14 Tips for Becoming More Aware of How You Interact with Your Children
• Identify your parenting goals. Think of what you want your relationship to be like and what you can do to make that happen. Look at both long-term and short-term objectives.
• Make a little sign for yourself that says, “My relationship with my child(ren) is important. What I do and say matters.” Leave this note somewhere you can see it as you start you day. It can help you remember to pay attention to how you interact.
• Pray for awareness (or ask your inner guidance for help) to stay conscious of how you act around and with your children.
• Ask yourself, “What can I do today to invest in the quality of this relationship?”
• Affirm that you are becoming a more conscious parent. Create a meaningful and relevant statement you can repeat at the beginning and end of the day, and as often as necessary in between: “I am parenting more consciously all the time” or “I think before I talk to my child.” Even if the statement isn’t true at the moment, say it as though it were!
• Throughout the day, take a few seconds for yourself to deliberately get grounded, focused, more present or more relaxed. A few deep breaths and a minute or two alone, if possible, can really help.
• Ask your children for feedback. Focus on the positive: “What am I doing that helps you?” or “What am I doing great?”
• Listen to your children and really hear what they say. Take your children’s comments seriously.
• Don’t just watch your kids—really be with them as they explore their world.
• Read children’s books. Watch movies made for kids. Play with your kids’ games and toys.
• When you blow it, think of specific ways you can behave more constructively next time. (It may help if you write your intentions down.) Use your guilt to change your behavior, not as an excuse to beat yourself up, get discouraged or give up.
• Keep a journal. Make a few minutes for yourself and take the time to write. (Journals are great places to work through feelings, reactions and fears, and to keep track of events, as well as successes and growth.)
• Make time for yourself, for noticing what you need and for giving to yourself. (See page 215 for more information.)
• Note your successes. Before you go to bed, think of at least three things you did well or better that day. Write them down on a notepad, a calendar, datebook or in a “progress journal.” Don’t qualify your successes here—just focus on what you did right!
It will always be easier to slip into patterns that come automatically, especially if you’ve had a long day or feel overwhelmed by life’s little distractions and problems. However, becoming more conscious of what you bring to your relationships tends to enhance the quality of your relationships, strengthens a belief in your ability to make changes in your life, and puts you in a position to make more constructive choices when opportunities arise.
Excerpt from The Parent’s Little Book of Lists: Do’s and Don’ts of Effective Parenting, by Dr. Jane Bluestein, © 1997, Health Communications, Inc., Deerfield Beach, FL.
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