There are many keys to parenting success, but often the focus shifts too much on changing kids while failing to pay attention to the essential beliefs that fuel the parenting decisions. Without attending to the thoughts and beliefs contained in the parental mindset, all long-term efforts will fail.
Recently, I worked with parents who had a picky eater. It was a disaster. A real disaster. Why? Because I couldn’t get them to adjust their mindset enough to get out of fear and control and get into the world where their actions could teach.
So, understanding that your perspective….your mindset about parenting is the most important first step to address. It’s like signing up at the YMCA without ever changing your schedule or figuring out how you can commit to a life change.
You don’t want to take on a parenting program, without first checking to see if your approach keeps you in reality. By reality, I mean that your parenting choices are consistent with the way that kids learn.
Let’s just do a brief overview of this. I really want you to recognize that each of these topics discussed below could consume an hour or two, but I offer this discussion to try to “jump-start” your mindset so that you can easily follow the guidelines offered on this site and begin to get results.
If you are struggling in some way, the most important first step is to find a way to….
1. Relinquish the past.
Let go of your frustration over what has happened in the past. Don’t keep reminding your children what happened last year in school. This undermines their success in countless ways. Just let go of it.
Easier said than done? “Yes…of course!”
Critical to your success? “ABSOLUTELY!”
When you release the past, it frees you to be dealing with only this moment…not the other 324 times that you have had this argument. You don’t have to bring up all the past painful, frustrating moments. In fact, when you do, you become blinded to this moment. You are actually in a situation where you are emotionally trying to handle dozens of emotional memories, and this can quickly overwhelm you.
When dealing with only this moment, free of the past, then you begin to respond to what is happening with a rational and reasoned approach. If the past keeps coming into the present, you will always find yourself overwhelmed by the simplest of struggles.
This is sometimes one of the most important issues to address. Many of us find it very difficult to do this. We keep finding ourselves caught up in “stories” in our heads about our kids. We can even begin to dislike our kids and hold a great deal of anger.
This is unhealthy. It will not allow you to find peace. It will not allow you to find a parenting solution…because the emotional reactions will always over-ride the strategies you try to put into place.
If you find yourself in a place where you struggle with being emotionally reactive…then you may want to consider PARENT COACHING, as this is an option for addressing the underlying thoughts and beliefs that cause this. Another option is to find a counselor in your area. A third option is to consider one of my products designed to help you let go of some of the thoughts and emotions that keep bring up the past.
For now, however, it’s important to begin to simply realize that your story about the past…no matter how ugly…that story cannot serve you and your child. Instead, I invite you to…
2. Focus exclusively on what you want.
Develop a clear vision of how you want your family to function and a clear sense of the habits that will promote success. Learn what you need to do to develop and promote these habits. Focus on how you’ll produce success. Get clear on the principles and rehearse them over and over. Remember: Whatever you focus on will appear in your life. If you focus on your children’s failures and shortcomings, the failures will increase. If you focus on their success, you’ll find ways to nurture that.
This immediately begins the process of you putting your energy into what you want…rather than putting your energy into what you don’t want (i.e., the past problems). It also has a remarkable effect upon your brain, preparing you to start taking in information and ideas that will bring you more and more of what you want.
3. Be patient: It takes time to nurture the habits of success.
Establishing a new habit takes a while, for both you and your child. Be prepared for a six-to-eight-week learning curve. Sometimes a little less…and sometimes a little more. During that time, follow through consistently and relentlessly with the new principles you’re implementing.
How long does it take to grow a new lawn? It takes a few weeks, and it takes some extra effort for those initial weeks… right? It’s the same thing here: You must accept (only if you want things to get better) that building new, healthy patterns takes a few weeks.
Is this true in every situation? NO!
You will find these products and some parenting suggestions that clearly state that you don’t need 6-8 weeks to see the changes. This is true of certain situations where you can implement terrific parenting strategies with unusual control over the environment.
Here are a few examples where you can make changes more rapidly…usually in a week to 10 days (in most families):
- Kids crazy in the car [Get the Daily Travel In-Sanity Program now!]
- Picky Eaters [Get the Cure the Picky Eater Program]
- Messy rooms & kids not picking up [Get the Monday Bag Magic NOW!]
- Bedtime battles [Get the Bye-Bye Bedtime Battles Program now!]
- Tantrums and battles when shopping [Get the Shopping In-Sanity Program!]
