“It’s not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can’t tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it, myself.” ~ Joyce Maynard ~
Becoming a parent was my dream from when I remember loving dolls. Yup! Now you know, I’m a girly girl in the teddy bears and doll department. As I grew up that love for dolls automatically transferred to real babies. Even as a 10 year old, I was every aunts favorite baby sitter. I remember as a kid whenever anyone asked me, “What would you like to be when you grow up?” my answer would always be “A mother”.
When I actually realized I was carrying life inside of me, I was literally in seventh heaven. All throughout my pregnancy I bought and read countless books on parenting. I was getting ready for my dream after all :) I read them all…I still have boxes and boxes of parenting books which I have read cover to cover. I thought I was ready to take care of this little miracle inside of me. Till…till she was actually born. The first few hours and I was already crying like a baby and thinking ‘why on earth did all the books I read not have a solution to this situation?’….the situation- an inconsolable(for a full 24 hrs), super cute and very very loud little baby! Well the solution came after buckets of tears…but it so wasn’t by the book.
A Positive Parent Learns Hands ON
As the days have passed and as Haaniya has grown, the one thing I have realized is that every child is unique and no generalized books can prepare you for the kind of parent you need to be to Your unique child. The books can prepare you for what ‘can be’ and that helps in the technical stuff like handling a stomach ache or a cold. But, when it comes to the emotional and psychological well being of a child we as parents have to intuitively understand and handle it with love. There will be mistakes made, but we learn. As my daughter learns new things in this world, I learn new things about the world too.
In my learning these past almost 6 years of being a parent, below are the lessons I have learnt. I hope they help you in becoming a positive parent too.
Becoming a Positive Parent- Lessons Learnt
A child’s self-esteem needs to be nurtured-
Praising accomplishments, however small, will make them feel proud; letting kids do things independently will make them feel capable and strong. By contrast, belittling comments or comparing a child unfavorably with another will make kids feel worthless.Avoid making loaded statements or using words as weapons. Comments like “What a stupid thing to do!” or “You act more like a baby than your little brother!” cause damage just as physical blows do.
Choose your words carefully and be compassionate. Let your kids know that everyone makes mistakes and that you still love them, even when you don’t love their behavior.
Appreciate their Goodness-
Have you ever stopped to think about how many times you react negatively to your kids in a given day? You may find yourself criticizing far more often than complimenting. How would you feel about a boss who treated you with that much negative guidance, even if it was well intentioned?The more effective approach is to catch kids doing something right: “You made your bed without being asked — that’s terrific!” or “I was watching you play with your sister and you were very patient.” These statements will do more to encourage good behavior over the long run than repeated scoldings.
Make a point of finding something to praise every day. Be generous with rewards — your love, hugs, and compliments can work wonders and are often reward enough. Soon you will find you are “growing” more of the behavior you would like to see.
Limitations and Consistency in Self is paramount-
The goal of discipline is to help kids choose acceptable behaviors and learn self-control. They may test the limits you establish for them, but they need those limits to grow into responsible adults.Establishing house rules helps kids understand your expectations and develop self-control. Some rules might include: no TV until homework is done, and no hitting, name-calling, or hurtful teasing allowed.
You might want to have a system in place: one warning, followed by consequences such as a “time out” or loss of privileges. A common mistake parents make is failure to follow through with the consequences. You can’t discipline kids for talking back one day and ignore it the next. Being consistent teaches what you expect.
Set aside special ‘child only’ time-
It’s often difficult for parents and kids to get together for a family meal, let alone spend quality time together. But there is probably nothing kids would like more. Get up 10 minutes earlier in the morning so you can eat breakfast with your child or leave the dishes in the sink and take a walk after dinner. Kids who aren’t getting the attention they want from their parents often act out or misbehave because they’re sure to be noticed that way.Many parents find it rewarding to schedule together time with their kids. Create a “special night” each week to be together and let your kids help decide how to spend the time. Look for other ways to connect — put a note or something special in your kid’s lunchbox.
Attending concerts, games, and other events with your child communicates caring and lets you get to know more about your child and his or her friends in important ways.
Don’t feel guilty if you’re a working parent. It is the many little things you do — making popcorn, playing cards, window shopping — that kids will remember.
