When my second daughter was born, parenting was physically grueling but not much of a mental game. As long as everyone was fed, dry, and well-rested, our days ran pretty smoothly. But now that they're older, I'm finding myself having to actually parent. Linda recently talked about this very phenomenon. It's one thing to take care of kids, it's another to raise them to be responsible, thoughtful human beings.
A very large component of parenting children is discipline, and there's no shortage of experts out there telling us how to do it (or telling us how we're doing it wrong). But according to a recent article from U.S. News & World Report, researchers have actual scientific evidence that certain parenting techniques work better than others, and they too are willing to tell us what we're doing wrong. Only this time, they've got good advice.
As one of the commenters to the story pointed out, "Contrary to conventional wisdom, good parenting is hard work." And that's exactly what I think it boils down to. There's not really any groundbreaking information in the U.S. News article -- praise your kids actions specifically; don't nag and yell; create rules, routines, and expectations; let them fail; focus on positive reinforcement rather than harsh punishments; etc, etc, etc.
But it's hard. It's hard not to lose patience sometimes. It's hard not to nag now and then. It's hard to stick to routines when it's faster and easier just to do it your own way. It's hard to stop in the middle of your endless to-do list to sit down and have some fun with your kids. But these techniques, I think, are what transforms really good parents into really great parents. They foster an environment where every member of the family is treated with dignity and respect. I'd like to say I practice them religiously, but... well... there's always room for improvement, right?.
What do you think about the research in the article? Did it hit home for you?