Category Archives: Positive

08Jan/18

4 Resolutions to be a Better Parent in 2018

If you are looking to improve your parenting, you are not alone.  It’s one of those areas that anyone who is trying to parent continually works on, sometimes daily, even those of us with fancy academic degrees and lots of experience.  What is beautiful about improving your parenting, is that your kids benefit, too.

As with any resolution, it is important to honestly examine where you could be doing better.  What are areas you feel you need to improve?    If we’re being honest…  I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions in the ‘typical’ sense.  My resolutions tend to be ‘Enjoy Life More’ or ‘Eat More Chocolate!’  So, maybe this blog should be called “4 Non-Resolutions to be a Better Parent in 2018.”  Or maybe my first parenting resolution should be to make a resolution?

All kidding aside, I do try to create a list of goals for the year that I re-visit often.  Once I have this list, I pick one goal – just one – to start with.  I tend to go with something that is just out of reach, but highly achievable so I won’t fail…  Some people have criticized me for not making “real” resolutions, but I find that success leads to success.  If I can accomplish something almost “do-able” then I can accomplish something else.

This is true when you are working on your parenting skills, too.  You might have a long list of things you want to work on and that’s ok.  However, if you choose one that you are pretty sure you can do without a huge amount of change or effort on your part, you can be successful.  Then you can move on to being successful at the next skill and the next skill.  Maybe a more challenging skill won’t seem so hard after all of the “do-able” improvements are taking shape.

Here are 4 parenting resolutions, or non-resolutions, to get you started in 2018.  These are areas that many parents express need improvement in their lives. I’ve included a few suggestions with each to help you be successful.

1. Connect With Your Child.

When you are with your child, be WITH your child.  Give them your full attention.  Listen, respond, engage.  Give them the attention they long for.  Put down your phone, don’t let email or Facebook interrupt your time.  You don’t need to spend hours with your child every day (unless you can!).  Even 10-15 minutes of quality time, focused completely on your child, will make a huge difference in your parenting over time by decreasing arguments and increasing your bond.

2. Let It Go. 

Take time to think about the things that are most important to you and those that aren’t.  Are you concerned with what others think about your parenting? Let it go.  Please don’t compare yourself to anyone on social media.  People tend to only post the perfect side of themselves, so you don’t see the sink full of dishes or the toys strewn all over the living room or the crying child on the floor kicking his feet in the air…

Are you concerned that your child doesn’t measure up to developmental achievements?  Let it go. Children develop at their own pace… in ages and stages, not according to a set schedule.  Kids tend to walk, talk, read and write when they are ready, not necessarily when the book says they should be.  My mom once said, “she won’t be walking down the aisle with a pacifier in her mouth.” You can substitute any word you need for pacifier (i.e., diaper, training wheels, etc.).

Focus on the things that are most important such as connection, sleep, healthy food, and being a good person who is kind and cares about others.

3. Yell Less.

This can be a tough one when you are feeling overwhelmed and are at your wit’s end.  And I haven’t met a parent yet who can claim he/she has never yelled at his/her child at least once.

Easier said than done.  Remember the last resolution?  Let it go.  Think about what is important.  It is nice to get out of the house and to school on time – especially if you’re concerned about what other parents think when you show up late.  However, you, or your child, might be having an off day.  It’s better to slow down and be a few minutes late than to constantly yell at your child.  Yelling can cause lower self-esteem and behavioral issues in children.

Ground yourself.  You’ve probably already heard that you should take deep breaths or count to 10 to stop yelling.  Try focusing on your feet being on the floor while you do this.  As you lower your stress-response, you will be able to respond better, in a calmer manner.

Please note – it’s still OK to yell if your child is in immediate danger.  If you don’t yell often, this might scare your child.  If you yell all the time, this might not phase your child.  In case of danger, be ready to act, too, not just yell.

4. Take Care of the Care Taker.

I talk about this a lot.  As parents, we are constantly taking care of others.  Parents give so much of themselves, especially if they have young children, and are often exhausted as a result.  Constantly taking care of others while forgetting to take care of yourself causes resentment and burnout.

Remember how I said that kids benefit from our working on our parenting skills?  While all of these resolutions will benefit your child, taking care of yourself provides one of the biggest benefits to your children.  When you take care of the basics (sleep, nutrition, and exercise) you feel better and can be a more effective parent.  Things that might bother you when you are stressed out and overwhelmed are less of a big deal when you feel somewhat ‘human.’  When you take care of your emotional self (getting together with friends, doing meaningful things, being creative, spending time alone), you enjoy your life more and model being a happy person for your child.

You Can Do It!

Which one of these resolutions seems like it will be easiest for you to be successful? 

Can you schedule 10-15 minutes of special time with your child this week and next? 

OR Can you try to figure out what is most important and what are things you can let go – and then work on actually letting one of those things go this week?  Does your child really need a bath and shampoo every day, or can they get by skipping one this week to spend special time with you? 

OR Will you set up some kind of system to yell less over the course of the next 48 hours? 

