Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Parenting with Kindness

We have a bulletin board at the swim school where we share some of the funny things we hear, or emails we receive from various sources. The phrases below made me reflect on my parenting skills. Actually, initially they made me laugh, and then I realized that I have used almost all of them in my 34 years of parenting. Results have varied in effectiveness.

Do you find yourself using any of the following?

My parents taught me to appreciate a job well done:
If you're going to kill each other, do it outside. I just cleaned the house.

My parents taught
me religion:
You better pray that will come out of the carpet!

My parents taught me about time travel:
If you don't straighten up, I'm going to knock you into the middle of next week!

My parents taught me logic:
Because I said so, that's why!

My parents taught me more logic:
If you fall out of that swing and break your neck, you're not going to the store with me.

My parents taught me foresight:
Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you're in an accident.

My parents taught me irony:
Keep crying and I'll give you something to cry about!

My parents taught me about contortionism:
Will you look at that dirt on the back of your neck!

My parents taught me about stamina:
You'll sit there until all that spinach is gone!

My parents taught me about hypocrisy:
If I told you once, I've told you a million times. Don't exaggerate!

My parents taught me about the circle of life:
I brought you into this world, and I can take you out.

My parents taught me about envy:
There are millions of less fortunate children in this world who don't have wonderful parents like you do!

My parents taught me about anticipation:
Just wait until your father gets home.

My parents taught me about humor:
When the lawn mower cuts of your toes, don't come running to me.

And my favorite: my parents taught me about justice:
One day you'll have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you!

So when you find yourself repeating your own parents' logic back to your kids, smile and remember how quickly you rejected it when you were on the receiving end. Ask yourself why your kids should react any differently than you did. Can you be part of the change and approach your kids and their behavioral issues in a different way? When they spill juice while pouring from a pitcher into a cup can you reward their efforts in learning how to pour rather than criticizing them for not asking for help? (Thanks Bruce Sullivan)When they come home with 2 A's, 2 B's and a C, can you spend 80% of the time focusing on the positive reality of the A's and B's, and only 20% (or less) focusing on the C? Marcus Buckingham, author of "Go to Your Strengths" emphasizes the benefits of focusing on improving the talents with which you are blessed and working around the skills that you do not have. But more on that in a later blog.

So don't give your kids too much verbal ammunition to attack you (or their own kids) with in the future. If you have a choice in responding with criticism or kindness, be kind and your kids will blossom into their fullest potential.

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