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The parenting switch: If what you’re doing isn’t working, try a different parenting style

The parenting switch: If what you’re doing isn’t working, try a different parenting style

A parenting switch might be just the thing you need in your life right now. Every parent knows the sinking feeling of defeat when you suddenly realise that whatever it is you’re doing to try to guide your child just isn’t working.

Just. not. working.

It’s that feeling of beating your head against a brick wall, of not being heard, of repeating yourself endlessly until you’re literally yelling into the void.

What do we do when our parenting approach isn’t working? Well, most of us just keep on doing whatever it is we’re doing, of course. Blowing up at the kids because we’re blowing up ourselves, then picking up all the smithereens one by one and trying it all over again.

We are relentless in our adherence to what we think is the ‘right’ way to parent, even if it’s not working right now.

We’re all just a bit insane

It’s the definition of insanity, of course: doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Proof positive that parenting makes us all a little insane.

Here’s the thing: we can change. We can flip the parenting switch and try a completely different tack.

There are literally thousands of parenting tools at our disposal if we care to use them. Just because we parenting “this way”, doesn’t mean a technique from “that way” won’t be the solution to whatever parenting dilemma we’re facing. By keeping an open mind, we’ll not only free ourselves from the repetition of doing what isn’t working, but we’ll probably free our kids as well.

Try flipping the parenting switch and parenting a different way

The parenting switch

Whenever you find yourself facing the brick wall yet again, I urge you to try flipping the parenting switch and trying something completely new.

  • If you’re a lenient parent, try setting more boundaries
  • Or if you’re a strict parent, try easing up a little
  • If you usually indulge the kids, try saying no or not yet more often
  • You might be generally relaxed in your style, so try parenting closer for a while
  • If you hover, try stepping back a few paces
  • Maybe you often don’t get involved, but try closely monitoring your child for a time

Just because we’ve always done something a certain way, and perhaps because we have, doesn’t mean that a new way is wrong. Instead, switching to a different style might be just what your kid needs right now.

Questions to help flip the parenting switch

When you’re trying to instil any kind of change, the keys are communication and compassion. In order to know what the best approach is, ask yourself and ask your child:

  • What does my child need right now?
  • What’s their behaviour trying to tell me?
  • How do I want their behaviour to be different?
  • What do I need to change to help them get there?
  • Is there anything I can do to help them make those changes?

Including our kids in the discussion is really the only way to get them on board. It’s also the only way you’ll really know what they’re thinking. Despite years of trying, I’m still not sure any of us can read our kids’ minds like we think we can.

This alone might be the parenting switch you need. When was the last time you asked your child the best way to parent them?

The parenting switch: Try parenting a different way

It’s not a permanent switch

Generally, I’m a fairly permissive parent, but I’ve had to become a much stricter mum in order to help my son manage his anxiety. This means there are certain boundaries that I uphold far more vigorously than I was at first comfortable with. Most of the time, though, I’m still a fairly easy-going mum. Flipping the parenting switch isn’t a permanent thing. Rather, you switch up to help your child and family through a particular situation, and then you get to switch down again to where you’re all more comfy.

Whether it’s opening or closing boundaries, giving more or less freedom, or changing access to different things, the small changes we make should result in big changes for our kids.

Do you use the parenting switch from time to time?

Feature image by Bence Halmosi; mother and daughter by leah hetteberg; frisbee by Richard R. Schünemann

It's time to flip the parenting switch and try something new