INDIANAPOLIS — Parenting is a tough job. There is so much on our plates right now with making decisions about school, making sure they have everything they need and making sure we are raising good people. 13News Education Expert Jennifer Brinker is sharing her top tips for parents.
1. What is at the top of the list?
"I think if I could give one piece of advice to parents, it would be to be a good role model for your child. This is easier said than done, of course. I have three kids myself, and I know that they have heard me say things that I shouldn’t have or do things that I shouldn’t have, and we all will make mistakes from time to time. We have to remember that humans learn by imitation. We are programmed to copy other’s actions to understand them, and kids in particular do this quite a bit," Brinker said.
2. What kinds of behavior should we be modeling then?
"We just have to try hard to be the person that we want our kids to be. We have to be respectful, have positive attitudes and have empathy towards others. Again, I realize that we are all human and we are not always at our best, but I think it is easy for us to forget that they are watching our every move and hanging on to our every word, so we must choose them wisely," Brinker said.
3. Parents sometimes get upset at their children and yell or reprimand them. Advice here?
"It happens, we all have a breaking point. What I want parents to know is that what we say to our kids becomes that little inner voice in their heads. If we ridicule them or make them identify as bad people, we can’t be surprised that this is how they will identify themselves, and this is what they will hear inside their heads in their worst moments. Again, I don’t want to say that kids don’t need to be disciplined and that parents can never express their disappointment, but we have to stay respectful in how we do talk to our kids," Brinker said.
4. You deal with discipline a lot with your job, do you feel like a lot of behaviors you see are learned from the parents?
"Kids are human — they make mistakes. I don’t want parents to think that school staff thinks ill of the parents just because they have gotten into some trouble. That being said, many of the repeat offenses that we see are learned behaviors. Again, this is not always the case, but the old saying of 'the apple didn’t fall far from the tree' is sometimes pretty applicable. I would just encourage parents of kids who continue to get in trouble for saying unkind things, bullying or fighting to take a look at their own actions and words used at home. I know I see plenty of cases of cyberbullying from adults on social media, so we can’t be surprised when their children engage in this behavior as well," Brinker said.
5. Any last bit of advice or motto for us to keep in mind as parents?
"One I’ve seen that I like lately is 'If you can’t be kind, be quiet.' Sometimes when we are irritated or fired up about something, we just need to take a moment and refrain from saying anything at all," Brinker said.