12/08/2015 11:43 am ET Updated Dec 08, 2016

How I Apply the Four C's of Parenting

Dr. Nathan Perron is the Director of Online Clinical Training at Northwestern University, and he has come up with the Four C's of Parenting that are a simple way of remembering what really makes a difference in our children's lives and in our parenting relationship.
A lot of times we make parenting much harder than it should be. We overanalyze, over-reward, over-discipline, overachieve. When the reality is that effective parenting is comprised of only a few, simple things. When we focus on the core of the parent-child relationship, we can find new direction in the simplicity.
Dr. Nathan Perron, the Director of Online Clinical Training at Northwestern University, has done just that. He has created four categories for effective parenting as a simple way of reminding us of what really makes a difference in our children's lives.


Brought to you by Counseling@Northwestern.

Children, and especially young children, don't have a lot of control over their daily lives. We often get caught up in day-to-day activities and forget to give them the time and space to make their own decisions. Giving your child the power to make a few simple choices throughout the day can make a world of difference to them, and to you as well.

What I call "false choices" can also be a very useful parenting tactic. "We can read a book on the couch or at the table, where do you want to read." They have a choice in the matter, but in either instance, your child is going to be reading with you, which is the desired outcome. The possibilities for this tactic are endless, and it helps dissolve arguments.

I am a huge advocate of natural consequences. What does this mean? It means that I will let my children experience the natural consequences of their actions. They chose to continue to throw their toy across the room after I asked them to be gentle with it, and then their toy broke. This is hard lesson for a child to learn because they will likely be very sad that their toy broke; but ultimately, it is a much more powerful lesson than sitting in a time out because it is directly related to the incident.

This post here is another example where I had to talk to my son about how his brother does not want to come pick him up from school because he is always mean to him when he gets home. I don't like seeing my children hurt, but teaching them these lessons now and allowing them to experience natural consequences will absolutely help them grow into the adults that I know they can be.

My boys are both very persistent. They are always trying to find the loophole or plead their case so I learned early on that if I say, "No," I have to be ready to stand my ground without moving an inch. I learned quickly that if I said, "No" only to cave later, I was teaching my boys that I don't always mean what I say. Now I don't say "No" as often, and I am more careful about which battles that I pick, which makes for a happier household.

As Dr. Perron also mentions, it is so so important to have the parents on the same page & coming together as a united front. It is very helpful for children to have an understanding of what to expect from each parent, and know that there are similar rules and similar behavior expected across the board.

Much of what we do as a parent comes from a place of love, but do our children realize that? It is our responsibility to make sure that they know that they are loved, and I feel that it is very important for children to understand your reasoning behind your parenting. It bothers me when parents give the, "because I said so" answer to their children. I don't want my children to blindly follow directions! I want them to do things, understand the reasoning behind doing those things, and eventually make those good decisions on their own.

  • I don't want you to play with the car doors because your fingers might get pinched, and it is my job as a mommy to make sure you don't get hurt.
  • I would like you to share your toy with your friend because it would make her happy and doesn't it feel good to make others happy?
  • You need to go to sleep now so that you wake up feeling happy & so you can continue to grow big & strong.

As parents we do many of these things on a regular basis, but I also know first-hand how easy it is to get stuck in a rut and forget to take the time and effort to make sure that I am being the parent that I want to be to my children. Sometimes we need a quick reminder to get back on track, and Dr. Perron's Four C's of Parenting seem to do just that!

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