I don’t think it is a secret that being a parent isn’t always easy. It often feels like as soon as you have one stage or set of behaviors down, your kids are moving on to another one. And while it is awesome that kids are learning and growing and developing, man it is hard to keep up sometimes!
Entering the “preschooler” stage, has been an interesting one at our house. Up until this point, I felt like I could read and meet my sons needs pretty well. Through some trial and error, we had found things that worked really well for us and things that didn’t work so well. But as my son turned 3 and started understanding more about his world and getting more opinions about things, I found myself spending more time frustrated, than I liked. And when I am down or confused about motherhood, who do I call? My mom, of course! She is a seasoned pro, as a mama to 5 and she works as a Social Worker. Her advice is always on point, but I feel bad calling her with my woes all the time.
Recently, I was introduced to Boys Town, USA, an amazing organization that is working towards “Changing the way America cares for children, families, and communities by providing and promoting an Integrated Continuum of Care that instills Boys Town values to strengthen body, mind, and spirit”.–Boys Town Mission Statement. They are doing great things in communities all around the country.
One super cool thing they offer is their Boys Town Email Track Series, on different parenting issues and techniques. They have something for every family, from Toddler Tantrums to Kids and Technology, and even Anti-Bullying. Each week, the little “lessons” come right to your inbox, and they only take maybe 10 minutes to read over. Totally doable, even for a busy mom like me. And each one is full of great tips and ideas to help you be an even better parent. Its like little manuals on parenting, SO cool!
I decided to try the track called “Parenting Principles” and it has been seriously helpful to make our days go better. Some of the principles covered in this series were: Giving Effective Praise, Teaching Your Children Safe Boundaries, Corrective Teaching, and Developing Good Communication with your kids.
In the first week, which was all about praise, and how to give it effectively. It suggested really focusing on Positive Reinforcement and making sure your child knows your are noticing all the good things they do, and not just the frustrating ones.
Even though I knew this was important, I can admit that I was not that great at it and I found myself just expecting my son to do the good things. *Face Palm* he’s just 3! Still learning and growing and he needs those reminders and validation, just like I do. I started using phrases like “I love it when you share with your sister” or “Thank you for keeping your hands to yourself”.
We also introduced a couple “physical” rewards. If he practices these skills..listening, being kind, doing basic clean up etc….he gets to put a coin in his piggy bank at the end of each day and he can use that to purchase something of his choosing. And something that was suggested in the emails, “Time Ins”, which is just some one on one time with mom or dad, talking it out or doing a fun activity.
Taking the time to acknowledge those things, made such a difference. He was so excited to help and do the things I asked, and I noticed the 2 seconds of extra attention, meant he didn’t need to do some possibly negative to get it.
The next couple of lessons in the series, I enjoyed reading and learning about teaching your kids about real life situations. Now that my son is in school, I don’t get to spend every second with him. That’s hard for me, because of course as his mama, I don’t ever want him to be scared, hurting, or feel like he can’t say how he feels.. But those are all parts of life and I think it is really important he knows what to expect and how to react in all types of situations. As part of this, Boys Town shares how it is important for you children to learn healthy boundaries and that it is okay to say “No” in uncomfortable situations.
The series wrapped up talking about developing effective communication. Man, this is probably most important to me. As a parent, by biggest goal is that my kids will always feel comfortable and safe coming to me and talking to me about ANYTHING. Right now, with a 3 year old and 15 month old, that’s easy, of course they come to me without qualm. But that is something I want to continue fostering as they grow, so I really appreciated the tips in the series. In the last week, one of the recommendations was to always have family dinner (or whatever meal(s) work for your family) at the table. This way you can ask questions about their day, how they are feeling about certain things, and model behaviors for them. This is one thing that we were kind of doing, but not all the time. After going through the series, my husband and I made it a goal to eat dinner all together every night, before watching any television shows or turning on other electronics. It has been really good, and I have found that it has improved communication with my husband as well.
The Boys Town Email Track Series also includes printable’s and links to some of the other materials they have, in the series. They are really simple principles, and even if you already know these things, it is a good reminder. I hope I am not the only that gets overwhelmed and needs those little taps on the shoulder, sometimes.
Whatever your parenting struggles are, or if you just want to build up your parenting “tool box”, check out the Boys Town Email Track Series and go through them! I think the one I am going to do next is “Toddler Tantrums” , I could use a refresher as my daughter is nearing that age . Let me know which one you chose, and if it was as helpful to you and it was to me!