Parenting Advice from the Pros

My beautiful nephew, Logan

My beautiful nephew, Logan

Doug and I were asked to teach a parenting class at church, so in preparation, I pulled out some information I’d kept from when I moderated a panel on parenting a few years ago.

I found a list of parenting tips I’d compiled from conversations with women whom I’d considered as excellent and experienced mothers. I’m sharing some of my favorites:

  • Kids respond better to rewards than punishments. (This seemed to be the conclusion from parents that commented on my blog on how to encourage kids to get good grades.http://wp.me/p1zHNf-7jb)
  • Remember you are raising God’s children. He knows and loves them even more than you do. Do what you can, and that’s it! Don’t let yourself feel guilty or punish yourself if they don’t do what you want. Realize that your kids have agency at all ages.
  • Say “yes” as often as possible. They hear “no” all too often. (I love and believe this one!)
  • Have fun together. Ease up. Have general family rules based on values and principles. This is easier than having so many rules you can’t enforce them consistently.
  • Work together as a family. Ask your kids for small bits of time for chores. “Can you give me 30 minutes to mulch the yard?” Set a timer and keep your 30-minutes-only promise. (With small children, set the timer for five or ten minutes for picking up the toys or another chore they can easily do.) Then, make it fun. Have races, play music, laugh. Do something fun afterward like go get an ice cream cone.
  • Be strict with bed times when your kids are little. You need the time to refresh and they need the time to sleep. (Even if they don’t sleep, they’ll benefit from the quiet time.)
  • Ask yourself, “What kinds of experiences do we want our kids to have during their years at home with us?” Then, plan for them. If you don’t plan, they won’t happen.
  • Loving, happy families don’t happen by accident. They require a lot of work. Similarly, quality mothering doesn’t happen accidentally, but by design.
  • Tell them you love them all the time. Hug them. Show affection. Even when they act like they don’t want it, hug them anyway.
  • To new parents: don’t get caught up looking forward to the next milestone. Enjoy every minute. They go by way too fast.
  • Teach them correct principles, then watch them like a hawk. (My favorite one. Or like Ronald Reagan used to say about arms control: “Trust but verify.”)
  • Be at the crossroads. Be there when they come and go. They’ll be most likely to share experiences with you at those times.
  • Avoid giving attention to negative behavior and focus on positive attention.
  • Kids want your reassurance. Learn how your children give and receive love (Like “The Five Languages of Love” for couples.)
  • Tailor disciplinary actions to each child. It’s not a one size fits all deal.
  • If your kids won’t communicate with you, sit on their beds at night and tell them you won’t leave until they share at least three things about their day with you.
  • Go to their activities. They might act like it doesn’t matter to them, but they appreciate it and it gives you topics for conversations.
  • Ask yourself what one thing you can do to improve as a parent, and then do it.
  • Your kids learn best when they experience the natural consequences of their choices.
  • When your children make mistakes, make sure they know you disapprove of their conduct but not of them
  • 20130404-220802.jpgTake time to recharge. Put yourself in timeout. Pray, read scriptures or meditations to keep you strong and at peace.
  • Nurture your own friendships. Women, keep your girlfriends close. They’re cheaper than therapy.
  • Be the safe house where kids can hang out. Make your kids’ friends comfortable in your home. Feed them!
  • Be your child’s biggest fan. When the world is hard and cruel, make sure home is their safe harbor where they feel peace and love.
  • Have family dinners at the dinner table without distractions.
  • Don’t try to be your child’s best friend. They usually have plenty of friends, They need parents who lovingly set and enforce boundaries.
  • Remember that teenagers are egocentric They have narrow vision and feel invincible. It’s a phase! Remember they will become nicer and more caring as they mature. Be patient and don’t back away from parenting them just because they are difficult.
  • Take care of yourself — physically, emotionally, and spiritually. If you don’t who will?

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