Given that I’m on public transport much of the time here in Taipei, I’ve fallen even more deeply in love with Audible and have recently been a huge fan of Dr. Laura Markham’s, Peaceful Parents, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling And Start Connecting.
Originally, I was searching for tips in nonviolent communication, since growing up in a traditional Chinese household means that I was TOLD a lot of things, but hardly ever asked and definitely rarely listened to. Now, I have sentence stems posted up on the wall to remind me of how I’d like to phrase conversations with my four-year-old, as well as a graphic that reveals all the emotions under the “Anger Iceberg,” so I can better understand what’s actually happening within my daughter’s head and heart, rather than simply getting frustrated that she’s angry about the fact that I moved a cup without her asking.
In Dr. Laura’s book, she reminds parents that ultimately, the most important rules are for us, because we’ve got to take responsibility for ourselves first and foremost in order to end with connection to our children. Her parenting philosophy is rooted upon three key principles:
- Regulating yourself
- Fostering connection
- Coaching, not controlling
Here are her summarized “10 Rules for Raising Terrific Kids” that she gets asked about all the time:
1. Manage yourself.
Take care of yourself so you aren’t venting on your child. The more love and compassion you have for yourself, the more you have available for your kid.
2. Be your child’s advocate and don’t give up on them.
Don’t yell at your child — every child deserves someone who’s 110% on their side, even when they’re not always right. They simply want to know you’ll make an extra effort.
3. Discipline doesn’t work.
Instead of punishment, guide kindly and have limits on behaviors. It starts with empathizing with their feelings.
4. Kids all need a safe place to express feelings while you listen.
Your child needs a safe place where cry and rage where won’t be shushed. Kids who get help with big emotions when they’re little learn how to regulate their feelings when they’re older.
5. Your child wishes you understood she’s just a kid — expect age appropriate behavior.
She’s still developing and she’ll grow out of what she’s going through.
6. Don’t take it personally.
Use this often as a mantra. This isn’t about you; it’s about your child, who ultimately is an immature human doing their best. You can avoid power struggles and you don’t have to insist on being right. You can help them save face. You can excavate your buttons, so they’re not controlling you.
7. All misbehavior comes from basic needs that aren’t being met.
Do your best to meet their needs for sleep, nutrition, chill out, cuddle time, fun, mastery, connection, safety. And, let them know your behavior expectations in advance. Children want to be successful. If they don’t, it’s a relationship not a behavioral issue.
8. The best parenting expert is your child.
Let them show you what they need from infancy on. Let your heart grow.
9. The only constant is change. Your parenting approach needs to evolve as they do.
10. Stay connected and never withdraw your love for a moment.
Always safeguard your relationship with your child.
. . . . .
There’s one more tidbit she offers that’s helped me –”connection before correction” – because I thought my job was to guide her to be a healthy, well-adjusted person in society, which means that sometimes, I’ll feel compelled to correct, and now I can see how I sometimes do this before she’s ready.
For more from Dr. Laura, check out her Aha Parenting site, which proved helpful recently as I was seeking advice on my upcoming divorce!