My father had a PhD in Sociology, which meant he studied the behavior of people. My mother had a PhD in Child Development. They taught me that you reward what you want more of in your children and punish what you want less of. My mother would always end in with, “And when parents aren’t giving attention to their children, negative attention is better than no attention.” Meaning kids will act out and behave badly, even to get punished, because they are crying out for attention.
My mother’s love language was praise which is a great way to be raised, except as an adult I had a hard time with negative feedback. We had time-outs and when we didn’t obey right away the time-out would escalate by 5 minutes which I posted about in the 1st link below.
I have posted about the discipline books, 1-2-3 Magic and Parenting with Love and Logic. Parenting with Love and Logic really helped me with my last son. When you can’t make a teenager do what you ask them to do, like the dishes, you wait. Teenagers need something often, and the next time he needed something I could say, “I wish I could help you with that, but the last time I asked you to do ________________, you didn’t do it.” I liked how this method was no drama, just logic. He quickly saw that as families we help each other and it is a reciprocal relationship.
I was so happy to stumble on a book about coaching your child more on their emotions, called, Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child: the Heart of Parenting, by John Gottman, PhD. I thought it was written by John Rosemond, which made me excited, because I have been reading his columns on parenting since the 1980’s, but it wasn’t–but more on him in a future post.
This is parenting at a higher awareness level because you are showing empathy and compassion instead of being reactive. Dr. Gottman also talks about how important it is to set limits, which resonates with me as well. Mary Pipher, a therapist, wrote In the Shelter of Each Other, and said, “All feelings are acceptable, but all behavior isn’t.”
Dr. Gottman has the reader take an 81 question assessment of your parenting type. I resisted but finally did it and it’s well worth it. He speaks of four parenting types:
The Dismissing Parent–In this style a person
-treats child’s feelings as unimportant and trivial
-disengages from or ignores the child’s feelings
-wants the child’s negative emotions to disappear quickly
-characteristically uses distractions to shut down child’s emotions
-may ridicule or make light of a child’s emotions
-believes children’s feelings are irrational, and therefore don’t count
-shows little interest in what a child is trying to communicate
-may lack awareness of emotions in self and others
-feels uncomfortable, fearful, anxious, annoyed, hurt, or overwhelmed by child’s emotions
-fears being out of control emotionally
-focuses more on how to get over emotions than on the meaning of the emotions itself
-believes negative emotions are harmful or toxic
-believes focusing on negative emotions are harmful or toxic
-believes focusing on negative emotions will “just make matters worse”
-feels uncertain about what to do with a child’s emotions
-believes the child’s negative emotions mean the child is not well adjusted
-does not promote problem-solve with the child; believes that the passage of time will resolve most problems.
Dr. Gottman finishes this section with:
“Effects of this style on children. They learn that their feelings are wrong, inappropriate, not valid. They may learn that there is something inherently wrong with them because of the way they feel. They may have difficulty regulating their own emotions.”
Dr. Gottman gives excellent examples and stories to back up his research. As I took his assessment, I could see that I was doing some of the Disapproving Parent statements listed above. The hope of this book is that we can become more aware of what we are doing and improve.
Next Post: The Disapproving Parent.