The Corporate Parent

Are you a better parent in public than you are in private? "If your approach is congruent whether at home or in public children avoid becoming confused or fail to learn the message and lessons you try so hard to teach them." Have you ever wondered why some family outings are just more stressful than others and those special children in your life who usually make your heart sing now just makes you want to cry? Or sometimes their playful antics and sense of humour when in a public place seems to have simply passed its "amuse by date" and you no longer feel like laughing ? either at home or in public? Well, if you are anything like me, you would be nodding by now! Parenting in private and parenting in public are often two very different sets of skills and from my own experience often require two very different sets of breathing techniques to survive. Just like in childbirth, sometimes it requires breathing slowly and deeply - other times fast and furiously.

Funny thing really, the same technique in the workplace is often very helpful in de-stressing difficult situations! Parenting under the public eye often provides mothers and fathers with a barometer on managing their stress levels and can even assist in diffusing situations. Pitch, tone, pace of voice, mannerisms and timing of responses generally are more controlled when we are under the public eye and ear. We have all heard those words "Wait till we get home," said under someone's breath, and wonder what awaits that child. Does the tone of voice say it all? Many of us will agree that parenting is not always easy ? either privately or publicly and certainly busy places such as restaurants, supermarkets, shopping centres or theatres can work either for or against the parent or child when it comes managing a difficult situation. The old saying 'Street Angel, House Devil" comes immediately to mind and describes how intuitively and cleverly children know when and how to behave. Perhaps there should also be a saying like "Loving Parent ? Just Exhausted" Yet, behind closed doors the manner in which many parents may respond may not as guarded as it may be when they in the public eye.

Being in your own home provides you and your children with a different set of rules and behaviours and children learn very quickly what they may be able to do in public may not work at home! The feeling of being overwhelmed, tired, or angry are normal human emotions many parents feel and by expressing those emotions and feelings in private often provides greater license to release their frustrations. The same feeling in public may require the parent to add another layer of controlling their voice to managing the situation. However that is not always the case. I recently overheard a young child of about 7 years of an age in a department store crying in response to a parent screaming at her for not being able to keep up with the mother who was walking too fast.

When the mother said" Did you hear what I said" - the child responded with "No, you were screaming too loud" The message here: The strength of the voice does not necessarily carry the strength of the message. In our work places, behaviour guidelines can provide us with a safety net and often protect and support us. Codes of behaviour are to a large extent defined by the values of the organisations and people we work with and communication works most effectively when we know what to expect from people and the way in which the interaction will be conducted. Some people in my training sessions have expressed that it is often easier to come to work than to parent children. They reflect from their experiences the workplace is often less physically exhausting, less messy and while some tasks are pretty routine, there is a greater more immediate sense of productivity that can be lacking in day to day care of children.

Others disagree and say the opposite, but where they do agree is that they often resolve issues with their children more quickly in public than they do in private and with less stress and anger. Perhaps the fear of being embarrassed, being seen as an ineffective parent, or judged poorly may be the catalyst for managing more fruitfully. One of the keys to successful communication with children is being consistent in the way you respond either at home or in public. If your approach is congruent whether at home or in public children avoid becoming confused or fail to learn the message and lessons you try so hard to teach them. In conclusion parenting in public may make many people more conscious and aware of their habits and skills as parents, while parenting in private often requires greater control over the ability to manage emotions and feelings.

Greater awareness, consistency and self-regulation are ways to assist you in challenging circumstances, and remember if all else fails, keep breathing!.

Ricky Nowak CSP MAICD MCEOI Certified Speaking Professional | Corporate Trainer | Executive Coach Director, Confident Communications Ricky Nowak, The Communication Catalyst, builds top performing teams and individuals by delivering programs, innovative solutions and accelerated coaching techniques. PO Box 2047 Wattletree Road East Malvern Victoria 3145 +613 9500 9886 |

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