1. Take care of yourself because nobody else will. Honestly, find something kind to do for yourself each day. Even a shower, a walk or a cup of tea.
2. Use empathy, even when you think you can’t...it’s you're saving grace. If we can see things from our child’s point of view, even when you may not agree or feel that they “need” to be upset…they are having feelings and all feelings are valid and important. Conveying the idea that we understand will garner much goodwill with our children.
3. Be affectionate and kind. Come with love, kindness, hugs, and kisses as much as possible because our children are little sponges and they may not reflect that kindness right away while they are disconnected but over time they will learn to be kind humans.
4. Play with your kids, every day if you can. It’s transformative. Sometimes it’s unmanageable to play but it should be part of your weekly routine. Often the last thing I want to do is play and connect with my girls, but I force myself to, even when they say they would rather be on their electronics. I beg them and tell them how much I need to “be” with them, and eventually, they relent. I feel so much better afterward and so do they.
5. Self-regulate. Use deep breathes and mantras when you are triggered. Come with kindness, "This is not an emergency and my child is not giving me a hard time. They are having a hard time." Those are the ones that I use and in the moment—those moments where I am losing my mind—sometimes they work. Other times, I have to walk out of the room and take deep breathes.
6. Model. Behave the way in which you want them to. They are watching every move we make. When I see one of the girls say something unsavory and then I notice that it is something I have said or say on the regular, I take pause.
7. Let them figure it out. You don’t need to fix everything. They can do it! Just listening and being there as a supportive person doesn’t mean you need to fix, often times the only person who can fix it is your child. They just want to know their feelings matter, that they are allowed to feel as if everything is falling apart. Then let them put it back together. This builds resiliency and self-reliance.
8. Love them unconditionally and be their safe place. Love them through the, “I hate you’s” and “You are the worst mom ever,". Try not to take those things personally and show them love even when conventional wisdom tells us they don’t deserve it. Try to stay calm, cool and connected instead of angry and upset. It is REALLY difficult, sometimes impossible, but it is a goal, one I still try to achieve.
9. No punishments, consequences, bribes, threats or yelling. Unless you want your kid to try those on you, their friends and siblings. Sure they may work in the short term, but at what cost? What do they do over time? How does it make them feel? Will they stuff it? Will they use those techniques on the people around them? Will they learn to manipulate to get what they want?
10. Set limits and have boundaries and rules. All kids need those to feel and be safe. Boundaries can be kind and lovingly set with empathy. “I know you really want to stay on your iPad all day, it’s really fun, isn’t it? Yet, we need to put it away for the day.” Our consequence is the boundary. That’s all we need. We don’t need anything else. Except for patience and our listening skills.
Are you looking for a more positive approach to parenting that actually works? The Peace and Parenting Community is an engaged and supportive group of parents and caregivers just like you. If you want to learn how to connect with your child in a way that encourages a more peaceful home and deeper and more meaningful connection, then you've come to the right place.