Parenting--One Simple Change Can Make A World of Difference

photo (2) What if I told you that changing one thing in your life could make your parenting come alive?  What if it was really that simple? I recently had a young client, age 10, come in.  Mom was saying that she is having a lot of problems with her, including stealing from school and  at home.  Mom said she has a hard time with her daughter's attitude and has "caught" her in many lies.  She brought her to me the first time, where I learned that she is one of 8 siblings....and her father's work takes him away from home for long periods of time.  One of her siblings was quite young, demanding a great deal of time and attention from mom.  I met alone with the young girl and did some art with her.  The next appointment was set and both mom and dad came along with the 10 year old (the toddler was in tow as well).  This appointment happened to be late morning.  All the other siblings (except for the toddler and the 10 year old) had gone to school.  I asked what the morning was like and both mom and dad talked glowingly about the 10 year old.  She was helpful and calm, no "attitude."  So....I explained that she may not be conscious of what she is doing but may feel alone and has a need for attention. I generally recommend daily one on one time with a kiddo.  But, knowing that all of her children probably need one on one time, I said why don't you assign each person a day and mom spend an hour or so just focused on that child.  The toddler gets lots of one of one time as it is, while the others are at school.  Plus, he demands it right now, so there was no need at this point to assign him a day. In addition, I recommended that dad try to connect with each kiddo regularly as well, by phone or Skype while he's away and then deliberately when he is in town.   So....they agreed.  I hadn't seen them for a month, but they set an appointment to come in and report how wonderful that simple change had made.  They reported they see very little "attitude" from the young lady.  She is currently in school and making good grades.  She doesn't fight as much with her siblings.  She helps a lot around the house.  There have been no incidents of stealing or lying. I love hearing this.  A little over sixteen years ago, I heard from a speaker on discipline that if you don't spend time with your kids, building a relationship, that it doesn't really matter what form of discipline you use.  He continued that almost any parenting technique will work if you have a relationship with your kids.  My kids were 18 months and 3 years at that time.  I took that to heart.  I set up time every single day to play with my kids.  I chose an hour a day, but I know that not everyone's schedule can do that.  When they are little, even twenty minutes a day can make a huge difference.  If you can't do every day, do bigger amounts of time no less than once a week.  And, you don't have to have any problems with your child for this to be effective.
  • Here's the rule about that time:  IT IS CHILD -CENTERED.  Let the child lead.  If they want to color, they color.  If they want you to color, you color.  If they want to color and you to watch only, then so be it.  The child decides (within reason) what you do and how.
  • If it is possible, have some games or books or toys or creative supplies that are special for that time.
  • BONUS:  this time is good for you as well....your bond with your child will grown, your relationship skills will increase, and your inner child will provide you energy and healing!