Parenting Kids Who Are Ready to Parent

It’s the holiday season. As I write this post, one grandfather is playing a round of golf on the course behind our house, while the other is playing an old show tune on the piano. One grandmother enjoys the solitude of a crossword puzzle and a cup of coffee, while the other bakes a pumpkin chiffon pie. Mom flashes her famous heartwarming smile as she passes by on her way out the door for a walk in the sun, and Dad busies himself with his current woodcarving project. Unfortunately, none of this is currently happening, all of these family members remain only in memory, but the impact each has had on today and all the days after is still critical. Generations to come will be who they are as a result of all those who came before. This is never more evident than when it comes to parenting.

We are all the product of not only the genetics, but also the parenting that has been handed down from one generation of our family to the next. This fact often becomes strikingly clear as we spend time with many generations of loved ones over the holiday season. When we talk to the families we work with about parenting skill sets, we are ultimately impacting the future in big ways. By looking toward that future, we parent our children with hopes that they will go on to be amazing parents to our grandchildren, and the cycle continues.

So what is the recipe for making this generation of tiny humans into adults who go on to nurture their own children and contribute to their communities in positive ways? Our ingredients list includes four inner strengths they will need to possess in order to be ready for life.

The first ingredient is a heaping cup of security and self-worth. By providing children a secure base to turn to for emotional support parents are supporting this development. Frequently expressing feelings of love, joy, and pride, and grounding them in their cultural heritage helps the child know that what he/she has to contribute is valuable. Parenting in a nurturing and empathic manner, participating in their joy and excitement, and not just praising their accomplishments, but all their efforts is an investment that will pay off every day for the rest of their lives. How are your families doing with the GGK tools like E-Parenting, Getting in Sync, Ready for Play, or the 4 Steps to Success?

We want to add plenty of self-regulation and age appropriate impulse control to this recipe. By helping children understand the predictable nature of their lives through routines and consistency, they can make more sense of their world. Play games that promote self-control and increasing attention span. Games where children take turns, wait for things to happen, or maintain a physical position will help them learn to control themselves better. Giving them simple rules and encouraging them to complete tasks independently is an important step in this process. As parents we must demonstrate impulse control in our own behaviors and use disciplinary techniques that encourage internal self-control. Are your families intentionally practicing the use of Daily Do’s like E-Parenting, Character Builders, and Brain Builders? Have you used any of the GGF modules to discuss discipline and self-discipline?

The recipe also calls for lots of respect and empathy for others. Start by helping them to recognize and understand what to do about their own feelings. Children who have this ability are much better at understanding the feelings of others. Give them opportunities to show empathy for others so they can experience the pleasure of treating people respectfully. Support their understanding and appreciation of the similarities and differences between people. The use of nurturing, non-corporal discipline, shows them that you understand their feelings as well. Does this sound like work your families are doing when they do the Daily Do’s dozens of times daily? Do they understand the difference between discipline and punishment?

Finally, the last critical ingredient, is a great big curious mind that is wired for both creative and critical thinking. We find this in children who have a caregiver that makes learning fun! Parents who use activities to stimulate and encourage children’s natural curiosity have children who can go through the entire Cycle of Mastery and master new skills. Parents can support cognitive development by encouraging daily physical exercise and healthy eating patterns, expanding language skills, and providing age appropriate problem solving tasks that develop creative and critical thinking. Have you introduced all of the Daily Do’s to your families yet? Do they understand the importance of the Cycle of Mastery and the 4 Steps to Success? Do they see the connection between Body Builders and Brain Builders?

Parenting mindfully and taking care of children’s needs in the midst of life’s challenges is demanding and sometimes can feel impossible. It’s even harder to be a parent and give what perhaps you never received as a child. One parent who had grown up with significant adversity summed it up well when he said “The hardest part about being a parent now is trying to be different from the way my parents raised me.” Research has shown that early experiences, the good and the bad, alter the neurological development of the brain in “ways that dramatically change our later ability to create and nurture successful, meaningful relationships.” (Jackson Nakazawa, 2015) Naturally this includes the parent’s relationships with their own children.

Your support of families as they work their way through the process of building a healthy new generation of parents is critical to the lives of all who come after. Remember the ripple effect of the decisions you make each day to help parents understand that cause and effect relationship.

 

Works Cited

Jackson Nakazawa, D. (2015). Childhood Disrupted: How Your Biography Becomes Your Biology, and        How You Can Heal. New York: Atria Books.

Recent Posts

Giving Yourself (and Others) Grace

“Can I play the drums again?” they asked. Without giving it a moment of thought, a “no” came out of my mouth. It wasn’t the most convincing ‘no’ ⸺ more of a feeble reaction to the extra effort this activity would require when my patience was already thin. To this child, that no from their warm-hearted aunt sounded negotiable, and the lure of the shiny drum kit won over.

read more

Messy Fun Makes Healthy Brains

As I settle in to write this evening, the blue sky is fading to dark, and the evidence of a busy day lies scattered amongst my home. Stacked dishes fill the kitchen sink, toys decorate the living room floor, and dirty laundry overflows from every hamper.

read more

Growing Resilience

 Why am I talking about trees, you might wonder? Well, yesterday’s incident got me thinking about how unexpected storms can also come up in life, and if we, our families, and our communities are healthy and resilient, we’re in a better place to withstand these pressures and thrive.

read more

Share a Meal…Spread the Love

March is finally here! If you’re like me, you’re eager for this month to arrive. I’m happy to welcome longer days, warmer weather, and a brand-new season. One of the ways my family celebrates the budding trees and blooming flowers is by firing up the grill. You can often find us stacking shish kabobs with colorful peppers, slices of sweet onion, and juicy chunks of pineapple.

read more

Beautiful Bonds Last a Lifetime

Almost a decade later, when I reflect on this memory, I can still feel this parent’s presence. At that moment, nothing else mattered in the entire world to this parent. It almost seemed as if time was standing still. Looking back on this memory, it’s obvious what was happening right before my eyes. This parent was fully present with their infant. A secure attachment relationship was forming.

read more

Walking Your Talk

I paused at the entrance to the trail, double-checking that I was prepared for the unknown.  Water, check.  Shoes tied, check. Trail map, check.  I took a deep breath and my first steps into uncertain terrain.  Equal parts eager and apprehensive. 

read more

Growing Great Kids®

Why Choose Great Kids?

Never any recurring licensing fees

Proven Success

Over 37,000 people have been trained to use the Great Kids curricula

Protective Factors – GGK Constructs

Research informed constructs embedded in the Protective Factors Framework

Alignment with Head Start

The Growing Great Kids Home Based Curricula Series exceeds all Head Start Curriculum requirements

Evidenced Based Research

As evidenced by seven independent evaluations, the GGK Curriculum produces outstanding results

Specialized Training Programs 

On-site and virtual training options available

Healthy Families America

The Growing Great Kids curriculum aligns with and builds upon the HFA model approach