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Parenting Hack: When Nothing Works

by Ronald A. Rowe | November 22nd, 2013 | Behavior, Elementary

stick familyWith all the influences competing for our children’s attention and all the dangers lurking out there in the world it has never been harder to be a parent than it is right now. With all the resources available and the massive amounts of information at the click of a mouse it has never been easier to be a parent than it is right now. We could debate all day whether or not the good outweighs the bad but I think we can all agree that parenting today presents a different set of challenges and opportunities than at any time in the past long history of parenting, ever since the first primordial single-celled organism caught the second primordial single-celled organism stealing the first primordial cookie from the first primordial cookie jar.

When it comes to utilizing the resources on the internet, remember that too much help can be worse than no help at all. I have counseled many parents who started the conversation with “We’ve tried everything and nothing works.” The fact that they’ve tried everything is a big part of the problem. If you try to throw a mishmash of tactics garnered from a variety of sources at your child you risk negating one with another. Worse still, the constant switching from one textbook style to another is a perfect way to ensure that none of them ever take root enough to become effective.

Parenting is a marathon, not a sprint. Well-meaning advisors often oversell the effectiveness and undersell the required time commitment for a given parenting strategy or tool.

Parents are so inundated with options that with today’s frenetic pace of life it is easy to fall into the “we tried it and it didn’t work” trap. The reality is that almost every time I have heard it the parents tried to implement a program without fully understanding or committing to it and gave up long before its effectiveness could truly be measured. This often begins a dangerous spiral in which the parents are increasingly quicker to adapt and discard each new parenting fad.

This sort of whiplash parenting causes confusion and resentment with the children. If the parents are presenting some strange new regimen every other week that quickly fades away only to be replaced by another transitory set of rules, the only lesson the children will learn is how much they can get away with without any real consequences.

If you are struggling with your child in a particular area and are seeking advice, there are many, many resources available to you, including the sizable repository on this site. Take your time, do your research, and choose one — only one — new strategy. Learn it thoroughly, understand the ‘whys’ as well as the ‘hows”, and be prepared to stick with it for the long ride.

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