The safest way to make good parenting choices is to base them on universal principles of truth. One universal principle says there are two forces in the universe — God (love) and Satan (fear). Every choice is motivated by one of these two emotions.
If you are being motivated by fear, you are usually focused on avoiding pain or losing what you have or could have. You may feel it is something you “have to do” to prove your value. Fear motivation produces action up front, but eventually it makes you feel resentful and rebellious about the task because your heart isn’t in it.
Love motivation feels different.
If you are motivated by love, you are focused on making good decisions that give to you or give service to God or other people. You want to do this thing because you love how it makes you feel. There is no “have to” or “should” here. You choose to do it for you because of the benefits it brings to your life. This kind of motivation empowers and builds self worth.
When it comes to disciplining children and getting them to do things, teaching them the right motivation behind what you want them to do is crucially important.
Children who learn to make good choices because they want to, instead of being motivated by fear, become more responsible, confident and productive adults.
But many parents don’t know how to create love motivation in their children because fear motivation is all they know.
Do any of these parenting strategies sound familiar?
Fear of punishment
Many parents use “fear of punishment” as their main motivation strategy. Threats and reprimands will get results in the short term, but the child won’t own the good behavior.
If a child isn’t finding a love reason to behave that way, once they are out of your sight, they won’t keep doing it and they may resent the whole idea.
They aren’t learning why the behavior is a good decision.
This force-based strategy may actually create rebellion in your child. Forcing behavior on a child with threats may also produce passive aggressive behavior down the road.
Jim Fay, the author of "Parenting with Love and Logic," says parents who try to ensure their children’s success by force often raise rebellious, unsuccessful kids. But loving parents who give more freedom, allow for some failures and teach children why they should make good choices more often raise successful kids.
You want smart, thinking children who know how to make good choices for themselves. Instead of threats, try giving children logical choices and help them understand the reasons they might want to behave properly. It takes more time but is worth it.
Bribes, much like punishments, may get the desired behavior temporarily but they don’t work in the long run. When you bribe children, you deny them the opportunity to learn why they should make good choices for themselves.
When you use bribes you can also create a sense of entitlement. After awhile the child may expect rewards for doing anything.
An occasional reward is okay, but it’s a bad idea to offer candy to get a child to stop behaving badly. For example, don’t give candy if they stop throwing a temper tantrum.
Instead reward the child who was happy and behaved well with a treat — but only do this occasionally.
Help your child to understand the intrinsic benefits of good behavior. Help them to see having a clean room means more room to play and fewer broken toys. Help them to understand brushing their teeth means no cavities and fewer trips to the dentist. Help a teenager understand when you speak to parents with respect they are more likely to be treated with respect back.
Trust they are smart enough to choose good things for the right reasons. God has given you free agency and trusts you to make good choices. He also lets you learn from your mistakes. If he thinks it’s a good parenting strategy, it probably is.
As children get older you can give them more and more freedom and more trust.
Here are some positive parenting techniques to guide children with love:
Use praise and encouragement.
Don’t just wing it: Decide on some qualities and attributes you want to encourage in your child. Be specific and just pick a few to work on at a time. Watch for any signs of that behavior and give praise about it.
Lie if you have to: Even if your child is not demonstrating the desired behavior, continue to praise them and tell them you appreciate how good they are. Children will often become what they think you think they are. If you think they are a good kid, they will want to be one.
Focus on qualities: Praising qualities like kindness, generosity, helping others, honesty and courage help a child to identify as this kind of person. This builds rock-solid self-esteem.
Model the good behavior yourself: Talk about how good it makes you feel when you behave that way. Let children see that doing good things for the right reasons feels wonderful.
Ask smart guiding questions
Smart parents guide children through asking questions and listening. Besides helping children figure out correct choices on their own, asking questions and listening builds self-esteem, a sense of empowerment and responsibility in a child.
By asking the right questions you can guide a child to the very thing you wanted him to do — except now he owns the choice as his own. You can say, “That sounds like a great idea. You’re a smart kid.”
Raising children with love motivation means helping them see why good choices are good choices. This kind of smart parenting sets children up for success in life by teaching them how to create their own happiness and success, one good choice at a time.
LIFEadvice: Tips for a working mom
I thought I could have it all, children and a career, but it is terribly hard. When I’m at work, I feel guilty I’m not with my kids. When I’m with the kids, I feel guilty I’m not working. I just feel guilty all the time. I feel like I am failing at both. Could you give me some advice?
The new movie “How Does She Do It?” does a good job portraying a working mom struggling to find balance and a sense of success. It also does a good job portraying the guilt you are experiencing. I highly recommend you see the movie, but here are some tips that may also help:
1. Set realistic expectations. Expect this to be difficult. Expect to forget things and let people down on occasion. If you don’t expect this juggling act to be hard, you’re not being realistic.
You cannot do what stay-at-home moms can do. Accept that. If you have realistic expectations, you won’t experience as much frustration, disappointment and guilt. Don’t dwell on the negative. Just understand the realities of the challenge and give yourself a break.
