Since the moment your child was born, your no. 1 job was to simple: Keep this little person alive. As you begin navigating the maze of parenting, grasping the complexities of feeding and nutrition likely felt overwhelming. It turns out ho you nourish your child is a journey that doesn't end until, well.... ever. Your influence may wane, but your desire to ensure your child makes smart, healthy choices won't.
We all have a vision for how we would like our families to be, look and feel. Instead of solely focusing on specific goals or the outcomes you hope to produce for your family or your parenting this year, maybe look at the year as part of a longer journey. The journey of becoming the parent you want to be for the child(ren) you are raising. The journey is not about being a perfect parent or mastering your challenges in parenting in just one calendar year. Rather, the journey is a period of time when you get to learn, mess up, and try again. This journey is an opportunity to change in ways you had no idea were possible.
Almost all of the parents I work with report that they struggle with managing guilt as a parent. The guilt of being reactive, feeling out of control, not knowing what to do in challenging moments, and the guilt of feeling like you just don't have your “sh!t” together. (And your friends on Facebook don't help by looking like they are always having so much fun with their amazingly well behaved, happy, & appreciative children!)
A few years ago when my daughter was 10-year-olds she reminded me that becoming a parent is a process and that we are all "in progress". This reminder arrived in the form of a poem that she wrote. (The original format is pictured above) What was most extraordinary about this 3-line poem was the depth, understanding, and compassion she has for parents (namely me). This short poem presents some valuable reminders that I thought were worth sharing.
A Mother In Progress
My mother has always been a beautiful soul,
but on occasion, she can be a grumpy troll.
She devotes her life to the kids she loves,
and sometimes they feel as though they are treated like thugs.
I know she seems bad, but she is very good,
because you have tough times in the stage of motherhood.
- Maya (10 yrs.)
Line #1 We are all human. Even though as parents have more wisdom and experience than our children we are not perfect. The first line also recognizes that even though we are innately good, we are not always at our best and we make mistakes.
Line #2 Even when we are doing our very best as parents our children may still feel disappointed and frustrated with us. (And that's okay! Our job is not to make them happy all the time. Feeling sad and disappointed builds grit and resilience). In this line, she shows appreciation for the effort, time and energy that parents put into raising their children. But even when parents make this huge investment in their children kids still don't always like the way parents respond and make decisions.
Line #3 Being a parent is tough! Many of the things we have to do as parents may look or feel bad to our children. But this line demonstrates that she understands that it is not easy figuring out how to be a parent and empathizes.
The message I want to highlight by sharing this poem is: It's not about getting it right and being perfect, it’s about being human. And being human is exactly what our kids need from us.
As parents, we are all “in progress". And as we launch into this next season please remember to not only focus on the destination but also the journey you are currently on. Being the parent your child needs is not about checking boxes at the end of the year. It's about noticing how you are growing as a parent and as a human being. You won’t always have all the answers or parent “the right way.” So, leave the guilt at the door, have realistic expectations for yourself and enjoy the journey as best you can because we are all “in progress”!
The role of consequences is simple: To teach.
Consequences give children the chance to learn real-world skills from their mistakes and to solve problems. In fact, you want your kids to make as many mistakes as they can while they are young so that they get good at solving problems and facing challenges. That is all a consequence is — an opportunity to learn from a mistake.
As parents, it is our responsibility to set limits. And every family’s values and structure is different. It is important to have a conversation with your child about limits look like in your family long before the technology comes out so that he/she is clear on what the expectations and limits are. Being clear about the limits and actually following through are the keys to avoiding power struggles. If we bend and make exceptions here and there we are literally encouraging them to test the limits.
Do you want your little one to be happy and find success throughout their life? Do you feel the need to tour and enroll your child in the top schools in your city in order to get them into a good university one day? Do you think your child will be at a disadvantage if they are not involved in an assortment of activities and sports? If you answered yes to most or even some of these questions, then you may have already fallen prey to one of the sad untruths in raising children today:
Academics = Success. It’s just not that simple!
At the beginning of a new year, we are motivated to set goals related to what we are going to do more or less of to make ourselves a better or happier person. We often neglect to set clear intentions for our families during this time (or anytime for that matter).
The problem is that setting a goal can lead you down the path towards judgment of how things "should be," and with judgment comes stress, anxiety and even depression.
Are you concerned that your child is “out of control” when they are: acting aggressively, talking over others, grabbing, have difficulty taking turns or simply doing things you have asked them not to? Many parents get frustrated by their child’s lack of self or impulse control, especially when their child knows the rules or the consequences of breaking them.
