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The Parent Non-Blame Zone

Parents do the best they can with what they know. By the time parents seek counseling or coaching, they have usually spent years struggling with their child's acting out or "bad" behavior. They and the child or children are stressed out. Their confidence in their abilities to parent has declined and they are frustrated and in distress.

Any family counselor or parent coach should allow parents to:

 

  • Enter a non-blaming zone. No matter how hard we try, sometimes our best effort just doesn't hit the mark. However, that doesn't mean we need verbal "spankings" or to be made to feel guilty by others or by ourselves. The past is the past and we are starting fresh from this point.
  • Accept where we are and move forward. The parenting process is a journey. When parents understand how they are currently parenting, can listen to what a counselor or parent coach has to offer, and, then, begin to operate from that perspective, life will get better. Some will make it and others won't. This saddens me, but it is true. We all can't be other than where we are and do what we do. There are natural consequences for both.
  • Know that someone is listening. A counselor's or coach's response to any parent who is seeking to improve his or her skills should be unconditional positive regard. It takes a lot for us to be willing to say, "I could be better at this." For that, parents should receive reassurance and compassion about our struggles to be good parents to our child or children.
  • Feel validated. We all have fears and frustrations in our parenting journey. Counselors should offer validation of those feelings, but above that, they should offer each parent client the education and tools that we need to build those developmentally-friendly parenting practices. Counselors and coaches should support parents in whatever way and for however long it is needed.

 

Through parent coaching, we learn and grow, both as individuals and as parents. Learning to parent from a position of love, rather than fear or stress, can bring a new level of confidence in the power of our own self-growth and how that impacts our children and our parent/child relationships.

Working together professionals teach parents to:

 

  • Understand in a new way your own parenting stress: what triggers it; what it triggers; and how it is a reflection of how you were parented.
  • Appreciate the immense importance of the parent/child relationship, and embrace the new role of comforter and teacher, rather than punisher and discipliner.
  • Incorporate methods of repairing your relationship with your child when you mess up (and mistakes happen to us all, no matter how good we are at parenting).
  • Set and keep healthy emotional and physical boundaries.
  • Calm your stress through deep breathing and reconnecting to the heart-full love you have for your child(ren).
  • Reframe your perception of your child's misbehavior as a form of communication from the child. The child is seeking more parental love, guidance and/or discipline.
  • Reconnect with joy and play as you interact with your child each day.
  • Approach discipline in a new way always with Safety First.

 

Following are some parenting tips that you can put into practice right now. I think you'll be surprised at the difference in your parent/child relationship that even seemingly small changes will make.

 

  • Remove children from danger or off-limits areas or items, rather than swatting, hitting or using an object.
  • Replace harmful or off-limits objects in an infant or toddler hand (or mouth) with something that is okay for them to have.
  • Be preventative and proactive by baby-proofing your living area. You set yourself and Baby up for failure if you keep precious or fragile objects within reach.
  • Have a pre-arranged parenting buddy to call when Baby's behavior pushes you near the edge and you feel you are losing control of your 'cool.' You can also set up a predetermined word or phrase to text for help in this area.
  • Provide intense supervision, comfort, and calm interactions. Insist upon the same loving care-giving attitudes and practices from daycare workers, family, friends, nannies, and babysitters as you provide to your child.

 

Foundation for Life

Early experiences influence a child lifelong. These experiences become our beliefs and our beliefs determine our behaviors, even when we don't want them to. Beliefs are self-reinforcing and, one by one, get stacked in our psyche. Our beliefs can be sometimes helpful, sometimes not, and sometimes in conflict.

Beliefs determine our actions. Are we doomed? Can they be changed? Thank goodness the answers are "No" and "Yes." No, we are not doomed, and "Yes" they can be changed. It isn't easy, but it is doable. We have the ability because of neuroplasticity (the ability of our brains to develop and change) to learn and grow and develop ourselves life-long.

Our beliefs about ourselves, others, life, what is possible for us, what isn't possible, whether we are lovable or unlovable, valuable or not valuable, good enough or not good enough, determine what we believe about children, spanking and child development.

As parents, we have to be willing to examine ourselves and our beliefs so that we can change our beliefs, and by doing that, we change the trajectory of our lives and the lives of our children.

Deborah Chelette-Wilson, is an author, speaker, master relationship coach and counselor. For over thirty years she has worked 'in the trenches' with children and families who have experienced stress, trauma, attachment and relationship problems. When people use her approach their relationships improve.

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