January 1, 2011

A New Parenting Approach for the New Year

Does your list of resolutions for the new year include changing the way you parent? Based on the concerns parents bring to me I'm guessing your list might include following through on consequences, establishing a consistent bedtime routine and no longer yelling at your children.

In my opinion that's a lot of changes. If you attempt to make them all at once you're not going to be successful. You'll feel frustrated and overwhelmed and you'll give up. Focus on small changes.

Make a list the changes you want to make in order of urgency or importance. Select one item from that list and develop a step by step approach on how you will achieve it.

For example, let's say you decide that a consistent bedtime routine is number one on your list. With the help of your child write down the tasks that need to be done at bedtime and how long it takes to complete each one. For preschoolers limit the number of tasks to 4-5 so they won't feel overwhelmed. Older children can handle 6-8 tasks.

Take a photo of your child doing each task (brushing teeth, putting on pajamas, bedtime story, lights out). Print them out and together with your child create a chart. Hang it where it's easy for your child to see. It will take time and practice and some help from you to get your child into the habit of following the chart.

At first your child will enjoy the novelty of the chart but after awhile he might become bored with it. It's up to you to motivate your child by praising him when he follows through with his bedtime routine and completes some of the things on his own or with little assistance from you. You may even want to establish a small reward if he can follow the chart successfully for a week. The reward should be simple and inexpensive yet something your child would be motivated to work toward such as an extra bedtime story or five more minutes of snuggle time with you.

Stick with the chart and in 2-3 weeks you should start noticing a less stressful bedtime. Keep in mind that change is never easy. At first you may feel less than successful. Don't be discouraged and don't give up because success lies in the trying.

Some parents need support and encouragement when they're making parenting changes. Enlisting the help of a parent coach is a valuable investment. During the month of January I am offering a Parent Coaching session at a reduced rate of $25.00 off the regular fee.

The session can be conducted by phone or in person at a time that's convenient for you. I will work collaboratively with you to find solutions to your most challenging parenting problems.

Just mention this blog when you contact me for your reduced fee. Limited to one parent coaching session. Offer expires 01/31/2011

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