Five Tried and True Parenting Tips
My husband and I have it fairly easy on the parenting front.
Last night after a day filled with very few parenting struggles, the dishes were empty and cleared, the baths were done and painless, the kids were jumping on my bed (I sent them there) to burn out some last-minute energy and we simply had to look at each other and pat ourselves on the back for a job well done.
Don’t get me wrong…we battle meltdowns and tantrums. We have to repeat ourselves and occasionally raise our voices and dish out time outs and revoke allowance.
But not that often.
For the most part, we know we have it good. Our children are really well-behaved, both in the home and outside of the home. They are respectful and well-mannered and as logical as they can be for their ages (7 and 3). And while I certainly chalk some of that up to genetics, I do believe that nurture plays a heavy hand alongside nature as well and I am proud that we’ve developed a style of parenting that works for us and our kids. I believe every child, every home and every rule is different but there are a few tried and true tips that we’ve incorporated through the years that consistently make a difference in our home. So naturally I thought I would share them with you here:
Lead through real life. If I want my kids to learn to share, I give them things to share. Instead of offering two separate snack plates or two bowls of popcorn or two iPhones to play with when a dinner out has gone too long, I give them one and tell them to share it. If one of them needs help with something, I offer up their sibling as a solution first, before me or their dad. Need help tying your shoe? Ask your big sister. Need someone to get you another apple? Ask your brother. By showing them good behavior through actions (theirs, not mine) rather than just words, I am leading them down the right path one footstep – their own! – at a time.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. This should be in every new mother’s handbook. Seriously. Don’t cry over the spilled milk. Don’t lose it when a vase is broken. Don’t argue with your toddler (again) over him wanting the blue cup when you’ve set out the red one. Give him the blue one. Pick your battles and save your energy for the moments where it really counts. Does that mean give in to everything? No, no, no. Rules are fast and firm in our house, but we save them for the important stuff (clearly jumping on my bed is not one of those things…who really cares if they jump on the bed?).
Don’t label. I see this all the time. If you call your kid “shy” or “difficult” or “girly” then that’s how they will act. I cannot tell you how many times I have tried to say hi to a little kid and the parent jumps in to label them as “a little shy” before they’ve even had a chance to respond. Maybe he/she is shy and that’s fine, I will realize that in a few moments on my own…but let me realize because of your child’s behavior, not the label you are so quick to stick on them. I have been guilty of this with both of my kids. I labeled Little D a “tomboy” for a long time and Kai thought his middle name was “troublemaker” for a while there…but I’ve made a conscious effort to let their personalities (tomboyish and somewhat troublemakerish) shine through instead.
Give them more responsibility than they could ever expect. Let them walk down to the mailbox by themselves (or if you’re like me, let them think they are walking by themselves and watch like a hawk from the balcony). Let them create their own screen-time schedule (with your sign off, of course). Let them pour the milk when they’re still at the age where they are likely to spill it. And then don’t get upset when they do. By giving your kids little doses of self-confidence and independence in the every day, you will set them up for big doses of it down the road.
Say yes when they least expect it. This is probably my favorite because it’s simply the most fun. If you want your kids to listen when you say no, practice saying yes. Especially when they least expect it. A Friday night movie night that happens on a Tuesday. Using your little brother as a paint canvas just because (we did this, turned out great; they both had a blast). An impromptu trip to the ice cream shop…for the second day in a row. By giving my kids the gift of “yes” when they are expecting another “no” (again, within reason…), I’ve developed a new level of understanding and communication with them that works really well for us. Now when they get a “no”, they know it’s one that matters and that odds are another “yes” is around the corner so they accept it without hesitation…as soon as they’re done jumping on my bed, of course.
*image above via here