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15 New Year's resolutions for parents

Have you made your usual New Year resolutions? You know the resolutions where you turn over a new leaf to get fit, steer away from junk food and start a savings plan. While you are reflecting on past bad habits and setting new directions for your personal life consider taking stock of your parenting as well. A word of warning -- you will probably feel a little inadequate as you look back on some of your past practices. If you are like most parents you nag your kids too much, over-react when they mess up and you probably regret not spending enough time with them. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Not only is parenting the world’s hardest job but children aren’t born with owner’s manuals so we tend to rely on trial and error a great deal.

As you ponder the next twelve months of parenthood here are 15 New Year’s resolutions to consider. Avoid trying to adopt every idea. Be realistic and choose one or two to add to your list of New Year’s resolutions. 1. Be consistent with your discipline.

This is a big ask as dealing with kids’ misbehaviour tests the patience and resolve of the even the most assured parents. Set consistent limits and boundaries, even for adolescents, and be willing to negotiate and give a little ground. When children refuse to cooperate or break the rules, act calmly and reasonably rather than resort to severe measures to ‘teach them a lesson’. 2. Avoid nagging, yelling and constantly reminding children to cooperate. Sometimes it is better to keep quiet than nag or remind children to do their chores, behave or just be reasonable human beings. It is no coincidence that parents who nag frequently complain of ‘deaf’ children. There is usually nothing wrong with children’s hearing. They simply listen to what they want to hear. 3.

Focus on children’s positive behaviours. If you find yourself continually pointing out your children’s misbehaviour and getting nowhere then try to ignore the inappropriate as much as possible. Get into the habit of ‘catching kids being good’. Like adults, children respond to favourable comments and are likely to adopt behaviours that gain them attention. 4. Encourage children persistently. It has been estimated that children hear 17 negative comments at home for every piece of praise or encouragement. Exposure to continuous criticism and negative comments can have disastrous effects on children’s self esteem. If you are not an encouraging person then linking your positive comments to something you normally do such as saying good night to your children. Then you will know that you have encouraged them at least once each day.

That’s a good start. 5. Spend more time together as a family. In an era of working parents and busy children finding time for everyone to be home together is increasingly difficult. Be specific with this goal or it will end up on the scrap heap of broken resolutions. Aim to have at least one shared mealtime each week or spend one weekend a month devoted purely to family purposes. 6. Give yourself a regular break. Don’t be a slave to your family. Taking time out to do something just for yourself is a necessity rather than a luxury.

Revise your household routine, solicit the help of your partner or relatives, or employ a baby-sitter to provide you with some time-off. 7. Plan some time to be with your partner. Whether it is a romantic weekend away or just meeting for coffee together once a week make sure you have an opportunity to spend time with your partner - and don’t talk about the kids. 8. Make guilt work for you. Let’s face it, parents can find plenty of issues to feel guilty about. Leaving children in child-care, long hours spent at work, and even discipline measures are common sources of guilt. Avoid easing your guilt by being too lenient, spoiling or indulging children with toys or other material possessions.


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