“Honey, sit down at the table with that right now.” The amount of individual instruction that comes out of my mouth each day could fill a landfill. Parenting. The very word can feel intimidating. Parenting is a huge amount of work; molding little minds not only to simply obey, but to “obey right away, all the way, and with a good heart”. Parenting is both an exhausting and rewarding endeavor. As a mom of four, ages 6-10, here are some tips I have picked up for the New Year.
Listen more. Speak less. I must teach my children the art of “explaining themselves”. Often, I assume to know the situation, what they are thinking, and what must be done to simply move on. Life is not always about moving on. It’s about finding solutions. If I can give this skill, they will have it for life. Parenting needs to be proactive, not reactive. “Head ‘em off at the pass!”. Anticipate your child’s reaction and have a consequence ready. Always think of the character trait you are teaching. You just don’t want them to “stop hitting each other!” You want them to learn physical respect. Make the rules the bad guys. “Mom, you are so MEAN!” “Hey, look at the rule. It says, ‘Do not hit. Respect each other. Consequence: No screen time for one day.’ You did the hitting, you can’t watch TV or play videogames today.” Also, if they do a good job, let them realize it. Instead of saying, “I’m so proud of you for not giving up,” ask, “How did it feel to not give up?” Their accomplishments are about them, not you.
“Today, I will pray to be consistently consistent.” One of my favorite parenting mantras from Ann Voskamp. “I will create safe rhythms that our children can find security in. I will create daily ceremonies because everyday we are celebrating the gift of now.” Children need a schedule. They need to know 12:00 is lunchtime, and look forward to it. Make it more than food; talk and listen to one another. Read something together. Make it a habit. Read books before bed, or go for a walk together every Saturday morning. Children flourish when they know what is coming next.
Parenting. Let the word be filled with anticipation, with time, with consistency, and with joy.
Tedd Tripp, Shepherding a Child’s Heart
Dr. Kevin Leman, Have a New Kid by Friday
Ann Voskamp’s blog, A Holy Experience
For more parenting advice and adventure, see other articles by Tracey Westphal
The Saga of the Ninjas
Teaching an Attitude of Gratitude
Little Tykes Basketball Hoop–A Twisted Review