Using Timeouts is a hot and touchy topic! Most parents tell me it is not effective and is used in a heated moment when they don't know what else to do. That is why I want to share with you new and better ways to use timeouts in your parenting. I was interviewed a while back for a piece in ParentMap Magazine on this topic and also appeared on Fox News in Seattle to answer questions about when, why and how we use timeouts in our parenting. I wanted to make sure I got all of your questions answered about timeouts so that you too can use this intervention more effectively and respectfully.
Emotion Coaching is not just a parenting style. It is also a tool developed by John Gottman to help and teach our children to handle challenges and also a means of developing a relationship with our children based on trust and mutual respect. Emotion coaching helps parents guide their children through life’s ups and downs in a way that builds confidence, resilience and strong relationships. Developed by Dr. John Gottman, author of Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child, this process helps children learn how emotions work and how to behave in healthy ways when their feelings are strong. It also teaches the skills that help children to thrive both socially and academically.
What Is An Emotion Coaching Parent?
When we think about raising our children we only want the best for them, whether it is doing well in school, having a large group of friends, or excelling in a sport or area of interest. Most parents will do whatever it takes to support their child in being successful in all three arenas no matter the sacrifice. Parents will step in and advocate, buy the latest gadgets for kids so they fit in, "help" with difficult projects and papers and protect and guide kids every step of the way. As parents, we feel proud and accomplished when our kids are successful. These types of behaviors can often be identified as overprotective or "over-parenting" and have the potential to squelch a child's confidence, undermine a child's opportunity to learn, take responsibility and gain independence.
Incorporating more routine and consistency can help decrease power struggles and increase cooperation and fun in your home!
Every parent at one time or another has either thought about or made a chart for their child. It almost never seems like there is enough time to get out the door in the morning or get kids to bed without power struggles no matter how much time you have. The type of charts that I suggest using are not reward charts, because there are no stickers or prizes that your child identifies or earns. Yet, there are valuable gifts that are received... the gift of life skills and responsibility! Now, who doesn’t feel great about helping their child develop confidence, independence, and responsibility?!
It’s that time again. The summer is quickly coming to an end, and back-to-school is approaching. Just thinking about the transition back to school can induce anxiety not only in kids, but also in parents and teachers. I personally had a mental breakdown last week just trying to figure out how I’m going to get my kids to and from two different schools, schedule and drive to a handful of extracurricular activities, and make dinner each night, all while managing my own work schedule. I spent two hours on calendaring and still haven’t figured out how to make it all happen.
The back-to-school season is quickly approaching, and there’s so much to do! There’s plenty of preparation required to make the transition seamless for kids but they aren’t the only ones who need a little help. Parents need to make big changes, too! Carpools, lunches, work, extracurriculars — the list is endless. So, let’s take a minute to talk about a few things parents can do to get themselves ready for school.
Anger is neither good nor bad; it’s just a normal feeling. How we express our anger is what is most critical. It is an important emotion and can actually be helpful in creating motivation. It can also be dangerous when expressed in an unhealthy way and can lead to bad decisions. You’ve probably heard ideas like telling your child to “count to ten” or “go scream in a pillow”. These are neither practical nor helpful strategies, so here are a few ideas that will help you and your child both manage and express anger is a healthy productive way.
Travel, no matter how near or far, has so many benefits for children. Families often leave the comfort of home to explore new and different people, cultures, environments, and experiences. Not only do family trips create opportunities for families to bond through shared experiences, but they also provide situations that require children to take risks, try something new, and act brave, which can result in courage and greater confidence. But travel isn’t always so easy with kids and can sometimes be a tumultuous experience. Incorporating mindfulness into your travel and adventures is a great way to enhance your family’s experience and teach your children how to appreciate not only the destination, but also the journey. Here are some tips to help you prepare for your trip:
Summer is in full swing now and everyone is embracing the sunshine and the warm weather. With all the fun summer activities, parents tend to get a little more relaxed in their parenting. Being a bit more flexible and going with the flow can be wonderful and liberating, unless you are undoing the habits you worked so hard to maintain the rest of the year. Keeping your parenting consistent with your values during the summer months can definitely be more challenging when everyone is focused on having a fun time. Below are two more ways to be mindful this summer to help keep your family on track and ensure everyone is staying healthy and enjoying themselves.
As we head into summer, it can be helpful to set clear expectations for our kids, in order to avoid challenges and ensure that everyone in the family has fun. The summer months tend to create a relaxed approach to daily life and can often lead to bad habits that then require a lot of time and energy to reverse in the fall. Two ways to maintain consistency and keep things on track are making sure your child gets enough sleep and enforcing clear limits on the use of screens and devices.