This is the second in a series entitled Navigating “Island” Parenting by Caribbean News Now contributor Mutryce A. Williams. Watch for subsequent parts.
By Mutryce A. Williams
For the past three years, I find at least ten minutes per day to research parenting quotes/tips/ and I have gathered them in a folder as a source of inspiration and as tools that I use to deal with the daily challenges of parenting, as I have come realise too that it is indeed hard work, and that parents need as much support as possible.
Mutryce A. Williams is a native St Kitts and Nevis whose writings embrace and mirror the West Indian life. She holds a Masters of Politics degree and is a doctoral candidate pursuing studies in Public Policy Administration with a double concentration in Terrorism, Mediation and Peace, and Homeland Security Policy and Coordination. She may be contacted at email@example.com
I also seek advice from those around me, and I have found that these tid bits of advice do help, and I thought that they may be beneficial to others as well, so I came up with an idea of sharing these quotes/tips/advice in a weekly submission called Navigating "Island" Parenting.
Given our culture, as parents we are not apt to ask for help, as it expected that we already know everything. This is a fallacy that I hope we would overcome. I am also aware that with everything that is going on, the heightened political climate that there is anxiety and tension, parents can become easily overwhelmed. Let us not forget the everyday challenges as well. Any bit of advice or support that would help us be better parents can help.
I will continue submitting articles, when time permits, parenting and studying is quite the balancing act, time management is an area that I am working on. I like sharing my thoughts and what I have learnt with others, hoping that it would enhance their lives and Navigating "Island" Parenting is an avenue where this can be done.
There is no such thing as a perfect parent so just be a real one
. – Sue Atkins
Loving Nicki Minaj
Communicating with your children is a two way street, sometimes they just need you to be there for them and to listen to them
. Author Unknown
I was at the kitchen sink washing dishes and deep in thought when I felt a sharp tug on my skirt and thought I heard, “Mommy, I love Nicki Minaj!” For a moment I really did think I was dreaming until I felt the tug again, and saw my three year old son Daniel looking up at me smiling, “Mommy do you hear me, I love Nicki Minaj!” With a puzzled look on my face I shrieked, “You do what?” I think I startled him. I suppose that was the last thing I expected to hear from his mouth. I suppose for a second instead of seeing a three year old before me, I imagined him, a young adult, walking through the door with Nicki Minaj or at least a Nicki Minaj look alike. I was taken aback by several things, the fact that he was so matter of fact in his statement, the fact that he was only three years old, and the fact that he was proclaiming his love for the ever so colourful hip hop singer, songwriter, the Trinidadian Barbie, someone who I had no clue that he even knew existed.
Rather perplexed and curious, I dropped the dish cloth and seated him on the floor next to me. I had a ton of other things that needed to be done but I needed to know all that he knew about Nicki Minaj, and how he even knew of Nicki Minaj. Backs against the refrigerator, I said, “Let’s talk! Who is Nicki Minaj, and why do you love her?” He got up ran to the basket of magazines and pointed to a picture on the cover and said, “There she is, there she is, she is pretty. I love her Mommy.” I swallowed hard. What do I say to all this? I took the next few minutes just chatting with him about Nicki Minaj and random things, until he had enough and ran off to play.
In thinking back on it now, the lesson I learnt from that encounter was that as a parent I should always be open to listening, whether it is a declaration of love for Nicki Minaj, something quite shocking, or something that may seem insignificant to me, the fact that he approached me with information meant that it was something of importance to him, and he wanted my attention, he wanted me to listen. As parents we tend to not listen, whether it is because we are very busy or just don’t want to be bothered, whether it is because we deem the information insignificant. The fact that your child approaches you with information is a good thing. It says that he or she is comfortable telling you the little things. Your response is important as well, because if you are not interested in listening to the little things, your child won’t feel comfortable enough to tell you the big things.
10 Things Not to Say to Your Child
By Brenna Hicks
10. You are making me really mad right now.
When I was a child and fought with my younger brother, I would complain to my mom that he made me mad about something. She would (and still does) respond with "No one can make you feel anything. You choose to get mad." At the time, I hated that phrase. However, it is very true. Parents tend to let their children control their emotions, when it is the parent who is ultimately responsible for how they feel. It is also important for kids to understand that they choose what they feel, and they are not creating emotions in you. Train yourself to say, "I need a break right now because I am getting upset" or "I am angry right now". You can communicate your feelings to your children without placing the burden of cause on them.
Retraining your way of speaking will take time and energy, but can be done. I would encourage you to do it one step at a time, and feel proud when you hear yourself respond differently. It will not happen overnight, as I liken it to learning a new language, but it can happen with practice!
9. We are (whatever the child doesn't want to do at that moment), OKAY?
In an attempt to be kind and loving to children, parents tend to ask kids for their approval. I understand the rationale behind it, but I believe it becomes a habit when trying to convince a child to comply. Parents will often say, "We are leaving the playground now and we'll come back again, okay?" The reality is that asking your child if it is okay sets you up for an argument when the child says no. You already know that he doesn't want to leave, or you wouldn't be negotiating with him. Train yourself to state things in sentence form, while acknowledging the child's feelings. "Kevin, I know you want to stay and play, but it is time to go. We can come back another day". This helps the child feel understood, but still communicates that leaving is non-negotiable.
8. You can't/Don't do that.
When redirecting behavior, it is difficult to know how to phrase things in the best manner. Telling a child that they can't do something makes them prove that they can, by telling you or showing you that it is in fact possible. Telling a kid to not do something makes them want to argue or rebel. Train yourself to explain the reason behind your statement. "That is not safe" or "Your skin is not for coloring on" is specific and helps them learn why things are off limits, rather than just that they are.
