What I’m learning while parenting

One of the things that happens while mothering many children– along with realizing just how different God made each human to be!!– is that you gradually learn better ways to do things.  I’m still a work in progress, but here are some of the most important things I’ve learned so far.

1.   Toddler training doesn’t have to mean endless face-offs. I learned this one from my sweet mother-in-law.  In the early years of parenting, John and I felt like we had to say a big loud no every time a one or two year old crossed a line or touched something they shouldn’t.  Certainly we need to train kids to know the boundaries, and different parents approach limit-setting in different ways.  But I remember being amazed at how easily my mother in law could direct even a stubborn little one away from a ‘no-no’ by tickling, playing chase, or offering them something even more fun. The end result is still the same:  they didn’t get to do the ‘no-no.’ But I see now that gentler direction is better for heart-connection.  And heart connection ultimately is what makes kids want to please you.

2. Addressing with what’s going on in the heart is much, much more important than simply stopping  misbehavior by giving a consequence. In the early hurry-scurry years of parenting many little ones, I think I was often too bossy, too concerned with outward appearances, and didn’t spend enough time checking in with my kids’ hearts, both during times of difficulty, and in everyday moments.  Every kid is different, and without communication, it’s easy to misunderstand what’s going on in their hearts.  Talking through feelings (even when it is inconvenient) will build communication skills that benefit folks on into adulthood.

3. Nurture kids’ passions whenever you can.  Sometimes passions are not readily evident, but when you see something your kids really love, encourage them as much as possible.  Sometimes that means buying a drum set when you’re not sure you can handle the noise.  Other times it means driving kids to activities when it feels easier to stay home.

4. Do more of what makes you feel like a good mom. Some days may feel very long, but parenthood overall goes by so very fast.  At the end of the day, I’m going to feel best about time I’ve spent with my kids: playing games, taking them for walks, reading stories, and working and playing together outdoors.  Treasure those tiny moments of joy together, because soon they really will be all grown up!

What wisdom have you learned over the years?  I’d love it if you’d add your thoughts below.

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{ 3 Comments }

  1. I’ve learned how important physical touch & body language is in redirecting behavior, especially with the toddler set. Talk less, touch more.
    I watched recently as one of the best mamas I know responded to her child playing “shy” behind her skirt. She immediately crouched down to the child’s height, and placed her hand securely in the middle of the child’s back. She shook the adult’s hand from that height saying “Hello, it’s nice to meet you.” Her two year old immediately mimicked mama, and learned the proper way to respond to an adult without a word.

    • Great point, and what a nice example. I remember often needing to redirect a toddler while nursing a baby. Often I’d try to use words to get a child headed back in the right direction, but it was SO much more effective to simply get up (baby still in arms) and gently physically help the child get resettled doing the right thing. I just had to get past that initial reluctance to get up! 🙂

      Thanks for sharing!

  2. Love this. It is true, while we are younger and so intense, we desire to have instant obedience, nearly perfect responses. Yet, the gentler ways are just as effetive.