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 we’ve all made at some point.
But what happens? We forget or had too many goals to track, or we just lose motivation. These looming goals were too large to feel attainable, and we didn’t have a concrete plan to actually make them happen.
But what if we break these lofty goals into smaller resolutions to reach your parenting goals?
Small habits to improve your parenting
Small habits aren’t overarching goals, but the little tasks you and I can do today, right now. Rather than face a large goal too out of reach, we break it down into small habits we can develop over time.
They may seem too simple at first, but added up, they make a huge difference with how we parent.
Take a look at these simple but long-lasting habits we can try today:
1. 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. These can be when you’re hanging out in the living room, or when you see her playing with a toy.
Frequent hugs remind her 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 even stop tantrums in their tracks.
Hugging your child 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.”
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2. Eat your meals together
Another habit to start is to eat your meals together.
Family dinners offer many benefits, from reducing obesity to better grades. They let you connect with your child, focusing on her rather than trying to multitask with cooking dinner or working on your computer. The consistency of the family dinner keeps the both of you connected.
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 table.
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 when my kids were babies. But even then, try to eat at the same time. Even if you spoon-feed your baby, you can alternate with your meals as well.
What to avoid? Allowing her 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.
3. 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. Yes, sometimes it gets boring, but you’ll find yourself better engaged and more attentive without the distraction.
4. Give your kids an early bedtime
Sometimes the best way to improve your parenting means being away from your kids. Yup, you read right. Do they go to bed the same time as you? Push their bedtime earlier so you have a few hours to yourself.
Before becoming a mom, you held other hobbies and interests as well as other responsibilities and tasks to do. Use the hours between the time they go to bed and your own bedtime for that.
We get overwhelmed with parenthood when it feels like we’ve lost our identity since becoming a mom. 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.
You want to improve your parenting, but big lofty goals always seem to fail, leaving you back to your old habits.
The most effective way to see actual change? Practice simple habits. Eat together as a family and give your kids frequent hugs. Limit distractions and learn how to make time for yourself.
They may seem small at first, but over time, they’ll become daily habits that add up to better parenting.
Get more tips:
- 7 Positive Parenting Skills All Moms Need to Have
- Top 5 Parenting Myths You Shouldn’t Believe
- How to Work Through Parenting Disagreements (without Losing Your Mind)
- 12 Ways You’re Already Practicing Montessori Parenting Without Even Realizing It
- How to Respond when People Criticize Your Parenting
Don’t forget: Join my newsletter and grab the bonus chapter of Parenting with Purpose—at no cost to you: