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

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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.

Just. not. working.

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.

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

•  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

•  If you are generally relaxed in your style, try parenting closer for a while

•  If you hover, try stepping back a few paces

•  If you often don’t get involved, try closely monitoring your child for a time

The thing is, sometimes the way we parent suits us, not our kids.

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.

Time to flip the parenting switch

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 is her behaviour trying to tell me?

•  How do I want her behaviour to be different?

•  What do I need to change to help her get there?

•  What do I need to do to help her make those changes?

Including our kids in the discussion is really the only way to get them on board and work together to create harmony. 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, for when was the last time you asked your child the best way to parent them?

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 – 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?

Image by James Cousins

Written by Bron Maxabella

Bron is the founder of Mumlyfe and is so happy to welcome you here. Bron has been writing in the Australian parenting space as Maxabella for more than seven years and is mum to three mostly happy kids and wife to one mostly happy husband. Mostly happy is a win, right?

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