As we enter a new year, I wanted to share with you five great New Year’s resolutions for parents. Actually, I always try to keep these tips in mind – no matter what time of year it may be. These are called the LEARN principles and I think they make a great plan to help you improve your parenting skills. After all, we always have more to learn!
Top 5 New Year’s Resolutions for Parents
Listen To Your Children
Families are busy and constantly rushing from work to school to extracurricular activities. Sure, parents want to spend more one-on-one time with their children, but many believe there just aren’t enough hours in the day. But it can be done.
Commit to giving your child your undivided attention for a period of time every single day. Make sure that you allocate a realistic amount of time for each child. As little as five minutes can go a long way. This time can be spent at the dinner table, playing a game together, or during bath time. Morning, noon, or night. The when and where don’t matter as much as the fact that you are making it a habit to talk with your child and to listen to the things that they think are important. You are teaching them that what they have to say is valuable. In turn, by taking the time to listen to your child, your child may also be more likely to listen to you.
Another great resolution for parents is to establish consistency. When you’re busy trying everything and nothing seems to be working, frustration can build for parents and children. Decide on a consistent parenting strategy and use it in your day-to-day interactions with your child. Make sure that other key people in the child’s life are on the same page with this strategy, such as your partner or the grandparents.
Stick with whatever strategy that you choose for at least two weeks so that you will see if it works well for you and your child. Research shows that it takes a full 30 days for a new habit to stick. If the strategy that you chose seems to be ineffective after the trial period, try something else for two weeks. Eventually, you will discover the parenting strategies and family routines that you believe will work toward your long term resolution.
Adjust Your Expectations
No, your five year old won’t be able to write a college level essay. And, your teenager probably won’t want to come home right after school to do homework. It’s normal. Discover age-appropriate “norms” that may help you to understand your child better. Consider your expectations for their behavior with their stage of development. Become familiar with your child’s personal strengths and weaknesses.
Children develop differently and the best approach is to support their efforts instead of comparing them to other children. If they are moving forward and growing they will always excel much faster with positive reinforcement and encouragement.
Remember To Follow Through
A key to these resolutions for parents is follow through. A classic example probably just happened when Mom or Dad said “Clean your room or Santa won’t come this year.” But what really happened? The kid didn’t clean the room but Santa came anyway with lots of goodies. The child has just learned that he/she doesn’t have to clean up because the threatened consequences were not implemented.
Follow the age-old adage “Say what you mean, and mean what you say.” This goes for both positive and negative interactions with children. Follow through on threats for punishment as well as promises of rewards.
Take it one day at a time. When you wake up in the morning, decide to be mindful of what you say that day, including any promises or threats that you make to your children. When kids see that you follow through, they are more likely to trust what you say and to listen to you more. When parents don’t follow through, kids may eventually learn to tune their parents out.
Notice The Good
Sometimes parents spend too much time and energy telling their child over and over again about all of the negative behaviors that need to be changed. However, research shows that positive energy is better for the any relationship and may go a lot further in helping a child to overcome a difficult situation. You can improve your relationship with your child while simultaneously building up your child’s self-confidence and self-esteem.
Acknowledge one good thing that your child does every day. Mix it up by praising them privately and in front of others, such as extended family or friends. Highlighting good behavior each day can make that behavior more likely to happen again and will boost your child’s confidence that they can make good choices in the process.
These resolutions for parents require dedication and commitment, far beyond January and, as with any New Year’s resolution, know that it’s OK to screw up and make mistakes along the way.
Treat each new day as a fresh start, and try again. Also, encourage your kids to set their own New Year’s resolutions or make a dream board. It’s OK to think outside the box and get creative here. You can help them to break bigger resolutions down into smaller, more manageable goals, so that you may LEARN together.
Good luck with your resolutions for parents and Happy New Year! What are your New Year’s resolutions?
Rob Youngblood is a Single Dad, Keynote Speaker, Life and Communication Coach, Emmy Award Winning TV Host, Writer, and Storyteller. You can follow him on Twitter.