Thursday, August 03, 2017

Give your child some structure, not just affection

My children. Structure.
I grew up with a great deal of structure supplied by my parents, and today I supply my own: I have my daily routines and like to follow them. It makes everything easier.

My dog has structure in his day, which I supply, and he likes it. It's comforting for each of us to not have to make decisions about everything all day long. We do the routines.

In the same manner, says a psychologist, you should give your children affection but also structure. Lisa Damour has impressive credentials:
Dr. Damour graduated with honors from Yale University and worked for the Yale Child Study Center before earning her doctorate in Clinical Psychology at the University of Michigan. She has been a fellow at Yale’s Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy and the University of Michigan’s Power Foundation. She and her husband are the proud parents of two daughters.
Here's what she says: “They can get warmth from their teachers, from their friends’ parents, but they can only get structure from parents.”
Adolescents actually want structure from their parents, despite their protestations to the contrary. Permissiveness and inconsistency from parents can be unsettling and provoke anxiety, she said. 
“Being a teenager feels like you’re out of control and you’re surrounded by people who are out of control,” she said. “You don’t want parents to be out of control.”
Here's what you do:
Frame rules around safety. Kids are more apt to follow guidelines if they understand the rules’ purpose is to keep them safe. Insisting they obey for reasons of morality or hierarchy (eg “because I’m your father!”) is more likely to backfire. 
Don’t underestimate the power of apologizing. It tells teenagers they’re respected, and it helps builds trust. 
Stress is normal part of growing up, and it helps teens grow and become resilient. It becomes a problem when they have no downtime, or opportunities to relax. 
Technology should be introduced to kids as late as possible, and be kept out of their bedrooms. Video games, social media and the Internet demand their attention—which makes technology the enemy of the sleep which is critical for teens’ health. 
Also, make them get up at dawn and milk the cows.

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