Be a Positive Role model-
Young kids learn a lot about how to act by watching their parents. The younger they are, the more cues they take from you. Before you lash out or blow your top in front of your child, think about this: is that how you want your child to behave when angry? Be aware that you’re constantly being observed by your kids. Studies have shown that children who hit usually have a role model for aggression at home.Model the traits you wish to cultivate in your kids: respect, friendliness, honesty, kindness, tolerance. Exhibit unselfish behavior. Do things for other people without expecting a reward. Express thanks and offer compliments. Above all, treat your kids the way you expect other people to treat you.
The Lines of Communication must always be Clear and Open-
You can’t expect kids to do everything simply because you, as a parent, “say so.” They want and deserve explanations as much as adults do. If we don’t take time to explain, kids will begin to wonder about our values and motives and whether they have any basis. Parents who reason with their kids allow them to understand and learn in a nonjudgmental way.Make your expectations clear. If there is a problem, describe it, express your feelings, and invite your child to work on a solution with you. Be sure to include consequences. Make suggestions and offer choices. Be open to your child’s suggestions as well. Negotiate. Kids who participate in decisions are more motivated to carry them out.
Be willing and flexible as a parent-
If you frequently feel “let down” by your child’s behavior, perhaps you have unrealistic expectations. Parents who think in “shoulds” (for example, “My kid should be potty-trained by now”) might find it helpful to read up on the matter or to talk to other parents or child development specialists.Kids’ environments have an impact on their behavior, so you may be able to modify that behavior by changing the environment. If you find yourself constantly saying “no” to your 2-year-old, look for ways to restructure your surroundings so that fewer things are off-limits. This will cause less frustration for both of you.
As your child changes, you’ll gradually have to change your parenting style. Chances are, what works with your child now won’t work as well in a year or two.
Show Unconditional Love no matter what-
As a parent, you’re responsible for correcting and guiding your kids. But how you express your corrective guidance makes all the difference in how a child receives it.When you have to confront your child, avoid blaming, criticizing, or fault-finding, which undermine self-esteem and can lead to resentment. Instead, strive to nurture and encourage, even when disciplining your kids. Make sure they know that although you want and expect better next time, your love is there no matter what.
Accept your own limitations as a parent-
Face it — you are an imperfect parent. You have strengths and weaknesses as a family leader. Recognize your abilities — “I am loving and dedicated.” Vow to work on your weaknesses — “I need to be more consistent with discipline.” Try to have realistic expectations for yourself, your spouse, and your kids. You don’t have to have all the answers — be forgiving of yourself.And try to make parenting a manageable job. Focus on the areas that need the most attention rather than trying to address everything all at once. Admit it when you’re burned out. Take time out from parenting to do things that will make you happy as a person (or as a couple).
Focusing on your needs does not make you selfish. It simply means you care about your own well-being, which is another important value to model for your children.
As a parent the above is what I have learnt…and indeed will keep learning. I make mistakes and lose my temper sometimes. I’m not perfect either…but am open and willing to learn and grow with my child.
Today, on my 35th birthday, I honor the privilege of becoming a parent and becoming responsible for this little soul in my life.
Below is a compilation of Positive Parenting Tips from some of my loving friends, who also happen to moguls in the Personal Development field. Read and absorb their words, cause they truly do know what they are talking about.
Positive Parenting Tips from Personal Development Moguls:
Vidya Sury @ Going A-Musing: Communicate, listen. Encourage questions. Always reward good behavior with praise. Be realistic with expectations. Your child is unique. Never compare them with others.Teach positive self-talk. Discourage put-downs. Always use positive words.
Set an example with your own behavior and attitude. Spend time as a family. Read, play and laugh together. Share family activities, it is a great way to build a positive attitude towards fitness – a lifelong benefit. Thank and hug them as often as you can. Shower them with love.
Joy @ Facets of Joy: In a world full of lots of external activity and noise, I take the time to experience quiet and silence with my children in age-appropriate ways. As they grow, quiet time has evolved from a few moments of snuggling, to short walks on the beach, to meditation in the same space. It has become a special time to “just be” as we are, together. Love, trust, and gratitude amplify in silence. Although we practice unfolding, we also have a morning and evening “ritual” together. Regardless of what happens in the day, we take the time to connect in the morning over breakfast and in the evening before bed. For example, currently in the morning we eat breakfast together and in the evening we swim in the pool, daily. The activity might vary, but the ample time and space for presence to each other remains.
