Good parents look for ways to grow and improve their parenting any time of the year. Use this tip to make an effective resolution – even if it’s not New Year’s Eve.
The pressure to make parenting resolutions usually comes around January 1st each year.
But, the decision to make a big change in your parenting can also come on March 13th, after you screamed at your kids during bedtime. Or September 25th, when you launched into an hour-long lecture instead of listening.
Good parents are always looking for ways to improve and grow.
Unfortunately, it’s counter-productive for us to make goals, problem-solve, or think about the future when we’re stressed out (like we are in December!). Your brain is in a state of alert, it’s not calm and ready to plan for the next 365 days.
Resolutions: Start Here
If you’ve made a resolution, and you’re still doing amazingly well with it – congratulations!
For the rest of us, my advice is: Slow Down.
We cannot think clearly if our brain is in fight or flight mode. And, we cannot find the right solution if we don’t truly understand the problem. (This goes for behavior challenges with your kids too!)
How to make an effective parenting resolution
Let’s say your goal is to yell less this year. (Yay!)
Rather than saying, “OK, starting today, no more yelling!” I’d encourage you to get curious about your yelling response:
- Why do you think it occurs?
- What situations make it worse?
- What situations make it better?
- What strengths could you build on?
- What skills do you need to learn?
- What do (trusted) others say about your reactions?
- Is this a one-time thing or does it happen often?
- Is there a pattern?
- Is it worse with some people and not others?
- What is the need are you’re trying to express?
- What do you feel before/after this behavior?
- Is there a reaction that seems to work better than yelling?
Look at these things from a non-judgmental point of view. Be gentle, gracious, and kind to yourself during this process. Take lots of deep breaths.
Think about what’s not working and what you’d like to change. Put it all on the table. Look for patterns. Look at your history. Identify your strengths. You are a unique individual, and that’s OK!
Write down your observations or discuss them with a mental health professional or parent coach.
Once you understand as much as possible, then plan your next step.
Change happens when we decide to slow down, define the problem, and work gradually toward a solution. Healthy neuro-pathways are built through repetition, safety, and connection.
This is not about perfection. (Or even keeping your resolution past February 1st). It’s about small steps and slow progress over time.
And when you get off track a few weeks from now, you know what I’ll recommend: