1. Before you raise your voice, breath!
Do you ever have that awful feeling of guilt after yelling at your kids because you know that you should’ve had more patience? While you’re taking that breath, remember how that feels, remember that it will only be like this for a little while. Sometimes all you need is that 1-second breath to slow down and reconsider your approach.
2. Greet your children each morning
When your children wake up, make sure the first thing you say to them is something nice, like “good morning, how’d you sleep?” or “I love you, are you ready for breakfast?” Help them to start their day out with a smile on their face.
3. End their day on a good note
Every night before your kids go to bed, look at them in the eyes and tell them you love them. Thank them for being good that day, if they weren’t good, tell them you want them to get a good night sleep so they can be good the next day and have lots of fun!
4. Do a one on one activity with each of your children
You can read a book, cook something, play a game, or even just watch a movie and snuggle. It’s important for you to work on the bond between you and each individual child, and I think every kid just needs some “mommy and me” time every once in a while.
5. Be super grateful for every good thing they do
Every time you ask them to do something and they listen, get excited and say “thank you for listening!” If they help you with something tell them how great of a helper they are. Make it known that you are proud of them and that they should be proud of themselves. Start a gratitude journal, and be sure to include something about your day that made you feel grateful for your children.
6. Reduce the use of technology, for you and the kids
I know it can be tempting, but if you need to get on your phone give yourself a certain time limit, 5 or 10 minutes, and then put it down and do something with the kids. Technology is taking over young minds, we have to lead by example if we want them to spend less time playing video games and watching tv. Challenge yourself to avoid it whenever possible.
7. Ask them for their help with something, and then praise them for helping
My daughter is almost two, she loves to push the button and lock the car doors. She likes to pick up toys, “sweep” the floor and push the button to shut the garage. Even if it’s something simple. Thank them with enthusiasm.
8. Listen, really listen
If they are trying to tell you something, stop what you’re doing and look them in the eyes, and listen. Be interested in their stories, and answer every question. Yes, every single question. The silly ones, the hard ones, even the ones you don’t have a real answer to. It’s great that they want to learn, don’t ask them to stop asking questions. If you really don’t have an answer, just say… “That’s a great question, but I’m not sure. Maybe we can find an answer together”.
9. Discipline them when necessary, but do it correctly
If they are hitting their sister, take them to their usual time out spot and sit them down. Try to talk to them and tell them why they are in time out, and ask them to let you know when they are ready to be good. If they are too upset to reason with, tell them to come to you when they’re ready to talk. Tell them what you want them to do, ask them to repeat it back to you, and thank them for calming down, and agree to behave.
10. Try substituting the word “No” with something a little nicer
If they are misbehaving, try saying “try again, make a better choice” and if they want something they can’t have, try saying “not today, maybe some other time”. Try distracting them with something else, if need be.
11. Find something to be appreciative about
Maybe your children are playing well, or they took a long nap, or they did something that made you smile. And if you’re just having an awful day, be appreciative of the fact that you are a mother. Some people want to be a mother more than anything, and they are unable to. Be grateful for the good times, even if they are few in number.
12. Teach your children a new skill
Even if it’s as simple as holding the door, or learning a new word. Praise them for learning it, and continue to practice it with them for the rest of the day. I teach my daughter to sign language. It helps us communicate easier, and I don’t get as frustrated with her because I know what she wants. Continue to work on their developing skills every day, so they can retain what they learn.
13. Be consistent
Try to stick to a schedule as best you can. I know this is sometimes impossible, but on the days you can pull it off, do it. It’s so important for kids to have consistency, even if it’s as simple as a book before bed every night, or a kiss first thing in the morning.
14. Relate to your children
If your children aren’t feeling well, be extra patient. It’s so frustrating when you’re doing everything you can and you just can’t make them happy. Try to remember how irritating it is to be sick, now picture your child feeling that way, but they don’t know why they feel that way, or what they can do about it. Give them some slack, they’re confused and frustrated too. Just love them through it.
