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Parenting 101

 

The title is a bit of a misnomer since there is no manual on parenting. Well there are but I can’t say that any one book or person can tell you everything about parenting your own child. Each family is different and every child requires a unique parenting style. Even within one family you could use different techniques for different children. The problem is that we don’t all have several tricks up our sleeves or know what to try next when our usual parenting style isn’t working.

If you are a parent then I’m sure you’ve been in a place of self doubt at some point. We all want to do our best for our children.  When you first held your child in your arms, I’m sure you did not envision sleepless nights, piles of homework, and fights over too much screen time. You probably pictured spending quality time with your child and activities that brought joy to both your lives.

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So how does reality start to vary so much from your dreams?  Making the choice in how to response to your child is hard when it’s dinner time and everyone is hungry (including you) and your child starts to have a meltdown.  Instead living the dream you end up trying to keep it all together. Most parents spend a lot of time making sure the needs of everyone are met: do they have food, clean clothes, school work done, etc.  So time for fun becomes lost in the shuffle.  That’s why so many people want a guide tell them what to do. How to get back to the picture of parenting that seems joyful instead of stressful. It’s hard but not as hard as it sounds. It just takes some time and a clear plan on how to get there.

Parenting 101 is just a way of saying where do I start? What’s the first step in bringing joy back into parenting?  Well here is one way of breaking it into manageable steps:

1.  The first step in making the changes you want in your life and the life of your family is really defining what is important to you. If you are struggling with quality time with your loved ones, then that would be the priority.

2. After defining what it is important to you, the next step is coming up with a goal.The goal you come up with must be something that is achievable and works for you. If you set a goal of 3 hours of quality time per day with your children but in reality you only have one hour of time to spend, then your plan will fail.

3. Once you have a goal, you must make a plan on how to get there.  Finding the right person for support is key. That person can help you come up with the plan and make sure that when you run into bumps in the road you have help.

4. Beyond creating a realistic goal and plan you must be given the tools for how to make it succeed. You may come up with a plan but have no idea on how to make it work. This is where that support person comes into play. This person should be someone with experience in that area and an ability to be available to you to provide support along the way.

Using these steps to start making meaningful changes at home will lead to better results. The best result is when you start experiencing more periods of joy in your parenting.

 


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Children’s tactics to get what they want.

Every child seems to have an instinctively stubborn way of trying to change the word “No” into a “Yes.” It happens to every parent. Your sweet child suddenly turns into a whining, screaming, crying mess when you say “no.”  Usually this is best done in a public place to call more attention to you and make you feel obligated to do something quick to make him/her be quiet. Now other children may have made it through this phase and know that a tantrum won’t work (kudos to you for breaking them of the habit), but now they try more subtle tactics like bargaining or logic to explain why it should be “yes.”  This type of tactic is more sly than the first and you may not even realize you are being had until later when you think, “Why did I let him have that?”  It’s a common problem that all parents face. Figuring out that your child is using these tactics is the first step to developing your own tactics to diffuse the situation and keep your sanity. Children can outsmart the best of us and the only way to beat them at their own tricks is to use the same type of mentality. Discussing “why” with a child that bargains will almost always result in you giving in or having a much longer conversation about candy than you ever wanted to.  The same goes for temper tantrums. Giving a long explanation about why their behavior is not appropriate won’t work. Being clear and consistent are your keys to success. Give the child an explanation ahead of time of what will happen if they try to tantrum or bargain their way into something.  That way when they try it (and you know they will) you can give a reminder about what will happen. Then when they try again (and they will) you follow through. Voila problem solved! Now this will take work because your child will probably wonder why their tactics are no  longer working. They may try again and again to get their tactics to work. But the more consistent you are the quicker they will learn that your rule is supreme. You can once again feel that yes you can outsmart a child (at least sometimes)!

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