Collaborative Parenting

Some of the tension and arguing of enforcing rules (at home) can be reduced by allowing your children to contribute in the process of setting rules and assigning consequences before the rules are broken. We will refer to this arrangement as, “Collaborative Parenting.”

 

When parents include their children in establishing clear rules about appropriate behavior and consequences, the arguments over rules and punishments are often reduced (and sometimes eliminated). Children can no longer say that consequences are unfair, and parents can now calmly refer to the pre-arranged agreement instead of having to scramble to find an appropriate punishment.

 

Please keep in kind that allowing your children to have input regarding rules and consequences may not dissuade them from breaking them sometimes, but it can help parents to avoid a power struggle dynamic that exists in many families. Parents who expect that their child will sometimes act out inappropriately, but prepare for it by involving their children in the formulation of rules and consequences, will improve family communication and give their children a powerful sense of responsibility and autonomy.

 

Dr. Scott Koenig, Psy.D.

The Importance of Self-Soothing

Regardless of your personal sleeping philosophy or method, one of the important early gifts you can give your child is the ability to Self-Soothe.

 

• Self-soothe: Often refereed to as Emotional Self-Regulation, is the practice of being able to properly regulate one’s emotions.

 

• Research suggests that infants and toddlers who develop healthy self-soothing strategies are at lower risk for anxiety (and other mood disorders), behavioral problems, developing poor coping skills, and co-dependency/separation anxiety.

 

Dr. Scott Koenig, Psy.D.

The Station

This poem by Robert J. Hastings is one of my favorites. It speaks to the topic of mindlessness and learning how to “stay in the moment,” something most of us struggle with.

 

THE STATION

By Robert J. Hastings

 

TUCKED AWAY in our subconscious minds is an idyllic vision.  We see ourselves on a long, long trip that almost spans the continent.  We’re traveling by passenger train, and out the windows we drink in the passing scene of cars on nearby highways, of children waving at a crossing, of cattle grazing on a distant hillside, of smoke pouring from a power plant, of row upon row of corn and wheat, of flatlands and valleys, of mountains and rolling hillsides, of city skylines and village halls, of biting winter and blazing summer and cavorting spring and docile fall.

 

But uppermost in our minds is the final destination.  On a certain day at a certain hour we will pull into the station.  There will be bands playing and flags waving.  And once we get there so many wonderful dreams will come true.  So many wishes will be fulfilled and so many pieces of our lives finally will be neatly fitted together like a completed jigsaw puzzle.  How restlessly we pace the aisles, damming the minutes for loitering, waiting, waiting, waiting for the station. However, sooner or later we must realize there is no one station, no one place to arrive at once and for all.  The true joy of life is the trip.  The station is only a dream.  It constantly outdistances us.

 

When we get to the station that will be it!” we cry.  Translated it means, “When I’m 18 that will be it!  When I buy a new 450 SL Mercedes Benz, that will be it!  When I put the last kid through college that will be it!  When I have paid off the mortgage that will be it!  When I win a promotion that will be it!  When I reach the age of retirement that will be it!  I shall live happily ever after!”<   Unfortunately, once we get “it,” then “it” disappears.  The station somehow hides itself at the end of an endless track. It isn’t the burdens of today that drive men mad.  Rather, it is regret over yesterday or fear of tomorrow.  Regret and fear are twin thieves who would rob us of today.   So, stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles.  Instead, climb more mountains, eat more ice cream, go barefoot more often, swim more rivers, watch more sunsets, laugh more and cry less.  Life must be lived as we go along.  The station will come soon enough.

 

Dr. Scott Koenig, Psy.D.

Getting On The Same Page

What do you do when your spouse/partner doesn’t parent the same way you do?
Here are some examples of questions/topics that you and your spouse/partner should be asking one another:

 

1)  (For infants and/or younger children) What do we believe is the most effective way to get our child to sleep through the night? In addition, if we both agree that our child is going to ________________ (i.e., sleep in our room, sleep in our bed, cry it out in their crib, breast feed…etc.) how long of a period should that be?

 

2)  What is our parenting style? Are we too strict, too lenient, well balanced? In addition, what are our thoughts on positive reinforcement, punishments, discipline, behavior modification (i.e., reward charts, token economy)…etc?

 

3) How involved do we want our in-laws (or other family members) to be in helping us raise our child? If they are going to be involved, what boundaries do we need to set?

 

4) Will we raise our child in a parent-centric or a child-centric home?

A parent-centric home will have more rules, more structure, and more intellectual discussion. Parental preferences will dictate vacation choices, movie-watching habits, and even what’s-for-dinner.

A child-centric home will have fewer rules, less structure, and more discussion of kiddie activities. Kids will have more say in choosing vacation spots, picking movies for the family to watch, and deciding what the family will have for dinner.

 

5) What type of educational environment do we want our children to be in?

 

6) What type of human being do we want to see our child become? (I’m not talking about vocations or hobbies, like becoming a doctor or appreciating music. I’m talking about the likes of self-reliance, self-awareness, discernment, moral and ethical views…etc).

 

7) What are our views on food/feeding?  What types of foods should we feed our child? What foods should we avoid giving our child? How frequently should we feed our child?

 

8) How much time should we spend with our child? What activities should we do with our child? How much time should we spend away from our child? How often should we have “date nights?” How often should we have romance?

 

9) Should we generally buy our child what they ask for? Should we have our child do chores? Should we give our child an allowance? Should our child have to “earn” a reward if it’s not a special occasion?

 

10) If either one of us observes something in our child that we are concerned about (behaviorally, medically or developmentally), what should be the protocol?

 

And remember……You don’t have to win every argument. Validate. Listen. Love.

 

Dr. Scott Koenig, Psy.D.