The Plot – Plan – Pow Method!
There are 4 basic parenting styles:
Permissive, Authoritative, Neglectful and Authoritarian
To run through them quickly,
Permissive: This style is child driven, with not much input from the parents. There are rarely rules, or enforcement of rules. The child is overindulged to avoid conflict.
Authoritative: Problem solving with the child, open communication, natural consequences, and clear rules define this style. The child is involved with the boundary setting, and the consequences are clear and enforced regularly.
Neglectful: The parent is absent or uninvolved in this style. The child’s needs and behaviours are basically ignored.
Authoritarian: This is a parent driven approach, with strict rules and punishments. The child doesn’t have a say, and little consideration is taken for their needs.
With the lack of input in the permissive and authoritarian styles, and neglect not being an option, this is our 3 point plan for a successful authoritative parent – child relationship.
Every successful venture begins with planning.
There’s that great saying,
“Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance”
I believe this is true in everything, including our parenting.
By planning ahead we can save time in the marathon that is parenting!
So, where to start?
– Biggest annoyances
I am a big advocate for removing our biggest annoyances first.
The thinking behind it is simple, if we remove things that annoy us, we have better feelings towards our children. When we have better feelings towards our children it is easier to treat them well, and to put their interests first.
A perfect example of this is our morning routines.
Our daughter has a habit of standing in the way, staring and putting subtle pressure on people when she is bored. As we have moved, and now drive her to school, the morning routine we had been using leaves too many large gaps… perfect opportunities to stand and stare. The first morning she had a full 30 minutes to mill around, while I was trying to work. This frustrated me, and it was harder to even just be polite with her, and I have noted the same thing with my partner!
By addressing the issue quickly, and changing the routine times!, it all turned around. This morning, a Monday morning no less, she was sitting ready to leave and entertaining herself. Because we sorted the thing bothering us both quickly we can now dive in to things that matter.
– Biggest ACTUAL issues
The things that matter, are the bigger issues that need addressing with care.
To carry on the example there has been a lot of loss and hurt in our daughter’s life in the past few years, loss and hurt that are stuck in the front of her mind at the moment. Having cleared up the little annoying things, we are able to support her and be there for her more. There is nothing hanging in the way to detract from our empathy for her.
That extra mental space, that used to be taken up with daily grievances, can now be used to help her heal, supporting her and teaching her how to cope with life.
– Importance / Order
Everyone has things going on in their lives. Unhealed trauma, bad habits, poor thinking, terrible time management. The lists go on and on. The trick is figuring out what is the most important in the moment.
But with so many options where do we start?
I like to figure out what issue is the most connected, what effects a lot of other areas in life?
Is it our child having no discipline? That could make it hard to study, get chores finished, focus, be honest, use manners, have self control for back chatting, keep the attitude in check, and on and on.
Or maybe just hygiene is the issue? Trouble at bath times, struggle to get teeth brushed, changing clothes and doing laundry could be tricky, the smell.
To throw in one more, maybe they have bad anxiety? That could lead to trouble making friends, feeling more alone, extremely negative thoughts, low self worth, toxic relationships, and ultimately becoming either bitter or a follower.
Now, chances are, these are extremes that won’t happen. The danger is, if we leave our children on certain paths through life the odds are that some of these places are exactly where they will end up.
As you think through some of the issues you are facing as a parent, begin to organise them by importance.
Some of the issues might be extremely important, but heavy.
When this happens we need to be willing to dig in and do some further research. Kids Help Line, Head Space, and Beyond Blue are just a few of the resources available in Australia, but seek further. Jump online and google whatever you are going through, find others that are struggling and steal their ideas! Even with all of the training and experience I have, I constantly find myself googling exactly what I am experiencing and taking what is useful. This is one of the best ways we can grow as a parent.
We can read about, or even watch!, other parents and learn how they have been dealing with similar situations. Over time we will begin to create our own parenting style that works with our children!
That’s the entire game we’re playing as parents. Learn, Grow, Teach.
– Back Up
We are teaching when we are asking questions, and talking with friends and partners!
Every time we offer a suggestion, explain something we have been trying, discuss a new idea we heard, so why not go in to some conversations looking to teach and learn? With your partner or a friend, instead of just venting, turn whoever it is into backup. Run your ideas by them, get feedback, look for ways you can work together on problems for the both of you!
When we have a partner, we need to be including them in our plans for our parenting. Everyone needs to be on board and remain consistent, so discuss how you are both parenting often. Make it a normal part of life and conversation, trouble shoot together. It is sooo sooooo easy to slip into doing everything ourselves, sometimes we need to slow down and realise we have run ahead and left our back up behind!
Now that you’re walking with someone, let’s make a plan!
So why are we even planning here?
We want everything to be better right?
So, what does it take to change a situation?
… We probably need to change ourselves in some way!
Thinking back to the back up we just worked on, and the resources we found before that, we can now change ourselves.
At the very least we need a new approach to our child’s behaviour, clearly our old ways weren’t as good as they could be. But they were the best worst idea!
We probably need more consistency, or a softer approach.
And it always serves us well to think about our child. Are they more mature than we thought? Do we need to extend, or shrink some boundaries? How are they coping? Has anything massive changed for them recently? How is the feeling in the home at the moment?
