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How to Choose the Best Parenting Strategy for You. Tips for thinking through options to choose the parenting strategy that best suits you and your family.
While I haven’t had kids for that long of my life – my oldest is 5.5 years old – I have done a lot of research as a mom. My husband and I have also had a lot of conversation analyzing parenting, how things are going, and what we can do better. At this point in our parenting journey, here are our parenting systems. Some of these things won’t apply to everyone, but this is what we try to do.
First, make sure you are on the same page with your partner.
No need to try to implement any new parenting or discipline stuff by yourself. That being said, if you and your partner are not on the same page, kids (even young ones) will figure it out. They know that certain behaviors may be acceptable with one person and not another, and they will act accordingly.
Second, be consistent.
There are lots of strategies out there for everything from sleep training to potty training to meal times to bed times to discipline. As with tip #1, no need to try to implement any new stuff if you don’t plan on being consistent. Being consistent is tough, especially when you are in a hurry or when more than one child is in the picture. (I reflect now on how much easier it was to be consistent with “Room Time” when I only had one child). But when being consistent seems tough, remember that “Kids are inconvenient.” If you can suck it up and accept that kids are going to slow you down and cause things not to go smoothly when you want them to go smoothly, it will be easier to be consistent. So, with your partner, pick which strategy you are going to use with your kids, get on the same page, and prepare to be consistent with it for at least a couple of months. It might be that you try a bed time/meal time/etc. strategy for a bit and it clearly isn’t working for you or for your kids. That means it is time to open up the books or websites and research some more and try a new strategy. (Side note: My husband is much better at being consistent than I am. Therefore, our tendency with our children is that I research whatever it may be, decide what we’re going to do, and then he ensures that we actually follow through with it daily. Mom guilt is real in following through, especially with discipline.)
Next, once you are ready to get on the same page with your partner and be consistent, it is time to decide what method you are going to use
for whatever parenting issue you are having. I have a bunch of books that I seem to refer back to with each child. I also have one website that I refer to for pretty much everything. Also, there are a couple of books that my husband and I try to re-read together every year or so. We also listen to podcasts from Kevin Leman, one of our favorite parenting authors. Listening to him reminds us of our goals and how to get to them. All of my favorite resources are listed at the end of the article.
When you decide on your method, write it down and/or type it up.
I like to keep a document for the big things (potty training, sleep training, crib to bed transition, paci weaning, etc.) where I have notes on what I want to do, links to websites, and notes on what worked/didn’t work. Refer back to this document frequently while in the trenches in order to remind yourself what you are striving for.
Finally, all of the above aside, the most important parenting strategy advice is LOVE and TIME.
LOVE and TIME are what all kids need and want. In order to give our kids these things, we do several things. 1) We do not over schedule ourselves. Quiet (or not so quiet) nights at home are more important that enrolling our kids in soccer, art, dance, music, etc. lessons. 2) We hug and cuddle our kids as much as they’ll let us, and we tell them we love them ALL the Time. 3) We make it a point to do one-on-one activities with each of our older kids. This one-on-one time is HUGE when you have more than one kiddo and helps us to bond with each of our kids. 4) We read books every night – sometimes all together, sometimes one-on-one with each kid individually. 5) We create family traditions – whether it is pizza movie night, Christmas tree waffles, turkey pancakes on Thanksgiving, etc.
My Favorite Parenting Books:
On Becoming Babywise Gary Ezzo & Robert Bucknam
Love and Logic by Foster Cline and Jim Fay
Have a New Kid by Friday by Kevin Leman
How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
Siblings Without Rivalry by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish
My Favorite Website:
My Favorite Podcast:
Diana from North Carolina. You can also include that I have three kids, ages 6, 4, and 17 months.