Struggling with parenting? 3 tactics to try.
Loving your children is easy. However, no matter how much you love them, there are days when being a parent wants to make you tear your hair out and cry. Children are a lot of work; they push your buttons as they learn to understand their boundaries. Keeping your head when kids are acting up is key. If you feel you need help with employing the tactics laid out in this article, there is no shame in seeking out parent coaching. Raising a child is no small task, so asking for help when you need it shows you care.
Consistency is key
Consistent parenting is like consistent household management. If you can stay on top of certain activities, such as laundry and dishes, everything will run a bit smoother. To that end, you may find that your mornings are now a mess. If your mornings are chaotic and rushed, your child may face each day feeling anxious and stressed.
To reduce this pressure on all members of the household, create a nighttime ritual. Discuss homework, check the child’s work, and check their school materials to see if there’s anything you need to buy or sign. Empty lunch containers and prepare sandwiches and snacks to pack for the next day. Set out clothes for the following morning and take care of baths before bedtime.
One of the keys to good parenting is to mirror these behaviors for your children. Lead by example and treat yourself as a model for your child to follow. If you pack a lunch to take to the office each day, let them see you cleaning out your food containers and wiping out your lunch bag. Let them see you store your work computer away at the end of the day. Patterns your children recognize will make it much easier for all to keep everything in order and have a calmer morning and day as a whole.
When you give a child a correction or an instruction, be extremely specific. If their room is a mess, go through the space and let them know exactly what needs to be changed. Age-appropriate tasks, such as
- placing toys on the shelf or in a bin,
- setting books back on the shelf,
- putting dirty clothes in the hamper,
- making their bed
should be arranged so the process is quick and simple. A comforter with a sham is easier than a bedspread, for example. All shelving should be easily reachable, as should the hamper and trash. You may need to stay in the space with them while they make these changes, but strive to create a schedule so your child can just let you know that they have tidied their room.
Check out the space, give gentle reminders, and celebrate what they did right. Remember that isolation can feel like punishment. Being alone in the house so you can clean up maybe a gift to you, but it can be very distressing for a child. Give your child the information they need to tidy their room to your satisfaction, then leave the door open and check in on occasion. Let them know that they are not in trouble by doing something fun after chores.
Praise the behavior you want to see
Change is hard for everyone. If you are trying to get a child to try new foods, for example, involve them in kid-friendly cooking and include one ingredient they don’t care for. If your child hates mushrooms, encourage them to pull stems while you slice up fresh mushrooms for a casserole or a stew. Note how much the mushrooms cook down in the heating process and how small they get. When your child makes a change and tries a mushroom, celebrate their bravery and willingness to try something new.
Make sure that this celebration is not a nag. Quietly tell a child that you’re very proud of them for the change they are working on. Pair this conversation with a hug, a squeeze, and a kiss on the head. Don’t make a big fuss, which may embarrass the child. Most importantly, don’t say “Finally!” and make your child feel that making the required behavioral change will never be enough. This can set your child up for despair that will carry into adulthood.
Staying consistent and keeping your cool when your children push your buttons can save you a lot of emotional distress and keep your blood pressure in check. Be consistent in your behaviors so you can mirror good decisions for your child. Celebrate their efforts to fulfill your instructions.