5 Ways to Encourage Kids and Retain Your Leadership Role in the Family

There’s a lot of talk about “authoritative” parenting. But, in my books, being authoritative still means you are trying to be the boss, and kids hate being bossed. You can be a kind boss, but unless you know how to encourage them, how to inspire them to communicate and develop respect for you, their parents, you’ll find yourself ordering and possibly yelling at your kids even when you’ve decided not to.

How do you encourage your kids so they have good self-esteem, want to contribute to family life and grow up to be independent thinkers and self-sustaining adults while maintaining your leadership role in the family? Is there a way you can do it without being overly permissive and giving up the helm of the family?

There are five basic ways to give the encouragement that shows your children that you respect and value them. If you do these things regularly and consistently, you’ll reap huge benefits very quickly that will last forever.

  1. Remember that you and your kids are equally deserving of respect and love. They aren’t as experienced as you so you will have to teach them the things they need to know to grow up to be generous, self-sufficient adults. You need to train them out of the public eye, away from the dinner table, and also be the kind of person you want them to be.
  2. Encouragement means giving support. Notice everything positive that your kids do and comment on it. Focus on the things they do right and withhold criticism if they make mistakes. Misbehavior often occurs because a child feels undervalued, that a brother or sister is more loved. Kids constantly compare their situation with that of a sibling, and, if they aren’t being noticed for positive behavior, they resort to misbehavior because it gets immediate attention. Being “the bad one” gives a certain status, although mistakenly so. Encouraging needs to be done consistently and constantly. You’ll get the hang of it once you start and will be amazed at the results.
  3. Treat your kids the way that you would like to be treated. I call this the Golden Rule of Parenting. You don’t like to be interrupted, yelled at or ordered about and your kids don’t either. Think about it: do you like it when someone criticizes you or suggests that you could do better? Concentrate on noticing what is right and ignore what you think is wrong.
  4. Listen carefully to your kids when they talk to you. Look at them and give your full attention. Put away your phone or device and give the respect you would want for yourself. Refrain from criticizing their ideas or putting them down in any way. You can ask for more explanation, or ask if you could make a suggestion. They’ll come to you with their concerns if they know you’re there for them and value them.

5. Let your kids suffer the consequences of their decisions instead of punishing them. Discuss possible outcomes with them before misbehavior occurs. (“What do you think should happen if you lose your phone/ride your bike on the street/come home late/etc?) Work out a consequence together so that they know and agree in advance what the outcome will be. Their input changes the situation from one of authoritarian punishment to one of democratic participation. When they feel the result of the consequence it will be because they decided to misbehave or break the rules.

Following the above suggestions will improve family relationships and help you raise your kids to be the self-sufficient, respectful, independent adults you want them to be.

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