Better Parenting with NLP

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” –Frederick Douglass


What is your Parenting Style?

Passing through Bandra, (also called Vandre, a coastal suburb located on Salsette Island in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India and the third-largest commercial hub in Maharashtra), one can’t but notice a statue of a mother and childstanding in the middle of a beautiful public lawn witha quote written, ‘A child gives birth to a mother’.

I was awestruck for some moments.  So beautifully put.  Being a mother myself, I instantly connected. Yes, becoming a mother changes one’s life, drastically. A period of nine months, changes you from being a shrewd independent working woman to a caring and loving mother, whose focal point becomes her child. It is the same feeling for fathers too, because a child gives birth to a Father, too. Initially it may all come up as a big surprise but as time passes, it turns out like beauty and complication in a single frame. AWESOME! Not so simple as the child grows up, the changing phases that parents need to adapt to, especially when the child is going through the “the pre-school phase, school phase, teen phase and so on”.

It is during these phases that the child starts getting an understanding of the world. They grow not only in terms of their cognitive abilities but the physical growth is immense. Quite challenging, in today’s fast paced world where a majority of both parents are working.  Managing a child’s homework with your office presentation and household chores can be quite daunting for a mother. For a father, the whole concept of raising a child can make him run into the first safe corner.  Raising a child is not a one day, one month or one year responsibility.  It goes on, in various phases, till the child is capable and able to start taking decisions on his/her own.Also understand that in a child’s development, the father and mother are a team.

Child raising is hair raising, but there is help on the way.  A good knowledge of NLP – Neuro linguistic Programing strategies and tools can be used to become a better parent and that is what’s required, especially in today’s scenario where children are so headstrong and many times unmanageable.  NLP helps you achieve the balance that need to be formed.  The first step here would be to understand the different types of parenting styles that exist in the human development branch of psychology. 

PARENTING  STYLES

When raising a child, the father and mother are a team.  It would be good for the child’s benefit, that both support each other in raising their child. But sometimes, personality comes in the way.  Each person, their value system, their methods, and environment are different. There are bound to be conflicts, dissatisfaction, and various other emotions in the process. It is therefore important that awareness and balance is created, with each other’s buy-in.

TYPES OF PARENTSHOW CAN YOU BALANCE?
1. Authoritarian Parenting: Parents here establish rules that their children have to blindly follow. The child hardly gets involved in decisions. Their opinion is not asked for and they are only required to obey their parents’ orders. This makes them low on self-esteem.When one parent is authoritative the other can be supportive enough so that the child does not find it very overpowering and withdraws into his shell. The child can be confident if he knows that he can share with his parents and that they are there for him.
2. Authoritative Parenting: They have rules but they are also willing to consider their child’s point of view. They are ready to give reasons for their decisions, and understand their child’s emotions. Children with such parents are generally happy, successful and more expressive.This type of parenting is the right method as there is discipline, guidance, empowerment and love.  All that is required to give the child, the correct upbringing.  But parents have to be careful to be flexible as the child grows up and enters different life phases. They will have to change their parenting style accordingly. 
3. Permissive Parenting: They don’t want to rule their child’s life. So they are quite lenient and little friendlier. This makes the child a little rude and arrogant.  So much that many times they don’t even respect their parents or elders and get offended when anyone tries to discipline them.In their growing years the child cannot differentiate between good and bad, necessary and unnecessary.  There is also a need for the child grows up with values and the right perspective.  A child gets all these learning from parents and elders.  In order that the child gains all these and more, it is important for the parents to set some rules and regulations and insist on the child obeying them. It is never bad for the child to get some disciplining at that age.
4. Uninvolved Parenting: They are the “never-mind” type parents. There are more things other than their kids which makes them happy. The problem of less attachment is faced between parent and child.Having a child and raising him well, so that he does not become a social nuisance is very important.  Parents who are uninvolved in their child’s life should decide not to have children in the first place, as many such children later on either get depressed, get into bad company, are difficult to get along with or become a social nuisance as they have not been given the right guidance, care or love.


5. Situational Parenting:  This kind of parenting can be merged with the first 3 parenting styles to create a parenting style that would go well with today’s generation kids. I have found this to be quite effective.  In this style of parenting, the parents could have a prominent style but sometimes be flexible to allow changes as per the situation.  This is because today’s children are more informed, slightly less on tolerance, have access to more comforts and luxuries, and like to be empowered.  They have a voice of their own.  It would get a little difficult to push a lot of rules and regulations on them but the beauty of this generation is they are aware of pros and cons and are willing to listen to reason if explained in a manner they understand.  A tough task but worth a try. (A tip – get their buy-in for anything you want to enforce.)

