Parenting Skills: Look to Yourself First

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Parenting tip for shaping our child’s disposition. Children get their behavior from us; if you do not like something your child is doing, first look within.

Parenting tip for shaping our child's disposition. Children get their behavior from us; if you do not like something your child is doing, first look within.

If there is anything that we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could be better changed in ourselves.” (Carl Jung, quoted in Secrets of the Baby Whisperer, page 251).

Ezzo and Buckman call it gaps in parenting. Hogg refers to it as accidental parenting. It is the notion that often when the child is misbehaving, the root of the problem can be found with something the parent is doing wrong.

I mean, that sounds harsh. No one wants to think that a problem stems from them. However, recognizing and admitting that helps you move on to the good news. The good news is that you have full control over fixing the issue.

Parents Often Cause Behavior Problems

I personally have found this to be very true. I haven’t kept track, but I would be willing to say most of the behavior problems I have encountered with my children have been my own fault. Perhaps it is that I let Brayden watch more TV than I know he can handle without misbehaving. Maybe a nap didn’t go well because I let one or the other stay up a little longer than I should have. I have often found I have allowed a child too many choices or freedoms, resulting in that child thinking he is deserving of more than he actually is and can tell me no.

If there is anything that we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could be better changed in ourselves.” (Carl Jung, quoted in Secrets of the Baby Whisperer, page 251).

I love this quote from Carl Jung. If (when) your child has a behavior problem, you will solve it most quickly if you first look within yourself and figure out what you are doing wrong. Yes, this takes humility, but you must get over yourself. I am pretty sure parenting is a quick cure for pride in anyone who thinks they are always right and can do no wrong. If you haven’t gotten there yet, get there. The faster you identify what you are doing wrong, the faster you can correct the behavior problems you are encountering.

Children Copy Parents

This quote can also be applied in another way. As your baby turns into a walking and talking toddler, you will start to learn the quirky phrases and gestures you make in an exaggerated way. Brayden has picked up on something my husband or I do that neither of us realized happened. They watch every move you make and look to you as an example.

When Brayden was a toddler, my husband and I realized we say the word ‘stupid’ a lot. It might not sound so bad coming from an adult, but once your three year old starts saying it, it doesn’t sound so cute. In fact, it sounds quite offensive. How did we fix it? We told Brayden we shouldn’t be saying that word, it isn’t a nice word. Mommy and Daddy wouldn’t say it anymore and Brayden shouldn’t either. No problem. We are both happy we are not cursing people.

When you make a mistake, there is no harm in explaining to your child that you have made a mistake and resolve to do better. I don’t think children need to think their parents are infallible. Young children (since that is my experience) are very accepting and forgiving. They don’t hold it against you or rub it in your face. Also, it shows them an excellent example of how to apologize and make things right.

You are the only person you can control. Yes, you can and should guide and teach your children, but when it comes down to it, you cannot force them to do things. So the fact that most behavior problems are rooted to actual parenting problems, this should make you feel much better about the situation. You can change yourself. You can change your behavior and actions.

Get your copy of The Secrets of the Baby Whisperer here.

Our Real-Life Example

The first Sunday of last February, Brayden had a really bad day as far as behavior goes. It was the worst of his life thus far. He was disobedient, defiant, and flat out told me no when I instructed him to do something. The crowing act was when he took Kaitlyn’s cup of milk. I told him to give it back, and he ran away. He then threw it to me. It wasn’t an aggressive throw at me, but he threw it to me and that is obviously something we don’t allow.

At the end of the day when Brayden was in bed, my husband and I discussed the day. We knew something was really off for him. This was such odd behavior for him. We tried to figure out the reasons for his disobedience. We didn’t talk about what a bad child he was or anything like that. We looked to ourselves to see what we had done to contribute to this problem.

First, this was a sudden major swing in behavior. He was fine one day, terrible that one day, then fine the next. However, we knew there was something (or several somethings) that needed to change. It was a once-in-his-lifetime occurrence, but something that showed us something was wrong.

