Of course we love our kids – they're part of us. They can be funny, cheeky, sweet, loving, polite, giving, peaceful and cuddly, but equally they can be difficult, stubborn, hateful, rude, dishonest, selfish, noisy and demanding. Deep down we know they don't mean it. They're just being kids, but even though we know this, it can be difficult understanding, accepting, and dealing with them.
Your job is to set the boundaries and to show them those boundaries stick, and there's little room for breaking them, There will always be times when they push those boundaries too far, and this testing of the boundaries is how they not only exercise their free will, but also how they learn right from wrong. There are times, however, when whatever we say or do is fruitless. At these difficult times it may be useful to remember the following:-
1. Avoid relationship breakdown with your kids by dealing with issues in a proactive way, rather than a reactive way. For example, if you have a teenager who is exercising their need for independence, and you are not comfortable with it, then find a mutual compromise rather than going all-out for a ban or strong demand.
2. Similarly, with a younger child, be firm and set boundaries without the need to shout or be controlling. Keep anger out of your communication. Many children do not even hear what you say if you are shouting – they are more likely to want to shut you out.
3. Think back to when you were a child, or teenager. What did you get up to? How did you behave or treat others? Often we see ourselves in our children. Something they say or do reminds us about how we were, and remembering this can help us to understand or deal with them.
4. If you're suffering a relationship breakdown or experiencing difficult behaviour from your children, it's always helpful to share this with other parents. It will soon become apparent that you are not alone, and that nine times out of ten, your situation is nothing to worry about.
5. If you use the internet, then join parenting forums, eg. Yahoo Groups – many people like you share their similar experiences on forums, and often have answers to the problem which they have found work.
6. Look after yourself! Take time out. Accept any offer of help from aunty, gran, or friends. You need a break. Often, it's at the time we're away from our kids we can sit back, talk and laugh about our day with them, having the opportunity of being away from the situation to see it in a new perspective. This is much more empowering.
7. With teenagers, remember that you are not the only significant person in their lives. Much that it's hard to understand their behaviour, remember that they are driven by the need to fit in and belong with their peers and they'll do all manner of illogical things to do so – this is all-important to them.
It's not possible to be a perfect parent, and frequently it's hard to do the above, and that's OK. But it's good to remember these points, stick to them as much as you can, and you'll stand out from the crowd as a parent. Your kids will respect you too.
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