I don’t know about you but 2017 has been a whirlwind of a year for me! After settling in from our move from Amsterdam to Munich last year and taking a breather. I started getting to know the local community, supporting local families and had a little baby join us this summer! It’s been a lot to deal with and my positive parenting practices were being tested to my limits. Things needed to change.
Today I wanted to share with you 5 things I changed in my parenting this year that transformed our family dynamics.
1- Acknowledge how sad (s)he is.
First, while prepping for some of the online courses I run. I began reading in depth about how the child’s brain works. Dr. Daniel Siegel talks about Connecting Before Correcting. Which means connecting emotionally with your child in an emotional situation before correcting the behavior. Why is that? Shouldn’t we be disciplining and addressing the misbehavior? YES! But in the next step. Children need that connection first byACKNOWLEDGING their feelings to connect with the emotional more active side of their brain and get their attention. Once they feel heard and validated even if you aren’t on their side. Your child will be more open to discussing the misbehavior and solutions.
We have been doing this in our family with my 3-year-old and I can see the difference in how quickly he calms down when he hears his feelings being acknowledged and then in his willingness to discuss the behavior and think of solutions with me.
2- Make SELF CARE a PRIORITY for this year. Even if it’s something as simple as sitting with a cup of tea in silence once a day.
The next big change I did to my parenting this year was to involve more SELF CARE. Happier and more relaxed parents means calmer, more patient parenting and a more peaceful home.
In previous years I always put myself last. This time around with a new baby I am working on giving some time for myself. For me personally, it’s getting 2 hours in the morning for one day each week where I can be baby free. I also make sure the kids are both in bed by 8 as much as possible. Even if they are up I hand them over to their dad. 8 PM is when my mama shift is over and I get to sit with a hot chocolate and watch some Netflix or read a book. I don’t answer phone calls, texts or emails if they aren’t urgent during that time. I’ve learned to say No this is my self-care time and I have to put myself first. It’s only an hour a day at most I’m sure everyone will manage fine without me in that time.
3- Think about what small or big screen time changes you can make in your home that could make other daily activities more relaxed and less of a struggle.
For several weeks now we have completely cut off any and all screen time for our 3 year old. The reason? Well in our particular situation screen time was limited to an hour and still made my son more hyperactive and he acted out more after screen viewing. His behavior was really in line with the research that shows that some children become more hyperactive after screen time as their body movement tries to catch up with their brain activity.
This doesn’t mean you should do exactly the same BUT you should consider limiting screen time to just 2 hours a day for young children and no screen time at all for children under 2 which is the APA recommendation. Check if your child is being exposed to any blue light screens such as mobiles or tablets before bedtime. These keep us awake more than regular screens like the TV. Avoiding any screens an hour before bed can really help your child settle into the bedtime routine will, fall asleep easier and sleep better overall.
4- Think about your parenting goals.
Making many changes in our parenting or family can be overwhelming and too much to do that we end up not doing anything at all. This year I started a weekly initiative with the families on my Positive Parenting FB Page . Every week I put a small target for myself and my family to try to make life better and work on ourselves one little step at a time. It helps me keep myself from feeling overwhelmed or asking too much of myself, kids and husband. Ask yourself how you can break these goals down so they’re not overwhelming. Then put the most important changes you want to make at the top of the list. From the top 3 choose the easiest one you can start with and make that this week’s goal.It could even be this month’s goal. Give yourself all the time you need till you feel you can move on to the next goal on your list.
5- Spend daily special time with your children.
Finally last but not least. One of the most powerful and impactful changes has been making a conscious choice to spend daily special time with my 3-year-old. Before we added this little change to our routine I would great him while preparing dinner and attempt to talk and play with him while I was visibly preoccupied with something else. The result was a mix of tantrums, acting out for attention and plain feelings of sadness. Now not only does this send him a message that he’s a priority and of course I miss him while he’s away. He’s also much more agreeable and happier after that. I also spend a few minutes in bed with him each night talking about his day. This works because it’s a quiet and calm space and there are no toys or activities to distract from just having a conversation and connecting.
It doesn’t have to be something complex or hours long.Set yourself a 10-15 minute special target with your child.
Want to Find More Positive Solutions to Your Daily Parenting Challenges?
If you’ve connected with these Positive Parenting tools and you’re interested in making this year the year for transforming your parenting and adding Positive Parenting to your life, I am happy to support your family and schedule a one-on-one consult.