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There are constantly books coming out with what they consider new ways of parenting. But there are two themes I find in these books. First is decrease (or eliminate) reactive negative responses. Second, is making sure you have a direction, focus and purpose in what you do to train your children.

The best way to start to decrease reactive parenting is:

  • Self-Examination- What sets you off the most? …Not listening? Screaming? Crying? Your own stress and anxiety? Being too busy? If you can find 1 thing to work on, you are ahead of the game!
  • Choose a calming response for yourself before you react to your child’s behavior. For example, my choice is to take a few deep breaths and talk myself down!
  • Get close to your child. Touch them. Look them in the eyes.
  • Then I speak, calmly (I hope!) and address the behavior at hand

To Parent with Purpose:

  • Help your child understand both a proper response and your expectations.
  • Play games such as “Mother May I” and another I like to call “come when called” (which is great for 2-4 year olds!) – Call them and they have to come from wherever they are! Brilliant right :)!
  • Determine your parenting goals
  • Identify the character trait you are working to develop/improve
  • Choose 1(and only 1!) area at a time to work on
  • Develop a plan of action to implement

If you ask your child to make their bed and you find them in the living room 20 minutes later with the bed unmade but you never checked on them or had them check in with you when they were done, some of that responsibility is on your shoulders. Remember, they are children! It’s our job to raise them and teach them responsibility, accountability and how to mature into productive members of society.

Once you take a few simple steps, you can make great strides in changing your parenting approach and their behavior! No one is perfect. We all have moments of #parentfail or #momfail but, as we often teach our kids, there’s always another opportunity to improve around the corner.

Jamie Coyne, LCSW

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