Child-Directed Parenting

Your ability to anticipate and respond to the behavior of your child determines the type of parent leader you are.  Leadership is an essential part of parenting. As a parent leader you must choose parenting responses and an emotional vocabulary that allow you to listen, connect and respond to your child with unconditional love.

Uncertainty of how to respond and interact with a child is a common dilemma for parents. It is a barrier you must and can overcome by following specific child directed responses. These techniques can reshape the way you respond to your child and improve the way your child responds to you.

Toddlers and preschoolers are at the perfect age for child directed parenting. By respecting their choices and providing freedom and encouragement positive behaviors are supported and negative behaviors are eliminated. The foundation of this strategy is to follow your child’s lead and avoid questions, criticism and both direct and indirect commands.  Questions often have hidden commands and criticism suggest disapproval and not listening to your child. Focus on correction without criticism by avoiding authoritarian command words like: “no”, stop”, “quit”, “that’s wrong” and “don’t”. This eliminates unhealthy interactions which damage your child’s self-esteem, self-worth and self-image.

Unless there is a safety or security concern, ignore negative behaviors and use praise, reflection, reporting and imitation to positively influence your child’s behavior. These techniques decrease the risk of negative interaction between you and your child. It is also important to choose words, a tone of speech and gestures that show your love and enthusiasm for being your child’s parent. Your words and actions must say to your child: “I love being your parent and being with you.”

Praise is the most essential parenting response. It increases positive behavior and like enthusiasm generates a positive attachment between you and your child. Make sure praise is genuine and not reflexive. When giving praise, identify or label what you are praising. An example is: “Thank-you for putting your hat and coat on.”

Reflection, reporting and imitation are three other parenting techniques. Somewhat similar to praise each involves a mirroring of your child. Reflection relies on repeating or paraphrasing your child’s words. This invites your child into a conversation with you. It shows your child you are listening and tells your child you understand what he or she is saying. This type of two-way communication enhances speech and social reciprocity skills and helps you connect with your child. Reporting describes what your child’s is doing and improves your child’s attention span. Imitation is the last technique.  In this technique you repeat and perform whatever behavior your child is doing. Each of these techniques shows your child you are interested in and approve of their words, actions or behavior and want them to continue.

If you make these leadership techniques part of your parenting responses you will change the way you relate to your child and the way your child relates to you.  By allowing your child to lead you signal to your child your approval and stimulate positive cooperative and parallel play which support your child’s ability to give, share and take turns. Child directed parenting techniques are simple to master and easy to perform.  By avoiding questions, criticism and commands and utilizing the above techniques you support the development of a positive attachment between you and your child and encourage positive behaviors in your child.

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