We have all heard the term, “pack leader.” To some of us this term brings up thoughts of wild dogs or wolves, and to others it reminds us of a very popular television personality, Cesar Millan, also known as “the Dog Whisperer.” According to Millan, “a pack leader is by definition, strong, stable and consistent,” traits that are also very valuable in a parent, are they not?
Think about the following questions for a moment and be honest with yourself:
- Who in your family dictates your daily schedule?
- Is your daily schedule consistent?
- Is there frequent and/or ongoing change occurring in your child’s life?
- Do you let your child see you get frustrated with them or with others?
These questions, when answered honestly, quickly reveal how strong, stable and consistent you are as a pack leader for your children.
First let’s take a look at STRENGTH. This is a quality that most of us, including myself, could make some improvements in. We have all been there; had that day when everything in the house seems to be making noise. Finally you just cannot take it anymore and you snap at the next person who walks into the room. Or you are driving around town with your children in the car, someone pulls out in front of you and you demonstrate some serious road-rage. Sound familiar? Strength, while mostly intangible, manifests itself largely in the form of patience and self-control. By modeling both patience and self-control for your children in stressful situations you teach them what it means to be strong; strong of mind and of character. When your children see that mommy stays cool the next time they write on the wall or that mommy doesn’t yell at the rude driver in the parking lot, they too will start demonstrating a sense of strength in their daily lives.
How about STABILITY? Stability comes from things in your life that you CAN control. Are your children in a stable environment in which they can thrive? For example, do you have a clean and organized house? Do your children have access to trusted friends and family members they can call on should the need arise? Do you have open lines of communication with your children? Do you have a wellness plan for your family? Or are your children concerned for your health? All of these items you, as a parent, have control over. No matter what else is going on in your life, (i.e. stress, divorce, death in the family, etc.) if you are providing stability for your children they too will learn and grow to be a stable child, adult and eventually a stable parent to their own children.
Finally, let’s consider CONSISTENCY. If you are not consistent as a parent, you will never be your child’s pack leader. Consistency comes largely from your daily schedule, family expectations and follow-through. Children need structure. They need to know what is expected of them. By adhering to a daily schedule and implementing routines throughout your day you will not only make your child aware of your expectations but will be giving them the consistency in their life that they so greatly crave. Following through on promises and previously made arrangements has a great impact on your child’s ability to trust you. If you do not consistently make “good” on promises made to your children they will begin to lose faith in you. To be your child’s pack leader, consistent trust must be present. Your child must believe in the decisions and choices you make for the family. Being consistent throughout your day, week, month and year will build an amazing sense of trust between you and your child and you will naturally maintain position as their pack leader.
While all of us strive to be the best parents to our children, we inevitably lose our way at some point. If and when you feel as though you have lost your way just ask yourself, “Am I being STRONG, STABLE and CONSISTENT?” When our children are not responding to us as we wish, it is usually because we need to make some adjustments in one of these areas. A quick self assessment will reveal where we we may be lacking and help us to correct our course. It is important to keep in mind that as parents we may not always FEEL strong, stable and consistent, but we are still capable of demonstrating these qualities to our children. Make the choice to be a pack leader for your family. As your children enter adulthood, they will draw on memories of your leadership for comfort and guidance as they make their way through life, eventually becoming pack leaders in their own lives, to their families, children and loved ones.
Meghan Hamilton is a co-owner and author of Fusion Early Learning www.fusionkids.com . Meghan’s passion lies in educating young children in ways that excite and intrigue the learner, opening them up to a wider array of educational experiences. Meghan currently lives in Northern California with her husband and business partner Tom, and their two children Jack and Emma.