Encouragement in Parenting for the New Year

by Jennifer Donovan

New Habits in the New YearParenting. Forget New Year’s resolutions; when it comes to parenting I honestly feel like I make resolutions to start anew in that area every single week. Today I feature an interview with Brenda Nixon, author and speaker. She has addressed audiences large and small, from the MOPS International convention to breakout groups to appearing on radio and TV. If you need a speaker, check out her website. You’ll also find some resources on tips for dealing with temper tantrums and choosing a preschool.

How important is it to tailor our parenting to our children’s individual personalities?
Children are as different as snowflakes. Our parenting must reflect that knowledge as we respond to, love, and discipline each child in a way that matches his/her personality. When speaking to audiences across the country, I often remind them that it’s not realistic to not be fair all the time. Fairness doesn’t recognize differences; it’s only a convenience to the parent. Just question it from an adult point of view: are all your relationships with family and friends equal? Do you treat all those people the same? Of course not. So why try to do that with impressionable children.

I encourage parents to start off the new year with the liberating thought of tailoring their childrearing to meet each child’s needs, wants, and learning style.

Isn’t treating our kids all the same proof that we are not playing favorites?
It may seem like it, and that nagging voice in the back of our head tells us that our kids will scream, “That’s not fair!” and then we’ll feel guilty. We actually are playing favorites when we overlook any child’s unique need by making one shoe size fit all. In “The Five Love Languages of Children,” authors Chapman and Campbell explain that children even interpret love differently. One child may see gifts (or things) as symbols of love, while another thinks love is affirming words. Now, what if a parent practiced hugging both children to treat them the same. . . then neither child would feel truly loved because their personal need wasn’t being met. Or if the parent only said affirming, encouraging words but never gave any gifts to the one who interpreted gifts as love, then that one would think the other was the favored child.

What is one thing that we should eliminate from our parenting bag of tricks?
In this new year, I challenge parents of young children to develop the habit of being their child’s parent. Too many try to be their friend, buddy, companion, playmate — or worse — the missing parent. Don’t cheat a child out of having a mature, capable, competent parent. Often parents tell me they don’t want their child mad at them. “So what?” I ask. If your child gets mad at you, he or she will get over it. Never allow a child’s use of emotion to manipulate or compromise your standards. I think it was the actress Bette Davis who said, “If you’ve never been hated by your child; you’ve never been a parent.” And the child psychiatrist Dr. Grace Ketterman said, “Good mothers need to be tough at times.” These are two of my favorite quotes sprinkled throughout my book.

As the years pass and your child grows, you’ll do less disciplining and it’s appropriate to become more of a consultant. Be there when he or she needs you; provide assistance when asked, but know when to back off and allow some independence. As kids become adolescents, there will be even more camaraderie and less of the parenting. Eventually, as our children become young adults we need to back off — or work ourselves out of a job.

Thank you Brenda!

If you’d like to win a copy of Ms. Nixon’s book, Parenting Power in the Early Years, (U.S. shipping addresses only), please leave a comment on this post, and check out the New Habits in the New Year guidelines at this main post.

Come back on January 9 to see if you have won. Please be sure that the email address that you provide is one that you check regularly, and also check your spam folder when the winners are announced if you see your name.

Email Author    |    Website About Jennifer Donovan

Jennifer Donovan has been a part of the 5 Minutes for Mom team since 2007. She writes product reviews, covers events, and manages the 5 Minutes for Books weekly column and website. She lives in Houston and blogs at Snapshot about life with her family.

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