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Many of today’s parents fear that if they don’t give their children the right push out of the crib, they will not make it in this world of high-powered over-achievers. The fear is that anything less than a Harvard post-graduate degree will leave our children on the corner asking for spare change. The days of sending kids out to play to fend for themselves for hours on end are long gone. Instead we register our kids for music, French, math and gymnastics classes before they can walk trying to give them the edge.

Multiple research studies have shown that parents who hold firm but nurturing standards and let go enough to give their children autonomy raise children who do better academically, psychologically, and socially than either over-involved parents who push their children toward achievement or under-involved and permissive parents who set too few limits.

Even so, parents have a hard time letting go of what they think will give their kids a head start. Media and marketing doesn’t help to convince parents to buy less and allow their children to discover without all the bells and whistles. We give, we praise, we register in program after program hoping…for what? That our child will be rich and famous?

Dr. Carol Dweck of Stanford University studied children’s motivation by giving them simple puzzles they had no problem putting together. Some were told how smart and capable they were, others were not told anything. The ones who were left alone were more motivated to try more difficult puzzles and showed more confidence in their progress and ability.

Our goal is to instill self-motivation and confidence in our children to get through the hard stuff. They don’t need the way paved for them. They need our support and encouragement to deal with feelings of discouragement and disappointment, even failure so they can push themselves through the messiness to accomplishment. This is the sweet spot of self-esteem. It cannot be given to a child; it must come from within.

We give that confidence with trust—trust in our child’s developmental process, timing, and ability. That means knowing your child and being willing to stand back and watch. If it is too hard for you to let go of controlling what your children do, say, think and feel—of trying to make your children happy—then you might be a toxic parent.

Here are a few tips to check yourself:

Let your child grow. Development needs to happen from the inside out. Remember that the whole oak tree is present in the tiny acorn. What it needs to grow is the proper soil, water, sunshine and temperature. It doesn’t need any internal adjustment.

If you find yourself short on trust, the work to do is within yourself. It will not come with pushing your child to achieve. That is your cue that you are trying to make yourself feel better.

Ask, “Am I trying to meet my needs or my child’s needs? Am I the one who wants the gold star and best parent of the year award?”

Parenting a child doesn’t come with a handbook called “How to Parent”. Disciplining children is one of the most exhausting and overwhelming things you will ever to do. And since you are human, sometimes it is just too much, and you will get angry and lose it. It happens to all of us. But parenting when you’re angry is never a good idea. Haven’t you ever noticed that the more intense your anger gets, the worse your children’s behavior becomes? They react to the angry parent.

Children know how to push our buttons, which is precisely why it’s incredibly important to learn how to manage your anger. Here are 7 Anger Management Techniques to think about with child discipline:

  1. Give yourself a break. You are human, and therefore experience a wide range of emotions, even towards your own kids. One of those feelings sometimes is anger. It’s ok.
  2. Try, try, try not to take the bait. Your child will undoubtedly throw out some zinger comment that he knows will get you riled up. Don’t let it…if you do, he will know that he has control over you and will continue this behavior endlessly.
  3. That means take a step a back. Sometimes we’ve taken the bait before we even realize it’s happened. So stop…take a deep breath, and reassess what is going on. Walk away if you need to. Sometimes it is necessary so that things don’t continue to escalate. Come back when you feel calm and collected.
  4. Use your words to communicate clearly what is going on. For example, “I’m very angry right now. I’ve asked you three times to put your toys away, and you haven’t done it. It’s very frustrating for me when I have to say things over and over before you listen. And when I’m angry and frustrated, I tend to yell.”
  5. Take better care of yourself. When you are tired, stressed, and hungry, your patience and tolerance will be low, and you will find yourself snapping at everyone. Get some sleep, eat a healthy meal, and take a walk or a run.
  6. Let it go. I know it’s hard…but you need to learn to let go of what’s already happened…that’s in the past. Move on from it, or one little problem in the morning can ruin your entire day.
  7. ASK FOR HELP! There is nothing wrong with asking for help from a spouse, family member, friend, or babysitter. We’ve all been there. Nobody can do any job 24/7 without a break from time to time. Take one. You deserve it.