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Habitot Children's Museum

Habitot Children's Museum
2065 Kittredge Street
Berkeley, CA 94704
(510) 647-1111

Parenting Q&A
12 Things Great Parents Do:
Do what you say you are going to do

Loving our children comes naturally, but the art of parenting is a skill, and like any other skill it must be learned and practiced mindfully. Part of Habitot’s commitment to our community is to support parents in the crucial and precious task of raising young children.

For 2010-2011 we are expanding on parenting wisdom from local psychotherapist and parent coach Dr. Erica Reischer who has composed a list of “10 Things Great Parents Do.” We are adding two “great things” or our own and each month we’ll share research and our observations of tens of thousands of visiting families to illustrate how using the “great things” list will for work you and your child.

This month’s topic: Do what you say you are going to do.
This goes two ways:
1) Don’t make rules you can’t or won’t enforce consistently; and
2) Keep your commitments. It’s important for kids to know that you mean what you say; this builds trust and respect.

Consistency is very important for children because they need a sense of structure and predictability in order to do well. Children are beginners, and learning rules and expectations is often difficult for them. The more consistent you are as a parent in enforcing rules the easier it will be for your child to understand and follow them. It is also important to be consistent in your actions toward child. In this way, you can model integrity and give them a sense of safety in knowing what to expect from you and the world around them.

Here are some tips on keeping your word with your kids:

    • Try to avoid making too many rules. Rules regarding the health and safety of your child are not negotiable, but other rules simply do not matter as much in the bigger picture. Does your child want to do something like wear her party dress to bed or drink only from a certain cup? Even if your impulse is to say no, ask yourself first if it will matter in 5 years. If the answer is no, let it go.
    • Make rules that you can enforce. Avoid threats like “if you splash I will never let you play in water again.” Instead, state clearly what you expect from your child and why, then set reasonable consequences like ending water play for 10 minutes or for the rest of the day.
    • Enforce rules consistently. Children need to learn that rules are important to their safety and that they don’t change from day to day. If you bend the rule even once, your child will test it again and again, causing frustration for both of you.
    • Make sure that everyone involved in raising your child is on the same page regarding discipline. It can be confusing for a child if one parent enforces certain rules that the other parent does not enforce. Children thrive in consistent environments; it helps them feel safe.
    • Never make a promise you do not intend to keep. Sometimes it is easy to make a promise just to soothe a child or get them to cooperate, but it will end up backfiring later when you do not keep your word.
    • There will inevitably be times when circumstances make it hard or impossible to keep your word. If this happens, make sure that your child understands why you couldn’t keep your word and look for the first opportunity to fulfill your promise.

To see the complete list of “10 Things Great Parents Do” or to learn more about Dr. Erica Reischer, please visit her website at www.DrEricaR.com. You can also get a hard copy of the handout in the purple parenting cart in the museum.

Parenting Resources

Strategies For Parents: Consistency and Follow through. Lehigh University: College of Educaction - Center for Promoting Research to Practice - Project Reach Web Site: http://www.lehigh.edu/projectreach/parents-reach/consistency.htm

Steffens, Pat & Kathy Bosch. Consistency in Discipline. University of Nebraska Publishing: Lincoln, 2003.

Positive Parenting: How To Encourage Good Behavior. Markarian, Margie. (2010). Healthy Children Web Site: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/family-dynamics/pages/Positive-Parenting-How-To-Encourage-Good-Behavior.aspx?nfstatus=401&nftoken=00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000&nfstatusdescription=ERROR%3a+No+local+token

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