7 Ways to Win at Parenting
Use these fun and practical ways to truly be a hero in your child's eyes!
Are you winning at parenting? That's kind of a trick question, isn't it? It's not like parenting's a race or contest (at least not to every mom and dad), but there are certainly moments that feel like a win or a loss.
As long as you win in your kid's eyes, though, all is right with the world, right? How do you do that? Take a tip or two from expert parenting coaches and real parents who have been there and done that:
- Be Real
You aren't Wonder Woman. Being a hero to your child doesn't require superhuman strength or mutant abilities. Parenting coach Mercedes Samudio says, "Parents can be great role models for their children by being human. As children develop and mature, they look to their parents to see how they should act in certain situations.
If parents act too perfect or attempt to address issues in a nonorganic way, children begin to think something is wrong with them when they cannot tackle their life issues in the same manner." So when something is tough, say so. And then attempt a solution -- and possibly repeat.
- Learn From Your Role Model
"When working with parents, I often have them tell me about their favorite teacher, their best manager or their favorite mentor," says parenting coach at Grow Parenting Sarina Behar Natkin. Natkin explains, "We list what that person did that made them such an important role model.
Then, I have [the parents] share what this person did when they screwed up. Not once have I heard [a parent] say that the person punished them, yelled at them or shamed them. Instead, I hear about people holding them accountable."
- Master Something
You can't be good at everything all the time. You understand that, and so does your child. Mastering a skill (even an easy one) sets you up as a role model your child can look up to. Instead of crafting like Martha, singing like Beyoncé and dancing like J.Lo all at once, single out one talent to master. Whether it be cooking, organizing or running races, start with the simple and let your little one watch you go from novice to pro -- with all of the mistakes in between.
- Grow Together
"I recently told my oldest child that, each day when we wake up, I have never parented a child her age, so I am likely to make many mistakes along the way," says Natkin. What happened? "She loved that we were in this growing thing together."
- Refuse the Rat Race
There are only 24 hours in a day. Racing from school drop-off to work to playdates to gymnastics to soccer to baseball and so on doesn't make you a hero to your child. But slowing down and taking some "me time" just might. This one contradicts the common stereotype of the "super mom," who is everything to everyone, but your child needs to see that you can relax and treat yourself as number one.
Samudio says, "As a parent coach, one thing that I tell my parents is to consistently incorporate self-care into their daily lives." She notes, "When you model self-care in your home, your children begin to see how important it is to take a break from the busyness of life and just relax -- it's a win-win situation."
If you have trouble letting go, read 10 Tips to Find "Me Time".
- Surprise with Special Treats
Showering your kiddos with the hottest toys may make you Parent of the Minute in their eyes, but giving into each and every whim 24/7 isn't exactly responsible parenting. Surprising your child with an impromptu "treat" shows that you're looking out for him (and grabs you at least a few cool points).
Kristen B. of Pittsburgh, PA, mom to twin 10-year-olds and an 8-year-old, says, "I'm my kids' hero when I let them stay up late to watch Monday Night Raw." Even though it's only a once-in-a-great-while activity, the appreciation from her kids equals a parenting win. So go ahead. Be the mom who brings junk food to the soccer field every once in a while.
- Show Compassion
"When it comes to compassion, we can model that by giving them the benefit of the doubt when they make mistakes. We need to practice compassion ourselves in the car, in the post office, the grocery store and anywhere else that may raise our stress levels," says Natkin.
What does "winning at parenting" mean to you? Let us know in the comments.
Erica Loop is a mom, parenting writer and educator, with an MS in child development. When she's not teaching, she's busy creating kids' activities for her blog Mini Monets and Mommies.
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