3 Simple Strategies to Help You Parent Better in the New Year
No matter how many children you claim as your own, being a parent is hard. From the constant second guessing yourself to the sleepless nights, it's a miracle we manage to get through each day. My two older children, ages 2 and 4, test my patience more times than I care to count. I know this is a normal part of their development, but it doesn't make their behaviors any easier. Instead of yelling and screaming when they aren't listening or when they are acting like wild monkeys, I have made a conscious decision to use more positive parenting strategies.
1. Give them Undivided Attention
Toddlers have an innate need for attention. When they are provided with undivided, positive attention they are less likely to feel they need to use negative behaviors such as throwing toys, whining, and yelling.
According to Dr. Laura Markham, providing your toddler with attention creates a feeling of belonging. In turn, your child will produce fewer frustrating attention-seeking behaviors. I have been making it a point to sit down and play with my toddler before dinner time because this is the hardest part of our day. By giving him this attention, he typically remains content and is able to play independently while I cook dinner.
We all have those never-ending to-do lists, but by taking time to truly engage, you'll improve all aspects of your child's life as well as yours.
2. Give them Choices
We make all the decisions for our children, from where they go to what they eat and who they play with. Toddlers not only seek attention, but also demand to be in control. If they are not given chances to be in control, they will attempt to create control of any situation by throwing a tantrum or flat out refusing your request. Instead of fighting the endless battles, rethink the situations that are the most difficult with your toddler and offer them some choices.
In my son's case, he has the most meltdowns when he is getting dressed in the mornings and in the evenings. I now offer him choices during our dressing routine. It's amazing how much more cooperative he is if given a choice of clothes or the order in which they go on. Sure, you may cringe when your daughter puts on every accessory she has in her winter closet, but is it a battle worth fighting or should you allow her some autonomy? I have found it has changed the overall tone in our morning routine, and you may see that same change if you allow choices.
3. Stop Yelling
Imagine going 365 days without raising your voice at your child. When a stay-at-home-mom of four boys was busted by her handyman for yelling at her boys, she publicly vowed to the online community to go 365 days without yelling, hence the Orange Rhino Project was born. This project has expanded to thousands and thousands of parents, including a Facebook group.
I'm a little more than one month into the challenge (if you yell you start back at day one), and I am blown away by the results. I feel much less stressed, and my boys' negative behaviors are greatly reduced. The most surprising strategy that has worked for me when dealing with their negative outbursts is whispering. It confuses them so much that they stop in their tracks and actually listen. Pure genius.
What positive parenting strategies have you tried when your children are out of control? Did they work?