PARENTS

Alyson Schafer Tips: The Pitfalls Of Your Parenting Personality

10/06/2015 12:58 EDT | Updated 10/06/2015 12:59 EDT
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Mother with her sons watching tablet in bed

In a recent article, I described four personality priorities that dictate how we behave: comfort, control, mastery/excellence and approval.

While each personality type has benefits to parenting, each also has some liabilities that can trip us up when we are facing the challenges of raising kids. That is, if we are blindsided by them.

To avoid the possible pitfalls, you need to become aware of these hidden hurdles. So here we go:

1. Mastery/Excellence

While you are beautifully adept at many things, you may be inadvertently putting too much pressure and high standards on your kids, too. It may not even be your intention because it’s your “comfy place” and so it feels completely normal. However, if your kids or other friends or family members have hinted that you expect too much -- believe them.

While you don't intend to provoke feelings of inadequacy in others, you’re a tough one to measure up to. It's not easy for others who don’t share your personality type.

How to make matters better: Practice getting out of your own head and rigid ideas of what is right and wrong. Instead, practice seeing life through the eyes of your child. Work to show unconditional love. Many children mistake the idea that they will only receive your love if they hit some “mark” you have set for them. Be sure to hold family meetings so kids feel their point of view is important, too.

2. Control

If you’re this personality type, you may see your children try to work around your control in one of three ways:

1. Outwardly rebelling

2. Covertly rebelling by sneaking, cheating or lying

3. Excessively pleasing

How to make matters better:It's time to learn to let it go, let it go, let it go! It will help you in all areas of life, but let your children teach you this important lesson. Re-frame it this way: when you ski you have to let go and be fluid to absorb the moguls and respond to the environment and when you “let go” in skiing you actually gain control of the mountain. You are not free falling -- you are regaining control of your family parenting.

Also, involve your children in creating the rules and routines of the house to ensure they feel a sense of buy-in and ownership rather than feeling managed. Family meetings are a great place to discuss such topics so be sure to have them weekly. And do more listening than talking during the meetings. Yes, you have many great ideas, but it’s the kids' turn to voice their choices, opinions and suggestions and for you to be on mute for a bit.

3. Comfort

For all the warmth you provide, you should keep your eyes alert for the potential of parenting more permissively than recommended. Children raised in this environment sometimes take advantage of your need for peace. They might discover that by becoming demanding, belligerent or whiny, they succeed at invoking your services and you tend to cave to their wishes. After all, you don’t want a fight or drama -- and they know it!

How to make matters better: Your challenge will be to stay strong in the face of your child’s big emotions. You need to hold limits and boundaries despite your child’s protests and you'll have to work at not smoothing out all of life’s events on your child’s behalf. Teach your child life skills instead of doing for them. This will allow children to experience both natural and logical consequences. You might benefit from creating routines and setting goals together with your children. Family meetings are a great place to accomplish that.

4. Pleasing

While you initially come off as an easy-going parent, you might actually be collecting injustices and harbouring feelings of resentment. You can be a door mat for months and then explode in a rage that can scare children. Depression can also ensue.

How to make matters better: Don’t keep score and feel your children owe you. Instead practice emotional honesty and have more faith in your children to solve problems independently. Have family meetings to practice joint problem solving with your children.

Note: This is adapted from a "Positive Discipline for Preschoolers Facilitator’s Guide" by Dr. Jane Nelson, Cheryl Erwin and Rosalyn Duffy

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