Tuesday, November 22, 2011

My favorite parenting tips

My lil sis is about to have her first baby (as in, due today).  And, being the older sister I find it my duty to be the Official Dispenser of Unsolicited Advice about being a parent.  Here are some of my favorite tips that people have given me, in no particular order.

1--Sometimes when your child wakes up from a nap they will be happy, sometimes unsure, and sometimes freaking mad at the world.  There's nothing you can do, just ride it out and they'll get over it soon.

2--Get on their level when you're having an important or disciplinary conversation.

3--When they ask for you, say "Yes?" because it sounds so much nicer than saying "What?"

4--Never buy them something in the store in the moment they're asking for it.  Come back later and buy it.  Or, when they're small enough, you can still buy it without them seeing it.  Save yourself some future entitlement issues.

5--You cannot spoil an infant by holding him/her too much.  Too soon they'll be pushing you away saying "'Nuff love, Mommy, 'nuff love!"

6--Write down all the cute things they say, because contrary to what you think, you won't be able to remember them all and write them down later.

7--Empower them.  Give them stools and put things on their level so they can help themselves (like putting kid dishes on a shelf their level so they can 'set the table' for snack time, ).

8--Every chance you get, tell them how special they are and how much you love them.

9--Natural consequences:  "If I have to spend all of my time and energy cleaning up this mess by myself, I will not have any energy left to {do that fun thing that you wanted to do}" makes more sense than "Clean this up or we are not {going to do that fun thing}!!"

10--People are more important than things/everything is disposable.  It doesn't matter how long it's been in the family, how expensive or new it is, or how much you loved it as a child--it can be ruined and thrown away.  Just keep telling yourself that people are more important than things.

11--Use encouragement, not praise.  I know, sounded weird to me at first too.  Examples:

"Wow!  You figured that out all by yourself!!" vs. "You are so smart!!"
"I enjoy your sense of humor so much!  You make me laugh!" vs. "You are so funny!!"

They might seem the same, but using the first phrases (the encouragement phrases) leads a child to draw conclusions about themselves ('I am smart/funny'), which is infinitely more powerful for them as a person, than for their self esteem to be based on judgements (praise phrases) from others.  Praise can acutally be very damaging to their self esteem, because they can come to rely on on praise and will struggle when they don't have it from others.

12--Warning:  You will love your baby so much that you can hardly stand it.  You will be so out of control, head over heels, crazy in love with this little person that you honestly think that your heart just may burst out of your chest.  You will know that you've never witnessed anything as amazing and miraculous as this little person, and you'll be so utterly enchanted with your child that, could he/she ask for a whole herd of ponies, you'd do it in a heart beat.  Your breath really will catch in your throat, and you will be so excited about your child that you will experience such a high of emotion that would be exhausting if it were about anything else, but is instead exhilarating.  It is a phenomenal, life-changing kind of love.

Join in the advice giving!  What's your favorite parenting tip?

7 love notes:

Aubrey said...

I like your list Melynie. You've been a great example to me of the kind of mother I want to be. I feel a little "hopelessly flawed" (Little Women), to offer advice on this subject, but here's a few things I thought of.

1. The early years after starting your family are often hard. It gets so much easier, even as you keep having new babies. Hang in there and have hope as you try to make a happy family.

2. It's really true that if Mom isn't happy, nobody is happy. If your kids seem especially grumpy, check your own mood to see if you're the cause of the gloom.

3. Try not to be too hard on yourself and take care of yourself.

4. Family Home Evening and daily family scripture study are crucial to making a happy home, even if your kids are very young.

Melynie said...

Those are fantastic suggestions, Aubs. I think you're a wonderful mother. So patient and nurturing. Thanks for sharing your wisdom! Love you!

Jared said...

Great advice Melynie! We appreciate it & will definitely need much more in the days ahead! Thanks - Jared

Cory Elvidge said...

haha, Ok, I know I am so late on this one but I haven't had a chance to get on the computer in literally months so I am getting caught up on all your posts :). Love your list! Whole-heartedly agree. I loved your gracious bits of advice that you were wonderful enough to share with me, when I joined the mommy club a few years ago :).

One more thing a close friend shared with me, that I have relied on several times throughout the last 3 years is to remember that you, as their mother, are in a divine role that no one else is. And as such, you are in a position to receive sacred promptings, personal revelation, and constant guidance for your little ones that NO ONE else is in a position to receive. This was so valuable to me because as a new parent, I had no idea what I was doing lol. I read every book I could get my hands on and was offered thousands of "parenting tips" from both well-meaning and critical sources. Sometimes I felt overwhelmed with conflicting information and it helped time and time again to remember that if I will rely on the Lord, I will know what is best for my own children, no matter what anyone else thinks about it.

All the books you read and information that you acquire is so great for "filling up the library" in your head, that you will later be able to pull from when the time presents itself. But when it comes down to it, tune out all the other "voices" out there, written and spoken, and listen closely to the Spirit because that is when you will feel perfect guidance for the sacred role you have just taken on. :)

That and never ever ever dress your boys in white lol.

hilary said...

Thank you so much for the tips and the awesome post!!!!! I just now got to read them. We will definintely need to review these often. Love you!!

Jessica said...

I just love this! Thanks for the remindes and I really like the "answer with Yes instead of What." I'm going to give that a try.

Jessica said...
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