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In what ways might I as a parent, be allowing, promoting or creating this situation?

I wonder how different my experience as a teacher and parent would have been had I not learned of this dynamic self-reflective question. It was first introduced to me by my mentor, Dr. Frank Alessi, fifteen years ago during a workshop. It became my go-to question when faced with challenging behaviors in the classroom and at home.

Please take care to notice that we do not ask,  “What am I doing wrong?” It is not about being bad or wrong as a parent or teacher; it is simply about focusing on and embracing the power we have to influence children favorably or not.  At any moment, we can change our ways  and bring about positive change in others.

For me, the question brings about a sense of relief and empowerment. Knowing that I don’t have to come up with elaborate schemes to get someone else to do what I want is really quite liberating!  Instead, I can examine the routines, the conditions, and the procedures I have in place to closely evaluate their relationship to outcomes.  Even after years of applying this self-reflective strategy, I would find myself shaking my head in disbelief at the ease with which I was able to bring about desired improvement.

Would you be willing to ask yourself, right now, what is one problem that I perceive to be challenging in my home with my child(ren)? Is your child acting anxious, rebellious, mean-spirited, apathetic, overly needy, angry, aggressive, sad, etc. Then ask, “In what ways might I be allowing, promoting or creating this on-going situation?”

While there may very well have been a life-event that generated the problem, the best and easiest first line of action toward correction is self-examination. In addition, putting yourself ‘in-check’ so to speak, allows for clarity when differentiating between a conditional behavior and a true ‘within-child’ disorder that may require professional attention.

So, go ahead and play with this strategy, with your children, and maybe your spouse, your relatives or your co-workers.  This is yet another tip that helps us as Purposeful Parents move away from striving toward parenting with ease!

About the author

Kate Martin has been a high school teacher for 27 years and retired from the Racine Unified School District in 2015. 

She taught students with special needs as well as those in general education. While working with hundreds of parents over the years, she discovered that there was a significant lack of resources and educational opportunities to help them navigate the many demands of parenting today. 

For this reason, in 2013 she founded The Purposeful Parent, offering workshops and resources for parents, teachers, and caregivers.  

Buy the Book by Kate Martin: The Best Thoughts To Think Five minutes Before