The first thing we acknowledged is that the day before he had not had his naptime. We had driven a few hours to visit cousins, visited a dinosaur museum, and driven back home. He had spent a lot of time in the vehicle and hadn’t had any rest time, not to mention independent play or anything. Then the day in question, he had a shorter than usual nap because of church. By the way, his behavior at church was fine. Our problems were only in the 4:00-8:00 PM hours. But it seemed like all day :).

We knew this lack of normal routine and rest for two days were definitely contributors to the problem. Brayden has always been one who needs his structure. However, at 3.5 he is a lot more flexible and has experienced worse disruptions in the recent past without the disobedience problems. We knew it was a factor that contributed to this problem, but it was not the cause.

My husband realized he had been rather impatient with Brayden that day and very picky about his behavior. He was very fast to point out every wrong step Brayden took that day. He was looking for ultimate perfection. We knew this also would have been a contributor. Brayden does not do well behaviorally with criticism. It usually makes him behave more negatively. This is something my husband knows well because my husband is and was the same way. This was another contributing factor to the behavior, but we knew there had to be more.

I realized that we had been really busy lately trying to get things ready for our baby’s birth. We have been remodeling a room and I have been sewing the baby bedding. We realized Brayden wasn’t getting enough one-on-one time with his parents. An important thing for him is quality time. We have also been really busy with our service activities and other various activities. Story time before bed had been severely shortened. We decided we needed to put back in place our long story time before bed. We alternate nights of which parent reads the story.

We also put more conscious effort that we spent quality time with the children doing things they enjoyed, not just being with them in presence but mentally also. We figured Brayden was feeling neglected, though I doubt he could verbalize the feeling he was having. Kaitlyn is also around a lot more now that she has basically the same schedule that he does. So he doesn’t have as much opportunity for one-on-one time with parents.

The lack of parental one-on-one time proved to be the main culprit of the problem. Brayden loves to help do things. We have been sure to include him in our activities. He loves it. He even loved the day I had him help me scrub the grout on the tile floor. Our story time is back up to thirty minutes before bed. This means we have to be sure to be home and ready for bed in time for 30 minute story time. We are sure to do fun things with him individually where he is our only focus.

We were able to find the underlying problems. He then had some extenuating circumstances that basically ‘pushed him over the edge’ and he basically snapped that day.

We had that one bad day that taught us a lot as parents. As parents, we always need to be evaluating ourselves and what we are doing to ensure we are offering our children the best we can. Brayden has been awesome ever since. He has been better than ever. Our realizations and efforts have helped him to feel more loved, which has led to him being more obedient, which has led to all of us being happier.

More Posts on Parenting and Discipline

Parenting tip for shaping our child's disposition. Children get their behavior from us; if you do not like something your child is doing, first look within.

For more posts on parenting skills, see (again, see also blog index under Parenting Skills):

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5 thoughts on “Parenting Skills: Look to Yourself First”

  1. Good post! I have read the baby whisperer solves all your problems and I could see things that I needed to change and I hope that this concept sticks with me for all my children.Might I add too though, that with the emotional changes after birth-don’t fall prey to the “bad parent” syndrome either.Too many times he would be crying trying to fall asleep when I missed the window for putting him down for a nap and I would be crying myself-because I felt bad for putting him down to late.As long as you know you are trying to do your best, don’t feel bad if you don’t get it right all the time. That can also create a bad habit. I would put him down late, feel that it was my fault- “he is crying because of me” thoughts and then I would go in a rock him to sleep-creating more bad habits.Children are sent to us to take care of, to help us learn to love like God does. We aren’t expected to be perfect, just learn as he learns too.

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  2. Great post…and so true! It’s so interesting that you decided to post about this as I’ve actually been thinking a lot about this very thing of late!

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  3. Okay, I like the concept here, but I guess I’m having a hard time evaluating what it is that I’m doing wrong. Lately, my eleven month old daughter WILL NOT sleep for her afternoon nap. She will sleep for her morning nap but not the second. So after calculating how much sleep she’s getting in a day we thought we’d try going to just one nap. Which seemed to work really well for about a week. Then she seemed to be getting really tired, falling asleep during her lunch, pushing boundaries a lot, not obeying, etc. So my thought is, we need to go back to two naps, but what’s the point when I know she won’t sleep for two and just screams and fusses like crazy when we try and put her down? Any feedback would be helpful!Thanks!Jaci

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