You focus so much on milestones when your kids are babies.
Are they walking yet? Talking in complete sentences? Using the potty?
After the toddler years, you stop tracking milestones. And unfortunately, many people stop changing the way they parent.
Suddenly, you’re having huge battles with your grade school age child and wondering why things aren’t working like they used to.
It would be nice if you could just pick a parenting strategy and be set until your kids turn 18.
Unfortunately, as your kids grow, your parenting needs to grow too!
Here are 4 areas that you might need to “grow up” your parenting
- Routines: Some families fall into patterns that keep the baby the “baby” even when they are 12 years old! As your children grow, it’s good to raise the bar for what you expect. Take a look at chores, bedtimes, curfews, homework…even little things like tying your 2nd grader’s shoes or packing your middle school child’s lunch. Your kids are a year older than last year, take a look at ways that you can change the routine, shift responsibility and raise the bar for what is (age-appropriately) expected.
- Big Feelings: As your children grow, the way you talk about big feelings should change too. With toddlers, we do a lot of the talking for them, “Lily took your truck, you feel mad.” As your child grows, open up the conversation. Talk age-appropriately with them about what happened, how the other person may have felt, or how you feel. Listen more than you talk. Work together to process what led to making a negative choice, and brainstorm suggestions for doing things differently in the future.
- Freedom: Letting your children try new things is also part of growing up. It is scary for some parents to give their child more freedom because there are risks – they may get hurt, they may fail, they may make a bad decision that has unfortunate consequences. However, giving your child the opportunity to try new things on their own may build their confidence and give them chance to use the skills you taught when they were young. Every child is different, some are ready to conquer the world right away, while others need to demonstrate their ability before they can do it alone.
- Conversations: It’s tempting to continue saying “I’ll tell you when you’re older,” but before you know it, your child is “older” and you never had the conversation. Start talking about your family values when your children are young – rather than as one big TALK when they are teens. Begin with very basic information and build on it over the years. The information you share will vary from child-to-child, it’s more important to keep the conversation neutral and open so your child will feel free to ask questions in the future.
Learning to grow up with your kids builds strong relationships because it demonstrates to your child that they are worthy of taking on more responsibility and communicating in a more grown-up manner.
It also helps you stay focused on helping your child become a strong, independent, self-confident adult!
Are you still using toddler parenting techniques for your grade-school kids? Don’t panic.
Take a look at your parenting and see what areas could use improvement.
Pick one or two to focus on now and do a few more once those are established.