I’m constantly working on self-improvement. Who do I want to be next month, next year, in 5 or 10 years? How am I going to get there? So I’ve had a lot of practice!
In these days of contemplating change, whether it’s around parenting or anything else, what we want to change and just as importantly, how we are going to make it stick, here are some words of advice to follow in order to make it stick:
- Make Sure it’s for You! Any change that isn’t deeply meaningful to you, will fail. If you are changing to win approval of family, partner or anyone else, it won’t last. It must come from within. My husband and I have been discussing change a lot these days, what we want for ourselves and from each other. In sharing this, I’m always careful to tell him that I want him to be the person HE wants to be, that he cannot make changes for me or it won’t last and even worse could bring resentment, “I changed for you and you still aren’t happy.” All I ask is that he works on becoming who he wants and finding his happiness from and for himself, not through me. Whatever his goals, my support is always there. All he has to do is ask. So ask yourself why you want it and make sure it’s about you! Which leads to…
- Your Why’s Have to be Bigger Than Your Excuses. You will constantly come up with excuses about why not to change. “I’m tired.” “Everyone is on my nerves!” “It’s too cold.” “It’s too hot.” “I’ll start tomorrow.” This list goes on and on. Change is hard so those why’s had better be compelling. If it’s weight loss, it could be to set a healthy example for your kids, that you are tired of feeling tired, that you want to feel confident in your own body, whatever it is, you have to know the reasons and really want them. When it comes to parenting, it may be that you want better relationships with your kids than you had/have with yours. You imagine your current and future relationships with them full of connection and respect. You want to have influence in their lives because they respect you and they respect you because you show them positive examples of how to discuss conflict, how to stay calm in the face of struggle, how to say your sorry and mean it…
- Be Reasonable! This means don’t bite off too much at once. If your habit has become ingrained such as yelling when your kids don’t do what you ask, allowing your toddler to rule bedtimes, unhealthy habits with nutrition, sleep, exercise or stress, it’s going to take time. You aren’t going to be 20 pounds lighter next week, the most patient parent ever who’s child goes right to bed without a struggle the minute you snap your fingers and decide you want life to be different. So be patient. Choose an area or two to tackle and choose one or two habits to change in those areas. Get those new habits down well, for two to three weeks before adding another change. So if you want to stay more calm in your parenting, first pinpoint the times of day/exchanges that are the biggest struggles. Pick 2 habits or tools you are going work on changing/implementing and really focus on those. If you need tools for staying calm in the moment and fixing these exchanges you can see the class Peaceful Parenting part II, power struggles and/or getting kids to listen.
- Remember to Give Credit It’s common to be too hard on ourselves. I’m not saying give yourself a continual pass for not performing. But sometimes we have made strides and we fail to see it. I’ve had parents not realize how much better they have done or how much their child’s behavior has improved until the look back at an original email to me with all their struggles or they go back and listen to a podcast where their question was answered and all of the sudden they realize how far they’ve come! I’ve gotten many emails with these epiphanies. So be sure to look back to where you were and realistic and honest in your assessment. Small changes over time add up and we just don’t always see it when we are mired in the day to day.
- Be Honest with Yourself about your effort. It’s important to be able to honestly Assess Your Effort, meaning are you really implementing your effort and new habits fully and consistently. I remember when I was trying to lose weight and it just wasn’t come off. I was so frustrated. I thought I was working really hard. I was working out a lot. I thought I wasn’t eating that much. But once I got a points based app, I realized I was eating way more than I should have been in order to lose weight. Once I used the app consistently and stuck within my points, the weight came off! So if you’re struggling with bedtimes, are you being consistent every night, every return to bed in order to fix the behavior? Or have you let behavior slide on evenings when you are tired or lost your cool on the 10th time your toddler got out of bed, giving him a payoff for the behavior? Consistent, solid effort in any goal pays off.
- Reassess Every Few Weeks If you are putting in a solid consistent effort and are truly not seeing any change, or very little, it’s time to problem solve. What can you do differently? What other effort can you apply to the situation in addition or to approach the issue from a completely different angle?
For lots of tools and approaches for improving connection, cooperation and any common parenting struggles from bedtimes, to discipline issues like power struggles, we have over 50 classes available on demand to support you in any of your parenting goals!