How to Raise Responsible Kids - as part of the expert series by GeoBeats.
Hi, I am Dr. Laura Markham of ahaparenting.com, and today we are talking about how you can help your child become more responsible. Now, the first thing you can do is give your child choices. Right from the time your child even understands what you are talking about, "Do you want the blue cup? Do you want the red cup?" Why does this matter? Well, judgment develops from experience, and sometimes, good judgment develops from bad experiences. So, kids really need the chance to make decisions right from the beginning, and that way, the decisions they make when they are out of your sight, when they are seventeen, eighteen and nineteen, are going to be much better decisions than a child for whom you have made all the choices.
The second thing you can do is problem-solve, rather than blame, or punish, your child. Now, what do I mean by that? Well, just take the word "punish" out of your vocabulary entirely. Instead, think in terms of problem-solving. So, your child has done something wrong? You are looking for a punishment? Uh-uh. Instead, say, "Well, we have a problem here." Not even, "your child is being a problem," because your child is not. Your child now has created a problem. So, we look at the problem, and we help our child figure out, "What could we do about this problem? You broke your sister's toy." Right? Or, once again, "you hit your sister, and you damaged that relationship." What can we do to problem-solve there, is there a repair that you can make, a reparation, and that is how children learn. Even though we are human, and sometimes we make mistakes, we can always make things better, and it empowers them, instead of making them feel like bad people.
The third thing is setting limits in an empathic way. I am going to tell you about a piece of research that has been going on this, studies that have been going on for the last fifty years, and we have some very clear indicators of what helps kids come out great, be responsible, but also be emotionally intelligent, and just all-around wonderful people. So, look at this: we tend to think that parenting, kids are always up, but when we interact with our children, we are always on a scale between permissive and authoritarian. right? We are somewhere on this scale of demandingness. If we demand a lot, we are over here on the authoritarian side of the scale. If we do not demand very much, we are over here on the permissive side.
These are the kids that run around the restaurant and annoy everybody, these are the kids who everyone says are spoiled rotten. These kids are the kids who, really, when you ask them later, they will say their parents were very strict, but often they are not speaking to their parents. If the parents are very strict, the kids have rebelled a lot during their high school years. So, we might think, "Okay, the sweet spot is right in between." But, here is the disadvantage to that. The disadvantage is, I want my kids to get straight A's. That is over here, right? I want my kids to write nice thank-you letters; that is over here. I want my kids to sit down in the restaurant, instead of running around, annoying people; that is over here too. So, what am I supposed to do if I am too demanding, my kids are going to be mad at me, right?
And, in fact, there is a lot of research that demanding parents do not raise kids who think for themselves, and they are actually very vulnerable to peer-pressure as they grow up. But, there is a solution. You know why? We have only got half the picture here. Here is what we need to look at: There is another axis. This axis is the support axis. So, if you look at high demandingness, over here, but high support over here, suddenly we get the sweet spot. That is the kind of parent we want to be. We want to be as demanding as the authoritarian parent, in the sense of, "No, you cannot run around the restaurant, sweetie." But, we want to be as supportive, "I see it is not really appropriate to have brought you to this restaurant, you are only three years old, and it is the end of a long day!" Right? Or see it from our child's point of view and we are supporting her. Or, "Honey, you can be as jealous and mad at your sister as you want, but you cannot break her toy." Right? "We need to do something about this problem you have created." That is the sweet spot in parenting; "Empathic Limits." Thank you.