“I’d like to do things differently, but my kids are almost teenagers, it’s too late to make a difference.”
“You can’t believe the things I’ve done – I’ve yelled, spanked, even swore at my kids – I’ll never be able to change.”
Sometimes, our own thinking keeps us trapped.
We start to believe that there is no hope for us. No room for change. No way to make things better.
But here’s the thing (don’t miss this!)…
The fact that you want to parent differently is the first step towards making a lasting, meaningful change in the life of your children.
There are a number of reasons why you parent the way you currently do – you’re stressed, you don’t have a lot of support from friends and family, you didn’t have a good parenting role model growing up, etc.
Sometimes, it’s just that you didn’t know there was a different way to handle the situation.
And now you do!
Regardless of the reason, give yourself permission to start parenting differently starting TODAY.
Tips for moving forward.
Of course, making an intention to do things differently is only one piece of this puzzle.
Now, you have to commit to take the next step. And the next one. And the next one.
Here are 5 things to keep in mind as you move forward:
- Keep it simple: Instead of trying to change everything at once, pick one thing and break it down into even smaller steps. Give yourself permission to take it one day at a time (or maybe one minute at a time!). Focus on what you WILL do instead of what you WON’T do. So, instead of “stop yelling,” your goal may be, “I will take 3 deep breaths before responding.”
- Give yourself a do-over. Old habits die hard. When you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed, you may return to your old ways. Instead of getting discouraged and giving up, stop as soon as you notice that you’re slipping. Interrupting the unwanted behavior will give you a chance to try a different technique, make a different choice, or use a more positive way of communicating.
- Expect some resistance. Unfortunately, your kids may not like this new parenting strategy. Some parents notice an increase in tantrums and acting out behavior when they make a parenting change. Your kids may be testing to see if your new behavior is trustworthy and consistent. Respond with empathy, understanding that it takes time to build trust and create new ways of interacting.
- Apologize. If you go back to an old habit acknowledge this mistake to your kids or your spouse. Again, your kids are learning if they can trust the new behavior. You are not perfect, you will make mistakes. Acknowledging your mistakes is not a sign of weakness, it is modeling to your children that when mistakes are made, the person owns the behavior and makes amends if necessary.
- Seek support. Making changes to your parenting may be difficult to do on your own. Find a trusted friend, therapist or parent coach to keep you accountable, give you suggestions, provide support and help you succeed. If you feel that your children have been negatively affected by your parenting, you may want to see a family therapist to repair the bond in your relationship.
No matter how old your children are or how far you feel from becoming the parent you want to be, it’s not too late to change.
Start over. Starting today.