If you seek answers from friends this may only complicate things even more. If someone agrees with your style of parenting, it feels good for the moment, but in reality it just fortifies your belief that you are right and your spouse is wrong. What you really want is to switch the focus to working together in unison, as a well greased parenting machine.
Well get ready to celebrate, because I am about to reveal the secret that will resolve this excruciating question for you once and for all. And…relax! It doesn’t involve either one of you having to give up your beliefs or values and accept “hook, line and sinker” your spouse’s way of parenting.
The battles over parenting that leave you frustrated and exhausted will be a thing of the past. The tension and conflict that added a whole new layer of problems will never again leave you going to bed at night in lockdown and disconnected.
You will be working together to help your child develop the qualities you both value:
With the One Step Ahead Parenting System, you will be able to incorporate and blend your styles because you agree to follow the steps precisely, in the exact order I will lay out for you. Thankfully, there are only five steps to the system so it is as easy as writing the five steps on the four fingers and thumb of one hand. The example given is to help you see the system in action. While your child may be younger or older, the system works with children of all ages.
Step 1 Connect
You want a receptive audience. You do not want resistance or defiance. If you put yourself in your child’s shoes and express how they are thinking and feeling, there is nothing for your child to resist.
Example: “I see you are having a really fun time jumping on the couch, trying to touch the ceiling.”
Don’t panic, I know you want your child off the couch. You will get your child off the couch without resistance or melt down if you just follow the steps in the order I prescribe and you will do it faster than you ever could by yelling or screaming.
Step 2 Calm
Emotions are contagious, by connecting, you naturally become calmer and your calm helps your child respond calmly. Hang in there if you are tempted to yell out and follow the steps in order. You will save time, frustration and energy.
If you had yelled, “Get off that couch right now” you know there would have been a less than desirable response. Perhaps you would be ignored or there may have been a defiant, “You can’t make me.” This could escalate to, “Just watch me!” Yelling an order might feel good momentarily but everything deteriorates in seconds with overexcitement leading to more overexcitement.
Step 3 Listen
Respect your child’s words; no judging, evaluating, criticizing, evaluating or giving signals that you disagree with their words or behavior.
“Watch me; I can almost touch the ceiling!”
Step 4 Limits
Clear limits, boundaries and expectations are important. However you want the limit to be one that your child has such a high chance of cooperating with. This takes a bit of thought.
You want your child off the couch. To be in the right mindset you want to focus on where you want your child to be and you want to make sure he wants to do as you ask. This means giving your child an exciting irresistible challenge. So you stand about 2 feet from the couch.
“OK, here is the deal, I want you to jump right here in front of me, roll over three times and then jump up in the air without touching the floor. Got it? Go!”
Your child takes the challenge and has done exactly as you asked. Hooray! Now is the time to celebrate! Give him a high five and tell him what a great job he did.
Now let me ask you, do you think you will have a receptive audience? Yes of course you will. You started out by connecting with where you child was, excited by the challenge of jumping on the couch and created a challenge that got him to get off the couch and there is no meltdown. Instead you got 100% cooperation because you gave him more of what he was looking for, a great challenge.
Now for the next layer of limits
OK buddy let’s figure out a place for you to jump that is safe and where you can crawl through a tunnel and over a hill and reach the finish line. You build the special place with the limits of your choosing. Then you say, “Next time you feel like jumping, let me know and we will create a safe place to jump.”
There won’t be, “No that’s not fair, your mean, I hate you”. Your child is more likely to use his words next time because it is even more fun when you are a part of his activity.
Limits that have “buy in” are limits that are followed, pure and simple. Don’t create problems for yourself by creating power struggles and resistance. Why make limits a struggle when you can get cooperation and compliance instead?
Step 5 Fresh Start
There will be situations where consequences are necessary. Do your best to make them short and focus on your child “giving back” to make up for the extra time spent dealing with not following the limits. Once the chore is completed reset your expectation that next time you know she will do better. Give recognition for doing the chore and then say “Fresh Start”. Your child will not dwell on the mistake and there is a clean slate, no lecturing, no holding of grudges or reminding of past mistakes. This approach makes it easy for a child to admit future mistakes rather than have a meltdown.
So take a deep breath. I really want you to get this: Working harder to convince your spouse that your parenting style is best is NOT the solution to your differences. After all, battling about who is right and who is wrong does not work to get you on the same page, so why battle? Simply follow the steps outlined above, and you will be on your way, easily taking the first steps to insure that you both are following the same roadmap.