Be clear with yourself and partner about the kind of parent you want to be. Write down your goals and self-expectations as a parent and post them somewhere you will see regularly. This will help you not get caught up in the stress and emotions of daily life and to focus more on what you want your parenting experience to be.
Addressing emotions rather than behaviors allows you to get to the root of why a child is behaving a certain way. Instead of trying to fix anything, simply support them in feeling their emotions and expressing them in healthy ways. For example, instead of having a child go to time out for yelling you can say “it sounds like you’re feeling really frustrated right now. I understand it’s frustrating when mommy stops you, but we aren’t going to yell.” Give them time to feel what they need to in safe ways. For example if a child tries to hit you can say “I see you’re mad. It’s okay to be mad but we can’t hit. You can stomp your feet or talk to me about how you feel.”
Choose something you will both enjoy that requires little instruction (at least to start). The goal is to bond and connect, so choose something with the least amount of opportunity to create frustration and disagreements.
Share with your child regularly that you love them. If they feel positive attention easily, they are less likely to try to get your attention with negative behaviors.
It is also helpful to communicate when you are proud or happy with a child’s behavior. “I’m proud of you when you use calm words to ask for what you need.” This a great way to build your relationship as well as to express to your child what behaviors you do want from them.
As communicating what behaviors you are proud of helps encourage good behavior and positive communication, giving clear expectations sets children up to succeed.
This one is probably the hardest to put in action. It can be very difficult to not criticize a child for unwanted behaviors since we want to be clear we don’t like the behavior, but in order to limit stress and support positive behaviors, it is important we focus on giving the child clear expectations.
For example instead of after the fact saying “No, mommy doesn’t like when you color on the couch, that’s messy,” you can say “mommy needs you to color only on paper so we can keep the couch clean.” It takes practice, but once you get the hang of it you and you child will feel less stressed!