If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a Conscious Parent eager to raise your kids using effective communication and reflective listening. Perhaps you’ve even joined us for the Parenting Reset and are practicing the principles of the Guidance Approach to Parenting at home.
But what happens when your child steps outside their protected family bubble? How do you explain the Guidance Approach to Parenting to teachers, child care providers, and even grandparents?
The adult caregivers in your child’s life don’t need to subscribe to the same parenting method as you, but they do need to respect your decisions on how to raise your children.
Talking to Caregivers and Teachers About How to Treat Your Child
These proactive discussion points can help you effectively communicate your parenting style to adults who interact frequently with your kids:
“I treat my kids with the respect every human being, regardless of age, deserves.” At the core of the Guidance Approach to Parenting is the conviction that children are people too—which means they deserve to be seen, heard, and respected. This fundamental value should lead any conversation you begin.
“We encourage self-direction instead of reward vs. punishment.” Explain to your child’s teachers that instead of a punitive approach to “bad” behavior, you prefer children to have an internal locus of control and mastery based on self-directed resolutions. If your child has an altercation with a classmate, ask their teacher to help identify the root of the problem. Was there an unmet need or a misunderstanding? Once both sides of the story have been heard, the conflicting parties should collaborate on a solution that makes everyone happy.
“We use acknowledgement rather than praise.” Praising a child’s looks or intelligence teaches them to measure their self-worth based on superficial traits and what other people think of them. It also brings the poison of measuring their self worth from external factors. Acknowledgement connects a child to their own sense of accomplishment so they can more clearly see their own skills and competencies, and sense how they feel about themselves. After all, the cornerstone to solid self esteem isn’t seeking others’ approval or praise. Assure grandparents that they can congratulate their grandkids for a job well done, but that they should emphasize hard work and self-discipline as opposed to empty praise for being “smart.” For example, “I admire how hard you worked on that.” “Congratulations!” “Did you know you could do that?” and “You seem proud of yourself.”
“I refrain from using negative adjectives to describe my kids (e.g. calling them “spoiled” or “bad”). There’s a big difference between pointing out that a child made a mess and making them feel like they are a mess. No one likes to be called names! Ask the adults in your children’s life to use non-blameful descriptions of behavior and to avoid names or labels that can undermine your kid’s confidence or sense of self.
“Our children know when we talk down to them.” When my daughter Pia was in elementary school, she came home one day absolutely indignant at how a friend’s mother had spoken to her. “Mom, she never would’ve talked to you that way,” she said. She was right. Adults assume that kids won’t catch the nuances in our communication, but they can tell when they’re being talked down to. It can’t possibly feel good to be marginalized and viewed as “less than” just because you’re a child. Caregivers should always be aware of how they’re talking to children.
Sharing your perspective with people who don’t hold the same beliefs isn’t always easy. And altering someone’s point of view won’t happen overnight. But you owe it to yourself and your kids to have these tough conversations.
If you need further guidance starting a dialogue with the adults in your children’s life, our private parenting Facebook group can offer support and help you build your confidence. We stream live every week. You can put your questions and concerns in the comment thread and get them addressed right then and there.