New Year Resolutions for Parents
The year 2021 is drawing to a close. As I step into the new year, I look back and see various aspects of my life – as a writer, wife, citizen, and parent. In every sphere, I try to note what went well, what has to be improved, and what needs to be added. These are what form my new year’s resolutions.
This post is about some of the resolutions we can consider for effective parenting. Some of them are very obvious and well-known, but I am reiterating them for emphasis. So here goes:
1. Resolve to Catch Them Being Good
This simply means praising your kids when they do something right. Think about the past few days. How often have you corrected your child for some behavior that you disapprove of? Now think of the number of times you praised him for good behavior. If you are like most parents, the first number will be much higher than the second.
“Your kids require you most of all to love them for who they are, not to spend your whole time trying to correct them.”― Bill Ayers
Don’t forget to compliment the child when he does the right things.
“You finished your homework on time? That is great!”
“I’m so proud of you because you cleaned your room without being told. Keep it up!”
Reward positive behavior with words, touch (hugs), or even physical gifts if the action warrants it. It will ensure that the child realizes that it is not just the bad behavior you notice and will try to repeat it more often. It will also result in higher self-esteem.
2. Resolve to be a Role Model
Since the day you become a parent, you have been hearing this. But how much do you follow it in reality? How often do you end up doing things you tell your children not to do – lying, cursing, practicing healthy habits?
“I don’t feel like working today. Let me call in sick.” You may lie at times which is a big no-no for the child.
You may curse when stuck in traffic while telling your children not to use foul words.
You may not exercise regularly or eat junk food when telling your child to eat healthy food and exercise every day.
Try to be the version of yourself you want your child to become when they grow up. Actions speak louder than words has not been more accurate for any other situation.
“Children are educated by what the grown-up is and not by his talk.”–Carl Jung
3. Resolve to Make More Time for Family
There are 24 hours in a day for everyone, yet some people manage to find the time to do everything they want to, while others are stuck saying, “But I don’t have the time” for almost everything.
While everyone has a lot on their plate, you need to prioritize. Where is your family on your list of priorities?
For most people, it is right there among the top three priorities.
Now see how much time do you spend on your top five priorities? Is it in sync with the importance you place on them? If not, isn’t there something you are missing?
Take out time for your family. You are not going to get back this time.
Have dinner together every day, with no work discussions and no devices.
Do some weekly activities together. We recently tried painting on the weekends. Such activities do wonders to bond everyone together.
Play games – outdoor games like badminton or indoor ones like Scrabble, UNO etc.
4. Resolve to be Firm, Fair and Consistent
It is essential to have some rules in the house, for example, no TV before completing homework, or video games only on weekends. It is also equally important to stick to the rules as much as possible. The children like to test the limits consistently to see how far they can push you, but remember that fair and reasonable rules help them become responsible adults.
If they do not follow the rules, the consequences have to be very clear—one warning followed by a minor punishment (extra chore at home) or time-out. What we must remember is that the consequence has to be fair and consistent. It should depend on the rules that have been broken and the child’s behavior. The punishment should not be dependent on your mood at that time.
If you are in a good mood, you let them off without any consequence, while if you are in a bad mood, you punish them severely for a minor transgression – this will only lead to confusion and indiscipline. A failure to follow through with the consequence or being inconsistent with your approach will do more harm than good. On the other hand, following it will teach the child the importance of rules and consequences and teach them to be fair and consistent.
5. Resolve to Communicate Better
One of the biggest problems that most parent-child relationship faces is lack of communication or poor communication.
“Do this because I told you so.”
Take time to explain why you expect what you expect. Take time to explain the rules and the consequences.
If you don’t explain, then kids begin to wonder about your motives, values, and whether there is any logic or basis for your asking them to do anything.
On the other hand, explaining helps them grow into non-judgemental, thinking, and reasonable adults who don’t take things at face value, are open to questioning and are open to new ideas and differences of opinion.
Be open to ideas and suggestions from your children. Let them participate in decisions in the house (depending on their age) – what colour curtains to buy, what menu to be planned for the guests, what plants to be purchased for the garden.
Talk about your feelings and let them talk about theirs. Make good and open communication a priority in this new year.
In the end, we all need to remember that there are no bad parents. We are all trying to do the best that we can in the constraints that we have. Let us, however, try to prioritize our families, spend more time with them, communicate with them better, and try to be the people that we hope our kids to grow up into.
Have a Happy New Year 2022!!!