1. Choose Your own Adventure: Is your child good or bad? What is her true nature? Is she trying to make your life hard or is she having a hard time? Relentlessly positive parents assume the best of their children. This doesn’t mean that they think their kids are perfect or that all behaviour is wanted. It means we trust in their good nature. If you viewed your child as good and pure of heart, then everything you see gets filtered through that lens. Take this leap of faith and fully believe in the goodness of your child.
2. Trust your Child: Trust them and they will trust you. Trust them and they will learn to trust themselves. Trusting your child, his thoughts and feelings is the greatest thing you can do for you child, other than keeping him alive. This is easier said than done. This involves letting go of control. It is a radical act, to fully trust a little person. It’s revolutionary. In a way, it’s a surrender. It means trusting that your child will become who they need to become, not some idea of who you want them to be. Trust that they are good and capable people. Trust that they will learn things when they are ready. Just trust.
3. Change the Focus: Parenting is not about you. You might be thinking that you knew this one already. But are you glad about it, have you accepted it with an open and loving heart? Or are you fighting it? Because, when we give of ourselves freely, when we really embody this belief…without contempt, we become stronger, not weaker. When we decide to change the attention from ourselves to others, that is when we literally shift our focus. We get to see things differently, and it is a gift. It might seem like you are giving up power. But, actively choosing to be of service and actively choosing to step into the esteemed role of helper/guide/mentor, changes things for the better. We start to see the true importance of our role and how much we have to give, not lose.
4. Redefine “Good Parent”: My parenting worth used to be tied up in being able to control my kids and have them listen to me. If I couldn’t control their behaviour, then I didn’t feel like a good parent. I have come to redefine what a good parent is. I decided to give up fingertip control for a better relationship and a better future for my children. I checked my ego at the door. Now, my idea of a strong/good parent is someone who is patient, loving, and someone who really empowers her child. A good parent is someone who walks the walk, who models the behaviours she wants to see.
5. Heal Yourself: Preoccupied with our own pain and injustices, we are destined to become reactive and unpredictable parents. A tantrum, a misinterpreted comment, a missed “thank you” can seem like a bullet right through the heart. When we hurt, we are tender. When we hurt, we get triggered. A toddler’s tantrum has nothing to do with your worth. My daughter once got so upset that she had spaces between her toes. Luckily for me, there was no way I could take it personally. It opened my eyes to not take things so personally. So many of the tantrums or difficult behaviours is just your child having a hard time coping. That’s it. It’s their deal, not yours. Your deal is to support, you don’t need to join every circus that comes to town.
6. Pay Attention to the Little Things. Take time to notice the smile on your child’s face, the curl of her hair, the tear rolling down his cheek. There is a calming and connecting phenomenon about this practice. Just choose one small thing and stay there, focus on it for 5 or 10 seconds. That’s it. Repeat though out the day, throughout life.
7. Adopt a Growth Mindset: You can learn, your child can learn. The questions we ask ourselves greatly influence our mindset. Instead of asking: “Why does he always do that, or why can’t I be better”, ask yourself better questions. For example, “How can I help here, what do I want to get out of this interaction, what tone do I want to set, what do I want my child to learn from me? Look for solutions, not problems.
8. Appreciate: Appreciate what you have, and do what you can with what you have. This helps us feel gratitude and accept things we cannot change while helping us focus on what we can change.
9. Slow Down, Listen, and be Curious: Be curious about your kids and who they are. Often times the answer to your question is right in front of you. Often times our kids just want to be heard. Combine this approach with fully trusting your kids and you’ll be surprised just how your kids can help you help them.
10. Positive People: Surround yourself with positive people and other positive parents. Don’t settle for less. Life is short and parenting is hard enough as it is. Search out positive energy and hold on to it.
11. Be Honest: Be real. Let your kids know that you are human. Let them know that you make mistakes, that you fail too. But let them also know that our failures don’t define us, in fact, failure informs us. Failures are growing opportunities. Living like this sets us free. It allows us to be bold and brave, to take chances and to strive to be our best.
12. Begin with the End in Mind: Ask yourself the big questions. Am I parenting in a way now that will lead to the greatest most holistic success for my child in the future? Am I parenting in a way now that will result in a healthy mutually loving/respectful relationship with my child for years to come? These big questions give us a sense of urgency. What we do now, in the moment, actually matters. It refocuses our efforts, helps us stop sweating the small stuff and makes clear what is really important. Compare the idea of the future with what you are doing in the present. Is it matching up?