4 Parenting New Year’s Resolutions
It’s a new year, so why not get started on making some positive changes in your parenting? Whether you usually make parenting new year’s resolutions or not, setting an intention at the beginning of the year can help you generate ideas for improving your skills as a parent. Even if you don’t achieve a specific goal within the year, thinking about what changes you would like to make and how you could achieve those parenting goals can help direct you towards a new way of doing things.
Four parenting resolutions worth keeping this year include using judgment carefully, sharing activities, reading together more, and practicing patience.
Here are four parenting resolutions to get your ideas flowing.
1. Be Careful When Judging Children
Words that describe a child’s overall character, such as good, bad, smart, or naughty act as labels that your child internalizes over time. It may not seem like a problem for a child to internalize a label such as good or smart, but she will quickly understand that when she fails to live up to that label the opposite label of bad or dumb will naturally apply.
Such wide-reaching labels can be permanent, causing your child to think that she is only worth your love when being good. A better parenting approach is to save your judgments for your child’s behaviour, and to clearly specify what it is about the behaviour that you are describing. “I saw you sharing your toys with Max, it looked like he was very happy when you shared with him” helps a child more in the long run than: “You’re a good girl for sharing.”
2. Share Activities with Your Child
Participating in physical activity together with children helps to get both of you off the couch and away from computer or television screens, and it can be a fun way to spend time together and get to know your child. By actively participating in soccer, swimming, cycling, or hiking with your child, you also gain an opportunity to help your child develop physical skills in a safe and non-competitive environment. If your child loves sports, competitive soccer or hockey might be a good choice for them, but most kids simply want to have fun playing together.
3. Read Together More
Reading to children has many benefits, including the development of language awareness and vocabulary, increasing creativity and imagination, increasing attention span, and providing time for closeness and quiet attention between an adult and a child.
Reading together can also provide many opportune “parenting moments” such as when you can teach your child about characters in a story that find themselves in trouble. Try talking about what a character might do or how they got into a specific situation to open a discussion about behaviour choices with children, or make up new endings to familiar stories to encourage fun and creativity. Reading with children is also a relatively easy resolution to implement – just take an extra 10 minutes during the bedtime routine to read another story together.
4. Practice Patience
Becoming more patient as a parent is a resolution that can be hard to stick with, especially at first. Yelling and being inflexible can often be symptoms of other problems, such as too much stress or problems at work, so look closely at your own lifestyle and see if you can make changes to your workload or expectations to help you be more patient.
Another way to become more patient with children is to determine whether a problematic behaviour is normal for a child’s age group. Defiance and tantrums are upsetting for parents, but when you can accept that they are normal behaviours for a two-year-old it’s easier to be understanding and patient while teaching your child a better way to deal with their feelings.
If you find you’ve broken your resolutions by the end of January, don’t beat yourself up over it. Practicing more positive parenting skills takes time and compassion, so focus on doing fun things together with your children instead of worrying about whether or not you’re meeting your new year’s resolutions. Positive changes take time, and one of the best times to make a fresh start is at the start of a new year.