The 10 most important parenting lessons we learned in 2017

7. It’s okay to re-assess the rules and change them

The 10 most important parenting lessons we learned in 2017

2017—what a year! You have worked so hard, and we must say, you have totally ROCKED parenthood. Raising a child is the biggest job of all, and you’re doing it with grace, energy and love. We are in awe of you, mama.


Here are the top 10 lessons we’ve learned about parenting this year:

1. It’s more important to praise your child’s effort than the outcome

Montessori expert Christina Clemer writes that “praising your child’s hard work, rather than his results, helps instill a growth mindset where he believes he can improve through his own efforts.

“Instead of telling your child, ‘You’re a good boy,’ tell him “’I noticed you being kind to your little brother yesterday when you shared your truck.’ This shows him you see his good behavior, without placing judgments on him. Instead of telling him, ‘You’re such a good artist,’ try, ‘I noticed you kept working on your picture until you got it just how you wanted it.”

For more Montessori phrases to try with your child, check out 7 key phrases Montessori teachers use and why we should use them, too.

2. Affection matters... a lot

When parents show their children warmth and affection, children get life-long benefits including higher self esteem, improved academic performance, better parent-child communication and fewer psychological and behavior problems.

Incorporating affection into your daily routine is super easy (and fun)—simply giving your child a hug or playing with them has a tremendous impact.

To learn more about the amazing affects of being affectionate with your children, read How a parent’s affection shapes a child’s happiness for life.

3. Attachment fuels growth

Deborah Macnamara tells us that “When kids can take for granted that their attachment needs will be met, they are freed to play, discover, imagine, move freely and pay attention. It is paradoxical but when we fulfill their dependency needs, they are pushed forward towards independence.

“As a child matures they should become more capable of taking the steering wheel in their own life and we will be able to retreat into a more consulting role.”

Read about the amazing power of attachment in You can’t love too much: How secure attachment helps kids thrive.

4. We need to remember that kids are humans, too

It sounds obvious, but often we forget that children are entitled to the same emotional swings that adults are.

Rebecca Eanes writes, “So often, children are punished for being human. They are not allowed to have grumpy moods, bad days, disrespectful tones or bad attitudes. Yet, we adults have them all the time. None of us are perfect. We must stop holding our children to a higher standard of perfection than we can attain ourselves.”

We have to look at the reasons a child may be upset acting out, and acknowledge that while they may seem small or silly, they are very real for the child.

For the full article, check out Remember: your child is human too.

5. Kids need our help dealing with anger

So often we react when our children have an angry outburst, but experts say that what we need to do instead is to respond with understanding and patience. Children don’t know how to deal with their big emotions yet, and we need to help guide them, especially when the emotions feel scary.

For example, instead of saying, “Big kids don’t do this,” try “Big kids and even grown ups sometimes have big feelings. It’s OK, these feeling will pass.”

For more idea on what to say when emotions run big, read 26 helpful phrases to calm your angry child (and yourself).

6. Focusing on your child’s positive traits is so important

It’s so easy to get caught up in the less than perfect parts of our children—the terrible twos, their neediness, the impossible bedtimes.

But with a little practice, we can start to focus instead on the good aspects of these traits, and that can transform our entire parenting outlook, as well as the way we relate to our child. "He’s so curious about the world,” sets our brain up for so much more positivity than, “Why won’t he stop asking questions?”

To learn more, check out 10 habits to shape a kind, well-adjusted child.

7. It’s okay to re-assess the rules and change them

Carol Tuttle says that “as a parent you have a responsibility to set boundaries. But if a child consistently resists a certain boundary, don’t just force them to comply. Ask yourself and your child, ‘Why? Think of yourself as your child’s trusted and effective guide, not their dictator.

When they experience you this way, they’re more likely to listen, which means less struggle and frustration for both of you.”

For more ideas on releasing the frustrating aspects of parenthood, read Want to be a happy parent? Let go of these 15 things to find joy.

8. You can let your child be the boss sometimes

Children, especially spirited ones, feel empowered when given choices—and this often translates to better behavior and less power struggles. Of course, only present choices that are okay with you: “Do you want to read one or two books tonight?” or “Should we walk to the park or drive there?”

By giving them a sense of authority and autonomy, they’ll feel validated and important, and will be more likely to listen when their are no choices available to them.

If you have a spirited child, check out The strong-willed child: 11 ways to turn power struggles into cooperation.

9. We must teach our children about safety

Teaching our kids about body safety starts at a very young age. This includes teaching them the proper names of their body parts, identifying which body parts are “private,” and letting them know about the different between ‘safe’ and ‘unsafe.’

To learn more about safety, read 8 essential ‘body safety’ rules to keep your kids safe.

10. It’s okay to let them fail

Katie Westenberg writes, “Home is a training ground for life... It’s a place where our children are loved no matter what, a place where their worth is not based on performance, and the safest place for them trip and fall and learn about what it takes to get back up again...

“A cut-throat workplace or college class are not the best place for our kids to be learning these lessons for the first time. Be intentional about giving your children a safe place to mess it all up, to crash and burn, to learn consequences and forgiveness and exactly what it takes to get back up and try again.”

For more, read Raising overcomers: How to teach your kids to do hard things.

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