By Michelle Salcedo, M.Ed., Sunshine House Chief Academic Officer
As the sounds of Auld Lang Syne fade, and the images of a glittery ball falling in New York City grow fainter, many of us turn to resolving to make our lives somehow different each year. Whether it is to go back to school, to (finally) take off those extra 20 pounds, or to work out every day, people have been making resolutions since as early as 153 BC. The New Year brings with it a sense of renewed hope and sense of empowerment.
Take this opportunity to make a resolution that will impact positively on your child. Resolve to make a small change that could provide benefits far into the future. Below are some suggestions that might inspire you to make a Parenting Resolution.
Resolve to be present
Today’s world is busy and people’s attention is often divided between those who are near, and media, and some sort of device. Dedicate yourself to being truly present to your child at least 30 minutes every day. This may mean turning off the DVD player on the drive home, or putting the phone somewhere else during dinner. To know that they are the focus of a caring adult’s complete attention is a feeling that each child deserves and needs.
Resolve to let your child be who they are
As parents, we see children as a reflection of ourselves, and worry that others are judging us as they look at our children. Because of this, we spend a lot of energy shaping our children into who we think they should be. While we want to give our children the tools they need to navigate our world, we want to do this without killing the spirit that makes each child unique and wonderful. So, your daughter wants to wear purple pants with a bright green and orange shirt or your son wants to paint pictures instead of play baseball, who cares? Get your daughter a big button that says “I dress myself” and send her on her joyful way. Invite friends and family to an art show to showcase your son’s passion. Dedicate your energy to celebrating who your child is instead of shaping them into who you think they should be.
Resolve to let mistakes happen
You may have heard of the term “helicopter parent”; the parent who hovers near their child constantly, protecting them from every mistake, challenging every bad grade, and not allowing for any consequences. As you can imagine, these children grow up in a bubble, and when that bubble pops (as it will), they do not have the tools to function in the world. Mistakes are bound to happen, gym shoes get left at home, homework does not get done, a mean word is said to a friend. When parents let consequences occur, we teach that there is a connection between an action and consequences.
As children enter the world, consequences become harsher, and the lessons can have much more severe consequences. Let your child make these smaller mistakes, help them see the consequences of the mistake, and support them in finding a way to fix it. Your child will be much better off learning this lesson when they are young, and you are there to guide and support (not hover and deflect).
Resolve to create joy
Childhood should be joyful. You have the power to create that joy. It need not cost anything, nor does it take extensive planning. Put on your bathing suits and share a bubble bath. Turn the music up and sing at the top of your lungs while driving home. Put away the silverware and eat with your hands behind your back. Chances are you will both end up collapsing in a pile of giggles. And, as the stress of the day dissipates, you will see how these moments of joy benefit you just as much (if not more) as they do your child.