by Sandra Huber
I know that we all want the best of us to come forward on every interaction that we have with our kids. Life happens at every turn and we as moms have plenty of opportunities to go back, say I am sorry and try again. We have many daily opportunities to guide our children into the kind of adult we want them to be: thoughtful, compassionate, enthusiastic, visionary and hardworking.
The truth is that we are not always "in the mood" to do what it takes to get the mission accomplished. When you think about it, instead of beating yourself up because you have "failed," you can choose to see this as another opportunity for our kids to learn that Mommies are people too!
I invite you to consider these five tips on effective parenting. See how as you take one at a time, and implement them in a way that makes sense to you and your family. This is not a competition or a race neither is it something that will bring perfect results overnight. Remember: overnight
success only happens on B-movies and trashy novels.
The only caveat is that you renounce here and now, the burden of carrying with you the Perfect Mommy Myth. I know for a fact that she doesn't exist and comparing yourself to the way things look in somebody else's life is one of the most damaging things we can do to ourselves and to our kids.
Affirming words from moms and dads are like light switches: speak a word of affirmation at the right moment in a child’s life and it is like lightening up a whole room full of possibilities. ~~ Gary Smalley
So, let's get started!
Be Here NOW
Few things in life remind us of the power that resides in living in the moment as having children do. Our kids defy our notion that tomorrow is a good option. They live in the present and invite us with every interaction to be in the moment with them. Let's allow them to lead us into one of the
most effective ways to empower our relationships with them: Be here now.
Ask yourself, Am I being congruent with what I say I want my family life to be like and what I am actually doing? Do I say sitting together to dinner as a family is a priority only to find myself eating in front of the TV every night without the opportunity for interaction or conversation?
There isn't a moment when you are not teaching your children -- if you're helping with schoolwork, watching their team sports or just sitting down to the family meals, you are not only teaching them by what you tell them but by your example. It doesn't matter if you're having dinner in your kitchen or if you're a part-time parent who is having dinner at McDonald's. What matters is that you're really there!
Make it a point to have ONE meal together a day if at all possible. Have an indoor picnic on the floor. Serve banana splits for dinner or pasta for breakfast.
Parenting is about the millions of "small things" and not about big events or sounding great when you talk about them. It's about the quiet times and the little things.
The key here is to remember: you can't give a 100% to anything a 100% percent of the time. That's OK. But I encourage you to consider giving a good percentage on a regular basis and see that nurturing pay off in way you never thought possible!
Begin with The End In Mind
I love that my grandmother always said: "Start as you mean to continue." I was puzzled by that statement until I became an adult. I have realized as the years have gone by that we all put in motion so many things by the choices we make today.
There's nothing mystical about the simple fact that what we do today, does and will have consequences on our tomorrows. This is an important lesson to keep in mind especially when we are raising children. The example we offer them with our behavior (most of the time) becomes part of who they are tomorrow.
As moms, we also have the responsibility to guide our kids and support them in accomplishing their
goals, the ones we set together as a family. Our primary goal as our children's first teachers is to give them the tools so they can lead successful lives, whatever that means to them.
I believe that intentions are the best predictors of our immediate future. People, and of course, parents, do what they PLAN to do all things remaining equal. I realize that this may seem like a ridiculously simple point but I believe it has tremendous implications in our parenting journey.
Be clear on what you ultimate want to see happen. Be intentional. By claiming the life you want to have as a family you will be moving in the direction of that dream as a traveler with a map moves to his dream destination!
Listen to Your Child
I know this sounds obvious, but I am always amazed how easy that goes out the window in the middle
of every day chaos. I also know that one of the deepest needs we all have as human beings is to be
heard, seen and understood. You are already know what YOU know.
One of the most important things you can do to fully be present with your children is to listen to them with your exclusive and undivided attention.
