At a workshop on parenting sponsored by The Hanna Perkins Center for Child Development (HPC), Licensed Independent Social Worker and HPC Child Psychoanalyst and Therapist Deborah Paris addressed a range of questions and concerns, including this one:
A: My preferred technique is whatever works best in promoting healthy development. It begins with understanding there are certain goals in raising young children:
- Self care
- Self regulation
- Self determination
What makes people healthy is developing this sense of self – not us as parents doing for them.
You know, we do a funny thing these days. On one hand we see the helicopter parent, who is over-involved in everything the child tries to do. On the other hand we sometimes act like children are little adults, and we expect all sorts of things from them that they aren’t ready to handle – like sitting quietly through a long meal at an upscale restaurant.
In both extremes, what’s happening is the parents are trying to control the outcome. It’s as if by just doing or demanding all the right things, everything will come out fine. This is actually leaving the child – as an individual person – out of the equation.
If you insist on controlling the outcome, then your child is going to struggle to learn and practice self care, self determination, self regulation. It will be about you instead of about them.
But if you start from the perspective of what the child needs and what is going on inside of him or her– as opposed to adopting a specific parenting “technique” – you’ll end up in the right place.
Children have an inner world that is understood (or misunderstood) from the perspective of a 2- or 3- or 4-year-old brain. Be sensitive to this. Work with them to identify and resolve misunderstandings and misconceptions. Help them learn those things the developing self requires.
If you want to call this a parenting technique, I’d say it has a pretty good record of success.
Image of little boy courtesy of Julie Moore/Stock.xchng