Don’t start a habit you’ll need to break later.
Start the way you mean to go.
The principle came from BabyWise which I found totally made sense. If I want my kids to sit through a meal at age 6, then I expect them to sit through a meal at age 3 and likewise at age 1…at restaurants and at home. If pulling things off someone else’s bookshelf or coffee table isn’t okay, then it’s not okay at home either. If taking my keys or phone without permission isn’t okay at age 16, then it’s not okay at age 2. It’s unfair to a child to not set rules or expectations at home but then impose them when they’re in a different environment or age. It boils down to being consistent.
Credit Card Parenting: Either you pay your dues now, or you pay it later, but plus interest.
Win the early battles.
Raising little humans is hard. That’s an understatement. There were so many things I wanted to just let go because dealing with tantrums is just not my idea of a good time. But I kept telling myself, if I don’t deal with this now, and correct or modify the attitude/behavior, then it’s just MUCH harder later when they’re a few more years set in their ways. And lippy. And heavier.
Mean what you say, say what you mean.
I saw this quote on a poster in church once. Words mean a lot to me so this stuck with me since as a mantra to live by. It’s particularly impactful when talking to little kids because their brains are making incredible connections that sounds can make words and words mean something and now they can communicate. The few words they have is so important to them. They also take what I say at face value. Do I want to teach them that my words are not to be taken seriously? No. So if I say, “Finish your fruit or we’re not going to the library” then I must mean what I say. This requires really thinking about what threats I can follow through on. Little kids also don’t have concept of “later” so the consequences must be fairly immediate. I’m also trying to be careful about saying exactly what I mean. “Touching public toilets and then touching your face is really gross” as opposed to “You’re so gross.” See the difference? I still say the wrong things but am trying to live by this because I want my kids to believe my words, to take what I say seriously, and to not have to guess at the meaning. I also don’t want my words to wound them. One day, soon, I hope they will be people whose words are true and meaningful as well.
Make parenting decisions centered around your End Goal.
This is a harder one to do. Without an End Goal in mind, it’s easy to just react to whatever situation/crisis/episode my kids unleash on me. My reaction could just be to get them quiet and make it through grocery shopping/church/car ride. But what does that teach them? I can get what I want by making a scene. Mere behavior modification isn’t enough either. Kids are smart and can put on a convincing performance to get their way too. In reading Sacred Parenting (not done yet), I’m challenged to raise kids with good , Christ-like character. Character and behavior are two different things. Character includes attributes like patient, kind, honest, brave, integrity, endures, faithful, etc. This is much harder for me. But that’s my End Goal, so it gives a frame of mind for me to check if my response to my kids will be helpful in moving them towards the End Goal. It helps me make decisions about what to do or not do. This has been a three steps forward, two steps back kind of progress.
What are some words you parent by?