From research on the brain and a developmental approach to parenting.
1. Give boundaries…but keep the connection
Sometimes when parents give a boundary and say no, they forget that the connection is still the most important thing. So, next time you set a boundary with your child, have clarity, stand in your “no”, but send them the subliminal message, but I still love you. They will feel it. They may still protest, try another way to convince you, have a meltdown, etc, etc. But most importantly, they will still feel the connection with you, that essentially the love has not “gone away”.
2. Know where your kids are at!
Meaning, understanding where they are at developmentally, and really, what they are capable of. What does that mean? For example, not expecting your 2-year-old to know how to share yet (they don’t understand ownership at the age 2), not expecting your 3 year old to not lash out physically when they are frustrated or angry, (they can’t control their impulses at this age), and not expecting your 4 year old to know how to control their emotions (self-regulation comes much later, right now they need co-regulation). These are healthy developmental stages your child goes through and many transitions along the way. Knowing where your child is at and what they are capable of, from a developmental perspective will help give you a better framework from which to parent from, as well as cut them some slack.
3. Know your child.
Your child is not like your friend's child, who is the same age, nor the kid from down the street. Knowing your child, their particular vulnerabilities, their triggers, their fears, and what makes your child unique is helpful. It can help you know where they need more support, and how you can help them individually so that they can thrive being themselves and be celebrated for just that!
4. Have a life outside your child
Our children watch us, they watch how we react, how we operate in the world, how we interact. We model it for them. They observe what we advocate for, how we treat others. Children don’t watch what we say, and we can “say” a lot, they watch what we do.
Are we pursuing our passions outside of parenting? Do we take care of ourselves?
So, what makes you, you? What makes you an individual? What passions or hobbies have you long since forgotten? Can you make time for them now, even if it’s just a few minutes a day?
5. Play with your child
Recognizing that play, connection, fun, and delight is what helps your child’s brain to grow! Really! Shared moments of delight help to build your child’s social brain. Children feel when we are present with them, when we are authentically having fun with them, giggling together. Using humour with them when things get “serious” can be a great way to change the energy, get out of those stuck places with them and model fun even when there are challenges present. Plus, we will feel better too! It’s a win~win!
Changing the way we parent our children is not an easy task, but your children will thank you for it, and through that, you will create a stronger bond and parenting will get easier, because of the connection between you.