Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Best Parenting Ideas With Young Children - Part 1

OK, let me be honest. Most of what we've learned as parents has been through trial and error or we stole it from someone else. We generally didn't have a clue any more than anyone else. But that's probably true for most parents.  We simply don't know much when we have that first baby, do we?

But that doesn't really matter.  As long as we finally figure it out, have some modicum of success and raise kids that love God and function as reasonably healthy adults, we've done pretty well.

So let me tell  you about some of our best parenting tips for parents who have young children. And if they're helpful to you feel free to steal them and at least give them a try!

First, use a timer to give kids a cutoff time for when they must act.  One of the huge challenges for most parents is getting kids to actually move or do something when we tell them to such as going to bed, getting in the bathtub, picking up their toys or getting in the car.

So make the timer the bad person instead of you.  You could say something like, "when the timer rings you'll need to go get ready for bed (or be going out the door or whatever)."  Young children can't tell time anyway so letting them know they have to do something in ten minutes is meaningless.  The key to this working however is that you then have to hold them to it without fail.  It may take a few tries but it works.  Giving kids a little lead time before they have to stop an activity is just good parenting anyway.

Second, give them choices about battles you don't have to win.  There are some things you just have to lay down the law with but some decisions merely need us to provide some parameters and then let the kids choose from there.  And when they get to choose they have more of a sense of control that sometimes can help take the steam out of the conflict.  "Marcy, no you can't wear that today to school, but you can choose from these three outfits.  You decide which one you like best."  Or, "Ryan, you can have either of these videos to watch.  Which would you like?" 

Sounds simple and it can be - again, as long as we hold to our choices and don't dicker or argue with them about some other options.

Three, use the three-things-on-your- birthday-method regarding food.  Most kids have things that they don't like, at least for now, and it's always a challenge to know when to push them to try something and when to just let it go.  Unfortunately, many parents rarely help their kids learn to try other foods and just let them have what they want most of the time.  Not smart unless you want to be cooking 4 meals, making 4 lunches or driving to four different take out places for most of your mealtimes.

So consider this option.  Every birthday let them pick three things that they don't have to eat any time during that year.  Even if they're at someone else's house, they have permission to decline these three things. Then when you serve them there's no hassle, those things are on their list and they can decline.  However, everything else they must at least try.  And with trying things we had the rule that they had to eat the same number of bites of that food as their age.  I'm currently eating a LOT of bites by the way!

Each birthday, you give them the option of changing their list if they want to, either because something else has become so "gross" to them or they now like something on their list.  This can save a lot of hassles but again you must simply be consistent.

More next time. And if you have your own ideas that worked well for you, leave them as a comment for others to learn from.  Thanks.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

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