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  • Writer's pictureDr. Joe Novak

Parenting in the New Year

As we leave behind the turmoil of 2020 and welcome 2021 with open arms, it is important for us parents to spend some time thinking about and planning how we want to shape this new year for our children. The challenges of COVID remain and we need to keep our families safe. As parents, we will have to continue to navigate information about the evolving pandemic and help our children successfully complete the school year. In these times of uncertainty, how we choose to parent our children is of utmost importance. Here are some important tips to remember as you connect with your children in 2021:

  • Create BALANCE by establishing healthy BOUNDARIES. Define your own needs, practice getting these needs met, and give yourself permission to say “no” to your children when it is necessary for you to do so.

  • ASSESS and ADJUST your PARENTING STYLE to meet your children’s needs. There is no one size-fits-all approach to parenting. The four styles of parenting – uninvolved (neglectful, absent, passive and uninterested), authoritarian (too much punishment, rigid rules, and overly intense structure), permissive (no guidelines, lenient, indulgent, non-directive, and conflict avoidant), and authoritative (supportive, assertive, sets limits, nurturing, flexible and balanced) – each have strengths. Think about your current parenting style and adapt it based on the uniqueness of your children, their temperaments, and the lasting bond you hope to achieve.

  • EXPRESS your LOVE and GROW your ATTACHMENT with your children. Showing your children that you care about them and love them for who they are has lasting effects on your connection with your children and gives them a foundation of inner security and self-worth.

  • ADAPT to the conditions and CHALLENGES in your home and the immediate world around you. Take time to think about what you have control over, and seek information for clarity. PRACTICE letting go of things you cannot control. Find quality moments to teach your children ways to be resilient and not sweat the small things in life. Help your children understand that life often changes due to life events, our own inner journey, and the experiences we face. TEACH them to be grounded in their strengths, knowledge, and the support of their family. Remind them that what is “normal” today will change as tomorrow comes.

  • ESTABLISH, grow, and maintain the need for MUTUAL RESPECT. Build a foundation of believing in your children’s inner strengths and possibilities. LEAD BY EXAMPLE. How you demonstrate respect for others and the respect you demand in return teaches your children in ways words will never achieve. Practice having a positive attitude toward your children and expect this attitude from them in return. A healthy relationship with your children is based on a foundation of mutual respect.

  • COMMUNICATE with your children. Spending time talking and listening creates a strong connection with your children and lets them know you care about them and are there for them when they need you. Healthy communication starts with taking turns listening and not interrupting or judging. Teach your children how to own their thoughts and feelings, and trust that it is okay to express themselves. How you communicate with your children will shape how they will choose to communicate with others.

  • SHARE with your children, on regular basis, what you are grateful for in your life and encourage them to EXPRESS the GRATITUDE in their lives. Talking about what you appreciate and the acts of kindness you perform allows your children to value kindness and the importance of gratitude. Modeling and talking about these things with your children will promote similar behaviors and values in them.

Good luck with your parenting in the coming year. You have the hardest, yet most rewarding job out there.

Here are some resources for additional parenting support: (American Academy of Pediatrics) (American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, see “Facts for families guide”) (See “Parenting styles”) (Individualized parent support provided by licensed mental health practitioners)

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