However, when building a long-term pattern of responsible behavior, you are better off preparing yourself to be patient. Expect that it will take a few weeks or you are destined to give up while the seeds of success are just sprouting. Please be patient and persistent as you follow through with this plan. The next step is to…
4. Allow for learning – and that means success and failure.
This is very difficult for parents. Out of a well-intentioned desire to limit their children’s struggles, they try to protect them from failure. By doing this, they’re raising children who are ill-prepared to handle the demands of life. Obviously, if you do their homework for them you’re not really helping them. But there are many other subtle ways that you can take on tasks that belong to your kids when you really just want to protect them from failure.
Consider it this way. Your kids need to develop certain “muscles” to prepare them for life. They have social muscles, emotional muscles, and intellectual muscles that must be worked. If you protect them from using those muscles when their bodies are made to develop those muscles, how can the muscle get strong?
Here’s a good rule of thumb: If you’re working harder than they are for their success, they’re headed down the path to failure. The idea is not to promote failure for your children. It’s simply to allow them to experience the consequences of their actions. If your son forgets his baseball glove, let him explain it to the coach. If your daughter forgets to bring her homework home, let her figure out what to do about it and suffer the consequences if she does nothing. If your son leaves his bike in the driveway, you don’t need to run over the bike – but you can put it in your trunk for a week. You get the point: if you protect your kids from consequences you will handicap them for life. Next…
5. Don’t lecture. Allow the consequences to teach.
Why do I mention this under mindset? Because it is essential for every single parenting solution that you get clear about the detrimental effects of lectures and repeated attempts to say the same thing over and over. You can quickly become background noise…and you don’t really want that …do you?
Lectures and discussions about life experiences rarely make a difference in developing healthy habits. This is true for adults as well as kids. When is the last time you talked with a friend about losing weight, and he immediately started exercising and eating less? When is the last time you talked with a friend about her habit of procrastination, and the next day she turned her life around? It just doesn’t happen.
It doesn’t happen with kids either. As a parent, our job is to establish a structure and routine in which consequences gradually and gently teach the lessons that develop into habits of success. As you move forward with this approach, your kids will experience failures. These are essential lessons. Without these experiences, your kids are ill-prepared to deal with reality. Please stay with the program and allow it to work its magic.
Speaking of magic, it really begins when you…
6. Relinquish the need to control your child’s behavior.
If you demand that your children do their homework, sooner or later you’ll end up in a power struggle with them. A better approach is to surrender your need to control their behavior and focus on your own, on the areas in which you actually have control. You can control many aspects of your children’s environment and the consequences they experience. At the same time, you can begin to implement the strategies that will teach your children to become self-motivated and self-directed.
In reality, it is usually a waste of time (over the long term) to expend energy attempting to use your words to control your child’s choices. Controlling language sounds like this:
- Stop that now.
- Do your homework now.
- Listen to me. You pick up your room.
- Stop playing that game.
- Put that away.
I am certain that everyone does this now and then. However, when I find parents using such control-oriented language frequently, it usually is a signal that things are deteriorating.
Who likes to be TOLD what to do? You don’t. I don’t. Your kids don’t.
Plus, it’s just not in harmony with reality. You just don’t control your kids.
You have influence. You don’t have control. That’s reality.
When you parent from reality, then you can maximize your ability to teach. And that’s what I do here at Terrific Parenting…maximize your ability to teach healthy habits and responsible behaviors.
Finally, however, life is an action game. So you must…
7. Prepare. Prepare. Prepare.
If your kids have fallen out of a healthy routine—or have never known one—and you want to get them on track, it’s essential to prepare. This preparation includes examining your mindset, carefully considering the principles discussed above, and following through with the strategies you find on this website. If you consistently use these principles and strategies, you’ll help your child develop the habits of success.
You can follow these links to get more information on these problem areas:
- Picky Eating
- Shopping craziness
- Bedtime battles
- Whining and negativity
- Too loud at home
- Homework Battles
- Morning madness
- Kids crazy in the car
- Telephone interruptions
- Divorce concerns
- Messy rooms…kids won’t pick up
- And more…
8. What Does It Mean “Be The Wall”.
Do you find that reality is soft, easy, and forgiving…or do you find that reality is firm, consistent, and generally predictable?
I generally find the latter is true. Reality seems quite consistent and when we notice this fact, we can learn something . . . Click Here To Learn More