The Executive Role for Parents and Caregivers

In order to be effective discipliners of children, parents and caregivers should act in an executive capacity, which means that they should be embracing their role and responsibility of being in charge. A closer look at the Executive Role in parenting reveals what that entails.

The Executive Role in parenting

mom and young daughter
Children need parents who are willing to be “in charge.”

Children need parents who are willing to be “in charge.” Being in charge involves the three Cs:

  1. A sense of Calm in your body language, voice tone and eye contact.
  2. Being Clear by using specific descriptions.
  3. Having a Confident and assertive attitude.

It is important to recognize that the Executive Role requires parents to be firm, and sometimes immovable, but being firm and assertive does not mean being mean.

When parents discipline effectively, they continue to love and respect their children while they take charge. So, a parent does not have to be harsh or mean to be in charge.

In fact, in using discipline effectively, being in charge should help parents avoid:

  • Power struggles
  • Intimidation
  • Confusion

Setting reasonable expectations

Dad and young kids on a walk
When we are being a good Executive, we are considering and setting reasonable expectations for children.

When we are being a good Executive, we are considering and setting reasonable expectations for children. We must base our expectations on each child’s:

  • Age and developmental stage
  • Development Tasks
  • Uniqueness
  • Maturity
  • Situational factors
  • Temperamental characteristics, learning styles
  • Ability levels
  • Needs

Principles associated with the Executive Role

As in any job, the Executive Role should have values and beliefs that go with that role. Consequently, it is very important for parents to ask themselves how much they believe the following principles are true.

  • That it is your right and duty to act in an Executive Role as appropriate
  • Kids don’t have to like the rules and decisions
  • You are a benevolent authority (a family is not a democracy)
  • You can do all the things that promote and maintain a child’s self esteem and still be close to that child while disciplining
  • You can have confidence in your judgment as an adult or parent (your judgment is better than your child’s judgment)
  • Your child does not have to approve of your decisions
  • It is okay for kids to momentarily feel hateful, angry, rebellious, upset, or mistreated by their parent and to express those feelings respectfully
  • It is okay to be flexible and reasonable, to change your mind or even allow yourself to be swayed at times from a position of strength (but no matter what your decision, the bottom line is that the ultimate power to be the executive is yours!)

With this scope of factors in mind, let’s consider carefully how to embrace the role of Executive in our homes as we provide the environment to help our children grow toward healthy self-control. What a great gift we give to our children as we care for them confidently.

Gerry Vassar, President and CEO, Lakeside Educational Network

Some information taken from Preventing Violence through Effective Discipline, 2006, Diane Wagenhals. Licensed Materials. All rights reserved.

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