“Hi Debbie, Thanks for all the posts on Violence in America. I plan to follow this series and get the full picture of the problem. But I need help right now! I have a five year old and a pre-teen. I’m worried that they may be overly angry at times and I don’t want to raise a child that might cause harm to someone else. Do you have any suggestions?”
There are always answers to every problem! That’s the most comforting news I can give you. There is never a reason to give up or to become depressed. For every problem we will uncover in this study, there are hundreds of solutions for that one issue. So, first of all – stop worrying and instead become a determined parent.
- Be determined to protect your child’s brain. Remember what goes in – stays. There is no delete button.
- Be determined to be a parent that puts a wall between your family and the aggressive influences of society.
- Be determined to show love in the most positive way within your family.
- Be determined to allow your child to express his/her problems. (Use my “Truth Time” plan)
- Be determined to search out any medical or psychological issues your children may have and to attack those issues armed with information that doesn’t rely solely on pills.
- Be determined to give your child a purpose for living, a good self-esteem and hope for a bright future.
- Be determined to parent wisely and not to let anger invade your home.
- Be determined to promote education. A child that can reason is less likely to be aggressive.
- Be determined to teach your child to be creative. A creative based mind will search for creative solutions to problems.
- Be determined to teach your children how to solve problems in a rational way.
- Be determined to show your child by example and by teaching that there are “non-violent” ways to handle any problem.
- Be determined to teach your child to be compassionate and kind.
- Take control of your home environment with positive techniques and you will prevent your child from giving into violent behaviors.
Whew! That feels like a tall order for any parent to fill. It’s really not. It’s a mindset. It’s the same as making the decision to lose weight. Once you decide it’s time to lose weight, you have to make a plan. You choose a diet and you stick to it. If you make mistakes, you get your act together and try again.
It’s the same way with parenting. When you decide to go on a diet, you have to do a little research. After all, your body is unique and not every plan will work with your metabolism or emotional issues. In the same way your family is unique. You can’t just pick an off the rack parenting plan. You have to design your own. You need to design one that fits your unique family dynamics. I love to recommend different parenting books and authors. But, I usually say to a client, “Read this book – chapters 1, 8 and 10. The rest won’t work with your family.” Or I might say, “Read this book but remember to tweak it for your family.”
As you design your own plan, there are a few things that are universal for everyone. The following is my list of Do’s and Don’t to prevent violent behaviors.
- Don’t allow arguments to become your way of dealing with problems. Speak softly, clearly and with a problem-solving plan in mind. When I walk into a house and watch parents deal with every issue as if it’s a crisis, I can reasonably predict that their teen will be argumentative and somewhat violent. Insist that everyone stay calm in a crisis so you can find out what the “real” issue is.
- Don’t show your children that yelling, using bad language, jabbing, pointing out faults and stabbing at another person’s self-esteem is the way you solve problems. If you want your child to remain calm in a crisis, learn to take criticism wisely and be the leader in any situation – teach him/her by your own actions that you can curb your anger and talk calmly about the problem.
- NEVER discipline when you are angry. Discipline should follow an improper act as quickly as possible – but if you are extremely angry walk away and count to ten. Imagine your child as an infant and ask yourself how you can handle the situation so it doesn’t happen again. Make it a teachable moment not a revenge moment. Doing this will teach your child to think about his actions before releasing his anger.
- Insist that every problem can and will be solved in a calm and intelligent way. NO one is exempt from this process and everyone in the family will participate in wise problem solving techniques. That includes mom and dad. When extended family members show anger or exhibit violent behavior – do not publicly ridicule them. Instead, get your child out the situation as quickly as possible. When your relative has calmed down, explain that you will never allow your child to be present when anger or aggression is displayed.
- MONITOR and ELIMINATE any and all examples of aggressive behavior that your child sees, hears, touches, or experiences. While some movies with mild violence may be acceptable in some situations – be very careful about allowing your children to watch reality shows, cartoons or television series that promote yelling, arguing and fighting. These shows (or even music) that repeat the aggression theme over and over will eventually change the behavior of your child. It’s one thing for a child to watch Buggs Bunny and Elmer Fudd. While they may resemble human figures – they represent a true “hunting” scenario and the accidents are just that – accidents. It’s another thing for human replica cartoons to talk about dying and killing others. To relish it and to romanticize it. It’s also detrimental to see pretend stars on reality shows actually get into fights with other family members. To watch real people act as though it’s normal to handle every situation with anger and violent actions will teach your child to react similarly to that type of situation.
- We will discuss the effects of the entertainment industry in detail in our series but for now it’s important to step back and take your own look at our society. If it feels aggressive to you or you see your child acting out more – don’t allow it in your home. As the entertainment industry becomes more ingrained in our daily lives, children are becoming more and more violent. It seems to be “un-cool” to be a quiet, mild mannered person. Yet it’s that quiet, polite, good kid that grows up to be an intelligent, wise and easy to work with adult. We desperately need those kinds of citizens in our society.
- Last…don’t buy into the public notion that you “must” allow your child to see every entertainment source that’s available. Trust me….they (or you) won’t die from embarrassment if you don’t follow the selfish, spoiled, ridiculous antics of Snookie or the Honey Boo Boo brats. Why bring that kind of stupidity into your home. Instead, make your home a positive force for good behavior, “real” fun and loving support.
- Consider the important part a non-violent faith can play in your child’s life. Following the Christian faith centers on non-violent living. Christianity encourages compassion, love, kindness, gratitude and a life of service. It always helps to be part of a group that re-inforces a non-aggressive plan.
- It is possible to teach non-violent behavior while enforcing the principle of standing for what you believe and fighting for what’s right. You can be a strong leader without resorting to violence.
Again….the best way you can prevent violent behaviors in your home is to realize that your child is constantly learning. They learn how to act by what they see modeled in the home, their school, society as a whole and in entertainment. If you can show your child how to “properly” react to situations and you take the time to design a plan for handling problems in your home – your child will learn to navigate his world without aggression.