Parents want their kids to succeed in all areas of life, but it's our everyday interactions that make all the difference. Check out Mighty Mommy's 10 simple ways to bring out the best in your kids.
Tip #1: Be consistent
Consistent parenting makes kids feel safe because there are no surprises. When you make a decision to enforce a new rule, and you're wishy-washy with follow-through, you're teaching your child that you're not serious, and soon, he learns your word is not to be trusted or relied on.
Let's say you want a new bedtime routine to be effective, well consistency is critical. So commit to your plan for the long haul, seven days a week, and you'll reap the benefits of less stressful and more restful evenings for years to come. You're also teaching your child that you mean what you say and that he can always count on that.
Tip #2: Say, "I love you."
After 27 years of parenting, I know I may not always like my kids, but there isn't a day that goes by that I don't love them. I also know that although I feel this love deep in my heart, my kids need to know it too. In my episode, 15 Little Everyday Ways to Show Your Family Love, one of my tips is to tell your kids that you love them every day. Although you know you love them, when they hear you tell them this regularly, you're validating their feelings. What could be better than that?
Tip #3: Don't overschedule
When I first became a mom, I couldn't wait to sign my daughter up for as many enriching activities as we could handle. Within three years, I had four young kids, and those extracurricular experiences began turning into a full-time job.
In my episode 6 Ways to Create Unstructured Playtime for Your Kids, I share practical ways to incorporate more free time into your children's schedule. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children get enough physical exercise and have an hour per day to unwind, relax, and have some simple creative playtime. One of the best gifts I gave my eight kids was not filling in every free hour on their calendar with a new club or sport. By not overscheduling them, they relied on their imaginations to create experiences that kept them entertained for hours, and I didn't have to cart them to as many activities. A great win/win for all!
Tip #4: Forget about perfection
We've all heard the expression, "There's no such thing as perfect," and that applies to parenting as well. In Perfect Families Don't Exist—How to Be Good Enough, I shared an article from Psychology Today that hit home. It reiterated what most parents already know—striving for perfection is destructive and infringes on your happiness. There needs to be a healthy balance when trying to achieve high standards. Here's what the author, Dr. Jim Taylor, had to say:
"At the heart of perfectionism lies a threat: if children aren't perfect, their parents won't love them. This threat arises because children connect whether they are perfect with their self-esteem; being perfect dictates whether they see themselves as valuable people worthy of love and respect. There is no scientific evidence that perfectionism is inborn. The research indicates that children learn their perfectionism from their parents, most often from their same-sex parents. Through their parents' words, emotions, and actions, children connect being loved with being perfect."
Dr. Taylor recommended an antidote to perfectionism—excellence.
Excellence takes all of the good aspects of perfection (e.g., achievement, high standards, disappointment with failure) and leaves out its unhealthy parts (e.g., connecting achievement with self-esteem, unrealistic expectations, fear of failure). A trait of great parents is knowing that excellence still sets the bar high, but it never connects failure with the love you give your children.
Tip #5: Create memories and experiences
The American Psychological Association's research shows that kids who grow up with family memories are more satisfied with their adult lives. There are endless ways to create great childhood memories for your kids. From a silly birthday party where everyone makes and wears crazy hats, to eating an inside picnic dinner on your living room floor on a rainy summer evening, kids will hold tight to these cherished moments.
Capture your treasured family memories with 5 Creative Ways to Use Your Family Photos.
Tip#6: Set clear rules
I have a confession--I've always been a rule follower. I know that may not sound like fun, but while raising my brood of eight kids, my tendency to follow rules led me to establish a household in which routines and limits were the norm. In my popular episode, 5 Parenting Mistakes and Easy Fixes to Correct Them, the first mistake I discuss is having a parenting life without restrictions.
My pediatrician stressed the importance of rules when I was in my early days as an overwhelmed mom. As I mentioned in that episode, an easy way to set rules and boundaries is to incorporate them into your daily routines. Once your kids know what to expect, you'll be able to implement clear guidelines for all areas of your life, and you'll stay on task with an orderly and chaos-free home.
Tip #7: Help your kids tune into their emotions
One of the latest buzzwords in parenting is emotional intelligence. I had no idea how important this concept was until I spoke with Marc Brackett, Ph.D. author of Permission to Feel. Dr. Brackett says, "Too many children and adults are suffering; they are unaware of their feelings and emotionally unskilled, but they don't have to be."
He teaches us how to become emotion scientists so that emotions can help rather than hinder our success. In his book, he presents a five-step method he calls RULER. Nearly 2,000 schools have adopted this evidence-based approach to social and emotional learning, pre-K through high school, across the United States and other countries.
Learn how to help your kids (and yourself!) tune into their emotions by listening to my interview with Dr. Brackett in How Emotional Intelligence Can Help Your Child Thrive.
Tip #8: Catch them doing good
One of my favorite parenting tips ever is this one: focus on the positive things your child is doing and when you notice them doing something good, let them know. Comment, write down what you've observed, and hang it up on the fridge, or text it to them. And don't do it just once, or twice -- do it often!
Tip #9: Never neglect self-care
One of the best examples of greatness you can set for your family is showing them that your physical and mental well-being is a priority. When we work on our own stuff, we can better embrace our loved one's deficits and help arm them with their tools to love themselves.
If you're not already making time to care for your own needs, now is the perfect time to start. Begin carving out regular blocks of time to sit quietly with your thoughts and get away from the hectic schedule that typically surrounds you. You'll find ideas on prioritizing yourself in my episode 10 Creative Ways to Indulge in Regular Self-Care.
Tip #10: Offer heartfelt apologies
One of the most memorable parenting moments I've ever had was when I owned up to a mistake with my son. My mistake wasn't something I was proud of, but I acknowledged it immediately and apologized. My son was a senior in college, so he was old enough to realize the scope of the situation. It wasn't my actual apology that he noted, it was how sincere I was about making it, and he called after the fact to tell me how much he admired me for doing so.
That is one of those parenting blunders that could've been a disaster, but my heartfelt apology turned it around, and it became a teachable moment for both of us.
In my episode How to Apologize to Your Child, I share that saying sorry is difficult enough when you have to apologize to an adult, but it's even more problematic when we have to make amends with a child. Regardless of whether your child is three or thirty, if you ignore the wrongdoing and don't address how your actions made your child feel, you can potentially cause long-lasting damage. Choose the greater option and apologize with sincerity. As with my situation, it can leave a lifelong impression on both of you.