7. That is what happens when you...
We often try to teach lesson to kids about life at the most inappropriate times. If a child gets hurt because they were doing something dangerous or inappropriate, they already learned their lesson. It is wasted words to try to express a rule when a child is upset, as they focus on one thing at a time. Instead, train yourself to say, "You realized that you jumped off the chair and got hurt when you landed on the ground", rather than, "See, that is what happens when you jump off the chair". The former acknowledges that the child already figured out the problem, but is still comforting.
6. You are doing that the wrong way.
Parents tend to want control all of the time, and it takes work to allow kids to have freedom to do what they choose. Of course, there will be times when a task must be completed in a certain fashion (homework, etc.). However, many times we force kids to do something the "right way", when it could have been done in several ways. If a child is coloring the grass purple, it is easy to tell them it must be green. A kid can sit down on a chair facing the back, and we make them turn around. Train yourself to acknowledge their behavior without a judgment, such as "You chose to sit the other way on the chair" or "You colored the grass purple instead". This gives them the freedom to be creative and discover things without expectations
5. If you do that one more time...
I can't tell you the number of times I hear that phrase when around other parents, even though it is highly ineffective. First, you are threatening a child, which makes them fearful of you. Second, the threat is usually not something that is feasible to do (we are going home, you are going straight to bed, you don't get dinner, you are grounded for a week, etc.) What we say in frustration is not only impractical but easily forgettable. Then we contradict our credibility. You can train yourself to be clear and concise, using choices. "If you choose to (continue that behavior), you choose to (receive whatever consequence has already been established as a punishment)". You might say, "Erin, if you choose to poke your sister again, you choose to not watch TV for the rest of the day". This clearly communicates the expectation and the consequence, without a threat.
4. Wait until your Dad/Mom/other person finds out about this.
This does two things. First, it creates anxiety and fear in the child, especially of the person who you are going to tell about whatever happened. Second, it ignores your responsibility to deal with the issue at hand and passes it to someone else. By the time a child has gotten in trouble for something, they already feel guilty, sorry and embarrassed about it. Threatening to tell someone else rubs salt in the wound. Choose whether the other person really needs to know about the issue, and if yes, let the child decide who will tell them. "Do you choose to tell (Mom) what happened, or choose for me to tell her with you there to make sure that I explain it correctly?" This gives the child respect and responsibility for their actions.
3. Don't argue with me.
Children are programmed to question, analyze and wonder about situations. This can sometimes present itself in an argumentative manner, but this is actually a normal part of development. Instead of cutting off the conversation, you can say, "I know you want my answer to be different, but it will not change". You can also train yourself to make sure the child fully understands your response, with "I just told you my answer. Do you have a question about it?" This allows the child to present their opinion or get clarification. Either way, the child is allowed to express their thoughts or concerns and feel validated without an argument.
2. Good job!
I have spent a good deal of time on articles on the difference between Praise vs. Encouragement, and this phrase is arguably the most commonly spoken praise children hear. Train yourself to respond with "You did it!" or "You got it!" or "You figured it out!". Notice the common element is starting with the word "you" and then acknowledging what they worked at, rather than what you think about it.
1. No (running, hitting, yelling, fill in the verb)!
Kids hear the word "no" far too frequently. You can always rephrase the sentence from a negative to a positive, which will correct the behavior without sounding critical. Train yourself to say what you want them to do instead of what you don't. So, you can say "Walk, please" instead of "No running".
As a Parent - Increase Your Assertiveness
An assertive parent is a confident parent who has belief in their own abilities and will earn the respect of their child:
• Use an authoritative tone of voice to rein in your child's bad behavior.
• Use body language to emphasize praise.
• Use facial expressions to emphasize what you are feeling.
• Take steps to build your confidence if your self-esteem is low.
• Get help to manage your anger if you fear you could lose control.
Take your own parenting advice – settle down, use your inside voice, no hitting, be kind, keep your hands to yourself, think before you speak, do your best, keep it positive, because it’s what we want our kids to do
. - Unknown
Remember you are not managing an inconvenience. You are raising a human being
. - Kittie Franz
Keep calm and carry on
. - Unknown
You can learn so many things from children. How much patience you have for instance
. - Franklin P. Jones
The trouble with learning to parent on the job is that your child is the teacher
. - Robert Brault
Pretend they are not yours!
A few weeks ago I ran into a mother of four at Story Hour, I have had the chance to observe her at several events and I admired her calm, patience and sunny disposition when dealing with her children. As the children ran off with the reader, I approached and asked her secret. I am always on the hunt for good parenting tips. She smiled and replied, “I guess it does work. I have been practicing this trick that a friend taught me. Promise me you won’t laugh or think that I have lost it! I pretend that they are not my children. I pretend that their parents are spying on me, and that I would get sued or land in jail if I hurt a hair on their head or speak to them unkindly or too loudly. Does this make sense?”
I can’t tell you that it’s the answer that I expected but I suppose it did make a lot of sense. If you wouldn’t shout at or hit someone else’s child who has been entrusted in your care why would you do that to your own child? If you exercise the utmost calm, patience and respect when dealing with other people’s children, then why shouldn’t it be the same with your own, don’t they deserve it? When you are having a hard day, your child/children are just about working your last nerve, and you feel you are about to lose it, breathe, look at them, smile, and pretend they are not yours! It really does work.
Click here for Part I