JSM Apr: Scream-free Parenting

The Junior Saints Mums met on 19 April 2018 at the LKC Hall at the Church of the Ascension. Charis Patrick, who has 2 boys currently in the Junior School, and an older son who has graduated from JS, faciliated a session on “Scream-free Parenting”.

Charis began by reminding the mums present that to be human is to have emotions and to not be perfect, and we do not always have things together.

The key question we need to ask ourselves is “How do we measure ourselves?”: Our frustrations increase when our standards are hard to achieve. On the other hand, when we acknowledge that we are not perfect, we are able to accept failure and build up resilience.

Know your child for who they are

Every child is different, but do we parent them differently?

Charis shared a story where her 3 sons experienced the same soccer event differently, with each child corresponding to a particular child-type.

  1. Goal driven
    Goal-driven children are perfectionists, have high expectations of themselves. Views success as important and failure as not scoring 100%.
  2. Socially sensitive
    Socially-sensitive children are emotionally sensitive and are sensitive to nuances and feelings of others.
  3. Out of the box
    These children are often inquisitive and may not follow the social norms. They see their personal rules as more important to follow.

Thus, “fairness” or “equality” isn’t experienced the same way by our kids, and we need to change our tactics if it doesn’t work.

Regardless of child-types, we need to intentionally schedule time with each child, where they can get 100% of our individual attention, especially in families with multiple children. They each need to feel important in their own way.

We also need to be careful of the words we use that could end up labelling our kids. Instead of saying “Why are you so CARELESS?”, we could say “How can we be more CAREFUL next time?” In professing their carelessness, we risk them seeing themselves as being “careless” instead of being able to be more “careful”.

For the goal-driven child, we need to help them manage expectation in their quest for perfection. Allow them to do better, but with a limit to the number of times they can try, so that they can learn to accept their imperfections, and build up resilience.

Parenting style

Charis shared a webite that can help parents find their Parenting Style.

There are essentially 4 Parenting Styles:

  1. Directive
    = Authoritarian/Controlling
    Children with no sense of themselves; resentful and rebellious
  2. Jellyfish
    = Easy-going
    Children who are ‘kings’
  3. Absent
    = Busy parents
  4. Parent Coach
    = Authoritative/Firm

Charis shared that being ‘firm’ is not the same as being ‘fierce’. Being firm is being consistent, but being fierce is to be emotionally charged. She shared an acroym, CPF, to help us remember how to be firm:

Being consistent allows our children to feel safe as they experience us predictable and reasonable.

Emotions Management

Charis asked the mums to think about the family scenarios that gets us screaming. How else can we respond in that situation?

She shared the 2Os method.

  1. Ownership
    Self-awareness: What’s triggering our emotional response?
    Acknowledge the feeling/emotion: Identify and label the feeling/emotion, in order for the emotion to soothe and die down.
  2. Objectify
    Being careful not to objectify the child:
      What is the value that we impute to the child when we scream at him?
      How do our child see the way we parent?

Charis agreed that screaming is effective, much like how instant noodles are “fast to cook, good to eat”. However, she encouraged us to aim for more powerful, sustainable and choiceful methods.

What do we model to our kids when we scream?

  1. We don’t have control over our emotions.
  2. Screaming is scary and is a superficial way to get things done, as the underlying issues have not been dealt with.

Charis pointed out that it is not the responsibility of our kids to make us happy. Instead, she reminded us that we are 100% responsible for our own happiness. And when we model this philosophy, it teaches our kids to take charge of their own happiness.