October 17, 2011

Active Parenting

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken adults.” Frederick Douglass 
Active Parenting - Parenting with purpose and by example

We live in an increasingly complex world that challenges us every day with a wide range of issues and challenges that can be difficult for children to understand, cope and survive. Children are always looking for proper training and help from their parents. But when it is not made available, children get carried away by other things that happen in the society which may leave a negative impact on their future.
Active Parenting is a term describing a successful parenting strategy relating to adolescents. The main purpose is to raise responsible, cooperative children, who are able to resist negative peer pressure and successfully face the challenges of the 21st century.

What challenges? :

Drug & Alcohol Use
Sexuality (HIV/AIDS)
Violence and Terrorism
Technological Changes
Changing Job Markets
Changing Family and Social Structures
What They See on TV News
Accidents & Disasters
Sickness & Death

It's your responsibility as a parent to prepare your children to become responsible adults and survive in this world without your intervention.

Active Parenting can be learnt by reading articles, books and by attending workshops conducted by many organisations. These organisations conduct programs for active parenting in detail about each aspect of active parenting.
This article will give you guidance in Active Parenting for raising successful and resilient young people.

The Active Parenting Strategy aims to:
1.Use positive discipline techniques to teach responsibility for their actions
2. Build resilience and self-discipline in adolescents to navigate life’s challenges
3. Help to develop cooperation and self-esteem
4. Reinforce adolescent’s courage and inner strength

 5 Building Blocks of Active Parenting

1. Creating and Confirming Boundaries

Yours rules and structure give your child a framework for understanding the world, even if he protests.
The most resilient families develop broad boundaries that help children understand what is expected from them in the home, at school and in the community. These boundaries help children develop values about what is right and wrong. It takes a while for children to have these values internalised. That means that they don’t have to check with an adult if something is right or wrong. They understand why certain rules are in place and why it’s important to follow them. 

Communicating the Boundaries

It could be useful for families to have these principles written up and displayed. Many children will have experience of this in their schools, where school rules are prominently displayed in classrooms. Use a family meeting to explain what the boundaries or family rules will be. Give a short explanation of why they are important (try not to give long lectures).

Think about Consequences

Explain what will happen if boundaries are crossed. Each behaviour must have a consequence that is natural or logical. Many times it is enough to tell them not behave in a particular way without saying much more. Parents can be very creative during this process. The most important thing that children learn is that when they break the rules, something happens that teaches them not to do it again.
Putting in action:
Parents need to set clear expectations for behaviour, establish rules about communicating where and with whom their teenagers are spending their time. By communicating your expectations and consequences, your adolescent cannot claim they “did not know” that you would be upset. These boundaries need to be included in your teenager's internet use.
2. Talk with your kids before everyone else does

Talk with your kids about:

● Safe Sex and Relationships
Online Safety
● Drugs and Alcohol
Negative Peer Pressure
Staying Safe and Risk Taking
Violence and Protective Behaviour
● What they see on TV News
● Accidents and Disasters
● Sickness and Death
● Divorce

● Terrorism

3. Develop the Mindset of Resilient Children and Adolescents
“Resilience is the ability to bounce back and keep going in the face of adversity.” Jacque Pollock
Feeling loved, special and appreciated is a cornerstone of a child’s resilient mindset. Resilient children and adolescents are hopeful and posses high self-worth. They learn to solve problems and to view mistakes as experiences from which to learn. They learn to focus on what they have control over rather than on what they can little influence. They set realistic goals and expectations for themselves and those around them.
Accept your children for who they are and not what you want them to be. 
Many children believe that they are accepted and loved only when they do not make mistakes and fail. Become upset that they do not meet standards set by their parents children begin to believe that their mistakes are testimony to their incompetence and must be avoided at all costs.
Putting in action:
When your child makes a mistake or when something doesn’t go right, how does he react and handle the situation?
When some thing ( a plan, a project, a relationship, a situation) does not go the way you want it to go, what is the first question most people ask? WHY ME? This is the wrong question! What happens when you ask the wrong question? Yes! You get the wrong answer and a lot of negative feedback.
What then would be the right question? WHAT CAN I LEARN FROM WHAT JUST HAPPENED? And you get a completely different interpretation back – and a positive lesson can be learnt.
4 principles can guide you in helping your children become comfortable with the role that mistakes play in one’s life:
1. Serve yourself as a model for dealing with mistakes and learning from them with the questions “What can I do differently?”, “What can I do to improve?”
2. Comments to react on mistakes should be free of anger and sarcasm. There not be statements that reinforce a negative mindset such as: Why don’t you use your brain?
3. Mistakes are not only accepted but also expected

