Every parent has had one of those days. The days when you feel like all you say is, “no.” While setting boundaries is a healthy part of parenting, we all question if our boundary walls are too high sometimes. It can be hard to remember that our little ninjas really are still little. Flexible parenting is based on respect between ninjas and their parents and unconditional love. While flexibility is the basis of this parenting style, clear limits, rules, and consequences are always set and known by both parents and kids. Flexible parenting has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression in kids. Some other benefits of this parenting style include an increase in communication, self-esteem, imagination, and overall positivity in children. So, how do you go about shifting your parenting style to allow more flexibility?
Accepting Failure is Step 1 to Being Flexible
The first step in flexible parenting is to let the little things go. Failures happen to all of us and letting ninjas know that it’s okay builds a more confident kid because they know they can get back up and try again. Turning little failures into learning moments and showing them that even their parents can fail at things can give them the greatest boost to not give up when things get challenging. Failures can happen in everyday life, in school, with friendships, and within youth sports. The number one thing your ninja will need when this happens is to know that you’re there to support them. Instead of the lecture that you used to turn to when a mistake was made, talk it through and help your ninja find their way to the solution that fits their situation best.
Embrace the Unknown
Because this a newer idea in parenting, it can seem impossible to know what’s right and wrong. This method goes against so much of how many of our parents ran their households and it’s hard to unlearn a parenting style that you were raised with. Embrace the unknown that comes with a flexible parenting style and take it as it comes. Trial and error is a large part of the process, and it is actually beneficial for your ninja to see you navigate a new situation. By showing them that making a mistake is not the end of the world no matter who does it and that persevering is always better than giving up you are setting the best example and expectation for them.
Find the Balance Between Flexibility and Consistency
It’s well known that kids do well with routines. Routines are comfortable, dependable, and ninjas always know what to expect. But too much routine can lead it to stress, anxiety, and inflexibility that can easily turn to meltdowns and tantrums. The balance between consistency and flexibility is different for each family and it takes practice to know what will work best for yours. From big flexibility that deals with completely arranging schedules around practice schedules and big events to small flexibilities that mean a quick errand unexpected errand, a ninja’s ability to go with the flow without total meltdowns can help them throughout the rest of their life. Things like bedtime routines, morning routines before school, and homework routines are still extremely beneficial, but keeping schedules more flexible outside of those can give ninjas a little more freedom during the day.
Know Where the Line is Really Drawn
There are ups and downs with every parenting style. Some of the downsides to flexible parenting can be defiance, disrespect, and underdeveloped coping skills. These can all easily be combated by setting and keeping boundaries that are right for your family. Make sure your ninjas always know where the line is drawn and that you are consistent in letting them know when it is crossed. Flexible parenting does not mean getting away with everything they want to, there are still consequences when misbehaviors happen. It’s more about finding a way to do it rather than doing whatever you want. As long as there are still rules and expectations, ninjas know what to expect and should easily be able to follow that while going with the flow.
There are many parenting styles to choose from when raising little ninjas that it can feel overwhelming – there is really no answer to what the right one is. Each family unit is different and needs different pieces from each of the different styles. Don’t be afraid to try new things in your parenting. Step outside the box and go with the flow more. It may surprise you how much it can benefit your ninjas and your family unit as a whole.
Written by Robert Helfst