A Parent’s Survival Guide for Helping Your Kids Be Successful This Year

Many parents are asking themselves, “What can I do to make sure my child has a successful year?”, “How can I make sure my child feels good about himself this year?”  Here are a few key survival guide tips that will help your children have a successful year.

We know that most kids today have numerous activities, strenuous sports practices, a rigorous homework load, religious school, and more.  Often parents are stressed just trying to keep up with their kids’ schedules.  It is the rare parent who is not feeling tremendous stress these days.  So, first let’s remember that when parents are stressed, kids are stressed.  And when parents are stressed, we often miss some key parenting tools that help children feel great.

Tip #1– Connect with Your Child:  Children want to feel connected to us more than anything.  As humans, we are hard-wired for connection.  When children don’t feel enough connection from us, we let them down and it is a loss.  Connection does not have to take a lot of time but it does need to be genuine.  If you don’t have large chunks of time to spend with your child, make sure to find as many small moments as possible to tune in to them.  Listen to them, notice them, hug them, make eye contact, laugh with them, and acknowledge them when they reach out to you.  When children feel connected to their parents, they feel better about themselves and develop confidence.

Tip #2—Accept Your Child’s Feelings:  It is very easy to love your children when they are happy and behaving the way you want them to behave.  But children develop into successful and happy adults they feel loved by their parents unconditionally—no matter what they are feeling.  This means that they need to have access to all of their feelings—including the ones that don’t feel so good.  So, that means you need tools for helping your child deal with anger, frustration, disappointment, sadness, rejection, fear, worry, insecurity, etc.  The best thing you can do is accept your child’s feelings.  You don’t have to like the feeling.  And you don’t need to fix the feeling or make it go away.  Many parents believe that when their child is experiencing an unpleasant emotion that they need to do something about it.  The truth is, all you need to do is accept it.  Accepting feelings means empathizing.  Put yourself in your child’s shoes and see life from his perspective.  Then, acknowledge it.  You might simply say something like, “I can see you are really angry.”, “You’re sad because your friends didn’t invite you.”, “Doing homework can be really hard sometimes.”, “You’re worried about your test tomorrow.”  Accepting feelings is so important to effective parenting.  In fact, when you try to change their feeling or get angry at their feeling, it typically backfires and your child works even harder to show you how bad they really are feeling.  It gets worse.  Accepting your child’s feelings is one of the most important gifts you can give your child.  People who are successful and happy are good at accepting all of their emotions—the ones that are great and the ones that stink.  All feelings are part of the human experience.

Tip #3– Parents Must Take Care of Themselves:  Please don’t poo-poo this!  Your kids feel your energy and mirror your emotions.  On any given day, if your kids are acting out, throwing tantrums, not listening and you find yourself repeating requests, yelling and screaming this is a signal to look at your stress level.  Ask yourself on a scale of 0-10 how stressed are you?  Typically, parents find that the more stressed they are, the more their children misbehave.  Children misbehave when their emotional needs are not being met—including when they are tired or hungry.  Misbehavior is their way of communicating that they need you.  So, in order to meet your children’s needs you must slow down enough to carve out time for yourself. This means that in order to meet their needs you must first take care of yourself!  Find ways to renew emotionally, physically, spiritually and mentally.  A little bit can go a long way.  When you are happy, you have more energy to give to your children.  Doing tip #3, paves the way for being able to do tips #1 & #2.

For more information about our online parenting course or parent coaching, contact Karen Jacobson, MA, LCPC, LMFT at 312-330-3194, Karen@parentingperspectives.com or Lauren Bondy, LCSW at 847-562-9503, Lauren@parentingperspectives.com. Or, visit www.parentingperspectives.com.