How to Rule as a Parent
Have you ever watched Cesar Millan the Pet Whisperer? I always thought it would be boring to watch some guy think he could fix your dog with a little trick. My husband put it on Netflix the other night and I seriously binge watched six episodes. The guy is amazing. He takes these seemingly menace dogs that bite and bark and by the end of the episode he completely transforms them into gentle, loveable dogs that I wouldn’t mind my kids playing with. How does he do this?
That’s a great question. Usually the problem isn’t with the dogs, it’s with the owners. They aren’t stepping up and being leaders. Every episode it’s the same thing in different forms. The dogs think they rule the roost so they act like it.
I know our children aren’t dogs, but I like to draw parallels where I can to help my parenting. So I’m going to give five bits of advice that should help you step up and lead your kids, not with an iron fist, but with firm guidance and love.
1. Rule together-
This is a huge one. In one of the episodes this couple had horrible issues and could not agree on anything, and their dog suffered. And I think the same goes for kids. If they see mom and dad not getting along or at least agreeing on basic things, then they might not feel insecure and lash out with disobedience.
Also, not ruling together can really be fertile ground for manipulation. Letting kids get away with or even try to be manipulative is a recipe for disaster. It only teaches them that manipulation works and to do it more often. Stop that garbage in it tracks, by always being on the same team as your co-parent, even if it’s your ex.
2. Rule with patience-
In that same episode Cesar made a comment to the lady wondering if she was the right owner for the dog. She just didn’t seem to have enough patience to really lead the dog in any meaningful way. Now we aren’t raising dogs, but children and we don’t have a choice but to be their mom or dad. But we do a have choice to be patient. I know that’s like a dirty word to many fast passed Americans. But patience is worth its weight in gold, (if it had weight).
When you put time and energy into cultivating good habit for your children, you can see the benefits for years to come. For example, if you potty train your child at two with a week or two of tender, consistent patience, then by the time their three and four you aren’t fighting with their preschool teacher about how many accidents they had that week.
Another example is taking the pacifier away at a year Instead of waiting and then having battles with a hard headed three year old for three months over the dang thing. It’s worth it to have the patience to deal with issues sooner, than to let them become huge issues later that make your life a living hell.
3. Rule with kindness
Sometimes we get it twisted and think we need to be strict enforcers of the law, and anything that I say goes, no questions asked. Then we wonder why kids go bat-crazy in college, and don’t return our phone calls.
I think that there is a time and place for strict disciplining, but we forget that our children need to be discipled too. They need to have conversation and heart-to-hearts. They need to be forgiven and treated with respect. They aren’t just play things, they are human and need human connection and they need to know why sometimes.
4. Rule with dignity-
Don’t be a hypocrite. Kids see right through that. If they see you doing something you told them not to do, they will immediately disqualify any reason they shouldn’t except they might get in trouble. If you don’t want them cussing, don’t cuss. It’s a pretty simple concept, but sometimes as adults we think we are above the rules. If you make a rule for your kids stick by it yourself. If you expect them to clean their room, make sure yours is clean too. Your children will respect your rules and know they are important if you aren’t being a hypocrite.
5. Rule with authority-
You might think this goes against number 3, but hear me out. Being kind and the authority can be synonymous. You can be a kind parent and your children know that if you say it, you mean it.
For example, your child might be disobedient and talk back. You can be a kind parent and explain to them how talking back is a nasty habit to form and that if they did that in the work force they could be fired, or if they did it in a social situation they could get a good left hook to the face. And then if they know they were disobedience punish them, because they have to know it’s serious. But make sure the punishment fits the crime. If they talk back and you ground them for a month, you might not have the will power to not give in during that month. For the little things make smaller punishments.
These are just a few things that I’ve picked up over the last ten years being a mom and making a lot of mistakes myself. We aren’t raising animals; we are raising the future generation and the people who will be picking out our nursing homes.
So thank you Cesar for some fun pointers. And if you would like to comment on ways you rule the roost let us know.