Parenting Strengths And Weaknesses
Identifying parenting strengths and weaknesses can go a long way in raising well-balanced children. Read on to understand yourself better and develop more effective parenting skills.
By Mina Dilip
When I work as an individual therapist, I often ask my clients to do a Strength-Weakness-Opportunity-Threat (SWOT) analysis. For, when we become aware of our own strengths and weaknesses, we are better able to navigate through the twists and turns of life. I have come to believe that this applies to the field of parenting as well. As parents, understanding our strengths and weaknesses would help us interact better with our children and provide them with the best possible care and nurturing.
Parenting strengths, which I have abbreviated to ‘HIGHS’, can enable you to be highly effective as a parent when it comes to instilling positive discipline and helping your child develop holistically. So, let’s understand what constitutes HIGHS.
Having patience: Patience is indeed a virtue when it comes to parenting. When you handle difficult situations with your child patiently, you are not only setting a good example for him to emulate, but also enhancing your relationship with yourself. For, in hindsight, you will feel fulfilled and content that you handled things well. Being patient with your child communicates to him that you truly care, and gives him an opportunity to open up and express himself fully and freely.
Parents who exhibit patience assist in the development of positive self-esteem, patience and fortitude in their child.
Involving everyone in family decisions: Instead of making unilateral decisions and bearing the brunt of the consequences single-handedly, make decisions together as a family, and involve your child as well. By including your child in the decision-making process, you would be communicating to her that her opinions matter and that she counts.
This feeling of being heard and accepted is essential for growing children to develop confidence and decision-making skills.
Gratitude, the greatest strength: If you practise expressing gratitude, you will notice how things improve in your life. Being grateful for what you have and counting your blessings every day will help you refocus your thoughts and make you a happier individual. This holds true for parenting too.
When you communicate to your child how grateful you are to have him in your life, not only do you make him feel loved and wanted, but also teach him to appreciate everything around him. In addition, such positive parenting can help reduce friction and eliminate unpleasant arguments, temper tantrums and meltdowns.
Having a routine: Children, particularly toddlers and middle-schoolers, thrive on routine. If you are systematic and follow a set routine every day, it provides a structure for your child and teaches her the significance of punctuality, organisation, boundaries and limitations.
All these promote a feeling of safety and security, which are essential for a child’s psychological and emotional well-being.
Showing compassion: When you treat others with compassion in the presence of your child, you teach him to be respectful and kind. By being compassionate, you also demonstrate the value of relationships and integrity. These are values that you can teach your child only by modelling them yourself. This is what ‘walking the talk’ is about. If you are kind and empathetic to everyone, including yourself and your child, your child will pick up this trait too. He will come to realise that it is easy to be angry and rude, but that being compassionate takes courage and effort.
Give your child the gift of compassion. He will grow up to be a sensitive and caring individual with high moral standard and integrity.
There are no perfect parents. Just as a coin has two sides, every parent has weaknesses that go together with strengths. Let’s take a quick look at some common parenting weaknesses, or ‘LOWS’.
Losing your temper too quickly, too often: We are all entitled to our bad days, when we are irritable and snappy. However, if you find yourself losing your cool too often, especially around your child, it might be worth introspecting to check whether you might be displacing your anger from other situations on to your child. If this is true, it can be a huge stumbling block in developing a warm and nurturing relationship with your child, which is critical to develop positive discipline.
When you snap or yell at your child too often, he learns to do the same too. So, don’t be surprised if you find him yelling right back!
Ordering your child around: Respect is a virtue that must be earned, not demanded or coerced out of your child. Remember, your child can feel and think, and has a mind of her own. So, respect her, talk to her, and listen to her. And, when you want something done, voice a request, not a command.
Ordering your child around will only make her defiant and sullen. And when she refuses to comply, your relationship will deteriorate into a power struggle. If ordering your child around has become a habit, it might be worth considering how you can modify your parenting approach.
Wanting to control all the time: Many parents I have met are control freaks. They want to have 100% control over their child. Does this sound like you? Be aware that trying to control your child can prove counter-productive. Again, learning to respect him would ensure that he always informs you of his needs, whereabouts, thoughts and feelings.
When you become overbearing and controlling, your child will stop trusting you and will no longer confide in you.
Swearing, bickering and being disrespectful: If you are in the habit of swearing within your child’s earshot, you can be sure that she will soon pick up your habit. If you bicker and snub people, she will learn to be disrespectful too. If you want your child to avoid using foul language and desist from bickering, whining and acting rudely, eschew such behaviour yourself. Else, this can become a huge parenting pitfall.
Developing effective parenting skills
Below are some tips on how you can DEVELOP effective parenting skills.
Discipline through positive reinforcement: It is easy to criticise and find fault. As parents, it is important that we learn to focus on positive qualities in our children and downplay the negatives. By reinforcing desirable traits, habits and behaviours, you can instill positive discipline in a healthy manner.
Encourage rather than praise: Praising a child places greater emphasis on the result rather than the effort and tells the child, “well done, keep it up.” This, in turn, can put a lot of pressure on the child to constantly strive to live up to high expectations, leading to mental fatigue. Instead, if you choose to encourage your child by focusing more on the effort rather than the outcome, you would be helping your child become more resilient and perseverant even in the face of setbacks and failure.
View challenges positively: Life is full of challenges. If you have a positive attitude towards challenges, your children will develop a healthier world view, too. When you train yourself to perceive challenges positively, your children will learn to do the same. This will stand them in good stead later in life, when they begin to face their own life challenges.
Empathise genuinely: If your children come to you with problems, listen attentively, and imagine what it would feel like to be in their shoes. Develop the skill of viewing the world from a child’s perspective. This will help you to empathise with your children and make them will feel heard and understood. Not only will this help you and your children bond better, but also teach them to extend empathy and compassion to others.
Love your child unconditionally: Parents are supposed to love their children unconditionally. However, in modern times, parental love appears to have become conditional upon getting high grades, displaying good behaviour and so on. Retrain yourself to separate the deed from the doer. Communicate your dislike of the behaviour or situation, and emphasise that you still love your child, no matter what.
Observe and listen more, talk and judge less: It is so easy to interrupt, judge, criticise and put down. But, it takes great strength of character to remain non-judgmental and observant, listen attentively, ask open-ended questions and guide the child towards finding the answers. As a parent, it is important to work on active listening skills. When your children talk, hear them out. Avoid interrupting them and offering your opinion or advice. Listen to understand, not to respond. Sometimes, all they need is a non-judgmental listener.
Promote a sense of confidence, safety and well-being: When you begin to listen more, talk less, treat your children with respect, allow them to make mistakes, love them unconditionally and empathise genuinely, you will notice positive changes. By keeping your communication open and honest, by apologising when you make a mistake, by thanking your children for their small daily contributions and by focusing on their strengths, you can promote a sense of safety and well-being in your children. This would enhance their confidence and build up positive self-esteem.
In conclusion, I would like to say that our children are like mirrors – they reflect our behaviours and habits. So, lead by example. Play up your strengths. Work on your weaknesses. And, you’ll have the model child you always dreamed of having.
About the author:
Written by Mina Dilip on 3 June 2018. Last updated on 18 May 2020.
Mina Dilip, Child Psychologist, Certified Play Therapist, (PTUK).
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