It is that time of year again. We take stock of the years past and start looking to the new year with resolve. We resolve to make changes that we have been putting off. We resolve to be better at what we do. We resolve to not do things that we know are unproductive. We resolve. We resolve. We resolve. But, after a few weeks, we find ourselves slipping back into bad habits, into old mindsets, into a frame of mind that we were trying to change.
It is important to know that this is everyone’s battle. If you are on the resolve path right now, great. It is better than not being on that path. It at least demonstrates that you desire to bring needed changes to your life. If you are a conscientious parent, you are also likely feeling the need bring change to your children’s lives. You can feel the clock ticking as you see them growing up before your eyes, knowing that they will soon exit from under your umbrella of control, nurture, and oversight.
This can be quite daunting. And, with all of this in mind, you are probably wondering “What does this new path to change look like? What can I do to make it more concrete? More tangible?” Know this: there are many valuable resources available for you to assist in the task of personal growth as an individual and as a parent. These two go hand-in-hand. You cannot separate the need for change in your own life from the change that you want to bring to your children’s lives. So what can you do to make this change more tangible? Take a look at some ideas below that you might adopt.
Offer Grace in Frustrating Moments
In the day-to-day tedium of life, it is so easy to be short-tempered and express frustration with your kids. Our minds move fast and can create pictures of what we expect which many times do not line up with what is really happening. So, when that happens, hold your tongue (literally, if necessary) and hug your child. This will probably catch them off guard. It will create a picture that they likely did not expect to see. A mom who had the habit of yelling when she became frustrated with her kids came to realize that she needed to change that. So, she started hugging them. This caused her kids to be more attentive to her when she made corrections.
Let Them Own Their Behavior
Push your kids to take more ownership of their behavior. Don’t attempt to do this in the abstract. Kids are visual. Create a scenario wherein they have to think of what this means for them. For example, ask them to imagine the type of person they want to be in the future — what type of father, mother, sister, brother or friend. Later, bring them back to that conversation and remind them of what they had told you. If you want to really be creative, record it on your phone, save it in the cloud or on a private YouTube channel, and show it to them years down the road. It WILL get their attention.
Build On the Good
Our kids will encounter plenty of negative in this world. There is no lack of naysayers. What is beyond cruel is for a child to experience a naysayer at home or within their close-in personal circle. So, as parents, we must push back on this by balancing both the application of rules and the deepening of our relationships with our kids. Remember…rules without a relationship equals rebellion. Look for the good in your child and build on it. Do that enough and you will be in a better position to point out their flaws and areas of improvement, which are just as important for them to be aware of. Someone needs to do that. Coaches do it. Teachers do it. Parents need to do it as well.
The new year is upon you. Resolve that you will be able to look back at this year (which will go by faster than you think) and see the path of change that you carved out. In the Book of Proverbs, God says this about parenting: “Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart. Proverbs 29:17” Remember: discipline comes from the word “disciple” which means to teach, to train. Isn’t that your calling as a parent?