The Parent ‘Hood: How to become a better parent in 2014

You resolve to put your best parenting foot forward in 2014. Where do you start?
Jan 1, 2014

You resolve to put your best parenting foot forward in 2014. Where do you start?

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Parent resolutions:

Mine is: Talk less. Listen more. Fully take advantage of the five-second delay button in my brain. — Bill Daley

As we get older, and the circle of friends and family slowly shrinks, let your kids know you love them, appreciate them. Nothing showy, nothing big. Maybe just a hug, with nothing said. If you’re lucky, years from now they’ll remember. — Bill Hageman

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Expert resolutions:

I would like to see parents resolve to take action when disciplining their child. Too many parents inadvertently empower their youngster by allowing their child to drag her feet and delay complying. Mom might say, “It’s bath time, so please turn off the TV and let’s go into the bathroom.” Her little one ignores, delays, resists or defies. Mom repeats commands, and by the 12th time loses her temper. Who wouldn’t? Instead, parents should actively, physically direct their kids by moving the child toward her responsibility. Simply walk her into the bathroom and help her into the tub. She will be angry, but better to have an angry child who can be helped to calm down than to have a screaming, out-of-control parent. Keep the power where it belongs: in the hands of the parent! — Fran Walfish, family therapist and author of “The Self-Aware Parent: Resolving Conflict and Building a Better Bond With Your Child” (Palgrave Macmillan)

My parenting resolution is to be a better digital citizen role model, to put my smartphone down when in the house with my family and when we are out doing fun things together. (Provided I am not on call!) — Alanna Levine, pediatrician and author of “Raising a Self-Reliant Child: A Back-to-Basics Parenting Plan From Birth to Age 6” (Ten Speed Press)

Learn when not to talk to your kid. Talking to your child is perhaps the most important component in helping him/her to develop language skills. It is also key to establishing viable expectations and options, and thus creating a positive and proactive disciplinary practice. But it is just as important to know when not to talk. Not everything needs to be a dialogue, a generally positive tool that can devolve quickly into endless (and tedious) debate. And there is never any benefit from speaking with a tantrumming child who is, by definition, emotionally maxed-out and incapable of taking in new information. It takes only one person to offer a choice or a command; it takes two to have an argument. Learn to recognize the difference. — Brett Berk, early childhood expert and author of “The Gay Uncle’s Guide to Parenting: Candid Counsel From the Depths of the Daycare Trenches” (Harmony)

For the coming year, I encourage parents to resolve to do more listening. As the saying goes, there is a reason that we have been given one mouth and two ears. Listening should be twice the speaking: lecturing, directing, bossing, overtalking, explaining. Not only do children actually have lots to say, but there is a powerful message to them in our listening: What you say is important to me. Your thoughts, ideas and opinion matter. — Betsy Brown Braun, Parenting Pathways founder and author of “You’re Not the Boss of Me: Brat-proofing Your Four- to Twelve-Year-Old Child” (HarperCollins)

My oldest son graduates from high school in June, so I’m resolving to spend less time barking out orders and more time enjoying my three ravenous, hysterical, messy, racket-making boys. — Debra Moffitt, kids editor at kidshealth.org

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Have a solution? Half your kid’s gifts are untouched. Should you suggest donating a few? Find “The Parent ‘Hood” page on Facebook, to post your parenting questions and solutions.

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