*By Kate Raidt
One of my favorite quotes is “The definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over expecting different results.” Same rule applies to parenting. If you want to build a better relationship with your kids, improve your child’s behavior and overall improve your family’s health, nothing will change unless you change.
The good news is that sometimes it only takes small changes to experience big results.
In a perfect world all of us would already be implementing all 10 of these goals below. Statistics show that most parents are not. So read through this important list of parenting goals and embrace 1 or 2 that you can implement starting today – and keep this goal for the entire year.
Hug your kids every day. Remember those bumper stickers from the ’80′s “Have You Hugged Your Kid Today”? In 2013 we need to plaster that sticker on our foreheads. Many kids are starving for emotional affection from their parents. So hug your kids every day. And don’t forget “I love you” a few times each week also!
Get rid of all sodas, fruit juices, sports drinks and any sugary beverage from your home. Why? Sugary drinks single-handedly contribute to mass numbers of cancer, obesity, behavioral problems, cavities, ADHD, ADD, sleep disorders…and the list goes on. If you make the simple dietary change for your family in 2013 to kick the sugary drink habit (and stick to water as your drink of choice), you will make tremendous positive changes for your family. And don’t be fooled by diet drinks. They are equally as unhealthy as the others.
Join your child for lunch at her school cafeteria unannounced. You will never see a happier look on your child’s face when they learn you have come to eat with them. Make a habit of doing this a few times each school year.
Learn to calm yourself down before you discipline your children. We all lose our temper, raise our voices and feel outraged at the things our kids do sometimes. One of the best parenting tips I ever learned was to take a deep breath, count to 10 and even walk away from my child when I feel like exploding, yelling or spanking. Nobody wins in a situation when tempers are flaring. A calm, cool, collected parent has a lot more positive influence than an upset parent.
Read good parenting books. Then read more. Why? Parenting is the most important job in the world – but comes with the least amount of professional training. Most parents rely on friends, family or their sister for their best parenting advice. What if you were going in for heart surgery and the surgeon looked down at you and said, “I’m not a licensed physician and I’ve never been to medical school. But my dad was a doctor so I’m just going to call him and ask how I should operate on you.” You would be dumbfounded. We expect our doctors, teachers, pastors and even our hair dressers to be professionally trained and “with the times”. Why are we not expecting the same level of training and professionalism with parents? Be a coachable parent. Let parenting experts guide you through the most important job you will ever do. Your kids deserve it!
Limit media to 30 minutes each day. Many studies show that more than 1 hour of screen time (TV, computers, cell phones, video games, tablets, etc…) contribute to sleep disorders, obesity, poor physical activity, behavioral problems, ADHD…and more. No matter how much your kids try to convince you otherwise, your Play Station will never provide your kids equal physical or mental benefits to a bike ride, card game, jump rope or swimming pool.
Get your kids to bed 15 minutes earlier than you normally do. Why? Next to poor diet, lack of sleep is the biggest contributor to physical and mental health problems. Po Bronson, author of “Nurture Shock,” found in his detailed study on sleep in children that even an extra 15 minutes of sleep in children increased their school grades, IQ scores and overall daily well-being.
Pack healthy sack lunches at least a few times each week. Why? Well, simply put, school cafeteria food is some of the unhealthiest food on the planet. Even if your school boasts a “healthy menu,” more-than-likely your child is choosing the chocolate milk, the dessert and skipping the fresh fruit. (I would too if given the option!) So pack healthy lunches with whole grain bread, fresh fruit and bottled water.
Spend 20 minutes of one-on-one quality time with your kids every day: Go bike riding/walking, play a board game, make art, cook together, throw a ball…etc. Sitting in front of the TV together is not quality time. Quality time is what kids are starved for. Quality time is free. It only takes minutes to fill a child’s emotional tank. Parents, stop making excuses. Carve out quality time for your kids every single day!
Do service projects together. This is a win-win-win situation for you, your kids and a person in need. Volunteer work is one of the most memorable experiences your children will ever have – and it’s a great way for your teenager to build a work resume. This is something that can become a fabulous family tradition. Pick an organization that means a lot to you and serve them on a regular basis.