Parenting is the most challenging job you will ever have. When it’s 6pm and your two daughters won’t stop fighting over the iPad while you are trying to make dinner, when your three year old is (very loudly) letting you know how mean and awful you are for stopping them mashing playdough into the carpet or your tween is refusing to talk to you because you won’t let them stay at a friends on a weeknight, it can be tempting to wish for a nice relaxing career as a child-free astronaut (because then you might get a little peace and quiet). Unfortunately, there isn’t a manual for parenting, but the following is Youthrive’s three top tips for making day to day life a little more positive and a little more enjoyable for you and your children.
Give yourself a break
Kids don’t need us to get it right all the time to grow up happy, healthy and well adjusted – in fact, seeing parents having a rough day and modelling skills like problem solving, seeking social support and coping with big emotions is a valuable experience for kids. When things get tough, remind yourself that you are the very best person for the role of parent to your child and that your child thinks you’re doing a great job (even if they don’t always let you know).
Make time to give your children your undivided attention every day – ten minutes playing a favourite game with them, talking about their day at school or reading a book together before bed. Catch your child behaving well and give attention to the behaviours you want to see, using praise to tell your child exactly what they were doing right e.g. “I really like how you are taking turns with your sister playing on the iPad” or “you’re doing a super job packing away your toys!”
Ask yourself WHY, WHAT and HOW
All kids will engage in challenging behaviours at times. When your child displays challenging behaviours – take a moment to stop and ask yourself WHY is my child doing this? (Do they need attention, sleep or a break? Are they having trouble waiting or dealing with big emotions?) WHAT do I want them to do or learn instead and HOW will I help them learn the skills they need?