As a parent, it's important to remember that children learn by watching and observing their parents. They take in everything we do, both good and bad, and use it as a guide for their own behavior. This is why it's so important for parents to model healthy behaviors for their children. Instead of just telling children what to do, parents should show them through their own actions.
When working with adolescents, I often invite parents to take inventory of their parenting practices and beliefs. Initially, parents are excited to hear that I can offer parenting support, but when I tell them that healthy parenting starts with exploring their own lives and relationships, I am often met with a mix of curiosity and confusion.
One of the most important things parents can do is to take responsibility for their actions and how they might be contributing to their child's "problem." Instead of feeling helpless, identifying how you are responsible can immediately provide a sense of calm and peace. It also lays out a direct path forward with actual action steps for change.
For example, instead of just telling your child to go to a safe place and practice their calming exercises when they're anxious, parents can practice repairing in front of their children when they argue. This not only helps the child to learn how to repair but also shows them that it's important and it's possible.
Overall, parents play a crucial role in shaping their children's health and well-being. By modeling healthy behaviors and taking responsibility for their actions, parents can help their children develop the skills and habits they need to lead a healthy life.