The NLP Communication Tool

Communication is and will always remain one of the most important and strongest factor in making, breaking or nurturing relationships. Parents, many a time, start with the best of intentions, in their daily role of parenting, but sometimes end up traumatizing their children, are unable to get them to obey them or sometimes fail to even understand how they should approach their children.  When the child disobeys or rebels, the parents get angrier and vent out their frustration by using the wrong choice of words and gestures that upsets the child even further and pushes them even more into their shell.

You get your response as per the meaning your communication gives. This is a principle that coaches work with in NLP.  What is important here is, to take responsibility for the response that we get from our communications.  More importantly, know how to communicate, how to use the right words and contexts. This kind of communication also requires you to be flexible.  This is another NLP principle.

Why this? Because children don’t stay the same, always. They go through different phases, but like many adults, they are not rigid and do not stick to one like, moods, fads, fashions or temperament for long.  They are very flexible and they keep moving on.

Another NLP principle, ‘The law of requisite variety states that the part with the most variability controls the system’.  What does this mean?  Simply put it means, the more flexible our thought processes, language patterns and behavior,the more likely we will always be at the top. And this principle is not just to deal with kids.  This works in life, in general, especially for people who are in charge or who lead.

This kind of communication, and the alternative choice of words one would use, after getting the understanding of NLP tools would be as follows:

A couple had organized a get-together for family and close friends.  They welcomed their guests, who had arrived in large numbers. The lady was on her feet serving the guests. Their teen daughter was on her mobile.  The guests kept demanding for more drinks and eatables. The woman turned in frustration to their teen daughter and shouted, “Well don’t just sit there wasting time.  Can’t you see that I need help?  Why don’t you help me?”

The girl was taken aback and replied, “I didn’t know you wanted help”.

This made the mother angry. “Are you dumb?  Couldn’t you see I needed help?”  Now carry these trays for me. The girl was visibly upset as the mother had reprimanded her so openly.  Even her father was giving her some angry looks. The girl was clearlytraumatized by the treatment given by her parents.

What went wrong in this communication?

The statement, “Can’t you see that I need some help”. The mother was expecting her daughter to read her mind. She assumes that the child should know what she is thinking and feeling.

The question, “Why don’t you help me?”.  And the girl replied,matter of fact, “I didn’t know you wanted help”.

As parents, asking “Why” to your child will only get you a list of reasons to justify the “Why”. The solution is to shift the focus onto what you do want.  Set expectations and be assertive.  In this case, if the mother needed some assistance, all she needed to do was to ask in a way that stated the desired outcome.

The mother could have just said what she needed to say in the first place, but in an even tone and not as a command “Here, carry these dishes for me and leave them on the sink”is assertive but not a command.  Specify what you want to get done.

What a parent needs to know.

Conversations between Parent and Child.  Please note the words used and the meanings and response to them.

  1. Parent to child: “Vicky, can you please go and clean your room?” (Request)

Vicky: “Later mum.” OR

Vicky: “Not now mum I am watching TV.”

  • Parent to child: “Vicky, I just asked you to please go and clean your room.” (Angry command with Request)

Vicky: “Mum I am doing something.”

  • Parent to child: “Vicky, how many times do I have to ask you to go and clean your room?” (Angry, Reprimanding)

Child: “But I don’t want to.”  You are always shouting at me.

All that the parent needed to say was, “Go and finish cleaning your room now and be ready for dinner by 8.30am”.  Specific – Assertive – Non-negotiable.

The above is a transcript between a parent and child. The parent gradually raises his or her voice, gets more frustrated and angry with the child’s behavior.  When this happens, the child’s emotional responses intensify leading to frustration, anger and tears, which in turn leads to self-pity and playing the victim. The child accepts that the parents are always angry and that this is their behavior. Then suddenly, due to whatever reason, the parents, of course with positive intention, tries to be nice to the child, whilst what he really wants is for the child to obey him. They politely and nicely asks him to do it. Any wonder the child is confused.  The moot point here is, again, Specific – Assertive – Non-negotiable. No command, No anger, No frustration, No pleading.

Wrapping It Up.

Taking all methods into consideration, there is no particular method a parent should stick to. However children grow the best with the authoritative style of parenting, which is again mostly about being specific and assertive. Considering parenting as a subjective topic, different parents have different opinions when it comes to parenting.  While some may consider a combination style – the permissive with authoritative style, others may consider only the authoritarian style. What one should however keep in mind is, what so ever style you choose, the main aim should be the child grows to be an independent and happy individual. It is only after parents learn the perfect way of handling their child, that they are able to have a great ‘parent-child’ relationship.


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