Managing Yourself: That Vital Step Towards being a Better Parent
Parenting is a tough job. More so in today’s environment where children have so much exposure and are bombarded with messaging from just about every quarter. Add to this, the demands on your time on account of the multiple roles that you have to juggle and there are bound to be days when you look heavenwards for encouragement. Wondering where to begin? The fact is that the journey to becoming a more inspired parent has to begin with oneself. Here are some handy tips:
It may be a bit of a cliché, but your own oxygen mask needs to be firmly in place before you can help your child. It may sound counterintuitive to take some time out for yourself when you are hard-pressed for time, but it is anything but that! In fact, if you are well-rested and devote some time to your hobbies and passion, you would take to your parenting role with a renewed zest. Now those are vibes your child will relish!
Be in the moment
While you may rue the fact that you do not get to spend enough time with the child, introspect and you will see how the time that you have, is spent worrying about gazillion things. Instead, use the time that you have to be completely focused on the child. Hug the child, laugh and listen to him. The connection thus established will transcend the lack of time and distance. Children, in fact, thrive on short bursts of undivided attention as opposed to large chunks of time where you may be multi-tasking. Therefore, keep the guilt at bay and enjoy your time together.
Manage your own emotions
If there is a single skill that can enhance positive parenting, it has to be self-awareness. It is imperative therefore that you tune in to your emotions, recognize your triggers and above everything accept yourself unconditionally. It is this unconditional love for your own self that will impact your reactions to situations and will, in turn, impact the child’s ability to handle and manage their emotions.
In times where you do land up reacting unfavorably to situations, remember to apologize to the child as also talk to him or her about what you could have done to handle the situation better. Sure, enough the child will internalize these aspects and will have a far easier time managing and dealing with his or her own emotions.
One aspect that adds to our stress as parents is time management. In fact, time is one thing that we always seem to not have enough of. Especially if you are raising toddlers, remember to add in some buffer time while planning any activity. If you think you could have the child fed in a half-hour before you leave, ideally keep 45 minutes. A seemingly simple tip, it will go a long way in not just managing time but importantly also the emotions and frustration that come with running against time.
With grown-up children, you could also call for family meetings where you lay down the fact that having to do too much stuff yourself is adding to your stress. You would be amazed to see children come up with solutions and take up responsibility.
In parenting, as in life, it is important to choose your battles with care. The thumb rule clearly needs to be to focus on things that matter. You could, for example, have a meltdown over the fact that the child does not keep his or her room clean, while totally ignoring how compassionate the child is with his siblings.
The only thing that can make us a bad parent is to believe that we are one. Be mindful, therefore, of that self-talk that goes on inside your head. Resist from telling yourself that you are a bad mom when all you are having is a bad day. Above all, it is important to remember that kids will make mistakes. In fact, so will you, as parents. Instead of beating yourself up individually and as a family, remember to keep the embrace of love, which will help everyone thrive.