Advice about parenting is everywhere. From the grandmotherly types who tell you your baby is not dressed warmly enough while you are waiting in line at the grocery store, to whichever Tiger or French Mom book is the parenting manual du jour. Or maybe you actively seek out advice via blogs, magazines or from other Mom at groups, schools or the playground. I know my circle of Mom friends have been utterly indispensable, helping me navigate through and survive the poop, teething, tears, bed-wetting, picky eating and tantrums over the years. Sharing our stories, offering a shoulder to cry on and a good belly laugh, ideally over alcoholic beverages, have helped a load too.
Sometimes, just when you think you’ve really nailed this Mom thing, along comes the front cover of TIME magazine asking are you “Mom enough?” Thanks so much TIME for making us even more insecure than we already were. (And by the way, if ever doubt your “Mom-enough-ness,” I recommend you read this great post by blogger Sharon DeVellis over at YummyMummyClub.)
For me, there have been parenting tips that have worked and some that have bombed. There are those that sound great in principle but just don’t fit my kids, our lifestyle or my threshold for yelling. I also find that the hardest part is remembering to actually use these tips, especially in the midst of a meltdown in Target or Friendly’s.
The following are four parenting tips that have worked for me — when I’ve remembered to use them. Some came from friends, some from my own Mom, some from parenting articles and blogs. They may or may not work for you. That’s your call. To each their own.
- “When … then …”: Example: “when you finish [insert chore/request/food item] then you can [insert reward/positive outcome]. It’s essentially a form of tit for tat. You do for me, I’ll do for you. Works like a treat with my daughter. Especially if I offer to do a silly dance as the reward.
- Pick your battles: An oldie but a goodie. Knowing when it’s worth digging in with your kid to make a point, or just letting it go for the sake of peace. Case in point when my three-year old once threw a wobbly over the T-shirt I had selected for her one day. I decided to stand my ground. That T-shirt or no T-shirt. She opted for the latter and so I sent her to preschool topless. Was I mean? Maybe. Did she learn who the boss was? Damn right. Does she still challenge me? Every day! Ah well.
- Get on down: I can often be found yelling down the stairs, issuing commands from another room, negotiating peace treaties. But nothing works better I’ve found than getting down to your kid’s level, making eye contact, talking with and listening to them. It must be so much nicer for them than being shrieked at from a distance. It also helps you appreciate the view from their perspective, quite literally.
- Collaborative consequences: This is a new one for me, but my seven-year old has bought into it (so far). When a recent infringement was discovered, I asked him what he thought the proper consequence should be. He proposed a thoughtful and reasonable “punishment” which resonated with him. I tweaked it a little and we were good to go.
What parenting tips have saved your sanity and kept everyone happy, nurtured and safe? You’re more than welcome to borrow mine, if you think they could help you and your family. Just keep paying it forward so that the Mom species survives.