I know I need all the parenting tricks I can carry any day of the week, let alone during the busy holiday season.
Though I’m not proud to admit it, holiday time often finds me over-stressed and anxious–and often I’m not the mom, spouse, sister, or friend I really wish I could be.
So I moseyed on back through my archives tonight for some parenting Quick Tricks. Little treats to keep in my back pocket this season so I’m more who I want to be and less of a holiday brat.
This year, I’m laying low. Keeping priorities up front and these five parenting tricks close at hand for the busy holiday season.
Here’s the skinny. . .
- 5 Parenting Tricks for the Busy Holiday Season: In no particular order. . .
1. Be Positive. In interactions with friends and family, while you’re with your kids and while your kids are with you.
Even when you’re alone. Thinking and acting positively helps. In so many ways.
If we think and truly believe that our kids are trying their best, we can slow down, back up, and use it as a learning experience:
- State the child’s positive motive. (You wanted a turn to color. . . )
- State the skill he used to achieve his goal. (. . . so you grabbed the crayon.)
- State the limit and why it is needed. (You may not grab. Grabbing hurts.)
- Teach the child what you want him to do or say instead. Then ask him to do or say those actions. (When you want a turn to color, say, ‘I want a turn to color, too. Which color can I use?’ Say it now.)
- Praise and encourage your child for being willing to try a different approach. If possible, point out how the new approach proved successful. (You did it! Now he gave you the yellow crayon so you can color, too.)
Being positive means that our kids hear us say positive things about them–and others. And seriously, kids can hear us in the car, my friends. When we’re on our cells in the grocery store or while we’re chatting and they’re on the iPad. They can hear us.
And if they hear us going on and on in a negative way about a friend, colleague, or spouse, they’ll think it’s okay. And they’ll do the same with their friends, and it’s an awful, toxic cycle.
Yes, it’s not always easy to think about this stuff when we’re running here, there, and everywhere, but this is a start. It’s about being aware. And being willing to change.
2. Use Wait Time. Especially during this insanely busy time, we need to use wait time. With our kids, spouses, with ourselves.
Wait Time is simply giving people time to wait–and think–before they share an answer. It’s as simple as saying, at dinner (or breakfast or lunch or whenever you can sit down to eat with your family):
What a busy day it was today! We did so many things! Everyone think for a minute about something that made you smile today. Don’t yell it out–we’ll take turns sharing in a minute. Just think back through the whole day, and when the big hand is on the two (if a clock’s nearby) we’ll all share.
Usually, I seem to move so quickly through the days that I forget to give my kiddos time to think before they answer me. Like most of us, I tend to rush through one thing in order to move to the next, and Wait Time forces everyone to slow down. I know I need to do it more. But in the end, Wait Time will hopefully help our kids develop more clear thoughts, ideas, and answers, and help them to be more patient little people.
3. Notice Them. Really. Be there, be specific, and tell them what you see.
The goal with noticing is to state an observation rather than make a judgement. Instead of Good job, Cora, go for Cora, you put your toys in the bin and your clothes in the drawers. You cleaned your room so you can find things when you want them.
Wordy, yes. Takes thought, yes. But it does make sense, especially for our little guys.
- Start your sentence with the child’s name or the pronoun ‘you’. Look at you!, or I noticed. . .
- Describe what you see. You found her blanket and gave it to her. That was helpful!
- End your description with a ‘tag’. Tags describe attributes of your child or values you admire, like that took determination; you sure are organized; that was helpful; that was thoughtful.
- Look at you! You’re eating with your spoon!
- You did it! You went potty on the big potty. Good for you!
- Owen, you held the door for Cora. That was helpful.
- Cora, you offered Maddy a french fry when hers were all gone. That was so thoughtful.
- Maddy, you picked up all of the doll clothes without being asked. That was super helpful.
Need more information on the noticing deal? Check out Quick Trick, Noticing.
- Have a problem? Ask: Who’s day is it?
- Two kids want the same toy? Remind them: How can you work through this? Who’s day is today?
- Need a helper in the kitchen? Find out whose day it is.
- Have one extra Hershey’s Kiss? Give it to the guy–or gal–who’s on the calendar.
- Dog didn’t get fed? Check the calendar for the guy–or gal–who forgot to do the job.
The premise is simple: assign each child a day of the week, rotate the schedule through the month, so that each day is someone’s ‘day’. That person is the helper, newspaper fetcher, chooser of seats, first to get oj, breaker up of arguments or bickers.
It’s so easy, you can start in December, no problem. Just start it soon so that it’s old hat come crazy time. And in January, get your family into Gem Jars. It helps!
5. Give them Choices. Give them Go’s. Instead of forcing kiddos to do things, giving them choices hands them some control. And giving Go’s, feels so much better than saying, No! Stop! No more! all day long.
Giving kids choices will literally change your parenting life–but it takes time to learn and incorporate into your every day.
We’re not talking about giving little kids 15 choices to complicate their brains and make the morning crazier; we’re talking two choices. Two. And if two is too much, a simple, Looks like you’re having trouble making
- Would you like to wear this shirt or this shirt?
- I’ll help you get dressed. What do you want to put on first–your pants or t-shirt?
- You decide–pink hat or blue hat today?
- What would you like to finish first–your chicken or your noodles?
And giving Go’s is just a paradigm shift: moving from No!!! to Go! or sure, but you’ll do it on my terms kinda thing.
- from: Noooooooo! Get your hands off of Grandpa’s Christmas train!!!!! to One finger. You may gently touch Grandpa’s train with one finger.
- from: No more running in the house! to Head outside and run around the house five times.
- from: No more cookies. Don’t ask again. to You may have a cookie after you eat your dinner. Until then, have some water but use a silly straw!
Not easy, I get it. But it’s about baby steps with this tricky parenting gig. And I promise these little tricks help.
And a few extra parenting tricks for the busy holiday time (for good measure and because I’m on a roll. . . )
- Give them Rest Time. Kids need to rest. Every. Single. Day. Especially during holiday time, 30 minutes–even an hour–in their rooms or in a quiet spot by themselves will pay off big time. (And Rest Time for Mom is muy importante as well!).
It’s no secret that ‘disciplining kids is one of the most confusing, difficult and important jobs we have as parents,’ (from Top Discipline Mistakes of Parents, by Great Schools).
Instead of falling into the ole trap–and making one of the top 3 mistakes that most parents make–(which I know I often do!), with a little more conscious discipline, with a little more thought, time, and effort in the words we use with and around our children, hopefully this busy holiday season will move a little more smoothly.
Lots this year has forced me to sit back and be more appreciative of all that I have–that I am sure of–so though I will certainly do my best to share all of our crafty craft projects, holiday treats, and sneaky learning during this festive time, I am going to go a wee bit easier on myself than I have in the past. (Cue my husband’s nodding and clapping, and my girlfriends’ head shaking and eye rolling. . . )
I’m thinking positively–I promise to try.
Want a few more holiday-inspired gift ideas or activities? Check out:
- True Holiday Spirit Lunchbox Notes
- Holiday Fun Fact and JOKES Lunchbox Notes (with Hannukah!)
- Holiday Time Fun Fact Lunchbox Notes
- Little Holiday Notes and Jokes
- Holiday Notes for Families
- The Polar Express tradition
- Scratch-off Cards
- K-Cup Advent Tree
- New Year’s Family Interview
- Happy Holidays Backyard Birds