Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Before I had children of my own, I had tons of information about parenting.  Six years of graduate school in child clinical psychology will do that to a person! I learned the ins and outs of rewarding, ignoring, time out, and just about any other parenting strategy you could think of.  I taught these skills to parents to use with their children and was always sure to tell them the “textbook” guidelines for how to handle problem behaviors.

Well, that was all fine and dandy until I had children of my own!  It was only then that I found out that much of what you learn in psychology and parenting textbooks is pretty hard to put into practice in real life (no matter how long you were in graduate school!).  It’s not as easy as it sounds to ignore your screaming child in the grocery store because that’s the correct way to handle that misbehavior, when you know good and well you can put an end to their crying if you just buy them some candy!

I quickly learned that I was going to have to change my way of thinking when it came to parenting.  Knowing all the tricks of the trade was going to be of no use if I couldn’t put them into practice with my own children!

I think the one thing I caught onto quickly that helped me the most was to TRY to do things according to the way that the experts recommended.  Getting a lot of knowledge on how to handle behavior problems is half the battle.  Then, prepare to use what you know when your child acts up.  When I don’t (which happens more often than I’d like to admit), I like to reflect on it and think about what I wish I would have done differently.  That helps me mentally prepare for the next time the same situation occurs, and it undoubtedly will.  Then I have in my bag of tricks for the future some ideas on how I can handle that crying child on the candy aisle, because they’re usually mine!


  1. Angie White says

    Love this! Thank you for sharing your wisdom and authentic self!!! I think you should have a TV show! Seriously!!!

  2. Kathryn Besong says

    Thank you Polly! Love it! It helps so much to hear from other Moms, especially with your background! Keep the posts coming!!

  3. John Warra says

    Raising children is not something that can be taught. While books, videos, firends, family, and even blogs can give you tips on what has and has not worked for them, the only way to learn is through trial and error. I have 4 children and each one has come with their own personalities, traits, and challenges. What worked with one child did not necessarily work with the next. I think we all start out trying to raise our children in the manner that our parents raised us. If those techniques didn’t work, or if we came from bad upbringings, then I believe we reachout to other sources to discover what others have tried. In the end, our trial and error eventually lands on something that works. When the next child is born, we start from square one again. There is no perfect way to raise a child. If we teach them right from wrong, provide for their health and welfare, and give them the love they deserve, then we as parents have been successful. Beyond that, it’s a crap shoot.

  4. says

    I am right there with you on the doctorate in Psychology not always matching up with being an actual Mom! Thanks for your human-ness and imperfection.


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