Resolving to be a good parent

Published 9:01 am Sunday, January 3, 2016

QUESTION: What would be a great parenting resolution for 2016?

 ANSWER: From my perspective, the most important parenting attitude for 2016 is “Positive Is Better!” Here are some examples of positive parenting in action; while you probably already do several of them, perhaps there is one that you will choose to focus on in the beginning months of 2016:

•Smile often: Say please and thank you when giving directions to your children. Listen to them carefully. What we do, our children will learn.

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Give your children clear directions: Tell them what you do want them to do. Too often we are telling our children to stop unwanted behaviors, like “Don’t yell!” It is much more effective to tell our children what we want, like “Use your quiet voice.”

Watch your children and describe what you see: Catch your children being good. Parents, grandparents and teachers are mirrors for children. Whatever behavior we describe, children see in their minds. If they see it, they can repeat it.

Stay firm and friendly. Talk less. Act more: When saying “no” or correcting unwanted behavior, eliminate the drama. Verbal drama is actually a reward of attention for children. Use few words and follow through quickly. (If the bickering over the remote is distressing you, say “Time out, 15 minutes,” take the remote and walk away. No other response is necessary; if you have to respond to “BUT MOM … ,” only repeat calmly “15 minutes.”)

Talk to your children about decisions using the words healthy, wise, legal, appropriate, responsible, low-risk, and necessary instead of “good and bad.”

Set limits for your children first, then give them choices you can live with. When they must have mittens when they leave for school, let them decide if the mittens are on their hands or in their jacket pockets. When they must have a green vegetable, let them decide if it’s cooked peas or raw green pepper.

January is a good time for fresh beginnings and positive parenting skills are good habits that, like other behaviors, take some intentional work and then become automatic.

If you would like to talk about the challenges in raising children, call the toll-free Parent WarmLine at 1-888-584-2204/Linea de Apoyo at 1-877-434-9528. For free emergency child care call Crisis Nursery at 1-877-434-9599. Check out and free books, CDs and DVDs at the PRC Specialty Library (105 First Street SE, Austin)