15. Spend more time with them practicing their manners
It’s easy to give into them when they’re whining and yelling because they want fruit snacks. Take the time to ask them to “try asking again using your manners”. If you help them to fully understand the use of manners, it will help prevent further frustration every day thereafter. You will be much calmer if your children ask for something saying please, while you’re not having a conversation with someone. Manners are so important, take extra time to really teach them when to use their manners.
16. Prioritize your children’s sleep
Kids who are off their sleep schedules are just plain hard. They’re tired and cranky, but they still want to play. It will be easier on everyone if you are making sure they are getting enough sleep at night, and enough of a nap during the day. You don’t realize how much of a difference an extra hour of sleep is for kids until they don’t have it, and they are running you ragged.
17. Do something for yourself every day
Take a break, whether it’s an hour or 5 minutes. Do anything you can, as long as it’s kid free. It could be as simple as going for a drive, or as nice as getting a pedicure. Heck, even a shower without your kids yelling for you is enough to regain your patience and give yourself a break. I noticed that since I started doing this, I am such a happier and more patient mother.
18. Start a new tradition
This can be a simple activity you do together daily, such as reading a book every night before bed or having your kids help you set the table for dinner. Anything they can get excited for, and they can anticipate coming each day.
19. Encourage your children to do something creative
They can color, make a papercraft, draw on the sidewalk, help bake cookies, anything to get their creative streak going. If they make something, encourage them to show it to their dad, put it on the fridge, or somewhere for people to see. Help them learn to challenge themselves.
20. Let them try anything
Well, almost anything. If they want to try to open the door, let them. If they can do it, congratulate them. When they can’t do something, tell them they will be able to soon, as soon as they get stronger. Encourage them to keep trying new things, they will be so excited when they find out they can do so much.
21. Do something active every day
Go for a walk, play at the park, practice a sport. If you aren’t feeling super hot, play a game with them that doesn’t require a ton of work. They need time to run, jump and play, or they tend to go a little stir crazy.
22. Teach them to be full of integrity
When you notice them doing something good without being asked to do so, reward them. A popular way of doing this is by putting some sort of object like a pebble, or a pom-pom, or even a coin into a jar, when it gets full reward them with a prize, a treat, a new book, anything they enjoy.
23. Don’t give in when it gets hard
I know that when a toddler is screaming at you for 15 minutes because they want something they can’t have, it’s easy to give in and give them whatever it takes to stop the crying. Don’t do it! If you really want to give in, make them do the right thing. Tell them to ask nicely, or tell them they need to do something to earn what they want.
24. Show respect for their father
If you are together, show affection to one another in front of them, thank him and tell him you appreciate him. You and their father are the first examples of what a healthy relationship is supposed to be like. If you are not together, DO NOT talk badly about him in front of the kids. Focus on the good.
25. Talk to them like an adult
When they are in trouble, explain thoroughly what they did wrong, and why they shouldn’t do it. Use your manners with them like you would with another adult. Ask them, don’t tell them. Respect them.
26. Apologize, to them and in front of them
If you yell at them or accidentally step on their foot–make sure you say sorry, and say it like you mean it. If you run into someone in the store, let them watch you say sorry. And if they hit their sibling, or another child, apologize on their behalf. Tell the child that you are so sorry that your son hit them, and ask him to apologize as well.
27. Say thank you to them and in front of them
Thank them every time they do something good, or something you asked them to do. Also, thank everyone else in front of them so they can see when it’s appropriate to say thank you.
28. Give them what they NEED, not what they WANT
Your children need food, water, and shelter. They don’t need the newest video game. That doesn’t mean they should never get anything they want, it means that if they really want it… make them earn it. Teach them the concept of working for what they want.
29. Teach them to give without expecting anything in return
Help them participate in community service of some sort. Show them how to perform random acts of kindness. Make sure they understand that you can’t always expect reciprocation, and that’s okay because it feels good to help people whether you are being noticed for it or not. With a world full of takers, we need to teach our kids the power of giving.
30. Be who you want them to become
If you want your children to become caring, helpful, responsible, and appreciative adults, you have to set the example. Every time you question if you are doing the right thing, or if you were in the wrong… ask yourself which decision you would want your children to make, and go with that. Be their hero–and let them learn from you.