2. Lower your standards. You will not be able do everything and do it perfectly. It is just not possible. Do not compare yourself to women who have less on their plates. Be okay with unmade beds and dirty dishes in the sink. Be okay with store-bought cookies instead of homemade ones. Everyone will live.
3. Invest in a crockpot. Plan meals in advance. Don’t try to figure out what’s for dinner at 5 p.m. every night. Have a plan for shopping, cooking and cleaning up. Work the plan. Get the whole family involved in these tasks.
4. Take time for yourself. If you don’t do it, you will eventually have a meltdown or get sick and be forced to take care of yourself. Work some “me” time into the plan. Make sure everyone understands — mothers have needs too — and a happy mom is a lot nicer to live with.
5. Be more organized. Make sure everything and each task has its time and place. The more organized your home and your schedule, the less stress and frustration you will experience. If this is not your forte, get help from someone who is really good at structure and order.
6. Get kids and spouse involved in housework. Make job assignments together as a team and spread out the load. Family and home has to be a team effort — you cannot do it alone.
7. Plan ahead for smooth mornings. Do as much as you can the night before. Have clothes laid out, lunches made and homework done. I realize this can mean a busy and stressful night, but it's better than a chaotic morning where you leave for work with everyone grouchy and mad. It’s better to start the day with a smile and hug instead.
8. Get smart about after-school activities. Limit your kids to one activity — the one they most want to do. Choose activities close to home and make friends with other parents who may be able to share rides to activities if you can’t make them. Identify big events your child most wants you to attend, ask them to understand if you miss some others, as long as you make it to the big ones.
9. Remember what matters most. Children grow up so fast. Make sure you take time to play with your children, ask lots of questions and listen to them as much as you can. Plan weekend activities together. Spend as much quality time as possible.
If I had my child to raise all over again, I’d finger-paint more and point fingers less. I would do less correcting and more connecting. I’d take my eyes off my watch and watch with my eyes. I’d take more hikes and fly more kites. I’d stop playing serious and seriously play. I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars. I’d do more hugging and a lot less tugging. — Diane Loomans
10. Smile and laugh often.
“It would seem that something which means poverty, disorder and violence every single day should be avoided entirely, but alas, the desire to beget children is a natural urge.” — Phyllis Diller
Would you consider chatting with other women online cheating? My husband doesn’t think there is anything wrong with it. He chats with one of his old high school girlfriends all the time. It bothers me, but he thinks it’s no big deal. It feels wrong, and I have insisted he stop. Am I being unreasonable?
You are not being unreasonable. Seeking relationships with or chatting with members of the opposite sex online does not honor your marriage vows to “forsake all others.”
Internet infidelity is a serious and growing problem in our society. A recent story on CBS News said one third of divorce litigation this year was sparked by online affairs.http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/08/04/earlyshow/living/caught/main566488.shtml The Internet has made it too easy to view pornography, meet people and start relationships with members of the opposite sex from home or the office.
Chatting online can be the gateway to real infidelity. Statistics show 50 percent of people who spend time in Internet chat rooms have eventually made real contact with someone they met online. And 31 percent of chat room participants said their online chats have led to sex. http://www.infidelityman.com/why-men-commit-internet-infidelity.php
It is not a harmless pastime.
If your spouse is investing in online relationships instead of investing in your real relationship, there is a problem. But you must be accurate about the situation.
Not all social networking is a problem. If you have a good relationship with your spouse and trust each other, social networking to some extent is reasonable. Though, experts agree there should be boundaries.
Internet time should not occupy more time than you spend alone with each other. If your spouse spends hours on the computer late at night, at work or early in the morning, it could be a sign of trouble. If your spouse’s interest in intimacy (with you) has waned, that could be a sign of trouble.
If your spouse suffers from low self-esteem and you can sense an emptiness they are always trying to fill, they may be susceptible to seeking validation outside your relationship.
If they avoid dealing with problems and turn to fantasy to escape their real life, they may be susceptible to Internet infidelity. If your spouse is in this situation, I suggest you both seek some professional help to fix the underlying problems.
I also recommend the following steps:
1. Admit that Internet use is causing problems in your relationship. Agree together on steps to change the behavior.
2. Experts recommend placing your computer in an open location, not behind a closed door. Partners should agree to share passwords and email addresses. If there is nothing to hide, your spouse should be willing to agree to these terms.
3. Remove chat programs and change your email addresses if they are a problem.
4. Agree to install monitoring software like eBlaster by Spectorsoft — it keeps track of all your computer activity and sends it to your spouse.
5. Have a purpose when you go online. Limit computer use to paying bills or other specific tasks.
6. Get involved in other activities together, like sports, hobbies and art. Find a fun distraction to keep you busy that does not involve the computer. Do these activities with your spouse and children.
7. Never use the computer when you are discouraged, bored, tired or grouchy.
You must decide what kind of life you want. A good relationship takes work, commitment and time. Here are some ideas for strengthening your relationship:
“Nothing is more noble, nothing more venerable, than fidelity. Faithfulness and truth are the most sacred excellences and endowments of the human mind.” — Marcus Cicero
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.