OR Can you schedule a date for yourself (with your spouse, a friend, or even with yourself!)?  One moment that you write in your calendar, in pen, to take care of yourself…

Remember, mistakes happen.  Mistakes are actually a great opportunity to model for our children that we are all human.  We can pick ourselves up, learn something, and try again.

I know you can do this.  Pick one resolution above and go for it!  Here’s to your small successes leading to more success!

 

 

As always, I am here to help you on your parenting journey.  Whether you gain insights from my blogs and emails, sign up to get my (almost) Weekly Tips (hey, I’m a parent, too!), or you’re looking for more personalized parenting advice and direction.  I am excited to welcome and interact with you.  I am here to encourage and help you to be the best possible parent you can be.

16Jan/17

You’ve Got This!

Focus on the Positive

Part II

Last week I wrote about the self-fulfilling prophecy: “You will find what you are looking for.”  So why not look for the good?!  I invited you to take some time to really stop to notice all the things your child can do and some things about him that make you smile.

This week, I invite you to focus on your parenting through a positive lens. Being a parent is one of the hardest jobs in the world.  And I bet, that even though you might not always feel that way, you are doing a pretty good job at parenting.

Stop and think for a moment.  What is one thing that you are doing right as a parent?  Do your children know that they need to stay buckled in their car seats to be safe? Are your kids going to bed nicely at night?  Do they enjoy grocery shopping with you because you keep them engaged?

We are very hard on ourselves as parents.  It’s so easy to dwell on the mistakes and regrets.  It’s easy to freak out in the moment instead of looking at the bigger picture.  Sometimes we need to stop and think if this will actually matter a year, or even a month, from now.

As a parent, it’s also easy to assume that every other parent has their act together.  I used to giggle inside when people assumed that because I was so involved and organized outside my home that the inside of my home was just as organized and spotless.  To be honest, the organization part isn’t bad, but even the few years that I had a maid didn’t seem to keep my home spotless!  I was spending more time playing with my kids than washing baseboards so that made it OK for me.

Think of this as permission for you to spend a few minutes as you are getting dressed in the morning, or ready for bed at night, to pat yourself on the back.  Think about some of the things you have done as a parent that have been successful.  Be specific and authentic with your thoughts.  Some days, that might include a sentence like: “My kids are still alive today!” and that’s OK.  The fact that they have made it this far with your help and guidance, is an accomplishment.

Congratulations!  Raising a child isn’t easy and you’ve made it this far.  There will always be ups and downs, but focusing on the positive will improve your outlook and spill over to make the downs not dip quite so low.

09Jan/17

Focus on the Positive

I am a strong believer in the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy:

“You will find what you are looking for.”

So why not look for the good?!  Focusing on the positive is the foundation of all the work I do with parents.

We get so caught up in our day-to-day activities that we often forget to look at all the great things that are happening around us. Unfortunately, our brains are wired to notice the negative.  It is simply easier to focus on what is going wrong. Taking note of the negative does help prevent mistakes from happening again, but it can be a real downer! Rather than dwelling on what could be better or what you should be doing, why don’t you pay attention to the things that are already going well.

Your mind is an amazing entity. Look for the good that is happening, think positive thoughts and you can transform your life.

I know, you’re thinking, “Sounds great Dr. Renee, but HOW can I do this?”  The fact that you are interested in learning more, indicates to me that you are already on the right path.

Start by looking for the good in your child. I know this is hard when you are exhausted and stretched beyond anything you ever imagined parenting to be. But I promise you, it is worth it.

Take a few moments as you get dressed in the morning, or ready for bed at night, and think about your child.  What are some of his positive qualities, traits, and abilities?  If you are feeling a little more ambitious, pick an entire day to try to look for positive things your child says or does.

Positive things can be something as simple as ‘sitting in a chair for an entire meal.’  Even if he’s strapped in a high chair, your child is sitting and not climbing/fussing to get out. Maybe your daughter smiled at you this morning. Maybe you took a few seconds to notice, and really enjoy, the sweet, little hand holding yours as you walked to the car. What about how he played with his friend and shared his toys? Or how she called a friend who was feeling lonely or looked sad at school? Open your eyes and look for the positive.

I am often asked, “Should I tell my child about all of these positive things I am seeing?” Then almost immediately, there will typically be one of two follow-up questions: “Will this boost his self-esteem?” or, “Won’t all that complimenting go to her head?”

It is OK to comment and praise occasionally, especially if you can point out a specific behavior/action and you are being authentic. However, just spouting off compliments all day could backfire. Your child might come to expect your input on everything in life (= not be able to think for himself).  Or she might begin to tune you out well before she hits the pre-teen years!

Focusing on the positive is more for YOU than for your child. Trust me, your child will benefit because your upbeat mood will have a ripple effect. Focusing on the positive is really more about a mind shift for you. It will help you find ways to be happier and feel a purpose as you go through the everyday tasks and necessities in life.

Stay tuned for next week’s blog. It’s Part Two of Focus on the Positive and it’s going to help you even more with your ability to parent.