Recently I sent out a survey to all of my mom friends and their friends. I was so shocked to get over 100 responses from parents who were willing to share some of their biggest parenting challenges. To say that I am incredibly thankful that so many people would take the time to help me to figure out what parents need the most to support them in their journey would be an understatement. While it was not an official study, I found the results really interesting, hope you do too!
Here were the findings:
80% of parents feel that it is very important to feel confident in their role as a parent.
20% of parents felt that it is somewhat important to feel confident in their role as a parent
60% of parents invest time and money into learning parenting tools
40% of parents DO NOT invest time and money in learning parenting tool
(Parents were allowed to choose more than one)
The number one challenge that parents expressed was feeling like they were resorting to yelling and punishments too often- 55% of parents felt this way.
It was a tie for 2nd between feeling that your child is disrespectful and angry AND feeling overwhelmed because of over scheduling and demanding academics both around 35%.
17% were worried about their child's low self-esteem
15% were concerned about their child's fears and anxiety
In last place with 8% was a tie between parents not knowing how to set boundaries and worrying about their child's peer group.
Investing in Parenting Skills
40% of parents would read a book if they were going to invest in their parenting skills
25% of parents would prefer one-to-one support
20% would like live group support
15% either look to blogs, online resources, or speak with friends
I also allowed parents to write in anything else they wanted to express and the answers ranged from needing help with co-parenting, building sibling relationships, navigating our rapidly changing technology, helping to increase your daughters self-esteem especially around boys, balancing parental needs for down time with the needs of children, and how to feel more successful both at work and a home. There were more but these were the ones that showed up the most often.
It is really helpful for us to feel like we are not alone in our struggles which is why I wanted to share this information with you, but that is only one part of the solution. The next step after awareness is making the decision to learn new ideas, then do things differently so that you can get a different result.
To help you take the 1st step in feeling more confident as a parent I want to share with you my TOP 5 Positive Parenting Tips. I have found these to be extremely helpful to have in my parenting toolkit so that I can feel increasingly confident that I am raising children who are confident in themselves, know how to ask for what they need appropriately, and who will be able to pass this down to their children. I am NOT raising perfect kids by any means (I even have a daughter who scratches kids a nursery school) but I am totally ok with that (not the scratching, but knowing that my kids aren't perfect angels).
Here are my top 5:
# 1: Be Kind AND Firm
# 2: Establish Routines
# 3: Welcome Mistakes
# 4: Get a Life
# 5: (In honor of Valentine's Day) Make Sure the Message of Love Gets Through
Over the next few weeks I will be writing a little bit about each tip but I would never want you to feel overwhelmed. So just for this week put your focus on to #1: Be Kind and Firm.
Many times when we are frustrated by our child's behavior we resort to yelling in an effort to get them to listen or to act the way we want them to. Think about the last time someone yelled at you to get you to learn something or cooperate. Did it inspire and motivate you to comply with their wishes or did it maybe have the opposite impact? For this week each time you feel yourself compelled to yell or scream at your child (or anyone for that matter) STOP. Take a few deep breaths and choose to be kind yet firm with what your wishes are.
It might look a little like this.
School Aged Child Example:
Your 7 year old son won't pick up his toys even though you have asked him at least 3 times to do it. You notice your anger level is rising and take a few breaths. Come into the room with your child and get down to eye level with him. Touch him on the arm. And say, "Hey Jack (fill in child's name) I have asked you 3 times to clean up and it is making me feel really angry that you have not picked them up yet. It makes me feel like you don't respect my wishes and also makes me want to put your toys away until I know you can be responsible for them. I need you to pick up your toys, but is there anything I can do to make it an easier task?" After coming up with a few solutions together. Tell your child that your glad you came up with a plan and the next time you will come into his room instead of yelling up to him, but that if he doesn't clean up within 10 minutes that those toys will be put away for a week. Make sure that you follow through with what you said.
Your 13 year old daughter has her Iphone glued to her fingers and is texting, snapchatting, Instagraming, Facebooking, etc....She doesn't pay attention to her younger sister at all and it takes at least 3 times for her to listen to you when you ask her if she finished studying for her test. You are angry and about to lose it and throw her phone into the trash can because this behavior has been going on for the last 6 months. But you don't. You choose to take a breath and to relax the muscles in your shoulders. You reflect on your own phone usage and whether there are too many times that you are plugged in. You walk into your daughter's room and ask, "Hey Jane is this a good time? I need 5 minutes of your undivided attention tonight." When you have the time scheduled you tell her, "so something has been causing me to get really frustrated lately and I wanted to bring it up to you before I really lose my cool. I have noticed that we are spending a lot of time connected to our phones and I think it's damaging our relationship. I really don't want to take your phone away but I think we need to come up with some times during the week that are phone free for both of us. What do you think?"
You expect her to give you a hard time but you don't lose you cool and you stay kind but firm. "I know that it stinks to feel like you're missing out on stuff with friends, but this is not up for a debate but I am hoping that we can agree upon a schedule that works for both of us. If we don't follow through what do you think should be the consequence?"
Notice there is no yelling, you enlist your child's brain to come up with a solution and the relationship remains intact.
I hope this tip is helpful and that you tune in next time to learn more about the importance of establishing routines.
Jennifer Bronsnick, MSW, LCSW is passionate about supporting moms to be resilient. As a mother of three daughters under 8 and a survivor of postpartum depression and anxiety Jennifer knows exactly how challenging motherhood can be. She also knows that there is hope for all of us and with accurate information, support and inspiration that mothers and families can thrive.
Jennifer’s years of clinical experience as a social worker and her own personal journey gives her the unique ability to guide other moms on their path to health and wellness. You can also learn more about Jennifer, the services she offers and purchase her books on maternal self-care at www.themindfulfamily.com/jennifer.