Respecting the Little Person

Often, parents tell me, “I’m the parent he/she must do what I say, just because “I said so.” They do not need to understand, know why, or ask any other questions. Dear parents, may I suggest something….

There are times children simply need to do what they’re told, but there are times, when providing an explanation and appropriate level of understanding to your child, may work in your favor. Many researchers agree that parents who demand respect and provide discipline, as well as give and model respect by being warm and receptive to their children’s needs are most successful.

It’s a need vs. stress scenario. When stress goes up and children feel threatened or blocked, their need for independence may feel stifled and they react negatively. When needs (not wants) are met and the perception of threat goes down, the stress related response is diminished. In this parenting style needs are met within boundaries that are set by the parents and explained to the children.

So you might ask, “How do I get on this parenting path?” I suggest these four steps:

  1. Have realistic expectations (kids are going to act like kids and teens like teenagers)
  2. Know your child’s personality (withdraw, clown, compromise, fight, deny, or conform)
    1. The entire parent child-relationship depends on perceptive skill (ability to perceive the world through your child’s eyes and reflect understanding even when you disagree with your child
    2. Know their temperament
    3. Know how they cope with self doubts and inadequacies
  3. Be present and available to listen, not always ready to lecture or give advice
  4. Set boundaries and follow through with consequences when boundaries are violated

To sum it up, here’s something to think about:

Quote by Dr. James Dobson: When you are defiantly challenged, win decisively. When the child asks, “Who’s in charge?” tell him. When he mutters, “Who loves me?” take him in your arms and surround him with affection. Treat him with respect and dignity, and expect the same in return. Then begin to enjoy the sweet benefits of competent parenthood.

Jessica D. Cleveland M.S., LPC, NCC