Parents Need to Major in the Majors

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As parents, we need to work on setting priorities with our children. We need to ask, “What are the most important values that I want to stress and instill in my children?” Make sure you major in the majors, not the minors. If you focus on minor behavioral infractions, there is a tendency to create conflict and power struggles with your children


As parents, we need to work on setting priorities with our
children.  We need to ask, “What are
the most important values that I want to stress and instill in my
children?”  Make sure you major in
the majors, not the minors.  If you focus
on minor behavioral infractions, there is a tendency to create conflict and
power struggles with your children.  In
focusing on the behavioral minutiae, you and your child may lose sight of the
significant values that you want him to embrace.  Your priorities for your child’s character
and responsibilities should entail such tasks as serving others, treating
others with respect, doing volunteer work, making amends for mistakes, and
contributing to the household by doing one’s share of work.  

 
When I worked in the schools as a guidance
counselor, I once had an exemplary student who needed a recommendation for
college.  I asked her to provide me with
a worksheet or resume of her distinctions so that I could write a quality
recommendation.  In her worksheet, she
told the story about how she would go to the landfill with her grandmother,
look for broken dolls, take them home and repair them.  Then she would deliver them to the children
at a nearby orphanage.  This is what I
mean by encouraging children to cultivate worthwhile values and
priorities.

Don`t get overly
caught up in fashion design, hair color, and types of music played by your
children.  These issues create
unnecessary battles that go nowhere.  If
you continue to wrestle over less significant issues, you create the conditions
for bigger power struggles and resentment. 
It’s a delicate balance, but it’s important to keep the lines of
communications open with your child. 

Parents need to
effectively communicate their wishes and desires for their children.  Children don’t respond well to parents who
holler, scream, and reprimand in a scolding voice.  In fact, as tempting as this behavior may be,
you can bet that your child is tuning you out. 
You may also be creating an oppositional child through your
well-intentioned, though ineffective means of parenting.  Using positive reinforcement when your child
does things right, or using encouragement helps promote involvement.  Maintaining consistent consequences, both
positive and negative, are more effective than trying to coerce your child into
doing a task for you. 

Asking children
to make value judgments about the choices they make is more effective than
moralizing or pontificating about the right way to do things.  If a child brings home a poor grade from
school, resist the urge to lecture on the value of education.  Ask your child, “Is what you are doing
in this class good enough for you?  How
do you feel about this evaluation from your teacher?  What steps can you take to improve your
performance?”  Make your child take
responsibility for his behavior.  Do not
accept excuses, such as “I hate this teacher, or I just forgot to do some
assignments.”  State your
disappointment in what has happened and ask your child what he plans on doing
to improve the matter. Box him in by making your child accountable for coming
up with a reasonable plan for improvement. 
Get it in writing if you wish, or a handshake, but get a commitment for
improved behavior.  Never let your child
off the hook.  Make your child explain
how he will change things for the better. 
Be calm, somewhat detached, and persistent. 

Fostering
involvement with your children which helps promote respect, setting
character-building goals and priorities, and holding your children accountable
for improved performance are essential characteristics of quality parenting.
 

James  P.
Krehbiel is an author, contributing writer, and cognitive-behavioral therapist
practicing in
Scottsdale, Arizona.  Sample chapters of his new book are available
at http://www.booklocker.com/pdf/2242s.pdf
James can be reached through his website at http://www.krehbielcounseling.com



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