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It's never too late : This New Year, start afresh!

To err is human and making mistakes is especially a big part of being a parent. Tell me if this sounds familiar: your child misbehaves - you find yourself losing your cool - you yell or react - you end up regretting. Visualize yourself reacting differently the next time your child does something blasphemous. Feels good, right? Good news is, it’s easy to attain the much needed Zen by just adopting a few simple changes to your behaviour. So what better time than New Year’s to kick-start afresh your parenting regime?

Pssst, here’s a list of five simple steps to develop a healthy, happy relationship with your kids:

1) Listen to your children: You want to spend more one-on-one time with your children but there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Hmm. Well, for starters, let me tell you you’re not an exception and there’s no need to feel guilty. Majority of parents feel the same way. Start by committing your undivided attention to your child at a fixed time every single day - even if it’s for just five minutes. Trust me, even five minutes go a long way. This time can be spent at the dinner table, playing a game together or for bath time. Use this time to really listen to what they have to say - this could be a problem they are facing, a funny incident, an assignment they missed or anything really. This way you are teaching them that what they have to say is valuable. In turn, this makes your child more likely to listen to you too.

2) Establish Consistency: Building consistency is the key - even when it comes to parenting. If you’re the kind who’s frustrated with how things never turn out the way you plan them and your children seem to always do the opposite of what you want them to, this one’s for you. Chances are this is happening because of a lack of consistency or routine. Decide on a parenting strategy and stick to it for at least 2 weeks to see if it works well for you and your child. If the strategy you choose seems to be ineffective in the trial period, change your strategy and try that for another 14 days. At the end of this exercise, you’ll know what works best for your child and family in the longer term.

3) Adjust your expectations: No, your 5-year old won’t be training to be an Olympian. Your 10-year old won’t code the next big app. Your six 6-year old won’t write his interpretation of the Iliad and that’s okay. For that matter, even your regular teenager won’t want to do homework right after school or practise violin on the weekends and that’s okay too. Please consider your expectations for their behavior with their stage of development. Become familiar with your child’s personal strengths and weaknesses. Every child develops differently and comparing children to each other or holding them against a standard is unfair. Your children can definitely do with some kindness and support. Infact, positive reinforcement would help them grow and excel.

4) Follow through: Remember the age-old saying “Say what you mean, and mean what you say.”? Turns out it comes handy the most when raising kids! Jokes apart, Make sure you follow through all the promises you make to them. Remember parents, what may be insignificant to you is a big deal for your tots and they remember everything. When kids see that you follow through, they are more likely to trust what you say and to listen to you. When you don’t follow through, they learn to tune you out and never trust you again. Eventually, they will distance themselves from you. To prevent making reparations later, work on it early on.

5) Notice the good: Parents spend way too much time and energy pointing out their childrens’ flaws and failures. If you too do this and you think you’re doing this to hammer some kind of sense into them, this is probably the wrong-est and worst of all approaches. You’re only going to hinder their growth, lower their self confidence and make them hate you all the more. Acknowledge every little thing they do and generously appreciate when appreciation is due.

Try those tips (in no necessary order) and you’ll be surprised to see the transformation it brings to you and your children. Thank me later! And oh, don’t forget sharing with us a tip that completely changed the way you were parenting for the good. I’ll be looking forward to reading your comments!

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