Have you ever attempted completing a difficult maze puzzle game? The frustration of the endless maze with twists and turns that often give the hope of reaching the end, but not without its share of dead ends and wrong turns. Many times starting from the end point and working backwards to the starting point makes the process much easier. This is the foundation of purposeful parenting. As parents, guardians, or role models in our communities, purposeful parenting begins with thinking of the final result we want to see in the children we interact with and influence.
Following Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs sets the foundation to meet the basic needs that children need to thrive; growing to be healthy, develop new skills, think creatively, and be self-sufficient. Purposeful parenting thinks beyond the basic needs and into the horizon of positive, present, and empowering parenting.
Love the child, not the negative behavior. Staying positive and focusing on the positive side of every situation will ensure that parents remain on the non-threatening side of the authoritarian figure that can develop in children’s minds when we react to bad choices or negative behavior in a negative way; like scolding, elevating our voice, or lecturing for too long with no purpose.
Build up their confidence and reduce their stress with words of affirmation like “I know you can do better next time”, “I really like how you….”, “Thank you for using your words, that works much better doesn’t it”, “You are awesome”, “I love you”.
Always remember to praise your child for every positive behavior or choice that they make. Discipline is teaching positive behaviors and skills with purpose; not teaching a child what not to do. Remember they are like little sponges absorbing everything in their environment. Make sure positive affirmation, words of approval, and praise fill up that little sponge, and negativity will have no room in their life.
Infants and children are ever evolving and the trends change faster than they arrive. A purposeful parent is progressive in the way they discipline and develop parenting skills, along with being mindful of external modes of support that will teach positive behaviors.
Be playful and personal with your child. Reading before bedtime or making time for story time and hand puppets with their latest characters will personalize the books you share and is sure to be a great time for all. Be involved in their school activities and other extracurricular activities; yes, it takes time, but the outcome and memories is always worth it!
It is never too early to start having “the talks.” Communicate with your children at developmentally appropriate ages about boundaries, respect, consent, being active bystanders, and expressing emotions. Use animal puppets, the media they consume, or real life circumstances to facilitate the conversations that will strengthen the relationship with your child and the future relationships they will form.
You are their first love, their first superhero, their first source of empowerment. Don’t let that light go dim, engage in some self-care so that you are energized and empowered to be a source of empowerment and love for your children.
Think about your long term goals that you have created when thinking from the end goals as the starting line. These can include language, social skills, the arts, and/or a family trade. Set the foundation for success by seeking out ways to foster an environment where these goals can be achieved and your child can thrive.
Words of affirmation, encouraging advice, and unconditional love is the recipe for the perfect soup of empowerment. Purposeful parenting ensures we are mindful of the messages, verbal and nonverbal, that we transmit to our children. In every moment we are either interfering with or enhancing the relationship we have with our children and the future success they will have in attaining their goals. Empower, love, and equip them at a young age and they will they will have the physical, emotional, and psychological readiness to be self-actualized and adults with lives of purpose.
5 tips for purposeful parenting this month:
- Take time to listen: to their stories, their frustration, their hurt, their joy, their every step in life.
- Eat dinner as a family: Have conversations, learn about their day, be available.
- Meet them where they are: Take time to watch their favorite TV show, volunteer as a chaperone for a school field trip, be the fun parent who hosts the summer party.
- Recognize the purpose and passions in their heart: Validate their purpose and desires, empower them with the opportunity and resources to attain their goals, be present and available for support.
- Be mindful of your well-being: A purposeful parent is a healthy parent. Self-care, seek support, and live in the moment, because they grow fast!
By Ricardo Ramos, CCS Prevention & Education Coordinator