A few years ago I learned about the Dog Whisperer from an enthusiastic couple. They had noticed that much of what Cesar Milan shares on his TV show about dog psychology also applies to parenting! Intrigued, and having just acquired my very first dog, Princess (pictured above with our daughter, Mallory) I was hooked after just one episode. It turns out that my clients were right! Cesar’s formula for a balanced healthy dog also applies to parenting a healthy, balanced child!
For those of you who have not seen the show, and for those of you who are avid fans, I though it would be fun to share with you some of Cesar’s ideas and let you be the judge!
1. Children need calm, assertive parenting. In order to thrive and grow, a child needs to know that his/her parents are the leaders of the family. You and your spouse are the only two people who are capable of true leadership in your family but all too often the kids end up being in charge. When this happens, everyone loses, especially the children. Calm, assertive leadership communicates to your children that you are relaxed, confident and in control. You will take care of them and their needs, physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.
2. Boundaries, rules and limitations. Calm, assertive parenting stems from providing clear boundaries, rules and limitations. Many people struggle with this concept. Nagging, threatening, yelling and guilt-tripping are more often the norm. Calm, assertive parents work together as a team to establish boundaries, rules and limitations based on clear principles and values. While open to input from others, including their children, ultimately the parents must take a position on what they expect from their children. In addition, parents must establish logical consequences that are also in keeping with their principles and values.
3. Parenting requires a team effort. You cannot achieve calm, assertive parenting (as evidenced by clear rules, boundaries and limitations) without true teamwork from the parents. All too often parenting ends up defaulting to one spouse more than the other, usually the one who is home with the kids. While this is understandable, it is not effect ive in the long run, for kids or marriages.
4. Parenting must be based on your children’s needs, not your wants. Just as so many dog owners attempt to fulfill their own needs through their dogs, parents often do the same with their children. Effective parenting is based on understanding the needs of children for affection, structure and age appropriate independence.
5. Children need affection, structure and age appropriate independence. Fans of the “Dog Whisperer” know that dogs need exercise, discipline and affection with exercise being predominant. Children, on the other hand, need lots of affection, and also require structure and independence to explore the world. Parenting requires the flexibility to change with your growing child’s needs, but the need for affection never ends!