By running through this type of check list we can identify areas for ourselves to grow. Choose a few of the areas we are going to improve our parenting, and think about what is holding you back from doing whatever it is right now. Dive in a bit deeper, and find ways to solve the problem.
By growing ourselves, we change everything. How we approach situations, what we are modelling for our children, how we interact, our moods. Up-skill, in any way you feel you could do a little better, and watch how much better your child starts doing as well!
While working on our own up-skilling, we can begin to identify different options our child will have.
The options can be presented to our child as choices when we are discussing our parenting changes. We want options that all give us a result we wanted all along. Pretend we are making better food choices for dinner. Asking our child to pick between chicken and veggies and vegan burrito bowls is a pretty easy option, but the burrito bowl is just as healthy as the chicken and veggies. Now our child feels that they have gotten one over us, and we have had a child ask us for a healthy vegan dinner…
This tactic works for anything. School work, chores, diverting them from games to another activity. Always have a few solid options in your back pocket for those tricky situations!
In our busy world one of the trickiest pieces is time!
Everyone and everything seems to be vying for our attention.
Phones, tv, screens, people, activities, work, school, interviews, family, pets, chores, etc, etc, etc… It feels never ending!
But how many of these things are just distractions?
What do they REALLY add to our lives?
Don’t get me wrong here, relaxing and recharging are 100% important! The real question is, what is the most important?
We only get one opportunity with our children. That time doesn’t come back, and as they grow that time diminishes. They have their lives, we have ours, and they begin to cross less and less over time. This makes our child’s access to opportunities much more valuable, especially as they grow!
Our children learn from just two sources, access to us, and access to outside sources.
-access to you
Last year I broke down how much time, each week, my partner had with our daughter. It was shocking!!! In an entire week there was typically a total of 22 hours and 15 minutes to spend together at best. Now, for a 14 year old girl and her mother that sounds incredibly low to me! School itself was around 28 hours a week for our daughter!
Here’s where it gets scary. I got the 22 hours by taking away driving and work times, it didn’t factor in needing to relax and recharge, feeling flat, being tired, being sick… that was just the time AVAILABLE… A few afternoons sitting on the phone, a bad cold, or needing to do overtime and suddenly there’s only a few hours to even interact with your children!
To combat this, we need to be aware and spending quality time with our little ones. Even this week that’s been a struggle for me. Writing these blogs and moving collided and put me behind. I feel that the only reason my relationships are doing alright is because I have put time in previously, like a time bank. It sounds terrible, but I am able to spend less time now because I consistently made time in the last few weeks and made things like watching a movie the priority some nights.
However we figure it out, our children need access to quality time with us, talking, laughing, joking, getting serious, and being real.
-access to outside influences
With more time spent at school than with her mom, who do you think is a bigger influence on our daughter’s life? Mom or the rest of society?
When I first met our daughter, she was immersed in the world of the online. Tiktok, socials, spotify, talking on discord, games, HOURS in front of the tv… actually… She would sit on the couch, controlling the entire room, with the tv on, laptop on her lap, phone in hand, some kind of food in the other hand, and the attitude to match. It was like this 13 year old was the queen of the house. Her mother would ask her to do things, and sometimes she would, but usually our daughter would just be able to argue for a few minutes and get her way. The jokes were all inappropriate, there were no consistent limits, lies were ignored, stealing and manipulation were daily. She was just acting out all of the things she was seeing, thinking about and listening to. Taking ideas from the internet and making them her identity. She was a hurting girl looking for answers.
Limiting the access to tech, and replacing it with time together, eliminated a lot of this. Our daughter looks back at who she was becoming and cringes, just over a year later…
Now, to get changes in your family in under a few months!
We have done some plotting and figured out our Biggest Annoyances, figured out our Biggest ACTUAL Issues, put them in Order of Importance, Resources and Back Up are in place.
No it’s time to PLAN. We’ve got some ideas for Up–skilling, and some Options and Access to figure out for our child.
List these out, write out what you will change guided by the research you did now… POW! It’s time to go.
Here is another in depth break down of this type of strategy (it goes into more detail for this step)
The bullet points for executing our strategy are:
- Be gentle and smooth. Do something together before discussing boundaries and consequences, and have an activity planned for when they are ready to reconnect.
- Take your time and remain calm.
- Back out if you need to, even if you haven’t discussed everything. Coming back when you are both in the mood to talk can be huge some days!
- LISTEN. Above all, make sure you are actually listening to your child.
- End strong
- Reconnect with your child, make sure they understand, but more importantly make sure they are doing okay
– Follow Up
As well as following up right away, be sure to bring these things up again every few days. This will keep us consistent, but will also be a good reminder for our children. Constant surprises are never fun, so make sure your child remembers the changes we have just made. Be sure to watch them and help where they need it.
– Follow Through
Consistency is almost more important than connection. In fact, doing the same thing, having the same expectations, and being present day after day earn us respect and trust (the kind of respect and trust most of us are not so secretly craving)!
Over time consistency and building trust, work together, compounding their influence on our parenting. Our consistency will continually prove that we are here for our children, that they matter to us, and that there is a difference between how we think about them and their behaviour. Deepening our relationship and bringing more openness in our communication, the pretence and masking just melt away with this type of parenting. We begin to see glimpses of who are children truly are, not just the bits they want to front to the world…
A complete strategy for parenting a modern teenager.
Is there anything you would do differently?
Let us know in the comments below!