Each year at this time, many of us make a pledge to eat healthier, exercise more, stop bad habits and improve upon countless other behaviors. What if one of the resolutions were about parenting? And not just “I promise to be a better parent,” but actually making changes in specific actions. Here are my ideas for resolutions this year.
This year I will try to read more with my kids.Everyone knows that reading to your kids is beneficial in many ways, but you may not realize that this is such an easy thing to do to increase the bond between you and your child as well as increase your child’s literacy. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a division of the U.S. Department of Education, children who read at home enjoy a substantial advantage over children who do not. Only 53 percent of children ages 3 to 5 are read to daily by a family member (1999).
Even as children get older and don’t want to be read aloud to, we can set an example by setting time aside for reading. I can’t tell you how many times I have asked my kids if they have finished their reading while I was on the computer checking my Facebook page.
This year, I will try to be more consistent so my children know what to expect.Routines are something that kids thrive on. Everyone has a crazy, hectic life, but what can increase calm in a household is having a routine that everyone can count on. Dinner is at________. Bath time is at _________. Bedtime is at _________.
In a class that I teach, “Parenting Skills for a Lifetime,” we call it structuring. This means planning the surroundings and events in our children’s lives so that they more likely can meet our expectations and have their own needs met at the same time.
This year I will try to play more with my child and let her lead. Play has many benefits for children. It encourages their brain development and helps them develop social skills. Through play, children learn self-confidence and increased self-esteem. Tackling a puzzle or finally making a basket really can increase your child’s confidence. When we take time to play with our children, it really strengthens our bond. So often, we lead the play for our kids: “No, honey. The cow doesn’t go on the roof, it goes inside the barn.” Or, “If you stack those blocks that way, they are going to fall. Do it this way.” We do this to be well-meaning, but it’s far better to let your child lead the play within safe limits.
This year I will try to understand that I am being the best parent I know how to be.
Nobody is perfect. Take it from a parent educator — no one is harder on herself than I am. We all have rough days, and we all have things that cause stress in our lives. In my “Emotion Coaching” workshop, we talk about research that Dr. John Gottman has done with parents and their parenting styles, and he found that parents with good “Emotion Coaching” skills use them only between 30 and 40 percent of the time. It is time for us as parents to cut ourselves some slack. We all make mistakes, and we can use them as opportunities to apologize. Knowing when to ask for help is not claiming defeat. The stigma is over about taking a class or seeking parenting advice. Just know that if you want help, it is available.
If you are interested in any of these subjects, Encompass has several free classes and workshop series. We also provide individualized, one-on-one help with our Personalized Parenting Support and live coaching in our lab as part of our Parent-Child Interaction Training/Therapy program. Please check our website for more information at www.encompassnw.org
Happy New Year!
Kerry Beymer (pronounced BEE-murr) graduated from Washington State University and has been a parenting educator for more than 15 years. She is Parenting Support and Education manager at Encompass. Kerry has two children, one in college and one in middle school. She recently was certified as a “Parenting Counts Educator” by the Talaris Institute of Seattle. Kerry uses humor and storytelling in her classes in a non- judgmental setting. “Parenting,” she says, “is the most challenging and most important job there is.”