As we hit mid-summer, we wanted to share some parenting tips that our pediatric team has found to be helpful. Hang in there parents and caregivers – you’ve got this!
Control What You Can: Your Response: Don’t let your emotions get the better of you by responding in the heat of the moment. When you are giving a consequence, what matters isn’t how bad it stings or how much it inconveniences your child, what matters is how consistent you are. Being confident in this process allows you to stay calm and, in their corner, which is where you want to be anyway.
Tackle One Issue at a Time: Trying to solve all the troubles at once, is not an effective way of bringing about behavior change. Most parents and kids just become too overwhelmed with the pressure to improve every part of their lives at once. So, slow down and focus on just one issue you can work on.
Role Model the Behavior You Want to See: Role modeling is a powerful way to influence good behavior. It’s true that kids watch what we do more than they listen to what we say. Even if it doesn’t seem as if you are having any influence at all on your child’s choices, remember that perception is not always reality.
Don’t Personalize Behavior: When your child breaks a rule that you established, you feel as if he is disrespecting you, that he must not care about your feelings by breaking your rule. But, as difficult as it might be, don’t take it personally. Keep your focus on them and their inappropriate behavior and not on how their behavior makes you feel.
Aim for “Good” Not “Perfect”: Too often we compare our lives, our kids, and our parenting to those around us and we feel as if we don’t measure up. Don’t believe your “not good enough” thoughts. All families struggle in one way or another. Just do the best that you can and keep trying to improve. And don’t beat yourself up if you seem to fall short. Learn from every experience, and you can try to do it differently the next time.
The Importance of Self-Care: Self-care is doing an activity you enjoy, such as walking, reading, or talking with someone about the issues you are facing. It’s taking care of your own needs and desires and is often overlooked. It is difficult to be an effective parent when you are stressed out and exhausted all the time. By practicing self-care, you will have the energy to tackle your child’s behavior and feel empowered to consistently apply new parenting tools.
Walking Away Is Sometimes the Best Response: Parents can find themselves frustrated and burned out from constant arguing and power struggles. There is a technique that is often the best in the moment, to just walk away. When your child breaks a rule, give the consequence and don’t get dragged into an argument about whether the rule is fair or not. If your child insists on an argument, you can just walk away. By taking some time to cool down and allowing your child to do the same, you are increasing the chance that you will be able to have a calm conversation with your child that’s more effective and productive.
Have Patience, Behavior Change Is a Process: Inappropriate behaviors are learned and developed over time. And so are appropriate ones. Learning new and appropriate ways to solve problems takes time and the more consistent and repetitive you are in addressing your child’s behavior and choices, the more likely you are to create effective change for the long term.
Adapted from “Our Eight Best Parenting Tips for 2019” by Denise Rowden, Parent Coach