Your 2016 resolutions don’t just have to focus on dieting and exercise; you can set valuable intentions for your parenting too. Your resolutions for the coming year shouldn’t be vague promises to ‘spend more time with the kids’, but attainable, realistic goals for improving the emotional and academic support you are able to provide. The key is in the daily routines; small changes here can really lead to big improvements in your family life.
Take time each day to really listen to your children. When they have problems academically or socially, ask them for explanations and listen attentively. If your student is shy or going through a phase where communication is tough, don’t give up or become frustrated. Continue to ask open-ended questions even if all you get is a shrug or an “I don’t know.” It’s important to keep channels of communication open at all times and to listen without judging.
Stay the course
When it comes to getting a couple of more minutes of computer time, or moving back curfews, children have better negotiating skills than politicians. It can be tough to stay the course when you are being nagged and hounded, but it’s important to set firm boundaries.
If you’re not sure about the ‘No’, then put off the answer with “I will have to think about it”. If you have said no, then stick to your guns.
Take better care of you
I call this the ‘oxygen mask’ principle. In an airplane, adults must put their own oxygen masks on before attending to their children and you need to take care of your own needs in other situations too. You can’t be a great parent if you are stressed out or unhealthy. Take the time out you need to keep functioning optimally. Whether that means an occasional night out, exercising more, taking a day off or enabling your children to be more independent, do what you need to in order to maintain your composure.
Empty threats and blanket criticism can be the result of understandable frustration on the behalf of parents but a constructive, non-judgmental response will often help to solve the situation. For example, if your student is having trouble academically and has a poor attitude towards studying, parents become frustrated. Their frustration is borne from a genuine concern for their child’s future, but continuous arguments and criticism won’t solve the problem.
Instead, speaking with tutors, teachers and the student in a constructive, supportive atmosphere can help to create a game plan to improvement that suits both parents and students and results in positive academic gains.
Laughter really is the best medicine and a family that has fun together will form tighter bonds. Take time out to enjoy yourselves and have fun with your kids. Do enjoyable activities individually with your children and together as a family. Ask your children what they want to do because participating in planning is more likely to result in participation in the activity.
This year, set yourself attainable goals that work on your everyday habits. For example, if your resolution is to spend more time with your children and to be a better listener, then start a tradition of spending Sunday afternoons doing something together. You could take each child to a movie, shopping, or out for a meal. One-on-one time will really help to give you the space to listen and communicate.
Setting attainable, realistic changes that are tangible will mean that you are more likely to succeed.
Small steps in the right direction result in small victories that are a real encouragement to keeping your resolutions past Valentine’s day.