Parenting is awesome! Parenting is hard! Anyone that tells you differently is lying. I have two super strong willed children that question my every move while explaining to me why it's wrong. I like to think their genius observations of my inadequacies will get them a full ride to college. If my babies want something they are sure to nag me into submission with no less than 157 requests for the same thing. I am guessing this quality will serve them well as adults but I do feel sorry for anyone that's in their path.
I always question myself. What is it that I'm doing that I'm not doing right? How can I change my tactics to better maneuver them through the day with less bickering and more tranquility? I pray every day that I can raise them without ruining them.
If you're anything like me you've started a million times to try a new approach to the day and the way you love your children. I won't yell today. Today I will make 3 healthy meals. Tomorrow I am going to be organized. On Monday I am going to start praising them more. Maybe next week we will start a rewards chart. The ideas are endless. The intention is 100% pure. The attempt is usually short lived.
I have read numerous articles and books on raising boys, raising girls, good discipline, positive reinforcement, raising a strong willed child amongst others. They all have good ideas, theories and practices but implementing them isn't always easy. Did you also know that every child is 100% different? If you have 6 kids you will have to parent them, love them, discipline them and praise them 6 different ways.
In my research and the numerous failed implementations I have managed to find a few successful practices. I'd like to save you years of reading and heartache by just tell you what works. Remember that I've mentioned every child is different so these ideas can be tweaked to be universal for all members of your family.
• Criticism is immediately met with resistance. Using it typically gets you nowhere. Even "constructive criticism is bound to raise hackles. Use praise and reward instead of criticism. Children and adults alike are inherent pleasers. We want to make people happy. When a person of any age feels they have made someone happy they will feel good about themselves increasing self worth and self-confidence.
• It is important to praise the right way. If we are always saying "nice job we are just being repetitive. Be descriptive when handing out praise. You can say things like "Johnny you put all the toys of away. Did you do that all by yourself? It gives them the opportunity to tell you what they did and for them to be proud of their success.
• Describe what the problem is instead of blaming a child. For example, when your child spills their drink say, "Johnny, you were walking with your cup which is why you spilled it. Next time please sit down while you are having a drink. Now please get a towel and clean up the mess.
• I am a neat freak. I don't mind toys everywhere during the day but I want them put away in the evening. When I send my daughter into her room to clean I expect it to look one way and it rarely ends up that way. It is important to focus on the effort and not the outcome/end result. My daughter has worked really hard to get her room to her perspective of clean. I need to just be grateful that she tried. In the end it doesn't really matter what it looks like but she will feel good that I have praised her for her effort.
• I want my children to be motivated to be successful to do great things to do fun things. I want them to be brave enough to go out of their comfort zone. I have been trying to create this internal drive with praise but not with outright praise. I acknowledge their efforts by asking questions, and saying thank you. When my daughter shows me her homework I saw "Look at that. How did you come to that answer? Saying thank you is fun too. It often takes our children by surprise but they like to be appreciated just as much as we do.
Change takes practice and time. They say to create a new habit or to break an old one you must make the change for three straight weeks. I don't think that's too much to ask for the contentment of our families. Stay strong, stay committed. Make a positive change towards a peaceful home and self-confident children.
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