Looking for habits to improve your parenting? Don’t set large goals. Use small, actionable habits that, over time, will help you improve.
Stop losing my temper. Pay more attention to the kids. Find more time for myself. These are resolutions I’ve made at some point.
But what happens? I forget or had too many goals to track, or I just lost motivation. These looming goals were too large to feel attainable, and I didn’t have a concrete plan to actually make them happen.
But then I learned the power of small resolutions—microresolutions—to attain your parenting goals.
Small habits to improve your parenting
Small habits aren’t overarching goals, but the little tasks you and I can implement today, right now. Rather than face a large goal too out of reach, break it down into small habits you can develop over time.
They may seem too simple at first, but added up, they make a huge difference with how you parent.
Hug your child frequently
Think about all the interactions you’ve with your child, from morning until night. Throughout the day, find ways to squeeze in a hug. It doesn’t have to be for specific reasons like picking her up from school or saying good night. Times like when you’re hanging out in the living room, or after you see her doing something cool.
Frequent hugs remind your child how special she is to you. Silly as it may seem, kids wonder whether we’ll always be there for them, misbehavior and all. Plus, they’re so young, they don’t always think with logic or understand our words. Nonverbal communication like hugs and facial expression can stop tantrums in their tracks.
Hugging them throughout the day can be one of the simplest ways to improve your parenting skills. Like I explain in my book, Parenting with Purpose, starting your day off with a smile sets the stage:
“Set aside distractions and spend as little as a few seconds to give her a warm hug and kiss, or a couple minutes reading a book, devoting every moment only to her. This routine will stop her from nagging and misbehaving to get your attention; when you fill her bucket first and recharge her batteries with your attention, she’ll be much more willing to play quietly nearby while you get changed or prepare dinner.”
Action plan: Hug your child 10 times today.
Eat your meals together
Family dinners offer another way for you to connect with your child. You focus on her rather than trying to multitask on cooking dinner or working on your computer. The consistency of the family dinner keeps them rooted to their parents.
My family gathers for each meal we’re home, and it’s become one of our most treasured traditions. Even when the kids snack, they know to eat at the dining tab.e
Many parents prefer to feed their child at 5pm, then take their dinners much later, around 8pm. That’s understandable—I did this too for a little bit, especially with young infants. Eat at the same time, even if you spoon-feed your infant, you can alternate with your meals as well.
What to avoid? Allowing your child to eat meals alone, whether at the dining table, in front of the television, or in her room. Make sure at least one adult keeps her company while she eats.
Action plan: Eat dinner together at the dining table five days this week.
Put your phone in another room
I’ve seen first-hand how much my day can change when I’m not distracted by electronic devices. I’ve been mostly good with keeping the computer off, but my phone is something else. I suppose it’s because it’s so small and somewhat discreet that I can tuck it in my pocket for a quick glance.
Except I don’t stand a chance to improve my parenting if I do that too often. After a while, I get irritated if they ‘interrupt’ me, rather than empathize and be patient.
Spend a few hours of the day with your phone in another room while you’re with your kids in another. Yes, sometimes it gets boring. But, you’ll find yourself better engaged and more attentive without the distraction.
Action plan: Today, put your phone in your bedroom.
Give your kids an early enough bedtime
Sometimes the best way to improve your parenting means being away from your kids. Yup, you read right. Do your kids go to bed the same time as you? Push their bedtime earlier so you have a few hours to yourself.
By balancing it with the rest of your life. After all, before becoming a mom, you held other hobbies and interests. You also have responsibilities and tasks to do. Use the hours between the time your child goes to bed and your own bedtime for that.
We get overwhelmed with parenthood when it feels like we have nothing else but that. Counter this with finding time for yourself. You’ll feel more excited to be with your kids when you devote time to your own interests as well.
Action plan: This week, put your kids to bed earlier than your own bedtime.
You’re resolving to improve your parenting for the new year. Or you want to improve your relationship with your child.
The most effective way? Practice simple habits. Things like eating together as a family and giving frequent hugs. Limiting distractions and learning how to make time for yourself. They may seem small at first, but over time, they become daily habits that add up to better parenting.
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Tell me in the comments: How do you want to improve your parenting?
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