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Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt Part 2

March 7th, 2012 by Miss Kristin


Using Positive Parenting without creating an OUNCE of Doubt or Shame!!

First, the most important thing to remember as parents and child care providers is we will constantly struggle though different issues. Although we may feel like we fail our children sometimes by not responding to them in gracious ways or by forgetting to stick to our own rules, no matter what, our kids will always love us at the end of the day!

Where does the shame and doubt come from?

A child feels doubt or shame when they feel inadequate – like they can’t handle the world around them.  Let’s be honest, children really can’t handle the world around them and that is why as parents and caregivers we have to be there to guide them through the shame and doubtful situations!

So, what does that look like?

It is all about the BOUNDARIES, people!! :)

Ok, setting rigid boundaries for our kids lets them understand the structure in which they can succeed.  It takes time, but once those are set, the rest comes natural! I encourage you to take a moment and create those boundaries.  Keep in mind that you HAVE to stick to them and rely on them when things get “tough.” You want to make sure you really think through them and their implications, so that you will enforce them even when it becomes difficult.  When children know what to expect from their caregiver, they are less likely to push against the boundaries…less likely, of course ;)

Here is a practical example: “What happens when my child wants to dress herself, and I don’t want her leaving the house in what she picked out?!”

Letting children dress themselves is a GREAT way for them to learn self-expression!  So what happens when you are going somewhere special and you would like to pick out your child’s outfit?

  1. First, I want you to know it is okay and normal to think that!
  2. Second, explain to your child that he/she can pick out an outfit, but you have the final say. This enables your child to have autonomy while still living within your boundaries.  You are not compromising, you are not letting your child “win”, you are simply providing your child the opportunity to excel within the rules you have set. If your child shows resistance, use this as an opportunity to work as a team. You may say something like, “I know you want to wear your rain boots today, but let’s look outside to see if there is any rain. No rain outside? Okay, let’s look in your closet to see what other special shoes you can wear today!”
  3. Another way to handle this potential tantrum-evoking session is to pick out two or three outfits you endorse and then allow your child to make the final decision between the clothing options. You are ensuring your child will look pleasantly put together, but still allowing for autonomy. With the proper emphasis on your child making the final decision, this technique can work really well :)

Another practical example: “What do I do if my child screams at me, and I cannot get him to stop (aka throwing a tantrum)?” 

There are several techniques to use in this situation, but sometimes the best thing you can do is just let them scream it out.  It won’t be fun, but remember it will stop!  Whatever you do BE STRONG – don’t give in to the tantrum!!! Sometimes these episodes will last a good 15-30 minutes and probably will happen on your family outing to Target, but that is ok.  As caregivers and parents, we have to give children a chance to work through the tantrum on their own.  Bottom line, if they know the rules and are throwing a tantrum, they are choosing not to follow those rules.  If you give in to your child’s tantrum ways, your child not only learns that the unruly behavior gets a reaction, but also learns that if pressed hard enough, you will give in. So, AFTER THE STORM HAS SUBSIDED, graciously approach your child and find out what happened.  Find the trigger that prompted the tantrum – the heart of issue – and work through it with your child.

How do these tips resonate with you? Do you allow opportunities for autonomy in your household? How firm are your boundaries?


Posted by Miss Kristin

Bio: My name is Kristin, but most here at SLC call me Miss Kristin :) I have been working at Scottsdale Learning Centers since 2007 and LOVE it. It is such a blessing to be a part of the amazing SLC team in the front office and as a pre-k teacher in Room 11! When I'm not at SLC I volunteer as a leader for junior high girls at my church (I am crazy...I know), and needless to say, I have a passion for kids!

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