Hello! My name is Heather and I am excited to be a new member of the contributor team here at ‘Or So She Says…’. Before I share with you three easy parenting tips for 2014, let me tell you a little about myself.
My husband and I have five children (ages 12 – 6 weeks). I am also an adjunct faculty member at Brigham Young University where I teach students the principles behind successful families. I am passionate about helping families grow stronger together, and share tips about parenting, marriage, and motherhood on my blog, Family Volley.com. I am also the Producer/Director of the Listen To Your Mother Show here in Northern Utah. I love making new friends and look forward to stopping by once a month to share tips for making your parenting and family life easier.
Being a parent is by far the most challenging and rewarding endeavor I have ever been involved in. And although our children have different needs and personalities, here are three tips to help every parent find success in this upcoming year, and always.
First, find 15 minutes a day. If we want to have strong relationships with our children, we HAVE to spend time with them. Not just every once in a while, but research shows that we need to find at least 15 minutes a day to spend with each child on an individual basis. This is uninterupted time where we put our phones and computers and the laundry away and just focus on them. Get down on their level, look into their eyes and really listen to what they say. If you are wondering what you are going to do, sit down together and make a list of all the things that you could do. From baking cookies, to going for a drive, playing a game or just chatting about the day. Then when it is time to be together, you wont waste it trying to figure something out. Pick something on your list and have a good time. Your kids will feel supported, listened to, understood, and you will even see improvements in their behavior. You will find that a little time makes a big difference.
Second, Don’t hold grudges. This one might sound silly. We stopped holding grudges back in junior high school, right? Wrong. It can be really easy for us as parents to hold grudges against our children and not even know we are doing it. The embarrassing temper tantrum they threw in Super Target last week can have a huge affect on how we feel about being patient with them today. The fight you have over practicing math homework after school can make you subconsciously irritated when they ask for help on a project or if we will read them a story. It is very hard to start each new situation fresh, but we have to. We can’t let chips on our shoulders keep us from loving our children unconditionally. We can’t hold grudges against our selves either. I might not have handled the temper tantrum correctly last week, but I have to let it go and do better the next time it happens. We have to let go of the worry about how we look. Get past the tantrum in public, forget about the stares from others, and worry only about our children, our families and what is best in each situation. We can’t let resentment take over towards our children, or else it will always be there. We have to just keep loving them.
Third, Stop using a red pen. When I was in graduate school I had to take a TA course so I was prepared to assist professors. The first day of the course they taught us two things. First, avoid grading any papers with red pen. The color red immediately puts someone on the defensive and makes mistakes stand out over things that have been done right. This is discouraging to the student. Second, they taught us to always make a comment about something the student did right, before we made any comments about what they did wrong.
As parents, these two principles apply to us also. Using a red pen is like constantly pointing out our children’s shortcomings. We don’t need to spend all our time pointing out what they are doing wrong or need to do better. We wouldn’t like it if someone did that to us all day. Our children do not need to grow up with their mistakes constantly glaring them in the face. This will discourage them and immediately put them on the defensive. Our children will feel like doing something good won’t matter because we are always pointing out the bad. We shouldn’t point out their mistakes to others either. Constantly pointing out shortcomings is like using a red pen instead of a black one. It won’t make our children feel any better.
Just like I learned as a TA, we also need to start with the positive when we talk to our children. Then we can follow up with the problem. Maybe the only positive we can come up with is “I love you”, or ” you tried really hard, thank you”. Work to not say something reprimanding until you have said something positive. In fact, the goal should be to make 90% of our conversations with our children positive, with only 10% negative, correcting and reprimanding.
As parents, if we can implement the above three easy parenting tips, we will see marked differences in our relationships with our children. There will be more trust, love, patience, understanding and even laughter as you get to know one another better and express love more often and openly.
If you had 15 minutes with your child today, what would you do?