Anyone who's a parent will tell you it's the hardest job in the world. Of course parts of parenting are harder than others. It's quite easy for me to Instagram my kids. It's easy to laugh with them when they're silly. It's easy to kiss and hug them good night. Other parts are more difficult -- like discipline, instruction, and getting on their level.
I recently read the book 8 Simple Tools for Raising Great Kids by Dr. Todd Cartmell. Dr. Cartmell is a licensed clinical psychologist and father of two grown sons who has worked with children and families for more than 20 years and authored several parenting books. I'll be honest -- I don't read a lot of parenting books. (I don't read nearly as much as I should, period.) But this book appealed to me because I could tell it was an easy read, divided into short, achievable sections.
For example, I feel I do a good job of listening and connecting. I ask my kids questions about their days, milk them for every last detail, and provide lots of physical touch and affection. When I get angry though, I know I raise my voice too much. My tone is not loving, and I lash out with my words more than I'd like to admit. This book didn't condemn me because it concedes that none of us are perfect, but it challenged me to do better. Here are some of my favorite tidbits from the book.
If I want my kids to talk respectfully when they are mad, then I must do the same.
I want my child to copy my communication style, not me copy theirs.
Initiate conversations with your kids. Don't wait for them.
Your kids don't just have a negative behavior to stop, they have an important lesson to learn. Teach the lesson.
When you get into your child's world, you are showing them that what is important to them is important to you.
When you sense a tantrum coming, make an emphatic comment to show you understand, then engage the child in mutual problem solving.
Be on the lookout for positive behavior in your kids and point it out constantly.
Your words show your kids who you think they are and who they think they can become. Repeated thousands of times, your words can literally change the trajectory of your kids' lives.
The book also teaches the Family Respect Rule. It suggests you print it out, display it in your house, and discuss it regularly. This is the rule:
Everyone in our family should treat everyone else in our family respectfully. All the time.
My kids do not treat each other or us parents respectfully all the time. But reading that rule convicted ME more than anything. I am often disrespectful to them in the way I yell or get an attitude when they disobey, and even more often than that, I am disrespectful to their daddy. This is the number one thing from the book I want to work on. Dr. Cartmell promises, "When you follow the Family Respect Rule and teach it to your kids, your family will never be the same."
Like I said, parenting is hard and sometimes I feel like I'm getting it all wrong. It's been said there is no instruction manual for parenting, but this book is pretty close. My copy has a lot of underlining and notes in the margins which I intend to refer back to very often. I need all the help in this parenting gig I can get!
I am giving away one copy of 8 Simple Tools to a lucky reader. To enter to win, leave a comment telling me which parenting areas you think you do well in and where you think you need to improve. Then enter via the Rafflecopter box below. Happy parenting. :-)
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