Angela Artemis @ Powered by Intuition: To this day, I will never forget my father telling me that he was proud of me. I believe positive reinforcement and expressing the pride a parent has for their child contributes more to developing healthy self-esteem than anything else.
Gail Brenner @ A Flourishing Life:One of the most loving things you can do is accept your child’s feelings as is without needing to change or fix them. Encourage your children to dream big and foster in them the confidence and self-esteem to realize these dreams. Every child wants to hear, “You can do it! I believe in you.”
Elle Sommers @ Reflecting A Life: A willingness to be vulnerable and apologize for your mistakes - I could have done that differently I’m sorry, is my favorite. They learn it’s safe to make mistakes and not be afraid to admit them. They get an opportunity to grow, and more importantly there’s never any shaming from the how could you have done that perspective, because, hey Mummy makes mistakes too.
David Stevens @ Personal Power 4 Me : 1. Listen to your child, fully…even when it ‘hurts’ to do so. 2. Care about what your child does…and show it either by way of positive action or encouraging words. 3. Encourage your child to explore options so that they can make their own decisions/ choices.
Arvind Devalia @ Make it Happen : When you talk to children, see them as equals and at your level and not someone you have a right to lecture, judge, correct or preach to. And the best example you can set children is to be forever light hearted and childlike yourself! If you don’t take life seriously, neither will they. They’ll then grow up seeing life as joyous and as an adventure.
Betsy Henry @ Zen Mama: A few years ago I became a “Zen Mama” and learned many ways to apply positive parenting. Being a Zen Mama has changed our family. Here are three techniques that I try to do daily. 1. Let go of the many of the expectations you have for kids. They will flourish doing what they love not what you have decided for them. 2. Use Active listening techniques. Give your child your undivided attention! Put the cell phone away, get off the computer, stop cleaning and doing dishes. Look into their eyes and listen! 3. Give your children unconditional love. Often parent’s love comes when a child makes their bed or gets good grades. Treasure you child regardless of what is going on in their life.
Evita Ochel @ Evolving Beings: 1. Be Present. The greatest gift we can ever offer a child is to be present to them fully, and just be with them. Don’t think of what was, or what will be, what they should or should not be doing, etc. Just be fully present with them. It is unmistakable to a child when it is truly seen and heard. 2. Communicate Fully. All too often we underestimate how much children of any age are able to comprehend. When we communicate openly and honestly with children we are building the strongest foundations for the most nurturing relationships. 3. Teach by Example. Be the role model. Children learn best by observing others, not by being told what to do, or how to be. They are sensitive to hypocrisy and flourish through consistency. Be the change you wish to see, no matter who you are with in the world.
Victor Schueller @ VictorSchueller.com: 1. People have the right to their own opinions and preferences, so judgement need not apply. Everyone has the right to feel the way they feel and choose to act the way they choose, just as you do. Be wary of judging others. 2. Push for collaboration, not competition. Celebrate the successes of others, and do what you can to help them reach their goals. 3. Don’t ever place limits upon yourself, and don’t ever allow anyone else to place limits upon you either. The limits you experience are those which you place upon yourself. There is no ceiling; there is no cap. You possess unlimited potential, and you can tap into it to discover true greatness. There are no limits on how great you can be.
Brad Volz @ Writing to Freedom: 1- Play with your children. They will love your company and you will love being silly, if you can let of those serious parenting issues for a while! As Bobby McFerrin says ” Don’t Worry, Be Happy”. 2- Be present with your children. Again, the most precious gift that you can give them is yourself, being fully present with your child. Make it your job to listen, speak, touch and simply be with complete presence. What one teacher calls full body listening. 3- Send/ Radiate love toward your children. Merge your mind, heart and body with your child as you see the precious gift they are in your life.