4. Mistakes are a natural part of life
Another important factor in developing resilience in children is teaching them to make choices and think about consequences of their choices. Start to provide kids with simple choices at an early age. : Do you want.....or..... for dinner? Do you want wear.... or....? Do you want to play....or...? It is your choice. By providing them with simple choices we are building a solid foundation for problem solving and making decisions.
Helping your kids to find their own strengths and reinforcing each child or adolescent’s “islands of competence" is important factor that help them to understand and Know Who You Are. A strong sense of self is the foundation of personal resilience.
Teach them not define yourself by what someone else thinks about them, but have the right to be Who Are You and Who You Want to BE.
4. Develop Responsibility: Chores or Contributions?
Teaching children to be accountable for their actions and to feel a sense of responsibility is necessary if they are ever to be prepared for adult living.
Robert Brooks, Ph. D, suggests that the most effective says of teaching responsibility and compassion to our kids and youth is to create opportunities for them to help others. By so doing parents communicate the message, ”We believe in you and we believe you have a great deal to offer your world." It is truly one of the most important messages parents can transmit as parents in preparing children for the challenges they will confront in their adult lives.
This message came from his research when he asked adults to describe one of the fondest memories of school, a memory in which a teacher said or did something that enhanced their self-esteem. What do you think was the most common positive memory from this survey? The answer was when a student was asked to contribute in some manner to the school environment.
/”The teacher had me sit and do spelling with the second graders, once I’d shown some ability in this subject.”. “My teacher asked me to tutor a senior who was about to “not graduate” because she was failing English grammar. I was in 10th grade.” What is your “positive memory’? Who was that great teacher? Positive expectations can help develop responsible young people.

Very often the label that we use to describe responsibilities is one that unfortunately is associated with negative connotations. That label is “chores.” Children are often told, “Remember, you must do your chores!” Whatever labels we provide will not erase the negative feelings associated with being asked to do what youngsters consider such unimportant tasks as cleaning one’s room, making the bed, or clearing the table, however , guided by the notion that children wish to help, parents might create an attitude of responsibility what would last a lifetime so that even if children did not always remember to do their chores, we could be assured that they were developing into responsible and compassionate people.
Putting in action:
Ask yourself: “Am I providing opportunities for my children to be helpful and to learn that their actions make a positive difference in the lives of others?”

5. Active Parenting is Empathic Parenting

Empathy, the ability to be aware and understand what another person feels, is first learned at home.
The ability to see the world through your children’s eyes and be empathic is essential for raising emotional healthy kids. Statements like as “You must be feeling angry or sad right now “ telling that you don’t have to agree with everything they do but try to appreciate their point of view as a bridge to begin every communication and as a foundation for them to listen and learn from you. When you interact with your children you should always consider whether you are saying things in a way that will allow them to be receptive to listening to you. If you interrupt. put them down, tell them how they should be feeling or use absolutes such as always or never in a critical way they are likely to become angry and tune you out.

Emotional ownership is a key part of Empathic Parenting. This means that I am responsible for my own emotions; no-one else controls how I feel. This also means I allow and teach my child to own his emotions by not trying to control how he feels. Empathy means showing understanding and support for his right to have his emotions and not trying to change them.
Putting in action:
Saying to your child, ”I know that you’re upset that the toy is gone” is an empathic statement that is not judgmental, thereby lessening the probability that your child will become defensive. Telling them “ I told you so” or punishing them is likely to lead to anger rather than learning. Buying them a new toy is also counterproductive since it does not permit them to experience the consequences of their behaviour. If children do not realize that there are consequences to their actions, they will have difficulty developing self-discipline.

National Strategy for Young Australians
Teaching your child empathic awareness by Denise Seastrunk
25 Nonviolent discipline options by Pam Kemp
Raising a Self Disciplined Child by Dr. Robert Brooks, Ph.D
Raising Resilient Children and Adolescents by Dr. Robert Brooks, Ph. D


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