Every child has accidents or makes mistakes. Getting a bad grade or dropping a plate should not determine the kind of person they will become. Yet, it can, depending on how parents react. Will they use it as a moment to teach the child, or a moment to berate the child? We begin learning how to parent when we are children. How our parents raised us plays an enormous role in how we raise our own children. In the ideal world we all would learn positive parenting skills. But we don’t live in the ideal world. Many of us will struggle with using strategies that give our kids the best chance to be responsible, caring adults.
The Alliance for Children and Families in Alliance, Ohio started its STAMP program to help parents establish good habits in raising their children. STAMP, which stands for Skills to Acquire Mastery of Parenting, comes from the ACT Parenting Program. It is a hands-on course to prepare parents for the challenge to raise happy, healthy children.
Use positive discipline
Positive discipline sounds like a contradiction in terms, but it is a strategy to change behaviors by setting clear boundaries and establishing logical and natural consequences. Parents learn how to do this based on their child’s age and developmental stage so their strategies are both realistic and can change as children grow. Sometimes we can allow natural consequences without fear of real harm. In one class another parent once fretted to our parenting coach that her child would not wear pajamas to bed and she didn’t want him to get cold. Each night they battled it out until they both got upset. Taking a suggestion from the group she let him go to bed in only his underwear. After a few nights he decided on his own he wanted pjs. No harm done, and countless battles were overcome.
Natural behaviors aren’t suitable for all circumstances, particularly when they could lead to danger. We don’t teach our children to ride their bikes only on the driveway by letting them get hit by a car. There are, however, logical consequences to breaking the driveway rule. We can remove the bike entirely, eliminating both the danger and teaching a consequence for violating the rule.
Note that neither of these consequences are judgemental. Parents can use them to achieve a positive result without shame or force.
Learn about different parenting styles
There is no one size fits all approach to parenting. Families are a mixture of personalities and experiences that affect the best parenting practices for them. STAMP helps parents identify these factors and adapt how they parent. Perhaps a parent is overly strict because they or a sibling led risky lives as teenagers that resulted in serious problems. their own upbringing. Acknowledging their tendencies can help them establish fair expectations and rules.
Teach children to manage their emotions and anger in a healthy way
From preschool to adulthood children will face situations that cause them to get angry or upset. STAMP helps parents with age appropriate lessons that show children how to manage negative situations. They learn conflict and anger management skills so they can choose to respond firmly, but with respect for others. Learning these habits early can prevent poor choices later. The child who can express their feelings will have less need to act them out. The child who is taught to express anger with words is less likely to hit others.
Recognize negative and positive influences on children outside the home
We can’t control the environment everywhere our children go, especially as our children get older. We can prepare our children for how to respond to negative situations. For example, the child who has learned aboutwhy bullying hurts everyone, will be less likely to join peers who engage in it. At the same time, we can discuss with parents how to increase positive influences and how to build on them at home.
Make friends with other parents and connect with community resources
Parents do not have to go it alone. There are benefits to connecting with other parents, both to share tips and tricks in general, and to find families with the same values you have if your child will be around them. STAMP introduces parents to local groups and agencies where they can go for resources that can help them create a better home environment.
Moreover, there are local agencies available to help with a wide range of family oriented questions or problems in nearly every community. Many local libraries have listings of resources. A simple Internet search can yield lots of information about where to go for guidance.
Raise safe, healthy happy children and protect them from violence
Children are exposed to violence in three to four million homes every year. In some areas they will encounter it outside the home in their neighborhoods and schools. This inflicts trauma on every child, but STAMP can help parents mitigate the effects and give their children the chance to be healthy and happy.
Note: The American Psychological Association created ACT, a participatory approach to teaching parents and caregivers better skills for raising children. Alliance for Children and Families provides the program to families in Stark County, Ohio. STAMP may serve to meet court orders for parents to participate in parenting classes.
Tags: parenting, ACT, American Psychological Association, Alliance for Children and Families, positive discipline, conflict management, anger management, discipline, family violence