Is It Time for a Parent-Teacher Conference About Your Parenting Style?

Talking to Caregivers and Teachers About How to Treat Your Child

These proactive discussion points can help you effectively communicate your parenting style to adults who interact frequently with your kids:

  • “I treat my kids with the respect every human being, regardless of age, deserves.” At the core of the Guidance Approach to Parenting is the conviction that children are humans too — which means they deserve to be seen, heard, and respected. This fundamental value should lead any conversation you begin.
  • “We encourage self-direction instead of reward vs. punishment.” Explain to your child’s teachers that instead of a punitive approach to “bad” behavior, you prefer self-directed resolutions. If your child has an altercation with a classmate, ask their teacher to help identify the root of the problem. Was there an unmet need or a misunderstanding? Once both sides of the story have been heard, the conflicting parties should collaborate on a solution that makes everyone happy.
  • “We use acknowledgement rather than praise.” Praising a child’s looks or intelligence teaches them to measure their self-worth based on superficial traits and what other people think of them. It also brings the poison of measuring their self worth from external factors.
    Acknowledgment connects a child to their own sense of accomplishment so they can more clearly see their own skills and competencies, and sense into how they feel about themselves. After all, the cornerstone to solid self esteem isn’t seeking others’ approval or praise.
    Assure grandparents that they can congratulate their grandkids for a job well done, but that they should emphasize hard work and self-discipline as opposed to empty praise for being “smart.” For example, “I admire how hard you worked on that.” “Congratulations!” “Did you know you could do that?” and “You seem proud of yourself.”
  • “I refrain from using negative adjectives to describe my kids (e.g. calling them “spoiled” or “bad”). There’s a big difference between pointing out that a child made a mess and making them feel like they are a mess. No one likes to be called names! Ask the adults in your children’s life to use non-blameful descriptions of behavior and to avoid names or labels that can undermine your kid’s confidence or sense of self.
  • “Our children know when we talk down to them.” When my daughter Pia was in elementary school, she came home one day absolutely indignant at how a friend’s mother had spoken to her. “Mom, she never would’ve talked to you that way,” she said. She was right. Adults assume that kids won’t catch the nuances in our communication, but they can tell when they’re being talked down to. It can’t possibly feel good to be marginalized and viewed as “less than” just because you’re a child. Caregivers should always be aware of how they’re talking to children.

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Katherine Sellery

Katherine Sellery

Katherine Sellery, CEO and Founder of Conscious Parenting Revolution, helps individuals minimize misunderstandings and melt-downs in order to communicate.