I make parenting mistakes on a daily (if not hourly) basis, but today I'm sharing a few of the minor victories I've scored in the "us vs. them" department.
Give them things they love…so you can take them away. The most valuable thing we can have as parents is ammunition. I'm more excited than they are when they get a new Wii, cell phone, iPod, because when they smart off to me or don't clean their room (for the umpteenth time), I can threaten them with no Wii, cell phone, iPod, and they'll straighten up, toot-sweet.
Make their bad behavior work for you. Putting kids in a time out chair can be effective, but how is it benefiting you? In our house, there are always things on the floor, on the counter, in the playroom, in the yard, that need to be put away. For nearly every minor infraction, our rule is "pick up 10 things." That means find ten things and put them where they belong. If there are Legos on the floor, it's easy. If it means picking ten weeds, it's a little harder. This punishment has a side benefit--you don't get as infuriated at the same old frustrating behaviors when it means a shiny clean living room for you.
Envision the long-term. It may not be a huge deal that they call you a name now, but what happens down the road may not be so innocuous. When Sean called me a dumb stupidhead at age 4, my brain fast-forwarded 13 years, and I pictured him calling me something much worse, then grabbing the car keys and heading out the door. So instead of laughing at his insult (I mean really, can't he do any better than "dumb stupidhead?" That's something a 3-year-old would say), I made him pick up 10 things.
Take all advice with a grain of salt, aka trust your gut. My first son did not crawl. He was on target in every other way except this, but instead of being happy that he was developing normally, I listened to all the people who advised me that not crawling is directly tied to reading ability, and Sean would certainly flunk out of Happy Times Preschool. Nearly 15 years later, I am happy to say that he reads normally--which means at 10 p.m. the night before his essay is due.
And in the "saving the best for last" department: Don't ever say, "My child would never..." I promise it will come back to haunt you on your very next baby.
What are your best parenting tips?