How To Be a “Terrific Parent”

Every parent wants to be a perfect role model to their children. In order to become one, check if you embody the qualities of “terrific” parents.

Alfie Kohn has much to say about the challenges and joys of parenting. My biggest take away after reading him is to say that there are no simple answers to the ongoing development of good parenting. So much of it comes through your personal experience and ability to trust yourself with understanding your child. Each family has its own culture so to speak and getting clear about who you are as a family can help you determine which path to choose when deciding how to discipline and relate to your young child’s challenging behaviors.

The following are the three qualities of “terrific parents.” I list them and then share my thoughts in the paragraph that follows.

1. An awareness that the child’s experience of the world is different from one’s own. The child experiences life from a very egocentric viewpoint. It is only with time that the idea that others think or feel differently can be grasped. Adults often believe that children don’t have the same depth of feeling as a mature person does. Children feel things just as intensely if not more so than grown ups yet often lack the verbal skills to express it. This can add to feelings of helplessness and frustration which further adds to the emotional tension of the moment. Children have yet to develop a social filter so their perception of things is very different from the adult.

2. The ability to understand the nature of the differences imagining the child’s point of view and to tune into her needs.  There is a critical need for reasonable expectations based on the child’s developmental level as well as temperament. Love opens the heart and mind of the parent to take in non-verbal information and understand the needs of the child. Being able to get into your child’s skin is not always the easiest thing but once a parent can do it, many things become clear. Hopefully this has started in the child’s infancy. Obviously there needs to be an openness to the child and desire to have a deeper understanding on the part of the adult. Sometimes if adults are stressed or in a rush this can be difficult. It is wise then to pause and check in with the child in a way that allows you to get the insight needed.

3.A willingness to meet those needs rather just doing what is right for oneself. The best example I can think of is the parent who foregoes a night’s sleep to sit up with a sick child but of course there are subtler examples. Having children means making sacrifices and it might mean giving up the purchase of something you want or need so that your child can get braces. It may be right for you to take the promotion at work but you might decline because it means sacrificing more hours of family time.

These qualities adjust the adult’s vision to truly see the child. I would add a fourth.

4. Believe in the inherent goodness of your child and hold that vision so it can be a light on your child’s path of life. Children tend to live up to the expectations that parents may hold. It is a gift to be truly seen and believed in.

About The Author

Lois Olson

Founder of The Montessori Children's House Inc. Laramie, Wyoming Montessori Primary Certification 1973
Systematic Training for Effective Parenting facilitator certification
Thirty eight years of experience working with children ages 3-6
Twenty five years facilitating parenting groups
Ten years facilitating teacher training
B.A In Psychology

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