Guiding Principles

Teaching Caring Illust 001

To get a better understanding of the theories from which this site draws as its foundation, read through the following guiding principles.

1. The whole family focuses on learning. We are all learning always. Through reflection on challenges and the proactive teaching of skills, problems can be avoided and risky behaviors deterred. But prevention is not always possible. When an intervention is needed, asking the question, “What am I teaching through my response?” and “What am I learning?” helps guide reactions and choices made.

2. Parents are teachers and learners. We often hear that we are children’s first teachers as parents. But in addition, the best teachers are also avid learners themselves. Constantly asking questions, seeking new information, setting personal and parental goals and striving for improvement embody and model the skills for your children’s growth and success. Mistakes and poor choices and the forgiveness that follows are an important part of that learning process for all. Parental “teaching” methods include modeling, coaching, creating practice opportunities and experiences and creating a responsive environment. These are the most powerful tools for influencing a child’s behavior.

3. Behavior change begins with the adults. Adults can desire that their children change their behavior but the change must begin in the adult. When adult behaviors change, children will adapt in response.

4. You can only control your own behavior. You can work on influencing others but ultimately, your behavior and how it aligns to your own values and guiding principles as an individual define the parent that you are.

5. Discipline is about teaching the skills for your child to be self-disciplined. When your child struggles, it is an opportunity to teach social and emotional skills. Strategies are drawn from “cooperative discipline,” “positive discipline,” and “developmental discipline.” Instead of being punitive, the strategies focus on logical consequences and treat the child as a learner offering opportunities for reflection, growth and development. They also offer opportunities for the child to make amends if the offense has caused harm.

6. Self-care and reflection is a critical part of being a confident parent. This can be a great challenge when pressed for time. Cutting back on your own self-care is an easy area to neglect since it does not seem to affect anyone but yourself. However, we know self-care or lack thereof has a significant effect on the whole family since it determines whether or not you can give your best self. Reflecting upon your own childhood and parent experiences and how that shapes your current reality in addition to articulating your values and goals as a parent can help guide the small choices that shape daily life and a family’s experience.

7. Social and emotional skills are critical to school and life success. These skills include self-awareness, social awareness, self-management, relationship skills and responsible decision-making. Each person has the ability to develop his or her skills in these areas. These life skills can be improved upon continuously over a lifetime. “Every function in the child’s cultural development appears twice: first, on the social level, and later, on the individual level; first, between people and then inside the child.” – Lev Vygotsky, 1978

8. Providing opportunities for your children to learn and practice social and emotional skills will prepare them with the inner resources to draw upon for life challenges and important decision-making particularly when you are not present to guide them.

9. Each individual in a family is going through his or her own stage of development. Often frustrations emerge with children and between parents that are directly related to an individual’s stage of development and his/her learning process. Better understanding the developmental needs of each individual improves communication, empathy and problem-solving.

10. Each individual desires a sense of autonomy, belonging and competence. Understanding others’ motivations for their choices can help in being more responsive and empathetic.

11. We are all our own best problem-solvers. Parents can determine how best to play their roles through their own knowledge, culture, and experience. Children can create their own solutions to problems. Parents can help their children brainstorm strategies based by reflecting back what they notice in their child.

12. Every living being deserves the right to express who they are. Individuals from every ethnicity, race, creed, gender, ability, appearance and sexual preference bring some important contribution to our understanding of what it means to be human. We learn more about ourselves through the richness of contrast.

© Copyright, 2023, Jennifer Smith Miller. All rights reserved.