Is becoming a better parent one of your New Year’s resolutions? If so, you’ll want to adopt these six parenting strategies in the new year. Parenting isn’t easy and each year it can seem to be a little harder. As children grow older they grow one step closer to independence. As they gain autonomy and learn to express their own feelings and thoughts, parents must respond compassionately and consistently to effectively shape children’s confidence and values.
As you embrace the New Year consider embracing these six parenting strategies:
1. More listening less talking. In the business of daily life it’s easy to become accustomed to barking orders to the kids and walking away before a response is even given. This year, commit to taking the time to listen more than you talk to your kids. You’ll be surprised at what they’re willing to tell a compassionate and caring listener. You may just discover your child’s plans to solve the problems of the world.
2. More decoding less exploding. Many parents find themselves in a constant state of reactive parenting. Instead of letting your child’s behaviors set you off, step back and take a minute to explore what your child’s behavior really means. If a child seems suddenly irritable, for example, perhaps he is in need of a snack. Children express needs through their behaviors and once you discover and meet the need behind the behavior, the behavior naturally will improve.
3. More family meals less Happy Meals. Children who eat regular meals with their families do better in school and are less likely to engage in risky behavior. While it’s often easier to just grab dinner for the kids on the go, make sitting around the table and sharing a meal at least twice a week a priority for your family this year. The time you spend together with strengthen your family relationships and bonds and provide opportunities to reconnect after fragmented days.
4. More play time less screen time. Put the digital devices down and encourage active play. This year make a commitment to limiting your children’s screen time each day and encouraging outdoor and indoor active play instead. If children resist, provide opportunities for them to earn screen time. For every half an hour they play allow them to earn five minutes of screen time or only allow screen time after playtime and homework is complete.
5. More whispering less yelling. Instead of yelling at your kids to pick up their toys, call them over with a whisper and in your softest, gentlest voice, ask them to clean up. This year is an opportunity to learn that your soft, thoughtful voice is much more likely to be met with cooperative behavior from your child.
6. More engaging less entertaining. Shift your thoughts from entertaining to engaging when it comes to spending time with the kids this year. Entertaining is one sided: one person does the work for the other’s enjoyment. When you’re engaging the kids, they are responsible for actively creating half of the fun. Playing board games, having a tea party, playing tag and building a block castle are all ways parents can actively engage their kids.
No one parenting strategy ever works for every parent and child but those rooted in compassion, understanding and respect will always put you on the path to parenting success.