I’m a mom of four, and I don’t pretend to have all the answers. There are days, I question God’s wisdom in gifting me with these precious gifts when I feel like a failure. (I’m told we all fail and all feel like failures from time to time.) These tips are applicable for parents of children of any stage of development. So while I don’t have a baby baby at home, I know these tips work.
5 Quick and Easy Parenting Tips
- Pray: Call on the the Creator for wisdom and strength. You were never intended to do this parenting thing alone. You cannot possibly know everything about parenting–even if you’ve read all the books and are incredibly intelligent. Children will take you to places beyond your ability to know how to cope or what to do. Pray always.
- Wait and respond rather than react: Unless your child is in imminent danger, waiting to survey the situation and deciding what to do will be better for you and for your child. Oh, this is advice that I need to keep on the forefront of my mind. In one sense, this is not easy. Mindlessly reacting is easier. But, pausing even for a minute can turn you from parent fail to parent win. I recommend praying during that time too. The screaming child who dropped her toy on the floor can wait a minute. The teenager running out the door can wait too. One minute can be enough time to respond in love and wisdom. This takes practice, but it is always better to choose what to do rather than run with your automatic response. (I blush thinking about some of the things I felt like doing in the heat of a crazy moment.)
- Take care of their (and your) health: This is the first issue to tacile when problems arise. Hunger and tiredness are major players in rotten attitudes and inability to cope with life—for children and parents alike. Good food. Enough sleep. Safety. Try meeting the physcial needs of the child and see how that changes the scenario. I remember one of my children when he was little who “taught” me what tired looked like. And it wasn’t yawning and rubbing of eyes. I was dumbfounded as to why he would run to “no-no” behavior, and then I looked at the clock. It was nap time. He was “telling me” he was tired. Most children don’t know they are tired or are coming down with a cold. As a parent, you take note of your child. Ask yourself: Could Sally be tired or hungry? If you have taken care of their health, as best as you know how, and you and your child both feel crazy, it’s ok to take a mommy (or daddy) time out. (If the child is little, putting him in his crib so you can take a 5-10 minute break is a good choice. If he has been changed and fed and is in a safe place, he will be fine while you get yourself into a better state of mind.) Note: Your health matters too. You will be a better parent if you are taking care of yourself.
- Touch: Taking time to hug and snuggle is important for a child of any age. It might be easier to do when the child is younger, but older children need physical affection too. It looks different as they age, but appropriate touch is one way to communicate love. An arm around the shoulder of a teenager may not get the “you’re a great mom” response from said teenager, but it does matter. That is one reason I started doing the five-minute hugs.
- Play: Play is important. You might not think it is important when there are other responsibilities looming (and practically screaming at you). Play is just as important. You cannot buy back time. (The dishes and laundry can wait.) Your child will be older in the blink of eye. That stage of development will be gone before you know it. Play gives you and your child connection time. It allows them to be in charge to direct play. You will learn about your child more by playing together than simply taking with him. (It’s a great venue to talk with them too.) You don’t have to commit to playing with them all day. (Dinner doesn’t make itself most of the time.) But the time invested over time is foundational for a healthy relationship. I have teenagers now, so play is joining in a board game. For you, it might be building Legos or stacking blocks. Play is good for you too. Note: Children need independent, self-directed play too.
Quick and easy. That’s a big promise. I hope you don’t feel weighed down by my suggestions. Changing habits are neither quick nor easy, but taking baby steps can be. One baby step forward may be the turning point you need toward a better parenting moment with your child.
Which of these tips come easy to you? Which tips are a challenge?
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