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SELF HELP SERIES: Parents, You Have To Be Present to Win!

My First Rule of Thumb in Raising Children - Parent’s you have to be present to win!

Anticipating My Child’s Needs or How to Avoid Temper Tantrums

Use anticipation as a way of offsetting your child’s need to tug for your attention. While learning persistence is good for the child, there are other ways of teaching them to persist. A child learns quickly to raise the decibels, yell, cry or throw a tantrum to get your attention; and it’s usually when you are on the phone or in line at check out or preparing dinner. They are smart and know exactly when you are most vulnerable. Of course they spend all of their young day working on it. You only spend part of your time trying to figure them out. Don’t underestimate their intelligence - You’ll lose. Your yelling reinforces their persistence to gain attention by unacceptable means. If you anticipate their need, you avoid the tantrum. Second best is to stop, tell your phone friend that you will call them back, attend to the child and then return to what you were doing later. Note the younger the child the shorter the “check in” times will be. A one-year-old will need to check in every 4 to 6 minutes or so, while the four-year-old may go for a full 15 minutes without calling out, “Mommy!” Of course be careful what you wish for because the teenager, college student or adult child may not check in at all. “No,” while necessary, may stifle independence. Anticipate! Be watchful, be present, as your child makes his or her way through the world. Look at childrearing as your primary job.

Parenting becomes easier when you recognize the five stages of development:

Codependence - A newborn child cannot make it on it’s own. He or she is codependent for their existence for the better part of their first year.

Counter Dependence - Begins generally when the toddler begins to crawl and walk. It is often referred to as “the terrible twos.” But it generally lasts till about five or six. It’s defined when the child sitting in the highchair, looks directly at mom or dad and deliberately pushes the mashed potatoes onto the floor, just to test the limits.

Independence - Occurs somewhere around five and six years old. And parents must realize this or the next twelve years will be a struggle. At this point parents have taught their child about 80% of what the parent has to teach the child. if the parents realize this and provide support rather than direction, life becomes more easy. Step back from directing and assume a close supporting guiding role. The “terrible teens” is more a factor of parents stifling the child’s development of independence. If you have followed the steps of development, the pathway to independence becomes something that you as a parent can enjoy. You are raising your child to be independent not to be dependent on you. When they go off on their own and ask for your advice, be patient and listen. Don’t be too quick to tell them what to do. They may already have opened the new bank account and are merely seeking your approval! Be patient. Resist telling them what or how to do something. Let them tell you what they are planning. Parents, be aware that the closer to independence your child becomes, the more difficult the transition.

Interdependence - This is the ultimate stage of development in life. It is the ability of the adult to be independent while being able to interact with others appropriately. Note many adults never make it to this stage!

“The Fifteen Minute Rule”

I’m talking about the first 15 minutes you come into the child’s presence after being away for a while, just getting home from work or picking them up after school. That time belongs to the child so don’t plan to do anything. Stop, look and attend to their need for praise attention and reconnecting. They will then go about their business and leave you to do other things. If not they will persist in tugging at your attention until in exasperation you, “Oh alright,” give in!” An ounce of anticipation is worth a pound of frustration.

Oh and one more suggestion, when your child asks “Hold me.” Do it! Do it till you can’t pick them up anymore. And hug your child often, no matter what their age. There is nothing more important nor more rewarding than being that parent who was present and won!

Check out previous topics in the Self Help Series:

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