I’m making my way through one of the best parenting books I’ve ever read – and I’ve read a lot. It’s so good, I wanted to share one of the lists the book provides because I think it makes a ton of sense and provides a glimpse at framework that can make a big difference.
The book is Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids by Dr. Laura Markham. The list I want to share is early in the book and Markham calls it the Ten Rules to Raise Terrific Kids.
- Manage yourself – When we get stressed, we aren’t at our best. Look after yourself so you don’t end up venting on your kids
- Advocate for your child, never give up – your child needs to know you are always on their side. They’re going to screw up, but as a parent our job is to understand what they need and provide it. If you don’t, who will?
- Discipline never works – all discipline ever does is damage the relationship between parent and child. It doesn’t improve behavior. Instead of punishing, Markham suggests guiding and setting limits as a necessary duo. This was tough, because I’ve read a lot of nooks espousing different types of discipline, but not many that espouse none. Her rational makes sense, though. It drives a wedge between parent and child.
- Provide a safe place to open up – our kids need to feel they can say anything to us. In order to raise a child who can manage their behavior, they need a place to open up about the feelings driving that behavior and have someone who is just there to listen and not judge. Another tough one. No correcting. No fixing problems (unless they ask). Just listening.
- Recognize your child is just a kid and trying as hard as they can – we need to expect age-appropriate behavior, not perfection.
- Don’t take it personally – if you can accept that bad behavior is to be expected and not a personal slight, if you can use humor to diffuse a situation, you’ll be able to maintain your calm in the face of chaos.
- All misbehavior comes from basic needs that aren’t being met – If a child’s needs for sleep, nutrition, affection, fun, safety and down-time are being met and they will be better able to manage their own behavior. Markham says children want to be successful, they just need us to equip them to do it. (Hmm, maybe that late-night movie night is setting us both up for failure).
- Your child is the best parenting expert – if you listen, really listen, your child will communicate what she needs.
- Everything changes – no child (no person) stays the same. What works for you today, probably won’t work tomorrow. Be ready for that change (and see rule #8).
- Stay connected and never withdraw your love – do everything you can to develop and safeguard your relationship. Children behave because they love you and want to please you. If that relationship is strong, you’ll be enabling them to develop the skills to manage their behavior and to succeed.
There’s a lot of missing context behind these rules. I recommend reading the book to get the full story. These rules contain the core tenets, though. Let me know what you thought, and what your favorite parenting book is.