1. Believe in Goodness. Is your child good or bad? What is her true nature? What is your perspective? How do you view your child when things get challenging? Is she trying to make your life hard or is she having a hard time? Loving leaders assume the best of their children. This doesn’t mean that we think our kids are perfect or that all behaviour is wanted. It means we trust in their good nature. If we view our children as good and pure of heart, then everything we see gets filtered through that lens. This allows us to parent from a mature and loving place. Take this leap of faith and fully believe in the goodness of your child.
2. Trust your Child: Trust them and they will learn to trust you. Trust them and they will learn to trust themselves. Trusting and honouring your child, his thoughts and his feelings is the greatest thing you can do for your child’s sense of wholeness. This is easier said than done. This involves letting go of control and letting your child experience the world on his terms. It is a radical act, to fully trust a little person. In a way, it’s a surrender. It means trusting that your child is his own person and, with love and support, will become who he needs to become. Let your child feel your trust, in how you listen and how you speak to him.
3. Change the Focus: Parenting is hard and it should be. The importance of our jobs as caregivers and loving guides cannot be overstated. Take the opportunity to appreciate the importance and significance of this work. The future of this world literally depends on how we raise our children. This realization might help you make it through a difficult day. It might help you make it through some challenging moments. Actively choosing to be of service and actively choosing to step into the esteemed role of helper/guide/mentor, shifts the perspective for the better. We start to see the true importance of our role and how much we have to give, not lose.
4. Redefine “Good Parent”. My parenting worth used to be tied up in being able to control my kids and have them mind, or listen to me. If I couldn’t control their behaviour, then I didn’t feel like a good parent. I have come to redefine what a good parent is. I traded in my desire for obedience for a better relationship and a better future for my children. I checked my ego at the door. Now, my idea of a strong/good parent is someone who is patient, loving, and someone who really empowers her child. A good parent is someone who walks the walk, and models the behaviours she wants to see.
5. Heal Yourself: Preoccupied with our own past pain and injustices, we are destined to become reactive and unpredictable parents. A tantrum, a misinterpreted comment, a missed “thank you” can seem like a bullet right through the heart. When we hurt, we are tender. When we hurt, we get triggered. A toddler’s tantrum has nothing to do with your worth. My daughter once got so upset because she had spaces between her toes. Luckily for me, there was no way I could have taken it personally. But, it opened my eyes to the fact that her behaviour and her upset, although real for her, was not mine to take on…and certainly not mine to be threatened by. So much challenging behaviour is really just your child having a hard time coping. That’s it. It’s theirs, not yours. What you can do is to listen, support, and help your children find their own solutions to their problems.
6. Pay Attention to the Little Things: Take time to notice the smile on your child’s face, the curl of her hair, the tear rolling down his cheek. There is a calming and connecting phenomenon about this practice. Just choose one small thing and stay there, focus on it for 5 or 10 seconds. That’s it. Repeat throughout the day, throughout life.
7. Adopt a Growth Mindset: You can learn, your child can learn. We do this by asking ourselves smart questions, questions that will lead us in good directions. The questions you ask yourself greatly influence your mindset. Instead of asking: “Why is he such a brat, or why can’t I be a better parent”, ask yourself better questions. For example, “How can I help here, what do we want to get out of this interaction, what tone do I want to set, what do I want my child to learn from me? Look for solutions, not problems. Asking questions allows us to be curious about our kids and who they are. Combine curiosity with fully trusting your kids and you’ll be surprised just how your kids can help you help them.
8. Appreciate: Sink into the gratitude for what you have, and do what you can with what you have. This helps us feel gratitude and accept things we cannot change while helping us focus on what we can change.
9. Breathe: First, let’s take our time. Time is on our side. If we let it, our intuition can guide us in the right direction. So, let’s insert some patience and spaciousness into our lives. Life, and parenting, can be as hectic as we make it. So, breath and pause. Breath and pause. I know that in my parenting experience many times things would have gone better had I just breathed and paused before acting. If you know that your parental instincts might need some fine tuning, or that you lean toward impulsive behaviour, think about this, and think about just breathing and just observing, even if only for a second or two.
10. Positive People: Surround yourself with positive people and other positive parents. Don’t settle for less. Life is short and parenting is hard enough as it is. Search out positive energy and hold on to it.
11. Be Honest: Be real. Let your kids know that you are human. Let them know that you make mistakes, that you fail too. Apologize when you mess up. But let your child(ren) also know that our failures don’t define us, in fact, failure informs us. Failures are growing opportunities. Living like this sets us free. It allows us to be bold, creative and brave, to take chances and to strive to be our best.
12. Begin with the End in Mind: Ask yourself the big questions. Am I parenting in a way now that will lead to the greatest most holistic success for my child in the future? Am I parenting in a way now that will result in a healthy mutually loving/respectful relationship with my child for years to come? Am I parenting in a way that will make my child feel truly loved and empowered so that he or she feels capable to take on the world in his/her own unique way? These big questions give us a sense of urgency. What we do now, in the moment, actually matters. It refocuses our efforts, helps us stop sweating the small stuff and makes clear what is really important. Compare the idea of the future with what you are doing in the present. Is it matching up?