I know you are thinking: "You haven't been to my house," "you don't know what is like”"or "yeah, but what do I do when I have a million other things I have to do?”. Well, I think we can all agree that this is a simple tip, yet not an easy one to accomplish. We can all sit around with a glass of wine (or water!) and give each other all the "yeah buts" that get on the way of our ability to listen to our kids.
For many of us, the challenge is not our lack of interest, but our inability to stay in the moment. I know how easy it is sometimes for me to be multi-tasking and thinking about all the things I
need to do once I can get away from having to listen to my child.
The painful truth is that if you're not present with your children, they know it. I had a rude
awakening when my 6-year-old turn my face toward hers and said to me: "I am more important than that" referring to a check I was writing while she was trying to tell me something about a friend from school. Ouch!
I realized that the message I was unintentionally conveying to her was that even though I tell her all the time I love her more than anything, she really isn't a priority if I can't take 5 minutes to listen.
Stop. Look. Listen
Stop. That means stop what you're doing, stop watching the T.V., stop reading the paper, stop thinking about other things.
Look. Look into their eyes; you're less likely to be distracted when you're looking into their eyes.
Listen. Don't let that voice in your head drown them out. Sometimes to make sure I'm listening, I will repeat in my head what they're saying.
Control Your Emotions
When things get heated up at home, I do my best to remind myself that one of the most important things I can teach my kid is how to handle stress and conflict. I am blessed with a very intense, challenging, strong willed child who gives me plenty of opportunities to stretch my patience muscles!
I always tell the moms I support that it is crucial that no matter what is going on, we keep our cool. Our children are counting on us keeping are heads on straight, even at times when that is much easier said than done! As a family, we're building a foundation one brick at a time. I know I have been guilty of been less than calm at times. None of us is perfect.
One of the most important things I have learned from coaching parents and from my own parenting is to be honest about "where" we are coming from when we parent our children. Parenting from knee-jerk reactions, passed down family mindsets or society's opinions can be limiting, unproductive and conducive to guilt. Our parenting opportunity is one that requires us to be conscious about everything we say and do when interacting with our children.
As one client told me the other night: "Conscious parenting is a lot of freaking work!" And you know what? She's absolutely right!
If we manage to calm our own anxieties, acknowledge our own past hurts and recognize our own "buttons," we will "respond" to our children instead of reacting to them. Remember: Only one of us can be having a meltdown at a time!
Reward the Behavior You Want to See
I know it sounds a bit contradictory and against what we hear most out there. What we focus on grows, right?
Our kids learn that when they misbehave they get a lot of attention from us. We make a big "to do" about the way they broke the rules. What would it be like if we became detectives and spend that same amount of energy finding all the great things they do during the day?
I know that many times I have been so frustrated with my own child that the thought of finding the good on what she has done really takes some concentrated effort. I challenge you to give it a try.
Let your child know how proud you are every time you see her making the right choices. Shine light
on her good behavior. Praise her attitude and what it means. Tell her how much you appreciate that she decided to pick up her clothes without you having to remind her. Let her know how proud you are that she could have chosen to throw a fit about your request to do her homework and instead
she went ahead and did it without whining. Choose to share with him how kind he was to his little sister even though you KNOW he was upset she
broke his toy.
I believe that as we focus on the amazing people our kids are (even when they are screaming bloody murder at the grocery store!) the easier it becomes to come from love at those tough times.
Raising children in this new, more open, more balanced way is simple yet not necessarily easy. It requires a lot more work, patience, and more focus than yelling at them or sending them to their room every time they do something we don't approve of. I think you'll be amazed what happens when
you choose to parent from the heart!
Sandra Huber is the "soul" and "coach" behind The Soulful Parent. She knows firsthand the struggles of reaching milestones, questioning parenting choices, celebrating achievements and listening to your heart.She is the host of The Soulful Mom Audio blog and The Soulful Mom Radio Show on Blog talk radio where she shares her wisdom, humor and challenges to support moms on the journey of motherhood. To learn more, visit The Soulful Parent. Copyright &coyp; Sandra Huber. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC. Photo credit: thesoulfulparent.com