Were You a Good Parent This Year?
New Year’s is an excellent time to set resolutions for the year ahead and to reflect on this past year of parenting. Besides reminiscing about the wonderful times you spent with your kids, take a minute to consider how you did at these 10 essential parenting skills.
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Parenting Skill #5: Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
One of my favorite rules of parenting is, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” Having an immaculate home, unstained clothing, a car that isn’t laden with crumbs and empty juice box cartons, and a kid who wants to wear unsightly combinations of stripes and plaids means absolutely nothing at the end of your parenting day.
When you become a parent, your priorities change. Those inconsequential, day-to-day mishaps are a part of life -- let it go. Spilled milk, muddy floors, broken furniture—these incidentals must be factored into the parenting equation and then let go as soon as possible. If you stop getting worked up about these minor, unimportant things, if and when a real crises does hit, you’ll be much better equipped to deal with it.
Parenting Skill #6: Be Extremely Consistent
Make sure your child knows if you promise consequences for good or bad behavior, that you will deliver them - every time. Consistent parenting makes kids feel secure because there are no surprises by you, the parent, when a decision or promise is made. If you’re not consistent all of the time, you’re teaching your kids that your word is worth nothing. Just don't say it if you aren't going to do it. And on the other hand, if you say it, be prepared to do it.
Parenting Skill #7: Keep Your Cool
If you lose your cool in front of your kids on a regular basis you are teaching them that angry behavior is acceptable. Any time you lose control and yell or argue with someone, you're showing your children that this is how people react when times get tough.
Instead of losing your temper, show grown-up behavior by keeping your cool and resolving the problem at hand in a calm manner. If you do lose your cool, be sure to apologize and take responsibility for your anger. That is another way to model healthy behavior.
Parenting Skill #8: Keep the Lines of Communication Open
Effective communication is a critical parenting skill. Prepare your child for independence and adulthood by asking her often how she feels about the things going on in her world including school, boyfriends, extracurricular activities, and anything else that you know your child is interested in. Talk often and keep open discussions going about drugs, drinking, money, sex, personal safety, current events, and whatever else is a concern.
Talk often and keep open discussions going about drugs, drinking, money, sex, personal safety, current events, and whatever else is a concern.
Really work at finding out where your child is on all of these topics. Just be careful about turning each discussion into a lecture. For example, start the discussion with a question, such as "What would you do if someone at school offered you alcohol?" Listen to your child’s answer and try to put yourself in their shoes.
Nonverbal communication is also an important parenting skill. It's particularly useful when you want to eradicate undesirable behavior, particularly whining and complaining. In this case, the best thing to do is to consistently ignore the undesirable behavior and copiously reward good behavior.
Parenting Skill #9: Get Back to Basics
With today’s families keeping a rushed and often overwhelming pace just to maintain day-to-day life, many people are starting to realize that modern life comes at too high a price. The solution? Getting back to basics.
See also: How Routines Can Simplify Your Life
I’ve seen many parents in my community, myself included, step back and make more healthful choices that reflect increased physical activity with their kids, eating better, and some have taken up practices like yoga and meditation so they can stay more focused, have more energy, and simply live in the moment rather than continually worry about what’s coming next. By modeling this approach for our kids, we teach them to make similar choices for themselves as well.
Parenting Skill #10: Examine Your Own Life
Finally, take a good hard look at your own life. You need to be the person you hope your child will become. It just doesn't work to expect them to be one way if you are modeling another. For example, if you want an honest child, you must be honest—with everyone. If you let your kids see you telling a little white lie, it sends the message that it's okay for them to lie to you. Wrap up your own year by honestly assessing your own personal inventory and make sure you are leading by example in the new year.
How do you reflect on your parenting skills throughout the year? Share your thoughts in the comment section at quickanddirtytips.com/mighty-mommy or post your ideas on the Mighty Mommy Facebook page. You can also connect with me on Twitter @MightyMommy or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit my family-friendly boards at Pinterest.com/MightyMommyQDT.
Parents aren’t perfect, but if we routinely take some time to reflect on what’s working and what could use a little improvement, it turns into a win/win for the entire family. Wishing you all a healthy, happy, and loving New Year!
Until next time--Happy Parenting!