Spring Cleaning For Parents
by Thomas Haller
Rake the yard. Clean out the garage. Go through closets. Donate unused items to charitable organizations. Wash windows. You know the drill. It’s called SPRING CLEANING.
But what if Spring Cleaning took on a new twist this year, one that would benefit your children greatly? What if you cleaned the cobwebs out of your mind? What if you wiped away all the limiting beliefs that keep you from becoming the parent you always wanted to be? What if you cleaned up a broken relationship, mended a mental fence, or re-minded yourself about the importance of your role in your child’s life? This spring might just be the ideal time for cleaning up your responsibility as a parent. Consider the ideas below:
Apologize and begin again. Spring is the time of new beginnings. Do you need to begin again with one of your children? Do you need to make amends? If so, tell your children what you learned and what you intend to do differently from now on. Then follow through.
Clean up your schedule. Every child in the world spells love, TIME. Adjust your priorities. Pick through your list of social and business activities. Get rid of old obligations and habits that prevent you from investing time with your children.
Eliminate judgment. Judgment keeps you from seeing your children clearly. If you judge a child as lazy, you are less likely to see ambitious behavior. If you judge her as uncaring, you will have difficulty noticing her benevolent acts. Clean the lens in your eyes by reducing the number of judgments.
Appreciate the moment. The best present to give your children is to be fully present when you are with them. Throw out thoughts about the future and the past when you interact with your children. There is only one moment to see, feel, express, learn, grow, or heal with your children. This is it. Pitch the rest.
Cut down on talking. Reduce your need to explain, lecture, moralize, rationalize, and convince. The first step towards love is to listen. Give your children the gift of your presence by hearing rather that telling, by acknowledging instead of convincing, by understanding rather than jumping to conclusions.
A thorough spring cleaning of your parenting style could make your home sparkle. It could be like a fresh coat of paint that brightens the exterior and the interior of you and your children. It might work like the cleansing combination of adding energy and love to a bucket of soap and water. Brighter, cleaner, healthier family relationships could well be the result of your spring cleaning this year. Happy cleaning.
Parenting Q & A
My ten year old son is an extremely poor sport and becomes angry and aggressive. The spring soccer season is starting and I'm thinking about not letting him play this year. How do I control this behavior or should I keep him out of sports?
Just keeping your son out of sports does not address the issue. I suggest that you sit down with him and talk directly about his angry and aggressive behavior. Don't ridicule or chastise him. You can say, "Last year during soccer I noticed that you got angry a lot and were very disappointed when things did not go your way. I was wondering if you really want to play soccer this year." I'm guessing that he is probably going to say that he does want to play and that is where you add, "This year there is going to be an expectation of what kind of sportsmanship you're going to demonstrate." Then together you spend some time creating a play plan. In this plan he will have the choice to continue to play if he keeps his anger in check and if he does not then he will be choosing to sit on the sideline for the remainder of the game or the following game.
I also suggest that you talk to the coach about his aggressive behavior and inform the coach about the plan and remove the coach from the responsibility of being the one to sit him on the sidelines. This is a decision that is being made between the child and the parents. Let the coach concentrate on teaching the fundamentals of the game.
There are three necessary components when kids are involved in sports; first, they are involved to learn the fundamentals of the sport, second, they are there to learn sportsmanship and how to win or lose gracefully, and third, they should be learning more about cooperation than competition. The more they learn about cooperation as children the more successful they will be as adults. I have an entire chapter in my latest book, Dissolving Toxic Masculinity, about the importance of teaching cooperation not competition.
If you have a parenting question you would like Thomas to address please send him an email at email@example.com.
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