My daughter likes to joke that the reason she doesn’t get punished very often is because she is an only child. Honestly, she is probably not too far off base with her assessment. If you analyze what you correct your children for, I would imagine much if it is a result of some sort of sibling conflict. The next most frequent category of stress, especially for parents of tweens and teens is the conflict between the child and one or more parents.
My husband and daughter will confirm for you that I am far from an expert on handling conflict. My training as a teacher, though, has taught me some better ways of handling disagreements. While it definitely won’t resolve all of the conflict issues in your home, it may eventually make them more pleasant to deal with when they do happen. (These are listed in no particular order.)
My daughter had probably one of the best kindergarten teachers in the history of education. She took a room full of little children from a variety of backgrounds and turned them into a sharp bunch of students. At the end of the year, all of the students made the principal a book. The other kindergarten classes had papers with writing that went everywhere and made little sense. Mrs. S had students whose work was just beautiful. The sentences looked like they had been written by much older children. Even the drawings were neat.
Mrs. S didn’t stop with academics. Her students were the best behaved and neatest students in the school. She demanded they wipe their feet before entering her room. She constantly washed their hands with Purell and expected them to behave. In fact, she had a reputation for being one of the strictest teachers in the school.
Yet the children absolutely adored her! They would do anything for Mrs S and had. Years after they left her classroom, many of them still kept in touch with her, even when she retired. After watching her in action for a year, I think she taught me a lot as a parent about how to get only the best from a child.
I have to admit, I secretly enjoy a good Star Trek episode from time to time. Not so much that I own a pair of Vulcan ears, but enough to have a few favorite episodes and catch phrases. On one of the newer versions of the franchise, the captain would say, “Make it so”, when told of how something should be done to solve a problem.
I think one of the hardest parts of parenting is knowing when to be an advocate for your child and when to step back. Everyone secretly fears become a “pageant” or “backstage” Mom. We have had some experiences recently that helped me realize at least one time where I think you need to jump in and intervene.
Let’s be honest. If you have been a parent for more than a day, you know there are some days you can’t even think about dedicating your child’s life to God. Frankly, you just feel you have accomplished something major when you put him to bed in one piece at the end of the day (and some days even that is in question!).
I used to feel guilty after having a string of days when everyone was sick, everything broke down and everyone wanted my help with something. It seemed like everything was sliding – housework, nutrition and let’s not even talk about manners, rules and teaching about God.
Even if you have managed to banish the “gimmes” from your home, it doesn’t mean gratitude will automatically flood into your child. In some ways I think developing a constant “attitude of gratitude” is a lifelong process. Partially because it takes some life experiences to reinforce how much you really do have to be grateful for in your life. Or perhaps we just become too distracted with the annoyances of life to remember all of the things that are going “right”. Whatever the cause, parents can begin laying the groundwork for their children to become grateful.