There are several different types of parenting styles and techniques out there. And when I was searching for the type that would fit my daughter, I realized there are so many types, how do I know which one is right for me and my kid.
I like the “Western” style of parenting. Where the child is given loads of love, positive reinforcement and encouragement, no shaming, no hitting, no screaming. But is this really realistic. I mean especially during the time after my car accident, I was really struggling with pain and some emotional issues that I was having, it was a tough time dealing with myself. Add a angry toddler who was suddenly cut off from breastfeeding and no play time with me; it was even harder. It wasn’t her fault that she was misbehaving, and while my husband was great in dealing with both her and I, and a business; things just got out of hand many times.
I found myself, when she wasn’t listening, getting more and more frustrated. And eventually I would yell, or send her to a time out looking very angry myself. She could feel those feelings of mine, my anxiety, my anger towards her misbehaving and I felt horrible.
This isn’t the kind of parent I wanted to be. It only made me more mentally exhausted. I really had to learn some techniques to deal with my pain and my mental place. So the quest to find a parenting style that could work with our current situation began.
And I found it. Ethnic parenting. Combine with the ‘Western style” I found a good blend.
I needed her to understand where I was on certain things, and what I was willing to compromise on. I realized I was being too strict, but not setting a proper schedule for her also made her frustrated. Because our days were so different everyday with appointments and business, she didn’t have a ‘quiet time’ or a ‘reading time’. I even got her watching youtube programs and playing games on my phone- which I swore I would not do. And here I was doing it. It was out of circumstance and desperation, but learning different things from these 2 parenting styles I learned to create a balance that worked for me and her.
So for example, when she watched a program on my laptop, this was a good time for me to cuddle up to her, make funny voices talk along side the program engaging her without having to move around too much- which was perfect for my neck and hip! I was still spending time with her, not the ideal way, but at least still interacting and having fun. I would bring her stuffed animals to program time and ask questions as we watched. It actually ended up teaching her a lot about behaviors, the right things to do and the wrong things to do. It was actually very beneficial.
“Quiet Time” was what I gave her when she was just too out of hand from being tired but not wanting to sleep. She stopped taking naps basically after my car accident because we simply couldn’t invest the time to get her to take a nap. So another bad habit started from it. But I discovered quiet time.
It was great! Instead of giving her time out or threatening her with a time out, which just made her more angry and led to a stressful tantrum; which was hard on my neck, Quiet time was great. She would sit down with a few books, and we would cuddle together and read them. Like with the programs, I’d ask her about the pictures, to count the different things like flowers etc It calmed her down and made it a lot easier for me to sit with her on the couch then wrestle her on the floor taking her to time out.
You’re probably wondering where does the ethnic part come in? Well it comes in here. Being stern. I let Omera get away with a lot. In order for me to establish things like quiet time, and for her to understand there were certain things I would not compromise with; I had to get ethnic on her.
When I say put away all your toys, it has to mean put away all your toys. No compromise and no clapping and cheering her on for every little toy she put away. I thought I was being positive and encouraging her, what I was doing was creating a self entitled kid. That all she had to do was put in little effort in doing something (what she was supposed to do anyway), and get praised for it.
So I had to stop. The ethnic way is clear, I tell her a couple of times, if she drags her feet or doesn’t do it, then I take her for a time out. Or I tell her that if I pick up her toys, I take them away. That usually did the job. She learned very quickly that I was serious and that I was not going to keep telling her over and over again, giving her multiple chances, and in the end accept her apology but no change would happen. I knew, that I had to take control of the parenting here. I’m not her friend, I’m her mother. And if I want to raise a decent person, then I really need to teach her that when I say something, she should listen.
Unlike the Western style, I didn’t feel bad about raising my voice a couple of notches. I felt more in control of the situation especially when she refused to take me seriously. I wasn’t yelling but I wasn’t using the ‘calm voice’. My voice is projected clear and assertive so Omera understood the difference in when a person is upset and when they are not. Some people might not agree with that, but it’s what worked for me, and it didn’t change her emotionally; she just learned to respect me a bit better and learned that I was in charge.
Ethnic part of this is being in charge and owning the situation and teaching her to own it as well. Not over glorifying every small thing she does, not making an issue out of every small achievement. I learned to give her positive reinforcement with just a simple, good job. Instead of changing my voice to something like a high pitched squeal, I just pet her head now and say good job.
The ethnic technique really helped when my husband took her to our place of prayer during friday prayers. In a mosque with so many other people worshiping she still would wonder around and try to climb my husband and made noise. It was disturbing other people. Despite what other people were saying, and that was to talk to her after the prayer was done, or to stop taking her; I implemented our ‘new blended’ technique. We would interrupt our prayer at the mosque or at home, and make her sit down quietly or follow our actions, or walk her to a time out without making a peep. The reason I didn’t talk to her, nor did my husband as we walked her to the time out or when we stopped to make her sit down; is because she already knew from the countless times we told her that she was wrong; but was pressing her luck. Kids do that, they like to test. And she was used to us just lecturing her, but this time we simply would take her hand, or gently make her sit down.
She actually responded to this really well. While others in the mosque would tell my husband to not interrupt his prayers to do this, I insisted he do it. And voila! In 1 week, from being consistent at home and at the mosque, she stop making noise, followed the prayer along well; and didn’t even try moving away from the prayer mat.
I applied this to eating out. But unlike the mosque where it’s supposed to be a quiet place so I stayed quiet even when teaching her, the restaurant is different. I could talk to her and tell her what was going to happen. If she sat down properly like a big girl, she could have her programs to watch, if she didn’t; then her father would take her back into the car and she can sit there until she is ready to come back in. And we can do that as many times as she needed. Eventually she realized this wasn’t fun, it’s more fun to sit and watch her program and eat her dinner. She picked this up fast.
There are other parts of this, but I think you get the hint.
Be calm, but be a parent, you’re there to teach her to be a good person; not just a good child. You’re there to hold her hand, but let her learn on her own. If you guide her every move, you’re actually hindering them. To raise a moral well behaved child, means being assertive when you need to, making the proper exceptions instead of being inflexible. Teaching her what good behavior could mean for her, not physical awards like I was handing out, but a hug, a kiss, praise that’s worthy of the effort she put in. Sometimes we over-glorify their achievements too much because of the “Western Technique” creates a spoiled kid who thinks that they should get praise for every thing they do right. And that’s not what you want to create.
So mix up some different styles, and be balanced and consistent.