Ten Signs of a Mentally Strong Parent
1. They Take Routine Seriously
Did bedtime get pushed back a few hours? Mealtime actually just a bunch of snacks? Kids thrive off of a regular schedule. Mentally strong parents stick to a schedule as much as possible. Life is not always perfectly consistent, but don’t let the chaos be an excuse for more chaos. On the evenings when you are running behind and you feel more tired that your children, put forth the effort to get them to bed in a timely fashion. They don’t really need water, or a 12th book. A little down time and cuddles and then say goodnight. A healthy child should be able to fall asleep in less than ten minutes.
2. They Differentiate Between Discipline and Punishment
Punishment is a penalty suffered for an undesirable offense. Proper discipline is used to teach a child that his or her behavior is wrong so that he or she learns to make better choices in the future.
Discipline is best done without screaming or yelling from the parent. Save the nasty looks and eye rolls for another time. A mentally strong parent leaves the emotion out of discipline.
Time outs are best utilized for ‘stop behaviors’. A ‘time out’ is warranted when a child hits, kicks or bites another child, or when the child continues to do anything after a warning that he needs to stop. The child receives a level of discipline appropriate for their age, and after the time-out is over, the parent explains why the child was in time out and everyone moves on.
3. They Allow Children to Make Mistakes
Life is the greatest teacher. If you want your child to stop forgetting his backpack, don’t deliver it to school when it is forgotten. Require children to take ownership over their mistakes and teach skills to help them make mistakes less often.
4. They Expect Children to Contribute
Taking out the trash, setting the table, and cleaning the dishes are all typical household chores. Children need to help with age appropriate duties. When household duties are rewarded extrinsically it can make the task of motivating uncooperative children less daunting, but the bottom line is that chores need to be done and most things in life do not come with a good job badge. Children at any age can be taught to be more helpful. We need to help children determine what they can offer the world, not what the world has to offer them.
5. They Allow Children Ownership Over Their Emotions
When a child is sad or angry, parents are often eager to remove the discomfort or help to calm the child. Even very young children can learn to overcome their angry tantrum and calm themselves. It takes a mentally strong parent to wait the length of time required for a toddler to stop crying on his own. But the child learns that they are responsible for controlling their own emotions and no one else needs to do that for them.
6. They Teach Children Appropriate Language Skills
Children can be very creative with language. It can be fun and entertaining to explore words and sounds while playing with other children. However, when speaking to adults children need to learn to distinguish between the appropriate use of mature language. Ultimately, respect is needed when speaking with adults. The sooner children learn to use the correct dictation and volume the more equipped he or she will be for interactions with adults in their lives.
Practice ordering a menu item with your child before the waiter arrives. Squash ‘baby-talk’ when your elementary aged child tries to talk to adults using incorrect language. Discuss how to address teachers, doctors and other adults in their lives.
7. They Don't Shield Children From Pain
It is difficult to watch a child struggle with physical pain, but children need practice in dealing with discomfort. I am not advocating physically harming your child or enlisting them to become a contortionist. However, when children overcome a difficult situation they gain confidence in their abilities when the going gets rough.
Recently, one of my children needed to receive a few stitches in his cheek. The ER doctor suggested he go under general anesthesia so that he would remain still and comfortable during the repair. While I understand the doctor’s motive, I was confident that my child could remain calm enough during the procedure that the repair could be done. Although the child experienced pain during the novocaine injections, and he was cognitively aware *(and screaming) during the procedure, he was praised during the post op for being strong and capable. This is the part that will stick with him.
8. They Don’t Allow a Child to Make Family Decisions
Kids need choices, but they do not need to be considered an equal, and especially not the boss of the family. Your kid doesn’t need to decide what is for dinner. They just need to eat what is offered. They don’t need to decide where the family is going for the afternoon, they just need to enjoy the experience.
9. They Turn Struggles into Strength
Didn’t make the soccer team? Didn’t win the BINGO game? Not chosen for the school play? Mentally strong parents encourage children to take a positive spin on real life struggles. Life is a teaching tool. Don’t allow your child have a woe-is-me mentality. Mentally strong parents help children to understand that life is not always fair. Children can learn to deal with disappointment and move forward.
10. When a Child Wants Something, They Say NO!
Mentally strong parents are not afraid of the tantrum. Children need to understand the difference between things they want and things they need. Its okay for kids to received items they want under special circumstances, but teach your kids about wasteful spending. They will learn that experiences are more valuable than things.