What Does Amazing Parenting Look Like?Mar 16, 2023
Presumably, every parent reading this wants to be the best parent they can possibly be to their children. But what does that mean? The answer will be different for each of you, but it’s essential that you take a minute, if you haven’t already done so, to visualize what you think an amazing parent looks like. Having this prototype of amazing parenting helps you to evaluate your work (yes, parenting is a lot of work) and to help steer you back on course when you find that you’re straying. Of course, nobody can always be an amazing parent; we can only strive for our best as much of the time as we can manage.
How do you know what amazing parenting looks like? Let’s learn from social learning theory pioneered by psychologist Albert Bandura in the 1960s. Simply observing social interactions can lead to a tremendous amount of learning. Applied to parenting, we observe the outcome parents experience based on how they choose to interact with their children. For example, you observe a parent-child interaction in which a 1 1/2-year-old appears on the brink of a melt-down, desperately wanting a toy another child is holding. The mother repeatedly says, “No, that’s not your toy. Here’s your toy.” The child continues to cry; the mother gets increasingly stressed…you can see where this is going.
In contrast, you observe the same situation, but the mother, in this case, responds by saying, “Jimmy’s using that toy now, but you’ll get a turn soon. Oh, look over here!” as she adeptly repositions his body facing the other direction and with energy and excitement redirects him to see a bird/butterfly/flower/whatever she can think of to shift the child’s focus away from the offending toy. The second mother tries to avoid saying “no” to her child, realizes that young children are easily distracted, and uses high energy and positivity in her parenting. Observant parents in the room may imitate these amazing parenting behaviors with their children.
Find your role model parents, whether it’s your own parents, another mom in a play group, or a character on television. Consider what aspects of their behavior and dialogue with their children you value, and use them in your parenting practice. Then, pick and choose from different models and develop an image of what amazing parenting looks like to you.
Also, pay attention to parents whose behavior you do not want to replicate, whether it’s body language, speech patterns, or parenting techniques that have gone awry. In future posts, I’ll discuss discipline techniques and Consequences (one of the 5 C’s; see The 5 C's to Amazing Parenting). In the meantime, here is a quick example from years ago in my pre-baby days when my husband and I had time to play tennis together in the evenings after work: On a neighboring court, I overheard a boy probably around age 11 repeatedly using profanity when he became discouraged about his tennis game.
There are many ways this situation could have been handled better, and I’ll never forget hearing the mom say, “If you keep using that language, we’re going to have to go home,” not once, not twice, but at least eight times. In the end, we ended up going home before they did. Even though I had yet to set up an if-then consequence for my children, I observed that this technique was not working for them and got my first chance to start filling my parenting toolbox. I’ll emphasize this in my Consequences tips, but one of the most important things you can do as a parent is follow through on any if-then statements you make. This teaches your children that your words are meaningful and that your response to their behavior is reliable.
Amazing parenting is not about always saying and doing the right thing and raising perfect children. It’s about being intentional in your parenting and proactive in learning skills to help you parent more effectively in a way that best fits your unique parent-child dynamics. So be an amazing parent this week by being on the lookout for parenting behavior you observe, both amazing and not-so-amazing, to help develop a vision of what kind of parent you want to be.
Being intentional about your parenting, including how you communicate with your children and how you use consequences in your parenting practice, is part of the Check Yourself category in my 5 C’s parenting framework (see The 5 C's to Amazing Parenting). To find more posts in this category, use the category search menu on the right of the screen. Keep up the good work on your amazing parenting journey!
P.S. If you like the idea of getting intentional about your parenting, you might be interested in learning more about my 5 C’s parenting framework and continuing your amazing parenting journey with my free Bootcamps. Find a Bootcamp specific to your child’s age and save your spot today.