I am a mom/step-mom of seven and a clinical psychologist, so I have a lot of experience and training in psychology and parenting! I love talking about and teaching parenting skills! I love sharing what I know that is tried and true and what helps to make life easier and more enjoyable for all!
Here are my TOP FIVE PARENTING STRATEGIES
One-on-one time has such a positive impact on the parent-child relationship. It is easiest when there is only one child, of course, but it is still possible with more than one child. This is actually probably more important for families with more than one child because it allows the children to know they have your undivided attention for a least a few minutes a day or a week.
One-on-one time allows children to know they are important and valuable. It lets them know they will have time with their parent without distraction and on a regular basis. This helps to open lines of communication when the child is little and keep those lines of communication open when the child is older, which is so very important to have good communication. If children learn they can talk with us about the little things and have our full attention when they are little, they are more likely to be willing to talk with us about the big things when they are big.
One-on-one time does not need to be huge exciting vacations with only one child. This is great one-on-one time and makes great memories, but the little daily or weekly one-on-one time events is what is often most important. My husband and I had seven kids at home when they were little and one-on-one time was still possible!
Here is what worked for me!
- Scheduling dentist or doctor appointments for 11 am or 11:30 am, allowing for lunch one-on-one after the appointment and before returning to school.
- Reading stories one-on-one at bedtime (for the younger ones)
- Talking with each child at bedtime about what they liked and didn’t like about the day
- Car time alone on the way to or from extracurricular activities
- “Girls’ days” or “boys’ days,” it’s not quite one-on-one, but it’s a least a smaller group of kiddos
As a parent, we assume we have the post appropriate expectations for our children. But, do we??
Part of figuring out what our children should be expected to do or how they are expected to behave comes from the norms of what other children their age are doing. We might get this information from books or from other moms, as well as by comparing a younger child to an older child of our own.
These are great ways to begin to figure out what is appropriate. However, each child is different. Just because child #1 did this at that age, does not mean child #3 will be able to do it at the same time and in the same way. We need to individualize our parenting to meet our children’s needs where they are at.
The best example of having appropriate expectations is one I have used with my kids for years. Just because sister needs a new bra does not mean all the children (girls and boys) need a new bra too. Each person has different needs and we need to know our children well enough to know what those needs are or to know how to figure out what those needs are.
When we have appropriate expectations, we can give appropriate conseqeuences. We can also decrease some tears from the children and stress for parents when we expected them to do what they are capable of doing. You can’t expect the three-year-old to walk the dog around the neighborhood and then get mad when she does not do this on her own. That is not an appropriate expectation for a three-year-old and would cause both the child and the parent a lot of stress if this was the expectation. However, this is an appropriate expectation for a thirteen-year-old.
In my opinion, consistency and appropriate expectations are the cornerstones of building successful family relationships. Appropriate expectations were discussed above. Consistency means following through on what you say you will do when you say you will do it.
That sounds easy and straight forward, but it is not always easy.
It’s easy when we think about being able to plan and plans go as scheduled. We plan to do something fun and then everything works out. However, we also have to think about other situations. Maybe plans get cancelled due to rain or someone in the house being sick. We can’t follow through on those plans at that moment, but we can talk with the kids about why plans have changed and make new plans for the future.
It’s not so easy at other times. Remember that one time your parent yelled at you when angry and gave some sort of crazy consequences? Or maybe you or your spouse did this to your children? I’m guessing no one followed through on that wild and crazy consequences (ex. grounded until 30, no cookies for a year, etc…) This is one time when you were not consistent, but this is a good teachable moment for the kids. You can discuss saying things you don’t mean when you are angry and how this negatively affects others. You can also use this moment to talk about making good choices. However, you can also use this as a teachable moment in regards to establishing a new, more appropriate consequences, rather than no cookies for a year.
No matter if it is easy or difficult to be consistent, it is important to your relationship with your child or children. They need to know they can rely on you for the little things (bedtime story) and the big things (they hit something with the car the first time driving alone). Being consistent allows them to be able to know they can trust you and it gives them a sense of secuity at any age. My children know what they can expect from me given their choices and are not surprised when they get the same expectations and consistency they always have. This goes for my grandkids too–no food outside the kitchen and not shoes in the house!
4-Have Fun Together
One of the best bonding experiences for parents and children is doing activities together and having fun together. These activities can be as simple as doing crafts at home or going to the local zoo or they can be as big as family vacations. (I have a personal love for Disney World!) It doesn’t matter what you do, it’s that you are spending quality time with the children.
Chores can even be a fun activity! I hate to mop floors. It is just one of those things I find too time-consuming and annoying. However, when my children were elementary school age, I made it into a fun game they enjoyed. In the winter, I would let them put on swimsuits and “swim” in the kitchen or bathroom. I would move the furniture (in the kitchen), give them rags, put soapy water on the floor, and let them slip and slide around! They had fun and I had a clean floor!
We’ve done plenty of fun vacations through the years, but the children remember the little things just as much! They remember baking cookies at Christmastime, decorating for holidays, having fun birthday traditions, and all the other small, fun activities they have shared with you through the years!
5-Self-Care for Parents
Yes! Self-care is important for parents. You take the time to recharge your car by adding gasoline. If you don’t, the car simply will stop moving until you do. The same is true for our bodies. We need to have time to recharge ourselves and reduce stress before we can fully care for ourselves, much less all the other people in our household!
Self-care can be difficult for parents, but it’s not impossible. You may just have to be a little more creative! Week-long beach vacations are fantastic, but they are not something we can do every day or every week. We have to figure out ways to care for ourselves in little ways so we can better handle the stress life throws at us!
Here are some quick daily or weekly activities parents can do to rejuvenate and have a little self-care:
- Read a book after the kids are in bed
- Go for a walk alone
- Have a lunch date with a friend or significant other once a week while the kids are at school/daycare
- Listen to music you enjoy
- Take a bubble bath
- Watch a movie with a friend or partner
- Date your spouse
- Eat healthily
- Get a little extra sleep
You can also try this five day self-care challenge to help get you started focusing on a little self-care each day!
Want more parenting tips??
Check out my book! It’s available on Amazon in paperback and for Kindle. It’s also available on this website in pdf format (with additional printables the Kindle version does not have)!