This is the time of year everyone talks about goals and resolutions. You may recall some of the “resolution” conversations you’ve had with your family and friends already this year. There may have been declarations like “resolutions are dumb” or “I have 15 resolutions this year”. You have probably seen that out of all of the changes we tell ourselves they are most often on an individual basis (diet, exercise, etc…) Why not think about how you can better your family this year as a parent.
When it comes to a parenting resolution it can actually be worth setting goals each year. Although a parenting decision or resolution doesn’t have to be at the beginning of the year – just like using daylight savings time as cue to change your fire detector battery, January is just a convenient time of the year to set goals for your family.
Examples of a parenting resolution might be to break down a specific area that is causing stress, or perhaps there is value you want to intentionally develop in your children, like compassion or kindness. Either type of resolution, taking some time to think and brainstorm HOW you are going to achieve the resolution is key.
Here are some ideas for the HOW:
1. Character is Caught not Taught. That means modeling is your best tool to help your child develop the values and character qualities you want to see them use. The key to modeling is to engage with the child with joy and excitement. Because we all drawn to anything new and exciting. Think of a traffic accident, we all slow down and look. For example, if you want to teach the value of hard work to your child, engage withthem in doing chores. That’s right, doing the chores with them and having fun while doing it is important.
2. If you need to change a stressful behavior your child is doing (getting up in the middle of the night or not wanting to brush their teeth, etc…) the key is choosing one behavior that you want to change and then decide what consequence you can apply to teach the child that the current misbehavior is not getting them anywhere. For example: There is often a battle around brushing of teeth. The consequence’s Love and Logic® suggests always choosing from are:
· Remove the child (time-out)
· Remove the offending object
· Removing the parent
· Remove what means life, privileges
Let’s look at these. In this situation removing the child could work, you can simply put the child in time-out until he’s willing to brush his teeth but….maybe not what you want to do right before bed. How about an enforceable statement that removes what means life, such as “I read stories to kids who brush their teeth.” However, of all the consequences that you can apply, removing yourself from the audience of the power struggle is the easiest. So, simply use an empathetic one-liner like “so sad” then turn away from the child and give NO verbal or physical interaction until the child shows compliance. As soon as the child shows compliance, you are praising and happy to be a part of the situation.
Keys to successful parenting resolutions are:
- Determine what you want to change.
- Put strategies in place making the resolution a reality.
- Stay calm in the process: anger and frustration fuel misbehavior
- Have a accountability partner
Here is a general link outlining how to keep a resolution.