Believe it or not there was a brief time that I felt like a perfect parent. I remember it distinctly because I believe it was the only moment in time this has ever happened. I had 2 small children, my oldest was about 3 and my second born was 1. I had just finished reading a parenting book that really resonated. I was on a parent high. I could tackle anything. Naturally this didn’t last much past the 3rd or 4th tantrum or baby sister strangle hold but during that small window of time I came up with something that I personally felt was inspired and, when I remember it, has helped me out in many parenting situations. In fact it really can help in all relationships. For a while there I had it posted on my bathroom mirror. I think I will be putting it back on there today.
Are you ready…. Here it is:
IGNORE THE INCONSEQUENTIAL
REDIRECT THE INAPPROPRIATE
FIND PRAISE IN ALL THINGS
I think as parents, heck as humans, we pay attention to way too much. I had days that I felt the only phrase that was exiting my mouth was “don’t do that”. How exhausting not only for me but also my kids. Is it life threatening? Will it damage property? If the answer is no, then what is all the fuss about? We complain that today’s kids have no imagination, well perhaps we had something to do with that when we had all those days of “don’t do that”.
This is not to say that we should just let our kids have free reign over the house. That is where the next point comes in handy. In those few weeks of being a perfect parent I found that instead of constantly pointing out what they were doing wrong and instead finding ways to just subtly redirect them to another choice, things went so much smoother. Giving a child a suggestion for another activity does not feel like a criticism and avoids the trap of “don’t do that”.
Finally and perhaps MOST IMPORTANTLY try and find as many opportunities as you possibly can to praise them and encourage and congratulate them. Even if this means pointing out how well they put toothpaste on their toothbrush. Everything and anything that can create a positive moment, capitalize on it. It takes so many more compliments to out way that negative, that surge of impatient words. Unfortunately the imprint of a negative comment runs so much deeper than that positive reinforcement. So it is our job as parents to not only minimalize the negative feedback but to maximize the positive.
At first this routine will feel mechanical, but with luck you will be awesome enough to keep it up and it will become second nature, and the rewards are without measure.
Happy parenting everyone.