I love to tell the story of when my little boy was a young toddler and he kept throwing his toy cars toward the television. My husband repeatedly asked him to stop throwing his toys. My son ignored him. My husband even raised his voice a bit, which her rarely ever does. My son continued to ignore him. After a few minutes my husband called over to me while I was about 20 feet away in the kitchen and asked if I thought he had our little boy had a hearing issue. I stopped for a brief second and then said softly, "Who's mommy's sweet little boy?" My son then jumped up, looked at me and said "Me, mommy, me!"
Parenting is tough. That story always makes me smile and reminds me how challenging communicating with children can be for adults.
As a therapist and since writing Lose That Mommy Guilt I was asked to share my thoughts on parenting skills for momoandme.com. When it comes to parenting skills, there is so much information out there to talk about. For example I am a certified trainer in a program called Strengthening Families as well as what I learned in a class by Parent Coach, Lisa of Parenting Matters. (I highly recommend Lisa's class if anyone is interested!)
After some thought I decided to provide the info on skills that are more about parents themselves than actually about what to do or say with their children. Below are my three tips for the article momoandme Essential Parenting Skills Part 1:
1. Essential Parenting Skills – Mindfulness
As parents our patience is tested all the time. Being able to bring a sense of patience and awareness to situations can make all the difference between “reacting” to our kids and “responding” to them. Being able to be self-aware and able to stop and pause before responding can help us make better choices in parenting.
2. Essential Parenting Skills – Forgiveness
This is about not only forgiving other people but also ourselves. Recognizing that we are all human and that making mistakes is part of life. Being forgiving with your children can help them increase their self-compassion as they grow up. For ourselves, we also need to let go of the idea that things need to be perfect and forgive ourselves for mistakes we make in parenting. If you blow up unnecessarily at your children and feel guilty, tell them you are sorry. Teach forgiveness by modeling it and asking for it. Set an example you want to see. Don’t force your children to apologize because they will not fully learn and the apology most likely will not be sincere. Teach them by modeling behaviors by apologizing to them when appropriate. Not only showing them forgiveness but also teaches them compassion.
3. Essential Parenting Skills – Self-Care
As parents, we put our families and often our jobs ahead of ourselves. Taking time to do something for ourselves can be seen as selfish or inappropriate. A skill that is important for parents is to take care of their needs as well as everyone else's. Take time to exercise, read a book, go out with friends, meditate or do whatever you need to do to take care of your health and happiness. When parents learn to have a healthy balance of caring for themselves and others, they are better able to parent. It teaches children a valuable lesson that self-care is important as well.