This activity is intended for parents and may be used either
as an outline for single presentations to groups or as a topic guide for
parenting classes. In addition, it may
be used as an adjunct to counseling situations with parents and families. The goal of the activity is first to
introduce the idea of the multidimensionality of children and the importance of
understanding and relating to the whole child.
The second goal is to encourage an orientation to the needs and
interests of the growing and developing child and away from seeing parenting as
something one correctly or incorrectly does to children. The third goal is to encourage an approach
that emphasizes the relational, interpersonal basis of parent/child interaction
and discourages any emphasis on direct control or use of direct power within
the parent/child interaction.
The Multidimensional Child
1. You child is a physical/doing person. What do you do to facilitate and encourage
his/her healthy physical growth and development?
2. Your child is an emotional/feeling person. What do you do to facilitate and encourage
his/her healthy emotional growth and development?
3. Your child is a moral/spiritual person. What do you do to facilitate and encourage
his/her healthy moral growth and development?
4. Your child is a social/interpersonal person. What do you do to facilitate and encourage
his/her healthy social growth and development, healthy interpersonal
involvements and activities?
5. Your child is a sexual person. What do you do to facilitate and encourage
his/her healthy sexual experience?
6. Your child is a cognitive/thinking person. What do you do to facilitate and encourage
his/her healthy and ongoing cognitive growth and development?
7. Your child is part of his/her environment. What do you do to facilitate and encourage a
positive environment for your child at home, at school, in your community?
Being Parents and Children Together
The key to being the parent the child needs comes in terms
of understanding and responding to the unique child while maintaining the
balance between overinvolvement and underinvolvement, exercising too much
control and providing adequate structure and guidance, influencing too much and
not enough, overparenting and underparenting.
The next key comes in terms of modifying and adjusting ones parental
behavior and parenting style in ways that are responsive to the development and
changing interests of the child from infancy into adulthood.
8. How do you manage your childs environment in ways that
take into consideration where he/she is developmentally? What did you do differently when the child
was younger? What will you do
differently when he/she is older?
9. In what ways does your approach emphasize controlling the
child and in what ways does it emphasize controlling the childs environment,
the childs opportunities?
10. How do you maximize the
use of positive physical techniques reinforcement and minimize or eliminate
the use of negative physical techniques punishment as you influence and
manage the child? How do you adjust
these techniques to take into account the age of the child?
11. How do you relate to your child emotionally and use
his/her sense of attachment to you as you influence and manage the child? To what extent is the appeal in terms of
doing it for you or because you asked?
To what extent is your approach based on your being happy or upset and
to what extent is it based on what the child sees as being or not being in
12. In what ways does your approach to the moral development
of your child emphasize rewards and punishment conditioning and in what
ways does it emphasize simple reasoning, judgment, and an internalized sense of
right and wrong, good and bad? In what
ways is your approach different for preschool-aged children, grade school-aged
children, adolescents, adult children?
13. As your child relates to peers and is involved in other
social relationships, how do you use permission and restriction as a way of
influencing those involvements? In what
ways do you encourage positive involvements and discourage negative
involvements? How does your approach
take into consideration the age of the child, where the child is developmentally?
14. In what ways does your approach encourage and facilitate
the blending of physical, emotional, moral, and social development into the
developing sexual interests and involvements of the young person? To what extent does your approach emphasize controlling
the sexual activities and involvements of the young person and to what extent
does it emphasize faith in the child and in his/her judgment, discrimination,
and ability to manage himself/herself?
15. How do you facilitate and encourage the cognitive
development of the child? To what extent
does your approach emphasize the childs adopting your values, beliefs, and
ways of thinking about things and to what extent does it emphasize his/her
independent and developing judgment, reasoning, decision making, and
thinking? How do you assure congruence
between your approach and the developmental level of the child?
16. As the child moves from childhood into adolescence, how
does your parenting approach take into consideration: your increasing inability
to physically control the young person, the increasing reality that
limit-setting only works if the young person consents to the limits, the
continuing need to influence the behavior and actions of the young person, the
decreasing appeal to the young person of doing things for you and the
increasing need for him/her to do things for himself/herself, the increasing
moral and value-related influence of peers and society, and the young persons
17. How do you use discussion and informational support
within your relationship with the young person, knowing that receptivity to
these techniques is at the young persons discretion?
18. What do you do to maintain a position where you may
provide the young person consultation, advice, and guidance on an as needed
basis while maximizing the likelihood that the young person will take advantage
of these resources available from you?
19. What are you doing now to encourage and facilitate your
adult children to maintain a relationship with you within which you may: extend
physical support and advice, provide emotional nurturance and understanding,
convey moral respect, be involved both as parent and friend, demonstrate
acceptance of who they are sexually, and serve as consultant and sounding