Most parents don’t really know HOW to parent an Indigo child or teen. How could they? We didn’t come with an instruction manual! But times are changing — and there are now enough Indigos on the planet to begin to offer help. Here is a list of the top 10 mistakes you make be making with your Indigo children.
1. Not seeing ?the bigger picture? ~ Life is more than simply trying to control results. You, your spouse and your children have come together for a reason: together you have formed a family. Why did you come together? What are you trying to learn together? How did you hope to grow as a result of your relationships with each other? What are you here to teach one another as you grow and change? These are the truly important questions to be asking; the rest is only superficial and will not matter 5 minutes from now, let alone 5 years.
2. Telling, not coaching ~ Ask your children to help with tasks from an early age, and use coaching-type questions that require thoughtful solutions. Examples of such questions might be: * ?What are some ways we can do this together??
- ?What are some things we can do to make this a happy time for everyone??
- ?We need to put our things away when we are done with them; which things of yours can you put away now before we get ready for bed??
- ?People get their feelings hurt when someone yells at them; what are some other ways you could say what you want, without yelling??
- Instead of telling them what to do in the mornings, how about asking a question like, ?What do you need to do to get ready for school this morning??
- Teach them (better yet, coach them!) that they CAN be response-able for routine things, which is a great confidence-builder.
3. Being afraid to allow children to simply BE children ~ Your children are not small adults; they are children, with as-yet limited capabilities. They can do what THEY can do, not what YOU can do as an adult. Don?t expect adult-like behavior from children; let them be who they are. (And enjoy each moment while you can; it passes all too soon.
4. Reacting, instead of responding calmly from a well-balanced adult place ~ Sometimes the best response is, ?Oh, I see that you are angry (hurt, sad, upset, etc.) What shall we do about that?? (Or, ?Is there anything we need to do about what you are feeling right now?)? OK, so getting ketchup on Sammy?s new shirt is not what you wanted to see, but you will get over it. Fabric washes. Shame and blame can?t be washed away without a lot of work. Don?t go there. Instead, take a deep breath, give yourself a ?time-out? if you need one, and return to the situation when you can really be an accepting adult about it. As they say: ?Don?t sweat the small stuff.? If you have children there will ALWAYS be ?stuff? — get used to it, but better yet, learn to appreciate it. If you didn?t have a sense of humor before you had children, you need to develop one now! Sometimes it seems like children are truly masters at helping us laugh at life and ourselves. Enjoy them.
5. Failing to provide an appropriate role model for behavior you don?t want to see in your children (gossip, not telling the truth, cheating, yelling, etc.) ~ If you want your children to share your values, you had better be living your life as if you believe those values, too. Model what you want to see. Tell the truth; share and speak well of others; express your feelings appropriately; be generous; listen and respect your children, your friends, your co-workers and your extended family; do your best and accept the rest. These qualities (or whichever others you prefer) are what your children will learn from you — make sure you are living your values the way you want THEM to do when they grow up. If you do not teach and model what is really important to you, your children will adopt the values they see around them: from friends, media, and what they observe at school. Where would you like your children to learn what matters: at home, or wherever they happen to find it? It?s up to you.
6. Not dealing with your own feelings appropriately ~ Parents need to teach children what is appropriate about having and expressing their feelings. Own your own feelings out loud with your children; tell them when you are hurt/angry/sad/upset, and how you plan to deal with it, so they will learn ?how it?s done?. A good structure to model handling feelings and clear communication is this: ?I feel ____ when you ___ and what I would like is ____.? It?s clean, clear, and blameless — just what children need for building responsible communication.
7. Not setting clear boundaries and saying ?No? ~ Children need to know where the limits are, in order to feel safe. You are doing no favors if you say yes to requests you cannot or do not want to grant. When children know the limits in their lives, they can relax within that space and play freely. Without learning that there are limits, you can create unrealistic expectations now that may be impossible to unravel later. It?s better to say ?No? now than have to explain why you cannot keep a promise you made (and remember, to children, anything you agree to is a promise!) Say what is true even if they don?t like it; it works out better in the long run. And here?s a great tip: For every ?no? offer a ?yes?; tell them what they CAN do instead of what you are rejecting, and if possible make it as appealing as the ?no? item.
8. Listen at least as much as you talk ~ If communication is only one-way, children do not get the sense that they are valued for being who they are. Your eagerness and receptivity to what they have to say, gives them self-esteem and lets them know that you value and respect them. You MUST make time to spend with your children in a relaxed environment, to ask open-ended questions that let them know you care about their world and what?s happening in it. Be available, and be clear about how and when they will have your undivided attention. They need this as much as they need good food, rest, and play.
9. Allowing your children too much freedom ~ How much TV and video is too much? This is a cultural debate, but there are emerging statistics that show parents may be using easily available distractions (such as TV and video games) to take the place of quality time with our children. The results are a growing problem with obesity as kids fail to get proper exercise; growing problems with attention deficit disorders as children are trained to respond to shorter and shorter segments of exciting stimuli; and a true crisis in the amount of quiet ?processing? time that is available for children to relax and simply be themselves or think about things. An easy solution is to create structures for art, games, crafts, reading and other fun that does not include sitting in front of a screen for any length of time.
10. Failing to provide healthy nutrition and rest ~ This might seem too basic, but between the junk food readily available at school, and the many increasing problems we are seeing (childhood obesity, diabetes, depression and ADD are only some of them) it is clear that we need to have another look at what goes into our children?s mouths, and how we schedule their time. Is what they eat really healthy? Is it nourishing? Will it sustain their energy levels until they eat again? Children who are not fed properly cannot think and play well; and, they may have emotional swings they cannot control. We need to find alternatives to soda, chips, and candy, so that our children can function well and grow to be strong and healthy. There is really no excuse for poor nutrition, even if you don?t have a lot of money. Fresh fruit, vegetables and grains are generally not expensive, yet they are a key to growing up well, as is wholesome exercise and enough rest at night (free from the overstimulation of sound or lights.)
Raising children is a blessing and a gift. How well you parent is the key to our future as a human family. There are many theories about ?how to do it right? — you can choose any of them you like. But theories do little good when you are feeling overwhelmed and don?t know where to turn or what to do. Maybe then it?s time to call for some additional help. A parenting coach can be a good place to start, to help you understand what?s going on, be a non-judgmental sounding board, and an ally in the most important and thrilling adventure you will ever have: raising happy, healthy children in today?s chaotic and sometimes dangerous world.