Guest Writer Alisia Moutry, PhD
By Dr. Alisia Moutry
To legally operate, own, use, engage in selective activities, one must obtain a license. One must apply, study, pass a test, pay, obtain, and even renew a license to do certain things such as to teach, drive, practice medicine and law, conceal and carry, fish, and to even marry. Society has dropped the ball, the more I observe and listen (in pain) to parents with their children, I have concluded that before leaving the hospital and prior to signing the birth certificate of the innocent and moldable child, parents need to obtain a license that has renewal requirements. Since there are so many variables and barriers to mandating parental licenses, I have decided to provide some effective parenting tips to increase the happiness in your home, while we wait for this mandate. Prior to jumping into the parenting tips, please remember all children and situations are different, so make sure things are applicable for your household. Parenting and fishing have a few important steps in common: a.) one must understand the waters they are entering, b.) understand the type of fish you are trying to lure, and c.) understand the appropriate bait required for a successful catch. As you read and review the tips shared below, accept the challenge to focus on the tips that are your areas of strength (How can I use these more?) and challenges (What can I do differently?). Of the parenting tips below, also pay attention to which ones create an opportunity (How can this information help other situations in my home?) and a threat (What should I be careful of?) for you and your family. Here are 10 real-life parenting tips:
1. Study your child(ren). What makes your child thrive? What makes your child shut down? Once you understand what makes them tick, twinkle, and or cry, act accordingly by leveraging their strengths and supporting areas of need. My spouse and I understood very early in parenting what worked for the first son wasn’t going to work for the second son and vice versa. Parent according to the need of the child, hence the importance of really knowing and understanding them!
2. Over communicate. Parents are quick to say, “I should not have to repeat myself!”, “I am going to tell you one time and one time only!”, “How many times have I told you to..?” In a happy home, it is ok to use the broken record method. Communicate what you want and need as often as possible. Take away the excuse children use often, “I didn’t know or hear you”. Please over communicate the rules, expectations, desires, dreams, feelings, and prayers. Keep expressing what you need and want to be heard and why it’s important. In addition to the verbal communication, let’s not forget we can send text or write it out, leave a voice message (wonderful way to show receipts of your communication). I personally remember post-it notes being left for me on the refrigerator. I can visualize a note right now, “Alisia don’t forget to wipe that table and stove off when you finish washing those dishes!”
3. Keep child(ren) out of grown folks’ business and conversations. They will have plenty of time to engage in adulthood later in life, no need to expose them even earlier. My mother use to tell us quickly, “go to your room!”. If our parents were entertaining other adults, we were not allowed to congregate with the guest. We said our hellos and the expectation was that we disappeared immediately. Think about it, back in my days growing up, children even had their own table to eat at.
4. Be vulnerable and trust that you can learn from your child(ren). Parents are often wrong and make mistakes too, be willing to share those moments. How often have you shared with your child, “I made the same mistake.” “I was wrong.” I remember getting in trouble for something my brother did. Once my parent realized that I was innocent, I was told, “Well you probably did something I don’t know about.” Now a simple, “I was wrong and I am sorry.” Would have probably made me forget about that incident. How often do you provide your child(ren) to respectful give you feedback and or suggestions? Believe or not, child(ren) have great ideas and insights!
5. Set scheduled time with your child(ren). Having uninterrupted time (put those phones down), with your children will give you an opportunity to incorporate tips #1-4, as well. Some ideas can include but not limited to family movie/game night, living room camping, date night with each child separately, and family meetings where both parents and children have a role and a voice.
6. Create and hold child(ren) accountable for expectations and rules. Some expectations and rules may need revisions for many different circumstances, so adjust as appropriate. Parents typically have a good but false start to holding children accountable because it takes work, time, and effort to hold someone accountable every single time and in the moment, which leads me to the next tip. This tip makes me reflect on a time when I was out for dinner, and I asked my son to make sure he had his homework completed before he went to bed. Over the phone I literally asked him three times if it was completed. He told me, “Yes, mom my homework is completed.” As soon as I made it home at 10:23pm, I checked his homework to find out that it was not completed. I immediately went to his room, woke him up and we both sat at the kitchen table for about an hour and half to ensure it was completed. Yes, we both were tired, it took time and we both were mad. Even though it was hard on both of us, I had to hold him accountable to the family rules regarding homework.
7. Tough love teaches the best lessons. Makes me think of the quote I use to hear, “This is going to hurt me, more than it hurts you!” They gain LESS from the LESSon if you are always saving them from the lesson and not holding them accountable. There are many children that don’t believe the stove is hot until they touch it. Once they touch it, ohhhh how they remember.
8. Enforce the 2C’s, Celebrations and Consequence for their actions. If you are proud of your child(ren) make it a big deal. Parents can make a sign to hang in the house, tell everyone you talk to on the phone in their presence about their success, time and financial rewards are always welcomed. Just remember there are many things that can be done to celebrate with a small to no budget. On the other side of celebrations, when things happen that you are not proud of, your child(ren) need to know by your words and actions as well. If your child’s grades have dropped; parents need to remove some of their distractions (i.e., cell phone, gaming system, friends, television, sports, social media, etc.). If your child(ren) develop a sassy mouth to you or other adults; parents need to cancel events they wanted to attend and or denied entertainment funds. This is a bonus tip: Parents stop rewarding poor behaviors!
9. Be CONSISTENT. Child(ren) long for and need routine and to be able to depend on their parents. They love stability and fairness. Do you have any weekly or monthly routines that your children can anticipate? Do you have different personalities and random attitudes that your child(ren) must guess who they will encounter every morning or evening? Do you follow thru on what you say you are doing to do? Can your children depend on you when you commit to something? Parents we need to “Mean what you say and say what you mean”.
10. Express love in words and actions and make sure the two are aligned. Don’t say one thing and do something opposite of what you said, this dilutes your credibility. Children watch you more than they hear you. Research suggest that people tend to give more weight to nonverbal than verbal cues when evaluating the truthfulness of a person or his or her message. Parents tell your child(ren) you love them often. In addition, to verbally saying it remind them of things you do to show your love.
These tips were generated from some of my personal parenting practices and some of the things I recommend to struggling parents that want to make their home happier. You have been provided the parenting codes, never stop growing, learning, and improving! There is always room for growth, based on your current situation, which one or two of these tips do you need to focus on to make your home a happier place.