Source: Sherman Publications

Becoming a Non-Critical Parent
“Becoming a Non-Critical Parent,” 7-8:30 p.m., Jan. 13, Brandon Township Library 304 South St. Ortonville

by Susan Bromley

January 08, 2014

Brandon Twp.- As upsetting as it may be when children are fighting at the table and the milk gets spilled, the old adage, “Don’t cry over spilled milk,” really does apply.

Judith Cox will explain why the response of parents to children’s actions makes a difference in their behavior in the seminar “Becoming a Non-Critical Parent,” planned for 7-8:30 p.m., Monday, Jan. 13, at the library, 304 South St.

“The importance of becoming a non-critical parent is development of the child,” said Cox, a psychotherapist and licensed professional counselor. “When we criticize it inhibits them.”

She notes that parents often speak in a particular way when they are frustrated or annoyed with their child, whether it is a mess they have made, something they have forgotten, or general misbehavior. They may ask questions like, ‘Why did you do that?’ ‘What were you thinking?’ ‘How many times do I have to tell you?’

However, those questions, or statements like, ‘That was a stupid thing to do,’ are not constructive, and often lead to a child who tunes out.

Telling a child to stop something because it is making you angry is blaming a child for an emotion in the adult.

“If we are modeling stress and upset and frustration, those are emotions,” said Cox. “There is no social intelligence in that in terms of maturity. You can’t go out in the work world yelling (at adults) to get them to behave differently.”

Social/emotional intelligence is a great indicator of success in life, she continued, but that needs to be modeled for children in order for them to develop to their fullest potential.

“America as a culture has an adolescent intelligence level— ‘it’s all about me,’” said Cox. “That’s appropriate for an adolescent, but not an adult.”

Instead of jumping to critical statements, parents should take a moment to calm down and then deal with the situation at hand in a more constructive manner and say exactly what they expect of the child.

In the case of the spilled milk, for example, Cox suggests the parent should have the child clean up the milk. After clean-up, a discussion of the rules is in order.

“When we speak in a way that is encouraging and supportive, a child can develop self-confidence, self-worth, and their self-esteem grows, they are not inhibited in their development,” she said. “Children who like themselves, like to behave themselves. So much of the bad behavior won’t happen, because they aren’t trying to bring attention to themselves. How we are teaching to the child is what the seminar is about. Everything doesn’t have to be good or bad, right or wrong, we just have rules.”

The free seminar that aims to help parents learn to respond in a new way is sponsored by Brandon Groveland Youth Assistance and a support group is also planned for 7-8 p.m., Jan. 20. For more information, call the library at 248-627-1460.