5 Simple New Year’s Resolutions for Becoming a Better Parent
Now that 2021 is here, you might be formulating some New Year’s resolutions to help you be the best you can be in the coming year. According to Statista, the most common New Year’s resolutions are as follows:
- Eat healthier
- Get more exercise
- Save more money
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While these are all important, we think resolutions regarding family relationships should top the list, too. If you’re like us and believe parenting is one of the most significant jobs out there, you might be considering some New Year’s resolutions to become an even better father or mother.
We’ve learned that parenting isn’t about getting everything right the first time but about continually re-assessing and tweaking strategies to meet the changing needs of your kids and families. In keeping with this philosophy, we’ve come up with five resolutions for upping your parenting game in 2021. They don’t require major overhauls—just some simple adjustments that could make a big difference for you and your child.
Create rituals. My childhood memories have grown pretty fuzzy with time, but one that remains clear is my dad putting me to bed each night. He would read to me in his very expressive voice (complete with sound effects), sing me a song, and tuck me into bed. Dad was serious about this nightly tradition, and it had a bigger influence on me than most any other part of my childhood—so big, in fact, that I make sure to do the same thing each night with my own kids.
As a parent, you are likely dealing with many competing demands. As you try to keep your head above water, you may find it difficult to spend meaningful, one-on-one time with your child. Rather than trying to decide on a daily basis how to make this happen (and risking backing out because you’re just too busy), set up these traditions and don’t deviate from them.
Your traditions may include playing a game of catch in the backyard with your child after dinner, taking a walk with them every Saturday morning, or playing board games on Sunday night. These traditions help ensure that you spend quality time with your child. They create memories that survive the years—and will often transfer to the next generation.
Facilitate milestones. If your child is on the verge of tackling a new milestone, help make it possible. This might mean surprising them with a new pair of underwear if they’re showing signs of readiness for potty training. If night training is a hurdle, consider products like Peejamas disposable diaper alternatives that make it easier for kids to stay dry until morning.
If your child seems interested in learning to read, invest in some good basic readers and a game to help teach letter sounds and phonemic awareness. (There are some great apps out there for this.) Commit to spending a little time each day helping them in this pursuit—whether you’re doing letter/sound flash cards or simply reading to your child. Achievements boost confidence. Don’t create tension by pushing your child toward achieving something new, but do connect them with the resources they’ll need to succeed.
Give choices—not lectures. Instead of getting cross with your kids or doling out threats, give choices that will empower them. Rather than saying, “Stay in that room until you’re ready to act right,” try this: “You are more than welcome to come out of your room and join the family when your voice is as calm as mine.”
As you deposit them in time out, try offering this choice: “Would you like me to keep the door closed or open?” Kids will feel less threatened and more engaged when you allow them to be part of the solution.
Create boundaries. Research has repeatedly shown that kids crave boundaries—even if they rail against them at times. Create clear consequences and make sure that you’re willing to enforce them. “You’re grounded for the rest of the month,” for example, is not something most parents are willing to make good on, so choose your words wisely.
Once a rule is broken, don’t get sucked into a cycle of second and third chances. Follow through after the first infraction. Don’t be vindictive; in fact, it’s best to express empathy while being firm in your reinforcement. (“I’m sorry you made that choice. I know it’s frustrating to have to miss out on screen time again.”) This allows you to remain calm and kind in your speech without taking away the learning lessons that will ultimately help your child.
Give appropriate praise. The world can overwhelm youth with negative messages about their appearance, abilities, and overall worth. Make home a safe place where they receive consistent, positive feedback. Note, though, that there are ways to deliver praise that are more effective than others. Start by making your compliments specific. Instead of saying, “You’re a good boy,” try, “I love the way you responded so quickly when I asked you to help me pick up those toys.” This helps the child know which of their actions is worth repeating.
You should also focus on complimenting processes, not outcomes. Consider this message: “You won your soccer game. That shows what an amazing athlete you are!” While you’re attempting to build your child up with a statement like this, you may be sending the message that their worth is somehow attached to their soccer skills. This can actually make kids feel afraid to fail. As an alternative, try to focus on process instead of outcome by saying, “I really liked how you stayed so focused on the ball,” or “You did a great job of passing to your teammates.”
Avoid giving praise that labels children or sends messages that might be alienating to siblings (ex: “You’re the smart one in the family.”) This can foster unhealthy feelings of competition between siblings and make youth feel like they have to live up to a certain standard to get approval.
And finally, in addition to praising your children directly, you should also praise them in conversations with others. If you are talking to Grandma on the phone while your child is within earshot, it’s a good time to throw out a meaningful compliment: “We are so thrilled with how patient Sarah has been with her new baby brother.”
Happy New Year from all of us at Peejamas. We wish you luck with your New Year's resolutions and appreciate the chance to make your lives—and your children’s lives—a little easier with our soft and absorbent overnight training pants.