: “The problems that our children present are increasing in frequency and intensity, and many parents do not know how to cope with them. They somehow realize that children cannot be treated as they were in the past; but they do not know what else to do.”
This statement appeared in Dr. Rudolf Dreikurs and Vicki Soltz’s book, Children the Challenge
, written in 1964. That book is filled with practical ideas that form the basis for many current parenting programs. Their ideas include using encouragement, using natural and logical consequences, relying on action instead of words, avoiding power struggles and staying out of kids’ fights.
For example, they describe a few situations of siblings fighting where a parent tries to intervene with little success. They go on to explain “Whatever the reason behind the children’s fights, parents only make matters worse when they interfere, try to solve the quarrel, or separate the children. Whenever a parent interferes in a fight he is depriving children of the opportunity for learning how to resolve their own conflicts.” I can attest that staying out of my children’s fights worked like magic in decreasing their fighting!
Below are a few more examples of parenting ideas that have stood the test of time.
Solving Morning Routine Problems
A common problem for parents with young children is getting them to complete all their morning tasks. Young children do not share the sense of urgency that their parents have. Any parent who has ever yelled “Hurry up!” knows that this has little positive effect on their children’s behavior!
When Jane Nelsen, founder of Positive Discipline, ran into the problem of her son not getting dressed in time to leave for preschool, she decided to take him in his pajamas along with his clothes in a bag. He had a choice of getting dressed at home before it was time to leave or getting dressed at school. His preference was to get dressed at home and he quickly learned to do that!
This story appeared in Nelsen’s 1981 Positive Discipline
book. Since that time countless parents have used her powerful idea. When I speak at a preschool, someone inevitably will tell the story of how they got their children to get dressed at home by giving them the choice of getting dressed at home or at school. Nelsen’s story has helped many parents!
Saying “Yes” Instead of “No”
Another classic parenting idea is saying “yes” instead of “no” to children’s requests. This idea was introduced by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
in their book, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk
They wrote “When Possible Substitute a ‘Yes’ for a ‘No’:
Child: Can we go to the playground?
Instead of ‘No, you haven’t had your lunch yet.’
Substitute a ‘yes’: ‘Yes, certainly. Right after lunch.’”
By figuring out the conditions under which your child’s request can be granted, you can agree along with stating those conditions. Everyone responds better to hearing “yes” to their requests rather than “no”!
The Power of Choices
It’s hard to read a parenting book or take a class without hearing about giving kids choices. Everyone loves choices! We know children develop responsibility when we give them choices and allow them to experience the consequences of those choices.
In Henry Kribs’ 1916 book, Reaching the Children: a Book for Teachers and Parents
, he discussed choices this way: “No self-control has ever been developed by outside control. The latter may produce obedience, which is desirable, but it does not produce self-control. A child who is not permitted to make any choices for himself, but is directed in all he does by fond parents or teachers, is bound to grow up a weakling. He can grow in the power of self-control only by the choices he makes for himself, and not by the choices that are made for him by others.”
Allowing children to make choices can be especially hard when you feel they may not make the best choice. However, as Kribs points out, children learn best from making their own choices and experiencing the consequences of those choices.
Parenting ideas like giving children lots of choices have stood the test of time. They were good ideas 100 years ago and still work today!