4 Ways To Be Your Child’s Advocate When They Really Need One
Nobody knows your child better than you! You are the best person to be your child’s ADVOCATE! Don’t be afraid to take back your Mom or Dad power and confidently act in the best interest of your child or teen when they need you too.
1. Be their ADVOCATE when they do what’s right! Cheer them on to greatness! Catch them doing good and making right choices. It’s so easy when our kids are being good to forget to praise them in ways that will build their self-esteem. And how do you do that? When you understand their personality type, or color, you can fine tune your praise to match their self-esteem needs. Greens need to know they are smart, Blues need to know they eased your burden or made someone’s day, Golds need to hear they had a great plan or did a good job, and Oranges want to know they were clever, fun, thought of a good game, or moved really fast to help you. Let your child know how their positive actions, words, and choices benefit you! Be specific so they can repeat their good choices.
2. Be their ADVOCATE when they are upset, frustrated, procrastinating, angry, or pitching a fit. See their inappropriate behavior as a red flag that they are under stress instead of as a personal attack on you. Each color child, Blue, Green, Orange or Gold has a unique set of stressors and stress behaviors. Understanding your child’s color stressors and stress behaviors can go a long way to helping you stay calm when they are upset. Then you can really take the time to clear your mind of your own story and listen to theirs. Help them calm down quickly for their color! Be their advocate by validating their feelings even if you don’t agree with their inappropriate behavior. You can validate that your Gold 4 year old is “really mad” about having to share without accepting that hitting was an OK way to deal with it. Validating a child’s feelings, then teaching a different, better way to handle those feelings are two very different parenting actions. When they calm down be their advocate by letting them solve the problem appropriately with their color in mind. If you take away their struggle to learn how to act better when they are upset by fixing things for them you’re being your own advocate, not theirs. I know that’s harsh but oh so true.
3. Be their ADVOCATE when they need to learn what’s right. Have the courage to teach your family’s values to your kids and teens and don’t use someone else’s family values just because they are popular. Or worse, don’t teach any values at all because you’re going to let them decide. Kids need your example and your teachings. Not teaching any values or what right and wrong looks like just leaves them floundering. It’s like going camping and letting a child run around the fire thinking they’ll learn that it’s dangerous when they fall into it. How cruel! What parent who really loves their child would ever do that? But that’s exactly what we do when we don’t teach our children things like being kind, how to share, when to stand their ground, when it’s ok, or not ok to have sex, that we don’t hit others, or that they need to stay in the cart in the store.
Instead, back to our camping example, we teach that fire is hot and dangerous. We may even draw a line in the dirt they can’t cross or the fun stops. We may let them feel the heat from a safe, supervised distance. And then if, or when, they run too close to the flames we pull them away, have them sit on the picnic table for a bit and maybe even extinguish the fire and forgo the s’mores until tomorrow night. When it comes to helping our kids make good choices we have to teach them what good choices are, how to stay safe in a dangerous world, and how to see the rewards in choosing the right way. Kids are going to learn some sort or value system, if we don’t teach our kids our values, they will learn values from someone else. That’s really scary. BE your child’s advocate and teach them YOUR family’s values so they can be safe, happy, and wise.
4. Be your child’s ADVOCATE when they make wrong choices. This one may be hard to read. Often in today’s world we think of an advocate as someone who takes our side, someone who fights for the underdog or defends the accused. Let me share a unique spin on that when it comes to parenting. When your child or teen makes a wrong choice we need to be by their side with unconditional love yes, but we must not defend their wrong action with excuses, rescuing, justifying or enabling. In fact the underdog we need to fight for is our child’s future, mature self. By that I mean we need to think more about what that child or teen needs to learn right then so they will be prepared to be a mature, happy and wise young adult in the future. That means that we have the integrity to hold our children and teens accountable for their choices by allowing them to experience consequences. The parent who slacks on this very important role, for whatever reason (and each color parent HAS a reason) they are acting more as their own advocate in that moment than as an advocate for their child or teen.
When it comes to disciplining toddlers to teens, often parents opt for what’s comfortable, easy or nice right now and forfeit the child’s growth and comfort in the future. For example, a Blue mom who doesn’t want a Playstation uprising will opt for begging her Green son to stop playing his video game when it’s past their agreed upon time instead of firmly going over, unplugging the system and locking it up for the week as a consequence. Also consider the Green new mom of an Orange toddler who is throwing food while eating. Intuitively she thinks she should just take the food away when her toddler throws it and try again later like her mom would have done. Instead, because she’s trying to do the competent thing and be nurturing to her child, she picks up the thrown food meal after meal, says sweetly, “no, no” but secretly resents it. So what stops this smart Green mom from doing what her logical mom-gut tells her to do? A thousand different voices teaching her to be nurturing, don’t damage your toddlers sense of self, and 2 year olds must have 4-6 servings of veggies a day. She’s hesitant to follow her instinct to take the food away because its one of those much needed veggies servings and a growth chart at the doctor’s office said her 2 year old was a tad on the small side. Wow! That’s a lot of pressure on a new mom to be perfect! That pressure is making smart Green mom doubt herself and helping Orange toddler learn that he’s got all the freedom in the world to throw food… How Fun! To be the child’s advocate that Green Mom can trust herself and hold that Orange toddler accountable by abruptly, but kindly, removing him from his food and from his high chair and saying, “We don’t throw food. We’ll try again later.” He won’t miss too many servings of veggies before he learns it’s more fun to keep his food where it belongs and he’ll still grow strong and healthy. You will be their advocate as you let them experience the need for respecting rules, boundaries, other’s feelings, their own commitments and counsel from wise parents.
Being our child’s advocate means that we build trusting relationships by recognizing the good they do and by supporting them when their emotions run amuck. We are their advocate when we teach our children the difference between right and wrong. And we are their most powerful advocate when we foster self-discipline and accountability even if they get mad at us, throw a fit, or the lady in the next isle glares at us. Being our child’s advocate when they really need one, instead of unconsciously focusing on our own needs in that moment, will result in seeing our children and teens grow into happy, wise, healthy adults that we love hanging out with! Again, take back your Mom and Dad power and be your child’s best and fiercest ADVOCATE.
Written By: Shannon Ward, M.A.