July 13, 2005
In Dr. Phil's book, Family First, he talks about your parenting style and whether it meshes or clashes with your child's personality. The following is his advice for more effective parenting.
What is your definition of success as a parent?
Most parents have career goals or relationship goals, but fail to set goals for parenting. You need to have a clear definition of success as a parent, and the steps you'll take to get there. One guest's definition is seeing her children growing up happy and secure and feeling good about themselves. Dr. Phil says this is a great goal, but adds that all parents should "help their children discover their authentic self — discovering that which is truly, uniquely theirs." Find your children's strengths and then go with them.
Do what works.
Some parents yell at their children or spank them repeatedly, only to have them disobey. Dr. Phil advises against this type of parenting. "If you're doing something that works, then you shouldn't have to do it over and over again," he says. If you are parenting effectively, it should change the honor, respect, and obedience in your children. If it doesn't, you may need to change your style to meet the needs of your kids.
Different children need to be parented differently.
"You've got to be a chameleon," Dr. Phil says. "You've got to change styles with different children." For example, if you're an authoritarian parent, you may want to take a less direct approach with a rebellious child. Allow them to decide some things, and come up with some ideas and solutions.
Spend time with children individually.
Celebrate you children's differences. "I think it's very important that children feel special at home so they feel special when they go out into the world," Dr. Phil says. "One of the best ways to do that is for you to have a unique relationship with each one of them." While Dr. Phil thinks family rituals are important, separate activities with children can also help them appreciate their individuality.
Modeling is important.
Children learn what they live. Are you asking your kids to clean their rooms when they see that your room is a mess? This does not create accountability in children, Dr. Phil says. Do what you say you're going to do and step up your own game!
Children should predict the consequences of their actions.
"When you determine a consequence, it has to be determined on whether it works or not," Dr. Phil says. One guest would take away her children's video games if they didn't clean their rooms, but they would still be able to watch videos. "Personally, I would go home and say, 'I want the room cleaned, and anything that isn't in its proper place in one hour is gone. It's going to the shelter,'" Dr. Phil suggests. By making her children predict the consequences of their behavior with 100 percent accuracy, they will learn to keep their rooms clean, and they will learn the lesson of accountability in life.