Welcome to 2016! Everyone wants to be the best parent they can be, and a new year offers the chance for renewal and rejuvenation. Here are 10 HOT ideas to help you be on top of your parenting game this year.
1. Put gender on your agenda.
Gender matters so much. For instance, a recent Australian study into children’s separation anxiety found girls experience higher levels of anxiety than boys when they are 3, but it levels out by age 5. It’s refreshing to see so much research, such as this, now rightfully highlighting gender differences. So start nuancing your parenting to account for gender differences.
2. Give the gift of restraint.
At a time when kids receive so much it’s easy to forget that restraint is virtue. Just because you
can afford to give kids what they want, doesn’t mean you do. Differentiate between a want and a need…..and encourage restraint, goal setting and saving in kids. It’ll help them to be successful at school and beyond.
3. Build your developmental knowledge.
Lucky you have two eyes, as you need to keep one parenting eye on meeting kids’ current needs and the other on preparing them for their next stage. If starting school or secondary is a year away then start thinking how you can make sure your child school-ready this year. Not all stages are so obvious so it helps to tune in to the minor changes in your child and as well as purposefully and intentionally building your developmental knowledge.
4. Reinforce self-regulation.
“You waited your turn! Great stuff!” “Thanks for packing away the toys without being told.” “Good on you for staying in bed when you woke up rather than come to our bedroom to wake me up.” A child’ ability to self-regulate behaviour (like the ability to self-soothe and self-occupy) is highly under-rated, and doesn’t come naturally to all kids. That’s where consistent parenting that’s use visual management and behavioural consequences comes in.
5. Practise digital parenting.
The most tech-savvy current generation ever raised needs digitally aware parents. The Internet is fun and it’s here to stay, but it can pose risks for some kids. Digital parenting means providing guidelines for safety without limiting children’s opportunity to learn and communicate in the online world. It also requires you to understand the digital world that your kids inhabit.
6. Develop character strengths in kids.
Recent studies (most notably the work of US-based Angela Duckworth) have found that character, not cognitive ability, is the single most reliable determinant of how a person’s life will turn out. The traits associated with success include the inclination to persist at boring or difficult tasks (grit), the ability to delay gratification (self-control) and the ability to follow through with a plan (conscientiousness). Writer’s NOTE: I’m currently researching these and others character traits and I look forward to sharing them through different forums.
7. Roll down Redundancy Road.
The fundamental role of a parent is to make yourself redundant. Always has been. Always will be. There are three ways to do this– teach skills of independence, develop self-help skills and allow kids to learn from their mistakes. If your current parenting is heading toward Dependency Drive, it’s never too late to take a turn and head down a different road toward Redundancy. Start small but, for goodness sake, start now.
8. Practice reciprocity.
The best families, like the most meaningful, communities are built around the principle of reciprocity. “We help each other out and we treat each other fairly” builds belonging and forges greater kinship between siblings.
9. Encourage social risk-taking.
One in three children are risk-adverse when it comes to meeting new people and entering new social situations. Social media removes risk for these kids, yet it’s not the answer. Use a variety of strategies ranging from scaffolding (baby steps), practising meeting and speaking to new friends and modelling social risk-taking yourself.
10. Get a coach or mentor.
The quickest way to get better at any skill is to get a coach or use a mentor to share their experiences and show you the way. (I’ve got coaches and mentors for everything from speaking, writing and social media through to golf, scuba diving and my other interests.) Parenting is no different. Draw on the expertise and experience of trusted sources to help you be the best parent you can be this year.
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