Imagine who you want your kids to become. Be that.
Ever since I became a stay-at-home mom, I have made it my job to gain the resources and support to become the best damn mom I can be. I just completed the 7th week of the Incredible Years course. With only 3 weeks left in the class, allow me to give you an update on the tools I have added to my parenting tool belt. In a previous post, Incredible Years (Part 1), I talk about intentionally playing with my kids.
So, besides playing, what have I been up to? Here are 4 key parenting strategies I have been working on:
- Praise, encouragement and positive attention – This comes fairly naturally to me (as long as I’m in a good mood). Because of the class, I am trying to work on praising and encouraging even more. This works on adults too my friends. My class instructor mentioned something that continues to resonate with me, “What gets you more positive behavior? Praise and encouragement. What get’s you more negative behavior? Lack of praise and encouragement.” We often fail to recognize our children when they play quietly or do things without complaining. Those things deserve A LOT of praise because we want them to keep up the good work. We cannot praise and encourage our children too much, so dish it out parents!
- Tangible rewards, incentives and celebrations – Prior to the class, the only time we tried out rewards was for potty training, and it was fairly successful. Now, I have implemented a rewards system for other behaviors and I am seeing even better results than before. When getting started, I tried to have this process be led by my kids. We went to the store and they got to pick out their favorite stickers and a small notebook to put them in. I involved them in the process of choosing which behaviors would be rewarded. We award a sticker for a few specific behaviors (i.e. staying in bed at night, obeying the first time, etc). Once they get really good at those behaviors, we phase them out and start rewarding new behaviors. During the first round of the rewards program, they did really well and I felt they deserved an extra reward. I told them how great they had been doing and said they could cash in all their stickers for a trip to the pool, yippee! Another incentive we added was a kindness jar. When one of the boys is nice to the other or they are playing really well together without fighting, they get to add a cotton-ball to the kindness jar. When it fills up they get a trip to the zoo or a museum. Who doesn’t love receiving a favorite reward for a job well done?
- Limit setting – For some reason this one is a challenge for me. It feels like I have to strike a delicate, somewhat perfect balance between me taking control and giving my child some control. The main “take away” lessons I’ve learned on setting limits are: don’t give too many commands, give clear realistic commands one at a time, and lastly, follow through with praise or consequences. Despite the challenge, I think the effort will be worth it. But in the mean time, I must dedicate my obsessive and anal self to careful and intentional limit setting for my wild and crazy boys…that won’t be hard at all!
- Ignoring – Did you know it’s OK to intentionally ignore your child at times? I let my children know in advance that I am not going to pay attention to them if they continue a certain misbehavior. So far I have ignored whining, arguing, and temper tantrums. Like many other strategies mentioned in this curriculum, ignoring is to be combined with praise for positive behaviors. The main reason I like this method is because you don’t give attention to certain negative behaviors and thereby inadvertently increase that negative attention-seeking behavior down the road.
I continue to be grateful to be a part of such a great parenting class. If you have a child between the ages of 2 and 8 years old, I highly encourage you to check out The Incredible Years Website and find out if there are classes offered in your area. Also, check out my page on Parenting and let me know if you recommend additional parenting resources.
I’ll close with a few thoughts on play. The importance of daily one-on-one play has become very apparent to me as I continue with the Incredible Years curriculum. Playing with my boys has been lot of fun, I am bonding deeply with both of them, and they are expanding their creative minds. But, oh man, it’s easy to put play-time on the back burner. I have to remind myself that I have an extra 10 minutes in my day to play with my kids…10 minutes, that’s all it takes! I know it’s oh-so-good for many reasons, so I will continue to strive to play with my kids. Every. Single. Day.
We are never more fully alive, more completely ourselves, or more deeply engrossed in anything than when we are playing.