It takes bravery to make a New Year’s resolution. It takes compassion mixed with courage to commit to it.
With so many family-life pressures it can be easy to revert to ineffective parenting methods and get side tracked from your goal of being the parent you want to be.
Here are 10 tips that work, gleaned from talking with parents from my courses :
1. Write down your resolution in positive terms and use it as a daily visual reminder, perhaps on a mirror or in a journal eg “I actively listen to my children when they have problems”; “I use assertive, clear language and describe the behaviour I find unacceptable rather than judging”; “I choose to see my children as helpers rather than culprits”; “I problem solve conflicts and show my children how to do this, so we all get our needs met”.
2. Learn effective skills and keep practicing. When you learned to drive a car you didn’t give up when you made a mistake. You kept your eye on the goal and not on the effort. Practice, practice, practice.
3. Forgive yourself if you slip up: wallowing in self-pity immobilises. When you couldn’t coordinate the clutch and changing gears you kept reviewing and refining your driving skill. You kept going. Be kind on yourself and acknowledge that you are learning, you are human, you are growing and changing and so are your children. If you need to revise your resolutions then do so, take a pause to review and keep moving forward.
4. Journal your progress, your triumphs and challenges. Write out what you would say differently next time. The physical action of writing helps create new pathways in the brain so that next time your new way of speaking to your child comes effortlessly.
5. Observe your triggers: what gets in the way of you being the parent you want to be; what are your unmet needs? Is it tiredness, hunger, no time for self, too many demands at one time, time pressures, confused about parenting?
6. Self care is vital: creatively explore new ways to get your needs met. Brainstorm ideas both by yourself and with your family or friends. How can you get more time for yourself or effective information about parenting?
7. Scan your body daily: take a few moments in the fresh air and inhale some deep breaths, close your eyes and scan your body for areas of tension. Allow those parts to tense then as you exhale, relax. Shake it out, dance, sing, whatever it takes. Your children might like to join you.
8. Easy as ABC: Acknowledge your reactivity if you start to yell or say what you don’t want to; Breathe deeply to calm yourself; Choose to realign with your resolution or your new parenting skill and say, “I am sorry I said that. I reacted in anger. What I really want to say is…..”
9. Say “1, 2, 3, P.E.T”: For those who have completed the Parent Effectiveness Training course, when you react the way you do not want to, a quick reminder is to say to yourself, “1, 2, 3, P.E.T”, then follow with tip 8.
10. Have fun: learning your new skills, playing with your children. Having fun and one to one time with your children creates loving connection and parenting resolutions become more effortless.
It feels good to take positive action. May compassion and courage support your parenting journey in 2016 to be the parent you can and want to be – the parent within.