Parenting Power Challenge

Welcome to Tuesday’s Tips, the one-day a week when I dispense useful, actionable and empowering tips!

Every week I get questions from parents and teens. I guess that’s what I get for specializing in those populations for the first 13 years of my career. Today I’ve amassed a list of my most powerful parenting tips. Follow this guideline for 30 days and I guarantee that your relationship with your children will vastly improve. You’ll need to buy a notebook for this challenge.

  1. Prioritize Peace. For 30 days, make peace the priority. That means you’re going to lighten up on the criticism and complaints. Pick your battles. I’d prefer that you limit the battles to 3 or less a week – that’s less than 1 every other day. Remember, it takes 5 great jobs to equal a criticism / complaint.
  2. Catch them doing something right. Every day, document in your notebook a minimum of 1 thing that your child does right and be very specific. Make sure you tell your child (on the same day), what he/she did right.
  3. Chores for Change. Give your child a chore to do Monday through Friday of every week for 30 days. The chore should take less than 10 minutes to do daily (set the table, clear the table, take the garbage out, etc). Here’s the catch (there’s actually 2 catches): You need to define this chore differently, which is to say, you need to identify exactly what successful completion of this chore will require. For example, if the chore is to make their bed, what exactly does that mean? Removing all clothing off of the bed? Pulling the blanket over the pillows?  Don’t presume that your child innately knows what to do. That’s what you’ve always done. Do it my way this time. Oh, and now for the second part: You’re going to pay your child for every day the chore is done. Yes, I know, you have a visceral issue with ‘bribing’ your child. They should just do the chore b/c they live in your house for free, right? Wrong. That’s not the way society works. In fact, the idea that you give your child money, randomly, with no correlation between the child having earned it and having received it, is nuts. Take the average amount of money you give your child a week, divide it by 5 (each chore = 1/5 of the weekly money) and pay your child daily for successful completion of the chore. If you don’t know how much money you give your child a week, you’ve got bigger problems than this blog can solve.
  4. Date Night. Your child needs alone time with you. One-on-one. Explain that if your child completes all the chores in a week, you’ll go out alone for hot chocolate, ice cream, coffee – something that will take less than an hour. Keep it short and sweet. And no negative talking whatsoever.
  5. Dinner. Successful families eat dinner together. The more often, the more successful. I know you’re busy. I know they all have different schedules. Find a way. And when you do, make dinner a Peace-Only zone. Kids have reported to me for years that parents have a habit of using dinnertime as the opportunity to discuss family problems. Do this and your kids will find a way to stop eating dinner. Or they’ll shut down during dinner. Or worse, they’ll learn that this is what families do when they sit down to share a meal  - and they’ll carry the tradition to their relationships. Make a dinnertime tradition of sharing the best part of your day. Start with yourself and go around the table. Example: The best part of my day was reading Dr. Darcy’s 30-day parenting challenge. Don’t forget to document the best part of your day in your notebook each night.

Let me know how you did at the end of 30 days. Follow me on Facebook or Twitter