Last updated on Jun 11th, 2021 at 12:06 pm

As the new year begins we naturally look forward to better times with our family, pledging to make changes to improve our life in some way. Our hopes and dreams for a better future motivates us to optimistically move forward, yet we soon find ourselves succumbing to old unwanted behaviours wondering why it is so difficult to make the changes we desire.

Determination alone doesn’t seem to help when it comes to parenting, and, despite our best efforts, we find ourselves at odds with our children. How then do we have the happy successful family we dream of? The secret lies in how well we are able to meet the needs of our children.

Here are 15 steps to start the connection:

  1. Wake up every day and decide on a small thing you can do to show your children that they are your top priority. You may want to tell them, send them an SMS, phone them during the day, or help them with something that is important to them.
  2. Set aside at least 10 minutes for one-on-one time with each of your children, where you make eye contact, and give them your undivided attention. Even with four children, this is less than an hour of your time each day.  Take their lead and engage in something fun that they enjoy doing.
  3. Have at least one meal a day with your children where you all sit down together and chat. Share your day with your children, focusing on positive experiences, and how you overcame negativity during the day.
  4. Consciously listen to what your children are telling you, reflecting back what is important to them without criticising them. Know the names of their friends, teachers, favourite band, book, food and so on. Be excited about their dreams and hopes for the future, even if they are not the dreams you have for them.
  5. Notice what you do and say in front of your youngsters. It may be necessary to change the way you deal with anger for your children to behave differently.
  6. Exchange discipline for discussion. When you are tempted to punish, find ways of discussing what happened and how changes can be made. Avoid taking sides, but rather mediate, encouraging your children to express their feelings and acknowledge the feelings of others.
  7. Choose to be a “yes” parent, rather than a “no” parent. When you are tempted to say no, find a way to say yes. “Yes, I will take you to the movies this weekend but I can’t take you right now. Yes you may have that toy/ gadget. Place it on your Christmas/ Birthday list. Help me work out a plan to save the money to buy you what you want. Yes, I will make a plan to watch one of your sport’s matches/ballet performance this week.”
  8. Decide to no longer act impulsively by smacking your children when you are angry, placing them in timeout or shouting at them. Remove yourself from the situation and calm down before discussing your feelings with your children. Every time you smack your children, you change the connections in their brain, and consequently the potential of who they could be.
  9. Play with your children every day. Laugh, make jokes, teach them a new board game. Let them see the fun, childish side of you.
  10. Teach them about life. Chat when driving in the car about morals and values. Show them how to problem solve, think creatively, and how perseverance in the face of failure leads to success.
  11. Help your child know who he is by defining the qualities that are his essence. Kind, caring, a good friend, helpful, diligent and so on. Knowing who he is protects him from bullies.
  12. Find ways to calm your home by rushing less, speaking quietly, and making time for relaxation, so that your children know that home is a safe place they can relax and de-stress.
  13. Find opportunities to encourage your children to make choices and give their opinion. Children who have a say in their own life feel respected and valued.
  14. Hugging your children daily not only show them that you love them but releases feel good hormones protecting them against illness, reducing stress and making them feel secure.
  15. Teach your children to problem solve, rather than demanding obedience. Being able to deconstruct a problem and find solutions will nurture independent thinkers.

The greatest gift you have are your children. The greatest challenge you have in life is maintaining a positive connection with them. The greatest rewards you will experience in life is fulfilling relationships with the wonderful adults whom you have nurtured and who reflect your love.

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Article by: Claire Marketos www.inspiredparenting.co.za