Parenting is difficult. Changing the way you parent may be even more difficult. While knowing what and where to change as a parent can be confusing, the steps to developing a better relationship with your child may be more familiar to you than you thought.
Statistics show that nearly everyone has made intentional changes in their eating habits at some point in their life. Many diet several times. And some say that at any given time, approximately 50% of all women are dieting. So we are definitely familiar with the idea of improving eating and exercise habits, but improving parenting habits remains terrifying for many.
Although there may be many more, I have outlined some ways that making such decisions can be identical to being a great parent. I hope that this will un-complicate the parenting process for you, and encourage you to pick one area that you can improve upon – with the goal of making your relationship with your child that much stronger.
- Whether we’re striving to eat healthy or be a good parent, we have to have a purpose. Love for your child is going to be the epicenter of your motivation to parent well, however, there may be several motivations branching off from that – depending on you. For example, perhaps you had specific childhood experiences that you don’t want to be repeated for your own son or daughter. What can be your motivation to be all you can be as a parent?
- The Decision
- Deciding may very well be the most important step. Deciding involves an element of one thing - that if you do it, the outcome is always good. I think for most parents, it is staying calm when your child is misbehaving. Something I share in my classes is “when you child escalates, you deescalate. They scream, you whisper. I encourage you to Decide on one thing you can change at a time. This will help you from getting distracted and lost. You will not be able to be perfect at everything, but perhaps you can set a goal of mastering one and go from there.
- Like accomplishing a weight-loss or other health related goal, the journey of being a good parent to your child is an intentional one. Without an initial decision to make specific changes in your parenting habits, the impact will most likely be minimal, nonexistent, or quickly reversed.
- A Plan
- Without having some sort of guide, list, or curriculum, making healthy strides in the condition of your body is going to be difficult. For example, a magazine or website may have a running or dieting schedule. Even an article in the news explaining some basic points can give you some ideas of what changes may be necessary. Likewise, a simple statement of “I am going to be a better parent” may not be enough. The “how” soon becomes a big question. Love and Logic® is great for this part. I recommend Love and Logic® not only because I am trained and experienced in it, but because I have watched the tools completely transform parents’ relationships with their kids time and time again.
- I have personally experienced that dieting without exercise is not effective, at least not for long. A parent can read day in and day out about how to be a better parent, but without acting on that knowledge, no impact is possible. Also, parents need to be able to endure the strenuous times, like being willing to say “Yes”, “No”, or give Grace and Empathy even when it may be painful or exhausting to do so. We as parents can’t be afraid to get our hands dirty, or break a sweat.
- Regardless of the purpose or method of a dieting or nutritional plan, without making it a lifestyle, the truth is that most people will gain much of the lost weight (if not all of it) right back. Parenting without follow through is very similar. Consequences are a good example of this, as they must be set – then stuck with. Also, any parenting “upgrades” that you might be undertaking need to be for the long haul. In parenting, progress with your relationship with your child can be quickly lost.
- Just as many choose Weight Watchers, CrossFit or other programs to gain disciplines, accountability, and knowledge in order to meet their goals – parents can be active in groups to share experiences and support. This could be in the form of in-person discussions with friends, blogs, Forums, Facebook groups, or even Twitter feeds.
Out of these 6 items, what is your one thing you could focus on to improve your parenting - your one thing that you can commit to and stop old patterns? Again, you will never do everything perfectly, but I bet you can do one thing really well.
I hope that these connections have helped you understand how making changes in your parenting style doesn’t have to be an earth shattering occurrence, but instead, are just as simple as many decisions we make everyday.