Tim Brownson @ A Daring Adventure: 1. Lack of choice in life is the biggest stressor to people, especially kids. So when getting them to do something you think they won’t want them to do like going to bed, give them a choice. “Do you want to go to bed at 8pm or 8.30pm?” and you’ll be amazed at how well it works. 2. Teach your kids to reframe negative situations and to look for the good in them without changing the actual event. “What else can this mean?” and “What can I learn from this?” are great questions to teach your kids that will allow them to develop this skill.
Amit Sodha @ Unlimited Choice: As a non-parent who works closely with children, I can tell you that you don’t need your own kids to have parental instincts and feelings. It’s my desire to be a parent to all children across the globe. Not just to be kind that disciplines them, but the parents that nurtures the growth and challenges the child appropriately. Those who are not parents often wonder about what they would be like when they have kids. Practice on your the children you get to meet. Be playful with them. Pretend in that moment that the child is yours and how you would treat them if they were. Listen to them, and be entertained by everything they do and say. Those moments are precious for learning speaking their language.
Suzie Cheel @ SuzieCheel.com: Tip one: Remember to take some “me” time each day just for you, just ten minutes when you stop and meditate, read something uplifting. take you shoes off and walk barefoot on the grass, etc. When you take time for you, you can rediscover the joy kin your life. Tip two: Stop and listen to the stories you children have to tell you these are precious times and In our busy lives we sometimes are so rushed and stressed that we can miss the special moment.
Tess Marshall @ The Bold Life: A parent needs to love their child so much that it’s OK if the child says, “I hate you.” Every child needs boundaries. Examples of boundaries may be: No you can’t have that toy. No you can’t go to the mall. No you can’t stay out late. All children react to being told “no.” Don’t take their reaction personally. The child or teenager doesn’t really hate you, they hate the boundary you’ve created for them. Boundaries create safety for children and are essential for their growth.
Don’t compare your children to others. This was one of my mistakes. I compared them to their cousins that had better grades. I compared them to their teammates that played better sports. You get the idea. It’s hurtful, painful, and comparison makes them feel like they’re not enough.
No matter what the age, make it a habit to apologize to your children. If you mess up admit it. If you cross the line, let them know. Allow your children to see that you are human. If your adult children are angry at you for childhood experiences, apologize. It’s never to late to learn from your mistakes. Simply say, “I’m sorry. The change I’m going to make in my behavior is ______________. Fill in the blank.
Eren Mckay @ Embracing Home: Always let your children know that you believe in them. Show your affection and clearly explain to them why you think they are truly awesome children. When they see your faith in them, they will start believing in themselves too.
Fran Sorin @ Awake Create: (1)When your child is learning or doing, always complement her on what she’s doing well. Then, in a supportive voice, explain what she can improve on. Have her practice. Continue to coach patiently until she gets it right. Reward her with praise. (2)Make family dinners a daily ritual. Get the kids involved in preparing and serving dinner. Use the time at the table for nourishing your bodies and souls, creating community and connecting with each other. When I was a kid, we were expected to bring and discuss a ‘new word’ and its definition as well as one article from the newspaper. At the time I thought it was hokey. But guess what? I used the same strategy when my kids were growing up. They still laugh about it today – and mention how much it taught them. (3)Teach your children to follow their passions and not be afraid to try new things. Trust them -their intuition will lead them to their interests.
As I end this post today, I’m already planning a lovely dinner and big chocolate cake fest tonight :) My daughters favorite cake and dinner is coming in and its a little tradition in our home…that whatever the occasion, we always mark it with honoring Haaniya. She gets to choose the cake, the present, the people we should call….everything. She loves how we allow her to take decisions.
I hope the above post helps every parent to become a Positively Happy Parent. Yes, parenting is a huge responsibility, but choosing to do it with love is what makes it so so special.
I’m now off to grab some tight hugs and kisses from my little angel… HAPPIEST Day to you too!
And LOVE You’ll! :)
What are your thoughts on this Positive Parenting post? Do you have special parenting tips to share? Please do share your thoughts in the comments below. I’d love to learn from you..and celebrate my birthday with your love and smiles. Pray for me :)
p.s. unveiling of the NEW book cover soon! Yippee !!!
With Immense Love & Gratitude,
Counseling Psychologist/ Spiritual Counselor