Proactive Parenting

Proactive parenting means thinking ahead before your children reach a certain age. So before you have children think about what approach you will use for discipline; before an infant comes on the scene think about how you will manage your time. Before you have a toddler think about safety in the home, before they're school age, think about their education. Before they're teens, think about how much outside activity you will allow. Before they go to college think about what you want them to know about dating. Etc. Etc. Etc. Thinking ahead, reading, discussing with your spouse, seeking advice from people you admire, will help form your goals as an effective parent.

The opposite of proactive parenting is reactive parenting. Reactive parenting is letting life take you where it will. You wait until you're at that stage and there is a situation you weren't expecting and then you scramble to find answers. 

A parent who disciplines proactively will set up rules ahead of time, and then communicate them clearly to the child. A parent who responds reactively waits until something bad happens and then responds accordingly but no rule or lesson is learned so when it happens again there might be a different response. This kind of inconsistency is confusing to a child.

For example, a mother goes to put her boy to bed. They brush teeth, read a story, and she tucks him in. The boy doesn't want to go to bed, so he asks Mama for some water. So she gets him some water. Then he gets up and plays with toys. She says to herself, "Well, I guess he's not tired yet." So he is allowed to play for awhile. Finally Mama says, "Time to go bed." So she tucks him in for a second time. Soon he pops out and asks for another story. Mama reads to him again. Two hours later he's still up messing around. By this point Mama is so exhausted she yells, "Just go to sleep!" The son starts crying because Mama is mad and then everyone starts crying!

That is a classic example of Reactive Parenting. The proactive parent would state clearly in the beginning what time would be bedtime and then would stick to her guns and not allow him to get out of bed for any reason. She may have to pop him back in bed twenty  but eventually he'll get the message. Mama is serious. By the second or third night he stops trying.

Proactive parenting means anticipating the next thing. What could go wrong? What do I want to see as a result of this? What are my goals? What might interfere with my goals? What should I be looking out for?

Blessings to you!