Parenting is tough. Can I get an amen? I’ve tried just about every parenting technique, attended over a dozen parenting classes & courses, bounced ideas off of every parent & professional I’ve ever met, & read almost every parenting book, magazine, journal, & blog out there. And in the end, I’ve concluded that there is no perfect way to be a parent. But there are 12 simple skills that work together to make an all-star parent. (Let me be clear here, I’m not claiming to be an all-star parent, far from, but these are the skills I constantly strive to master.) I’ve compiled these skills in one place to create this ultimate 12 week parenting challenge. 12 weeks? I know, that sounds like a lot. But it’s doable & totally worth it. So if you want to be the best parent you can be give this parenting challenge a try.
If you want to be a better parent then it will take change. Change comes only through consistent effort. And that is why this parenting challenge will focus on one specific & focused parenting skill each week. You will have a whole week to master your new skill before trying to take on the next. After practicing a new skill for seven full days it will become more natural. It will become a habit. Then you will continue applying your new habit throughout the following weeks as you continue to challenge yourself with other parenting skills to improve on.
Week 1: Smile more
A simple smile can transform even the darkest of days. Try to smile at your child every chance you get & let your smile brighten his day.
Week 2: Speak softly
This is your time to cut back on any yelling or nix it all together. Focus on using a calm, quiet voice to get the attention of your children.
Week 3: Be present
Give your child your full attention when watching or talking with her. Put down your phone, pause the Bachelor, or turn the stove top down to low if you have to. Obviously, this isn’t something you can do every time your child shouts “Mom,” but you should make it a goal to give your child your undivided attention whenever possible & especially when you can see it is important.
Week 4: Give Praise
It’s easy to be critical but it’s critical to be complimentary. Say nice things to your kids & about your kids. Just make sure your praise is honest & true. Keep your criticisms to a minimum.
Week 5: Be there
Try you best to be with your child during the most critical moments of each day. Namely, when they wake up, as they are leaving for school, when they return from school, & when they go to bed. There are so many moments during the day that you will inevitably miss, but do your best to be there whenever they transition from one place or state to the next.
Week 6: Listen
Ask your child for his opinion on things. Especially, issues that regard him. When it comes to punishments, rewards, meals, schedules, extra curriculars, after school activities, etc., ask what your child what he thinks and really consider his opinion. And include his thoughts in your decision making process. Don’t forget that he is an active member in your family & the main person is his life.
Week 7: Get all touchy feely
Give more hugs, kisses, shoulder rubs, tickles, pats on the back, & love taps than normal.
Week 8: Play
Carve some time, even if it’s only a few minutes a day, to have some devoted fun-filled quality time with your child. Let her pick the activity or topic & just be there, in the moment, wrapped up in fun with her.
Week 9: Read
Take time to read to your child. It doesn’t matter if they are 15 days or 15 years old, read to him. Try to let your child pick the book or the subject but also use this opportunity to teach valuable life lessons through novels or share your own cherished reads.
Week 10: Speak Kindly
As parents, it is sometimes easy to complain about our children & their errors. But how you say quickly becomes how you feel. If you let yourself get wrapped up in negativity you will feel negatively towards your children. Rather, speak kind words about him. Focus on the positive & you will feel positive, which will impact how he feels, & how you feel about each other.
Week 11: Eat Together
Life is busy & parents have so many never-ending responsibilities. It can be so hard to set aside time to be together as a family but it is all so crucial. Mealtime can be rushed but for the sake of your physical & familial health everyone benefits from if you slow down & take time to enjoy your meal & a little conversation if just for a few minutes. Try to find at least one meal a day when you can all be together.
Week 12: Love
The most important duty you have as a parent is to love your child. You are going to mess up, so many times & in so many ways. But do your very best to make your child feel loved through the ups & the downs. That’s what really matters. And in the end, that’s what your child really needs.
Your journey to parenting perfection isn’t over after you complete this 12-week parenting challenge. Rather, you should continue applying these new skills daily. If you notice one skill starting to slip, (truthfully, it is bound to happen so don’t you worry when it does) just put a little more effort into it for a week or two. I really hope this parenting challenge is a success for you! Do you have any other parenting skills you can recommend? Share them in the comments!
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