It’s a new year and we have either thought about or made some resolutions. As a parent you have probably resolved to yell less, remind less, keep a routine, allow your child to be more responsible for himself, be more encouraging, etc. All this sounds good but I can tell you that parenting is not rational, so even though you know in your head what you need to do to bring more peace to your family, your emotions kick in and your resolutions go out the window. Then you feel guilty, make it up to your child and the cycle begins again.

Breaking a pattern is not easy. So, let’s break it down into some manageable steps.

Step 1 – Pay attention to your feelings. Do you feel annoyed, angry, hurt, or pity. These feelings lead you to react.

Step 2 – Ask yourself, “What do I usually do”? Then do something different. Doing the unexpected breaks the pattern.

Step 3 – Replace the negative action with something positive.

Instead of yelling, lower your voice and give your child 2 options that get the same result. “You can decide to leave the playground and come back tomorrow or you can decide not to and not be able to return”.

Instead of reminding ask the child how they can remember and allow them to experience the result of their behavior.

Instead of picking up your child’s homework that he forgot to take to school, ask yourself what might be learned if you didn’t interfere. Then observe how it works out.

Instead of focusing on mistakes keep a running chart of contributions that every member makes to the family. Read them daily and begin to use the language of, “Thank you” and “I appreciate”.

Hold a regular family meeting to set the routine and balance to family life.

Good luck and Happy New Year!
January 2012