There are tons of books and blogs that teach us how to be a good parent, but it's really very simple. Being a good parent can start with changing a few habits. Don't believe me? Take the test. Try one of these simple habits every day throughout the next five days, and watch how it transforms your family and your home! I challenge you!
When we smile at our children it's showing them love and acceptance. Our smile eases our children's worries. Our smile calms them. Our smile breaks down walls, causing them to open up to us. Our smile shows our children they are accepted and loved.
Day One Challenge: Make a point to smile at your child whenever you make eye contact. Let your smile greet your children at the start of the day, and meet them throughout it.
2. Speak softly.
You may have seen this phenomena before . . . the louder you get, the louder your kids get. Or maybe your kids are already loud and you have to raise your voice to speak over them. What to do instead? Speak softly. Whether it is asking your child about what he wants for breakfast or asking him to take his muddy cleats out of the living room, approach him, lean in, and speak low and soft. Your child will often respond in the same and will be much more likely to follow your request.
Day Two Challenge: Whenever the volume in your house rises, lower yours. Also, ask requests in a soft and low voice.
3. Say exactly what you mean.
I'm the queen of what my husband calls “beat around the bush.” Instead of saying, “Please pick up your puzzle,” I ask, “Who left this puzzle on the table? Is this where you're supposed to leave it?” Also, for some reason it feels nicer when I say, “Why don't you go clean your bedroom?” instead of, “Please pick up all your toys in your room.” But beating around the bush usually backfires. My kids don't believe I'm serious about my request. Instead, I'm learning to give direct commands—in a nice way, of course—and no one has to question what I'm really saying or if I really mean it.
Day Three Challenge: Say exactly what you mean when speaking to your children or giving a request. Don't beat around the bush. Be as specific as possible.
4. Solicit help.
Somewhere along my marriage and parenting journey I got the idea that if people just see I need help, they'll offer it. First, my family members are often too much in their own zones to even see I'm slaving away in the kitchen. Second, they can't read my mind and can't read the body language of me slamming pots in the sink. Instead, I've discovered asking for help really works—and the more specific the request, the better. “Please use this cleaner and towels and wipe down the table.” And, if you need help with more than one thing, list exactly what you need so older kids know the exact help you need. “I need you to do three things for me: feed the dog, change his water, and then wipe up any mess when you're done.”
Day Four Challenge: Ask for help when it is needed. Don't play the martyr. Be specific with the type of help you need. Finally, number your requests to make it easier for kids to follow.
5. Surrender your idea of who your kids should be.
Before my kids were born I had an expectation of what parenting would look like and how my kids would be. One of my greatest struggles has been trying to fit my kids into my ideal, instead of discovering my children's unique personality, talents, and struggles. When I embrace my children—just as they are—I'm able to better understand how to train up each unique child.
Day Five Challenge: Sit down and write out each of your children's strengths and weaknesses. Then write down what you can do to help her develop her strengths and what can you do to help her combat her weaknesses. If your child is old enough, discuss these things with her. Choose one area to work on a week and praise change!
I'm excited to hear how these super simple habits work for you. Let me know if you're taking the challenge, and then report in each day to let me know how it's going! I can't wait to hear about the transformation in your parenting and in your home!
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