6 ways to be a better parent

Where does time go?

My baby turned 1 at the end of last month and I kept thinking, how on earth did 365 days pass already since we welcomed this little man?! He has been such a joy in our lives. He’s funny and charming and intelligent like his brother, and surpasses him in guts. He was walking at 9 months and is now climbing as high as he possibly can, every chance he gets. He loves thrills. Thankfully he has learned to go down backwards when getting off of high things or going down stairs, I’m sure it has saved many head dives.

We have 18 quickly fleeting years, give or take to prepare them for the rest of their lives. The things that we teach and live out by example are the things that will stick with them for life. The habits and character that we help them to establish now will shape who they are.

They may not follow everything that we believe, but no matter where they go, the experiences and teachings of their childhood will be a part of their mindset, ingrained on their souls, influencing their decisions.

As every New Year and every summer approaches, I set myself goals, I promise to spend more time with my children, I want to be more intentional, to be a better parent. Every year I fall so far short. As I have pondered what really makes a better parent lately, these 6 things have come to mind.

Be Intentional

It’s easy to let life slip by. I add something to my to-do list and it gets put off for weeks. Every day I wake up with good intentions to do a project with my toddler and every day I find other things to fill my time. I lack being intentional. When we are not intentional about the way we spend our time, it slips away from us and we miss out on things we could have had. Being intentional takes conscious effort, it doesn’t just come naturally, rather we have to view it as important and invest our time and thought and energy into it.

Be intentional with your time with your children. With the things you want to teach them. It takes daily consistency and choosing to work on character. Habits don’t happen over night for you and neither do they for your children.

Discipline is either intentional or nonexistent.

 

Be Present

Children need you to be present! It’s easy to try to buy our children experiences or things, but they are not a replacement for relationship. Humans thrive on relationship. We were created for relationship and children are no exception!

Our Children need less things, and more time, less entertainment and more experiences with us! Click To Tweet

I am a goal and task oriented person and I spend so much of my time accomplishing things. It is so hard for me to turn off my mind full of ideas and to-do lists and focus on people and relationships. I’m also an introvert, I like to be alone in my thoughts. But my boys need me to be present with them. To shut off to my need to accomplish and spend time just playing, reading a book, talking about things that a three-year-old talks about. Because of my lack of presence, I don’t nurture my babies like I should, their little minds, their hearts and souls!

Technology is a huge robber of presence and relationship. It has replaced so much interaction with people, when the time you spend is spent on your phone or computer or watching a movie, there is no need to talk and hear each other’s hearts. When you excessively use technology instead of spending time with your children, when you say “Not right now I’m busy” as you scroll Facebook or answer that ‘important’ text message, you’re saying to your child that your phone comes first.

Your child needs you to make them a priority in your life!

Be Proactive

 

I don’t like conflict and so I will avoid it as much as possible which in turn creates unhealthy conflict. Instead of dealing with conflict before it gets bad and I’m upset, I avoid until I’m a volcano that erupts and damages with my hot spewing lava (words). It is so much healthier to be proactive in relationships, in parenting, in life, to solve the problem before it becomes a disaster.

I was talking about discipline with my mom and how I wait until I’m irritated. Her response; “Maybe you should start sooner.” Wow. How simple. Sometimes the solution is right there and you can’t see it. What she said could be summarized by saying, be proactive!

Set clear expectations and consequences and follow through, the first time!

Don’t discipline because you’re mad, discipline because your child needs the consequence to be reminded not to repeat the action or disobedience. When we are proactive we discipline for our children’s good rather than out of frustration or inconvenience.

 

Set Boundaries

Healthy boundaries = security to a child.

 

Children need to know where the line is, they need order, discipline and consistency. They need to know what is okay and what isn’t and what to expect when they’ve done wrong. Children should be taught to set healthy boundaries and respect boundaries that are set by others.

Ways that you can help your child to learn about setting boundaries is by not crossing theirs. Let your child be in as much control as possible of their body and space. If they do not wish to give or receive physical affection, do not force it. In the same sense, show your child how to recognize others boundaries and to respect them.

Other boundaries that children should have in their life might look like having a set bedtime, not being able to watch certain movies, guidelines for friends especially as teens. Boundaries are not to control or conform who your child is but to keep them safe.

Consequences for crossing boundaries are a gift. A child who is in control of their own world and sets the rules for themselves will feel very out of control if they have not first been taught to regulate and answer to someone else.

Be Consistent

Consistency and boundaries go hand in hand. Kids need consistency like boundaries to feel secure. They want to know that if they do this, this will be the reaction, every time! With consistency in your discipline and rewards, your child will adapt to this quickly. If you are inconsistent, chances are they will repeat the behavior, never knowing if this will be the time or to see if you will keep your word.

Choose your ‘battles’ wisely when it comes to training your children. This doesn’t mean avoid conflict but if you choose to start working on something with your child, follow through. If you have given a command, give a consequence if the command is not followed. When you promise your child something, do everything in your power to keep that promise. If you set a consequence, carry it out! Consistency is one of the most necessary disciplines for a parent if you want to see good results in your child’s behavior.

Self care

finally, care for yourself! Fill your soul with love so you can overflow love into theirs.

When you sacrifice your emotional health, you sacrifice your quality of parenting.

When you’re weary and run out, parenting seems hard and it’s easy to let things slide. As a mom it’s easy to put ourselves last. But in neglecting ourselves, we  convey to them a lack of valuing ourselves, we also burn out quickly.

We are called to serve our family, but also need to be filled physically, emotionally and spiritually ourselves. Being a mom can be taxing, you will be far more effective with a refreshed mind and soul. Ways you might get time to refuel could be through hiring a sitter, asking your husband for help, having a daily quiet time for the children or rising before your children do.

I know how hard it is to find alone time, but also how necessary it is. Even just 10 minutes a day while our children nap or play quietly while we refresh and feed our souls can make a difference. When you have taken time to care for yourself, you can in turn care for your family.

Setting your child up for success.

Following these guidelines sets your child up for success. That does not mean to take away every hardship, pain, frustration or consequence. Quite the opposite. Rather, giving consistent, logical consequences, allowing them to experience the disappointments and frustrations of life and helping them to cope with them.

It is Gods job to go before our children and prepare the path. It is our job to prepare the child for the path that God will lead them on. Click To Tweet

6 ways to be a better parent