In This Together

The 10 Parenting Principles

When Paul Dillon (national expert on alcohol and other drug education) addressed the Year 9 parents at SCEGGS in February this year, he referenced Dr Laurence Steinberg ( who is a Professor of Psychology at Temple University and expert on adolescence. He has written several books on adolescent development and a book for parents called The 10 Basic Principles of Good Parenting. In this book Dr Laurence Steinberg writes: “Most parents do a pretty good job of raising kids, but truly effective parenting means not just relying on natural instincts but also on knowing what works and why.” Retweeted by Dr Laurence Steinberg himself on 19/02/2017 (via We Are Play Lab), here is a summary of the principles!

1. What You Do Matters: regardless of our kids genetic heritage, what we do as parents or educators matters tremendously, because it is our influence that affects how those genes are expressed. Being a mindful parent, admitting and learning from our mistakes is extremely important as our kids learn best by watching us.
2. You Cannot Be Too Loving: let’s bust that myth right away, we cannot spoil a kid with too much love or expressing affection. One of the most important things we can do as parents is to respond to our kids’ emotional needs and provide a safe haven for them to explore and learn.
3. Be Involved in Your Child’s Life: sounds like the obvious thing to do but we all know how challenging it may be. Quality time is not about the what, it is about the how. Our kids will value what they believe we value so involving ourselves in their education and schooling is key. Our job is to help them establish good working habits and develop a sense of mastery and self-sufficiency.
4. Adapt Your Parenting to Fit Your Child: treating siblings differently totally makes sense as every child is truly different! The trick to best support our kids is to recognise when they are going through major developmental transitions (patience!) and accepting our changing role as parents as they grow up.
5. Establish Rules and Set Limits: structure makes our kids feel safe. Avoid turning disputes into a winner-loser scenario, instead figure out a way where both parties feel satisfied (be firm but fair). As parents, we basically have four options when settling a dispute: assert parental authority, give in, compromise or (our preferred option) solve the problem jointly. “Joint problem solving avoids having winners and losers, helps your child to feel more grown up, teaches something about the benefits of co-operation, and makes it less likely that the issue will come up again in the future, because when it works, it leads to a more lasting solution.”
6. Help Foster Your Child’s Independence: which does not equal disobedience but creating a sane psychological space. The fact that our kids are challenging us is a good sign. So if what they are trying to do is not dangerous, unhealthy, illegal or immoral, permit them to be autonomous.
7. Be Consistent: “The easiest way to help a child learn how to behave appropriately is to make her good behaviour a habit that she doesn’t even have to think about. You do this by being consistent from day to day in your parenting.”
8. Avoid Harsh Discipline: There is a “right” way to punish if necessary and it has to do with very clear steps: an identification of the specific act that was wrong, a statement describing the impact of the misbehaviour, a suggestion for one or more alternatives to the undesirable behaviour, a clear statement of what the punishment is going to be and a statement of your expectation that your child will do better the next time. And yes, physical punishment or being verbally abusive is a no-go at any given time and age.
9. Explain Your Rules and Decisions: hearing our kid’s point of view is as important as being clear about our expectations and admitting our mistakes. A good approach to reasoning with our kids, by age: kids under 6, the explanation needs to be reasonable; kids between 6 and 11, our explanation needs to be reasonable and logical, kids older than 11, our explanation needs to be reasonable, logical, and consistent with other things we have said and done.
10. Treat Your Child With Respect: there is nothing more important for the development of our kids than parents who love, guide and respect them. “Your relationship with your child is the foundation for her relationships with others. If you treat your child with compassion, kindness, and respect, she will grow up to be a concerned, caring, and considerate person.”

Jenny Allum
Head of School