My hubby and I went to a parenting talk held at my son's school yesterday evening and the speaker, a local psychologist, had a lot of good points and spoke well.
A few things really resonated and stuck with me, which I thought I would share here. Before I share her wisdom, let me just say that I believe that parenting is a proper, full-time job if we do it properly. It's something that is easy to brush off - we can easily stick our kids in front of the tv, or a game consol, but to parent fully is meaningful work and needs our attention.
Now, here are some of what the speaker said that I loved: we must parent and discipline from love. The discipline can't come from a place of anger or ego, but from our love. So essentially discipline becomes teaching: teaching a child how to behave, right from wrong, etc. Discipline is our method of showing our children that their actions have consequences, both good and bad.
A very quote that I wanted to share was this: "Our children want our presence, not presents." She gave the example of a parent who may work overseas for weeks at a time and who comes home and showers his or her child with gifts. The gifts often get broken or ignored in a few minutes or days. But what the child really wants and will value is time spent with the parent. The child craves the parent's attention. Full, proper attention, not a half nod whilst the parent is busy with something else. I am not a parent who works away from home and yet even I see that my child just wants my undivided attention, more than he wants any toy.
Lastly, and this is something I have heard before but I believe so strongly in: pick your battles. With children, everything can be a potential battlefield: eating, sleeping, dressing, bathing, homework, etc. Pick the ones you feel are truly important, and then stand behind your rule or reason. And, as the speaker said last night, when you pick your battle, make sure you win it convincingly so that the child is in no doubt about who is in charge. Then, let go of all the other nonsense things. For example, I don't fight or argue over what my son wants to wear. It's really not that important. But I am very strict with bedtime as I believe that a good night's sleep is essential for a child to be fresh and ready for his day, especially when they are going to school. With food I am somewhere in the middle. I allow treats but only once I am satisfied that he is also getting in veg and meat.
I blog about parenting a lot, of course, being a parent myself, but it's because I do believe it's THE MOST important job on earth.