Happy New Year friends! I hope that the beginning of 2012 finds you all well, relaxed and rested. Wishful thinking? Well then I hope that you will find moments of relaxation and restfulness in 2012. And one way to do that is to make sure that you are helping your kids be their best by having clear expectations, setting boundaries, laughing with them and establishing reasonable consequences for unacceptable behaviors. Help 2012 be a great year for them as well!
So many of the laundry list items that we set out for ourselves at the beginning of a year center on ways to make ourselves better; better read, in better health, better at a skill or hobby and better at living a balanced life (check out some favorite resolutions from the Washington Post). Spending more time with family is another favorite, though I’ve never heard or read anything that said “spend better time with family.” For some people spending more time does mean that it is better, but for many families, more time spent with each other does not mean “better.” In fact, it can be worse if parents and other family members are worried about quantity rather than quality. So why not include better time with family? Is it blasphemy to be honest or admit that your time with family could actually get better? Does that mean that it stinks currently? It’s a touchy subject.
If you find yourself playing the role of referee between children or often listening to the loudest kid, couldn’t your time with your kids get a little better? If kids are competing for your attention in inappropriate ways or you find yourself arguing with your kids on a regular basis, couldn’t your time with your kids get better? If you threaten your kids a lot or don’t follow through with consequences and promises, couldn’t your time with your kids get much better?
Sadly, becoming a different kind of parent is just as difficult as losing 75 pounds, probably even more so. Both require a major change in your behavior. As every parent knows, deep down, the behaviors that we want to see from our kids are extremely intertwined in our own behaviors. If we give in and argue back, then arguing is a way to get what you want. If we yell, then yelling is a way to get your point across. If we always give attention to the squeakiest wheel, then the way to get attention is to squeak (or hit or cry or whine).
But how can you get started on the road to this change? Without sounding too much like an infomercial that tells you that you only need 10 minutes a day to look fabulous!!, give yourself something bite-sized to work towards. Goal: Today, I will praise my child 5 times by saying things like, “I just heard some very polite words from you. What manners!!” or Goal: Today, I will ask my child to wait 5 minutes to play with me while I finish a chore & then I will actually go play when 5 minutes is up even if I’m not finished with my chore!
I know that becoming a more relaxed, restful, well-balanced parent isn’t quite as sexy or braggadocious as losing weight or finally reading War & Peace, but I think that it’s a pretty important resolution to make.