Five Ways to Be a Better Parent This Year

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt about being a parent it’s that there’s always room for improvement. Here are some ideas of 5 things you could add to your parenting approach for the benefit of your whole family.

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Eat Together As A Family – My family always ate dinner on trays in front of the television. As a kid I loved it, but I vowed not to do it as a parent. We started family meals when my eldest daughter turned two. It has helped make all of us much more mindful eaters, and it’s a time when she cracks out some very funny stories! Busy schedules often mean that families aren’t able to sit down at the same time, but resolve to share a nutritious meal at home together at least once a week. Your kids will acquire better eating habits and you’ll have the chance to have new conversations as a family. You could even use this time to talk about family goals, like what you want to do on the weekend or what would make your child’s next birthday most special.

Talk Less, Listen More – Of course you’ve got lots of life lessons to teach your kids. But don’t make the mistake of shutting them down while you’re doing so. Kids need to feel heard if you want them to share more with you. And when they’re young, they need to be able to express their emotions in order to learn how to regulate them. Be a calm parent and actively listen to what they’re trying to tell you, without putting words in their mouth, and see how it impacts your relationship.

Catch Your Kids Being Good – It’s so easy to call out your kid on something you want them to stop. But how often to do you praise them for doing something good? You don’t have to make a big deal out of it, but letting them know that you’re watching and are proud of them will want them to repeat that act. Pay particular attention to the virtue they’re expressing, like “I saw how determined you were to finish that puzzle by yourself – that’s awesome.”

Be Positive – I dare you to try to go 24 hours without complaining. I did it earlier this week and I promise you, it’s hard! Being positive means that you’ll look for the positive things in people, circumstances, and all things. If negative words come out of your mouth, try to stop mid-sentence and turn it into a positive one. Being positive means that negative thoughts and words will begin to fall away. You’ll start to feel happier and happier each day.

Correct Correctly – Here’s a bit of neuroscience fact for you: our brains visualise everything but can’t process negatives, which is why we’re more likely to do something we hear. “Don’t throw that” means your child will just visualise themselves throwing it. Try to be positive in your behaviour corrections and make statements that reflect what you want to see happening. Instead of “Don’t hit your sister”, try, “That didn’t look gentle to me. How could you be gentle with your sister instead?” Then give the child the immediate opportunity to action it out / show you what they mean.