‘Tis the Season to be…?
‘Tis the season is the beginning of a phrase that most of us are familiar with. It is most often followed up with the words, “to be jolly.” The month of December is usually a joyous time of year. Families celebrate in a variety of traditional ways. Children are out of school, many parents are off for the holidays and festivities, parades and decorations are all around.
However, in the midst of this joyous season, many persons are suffering various losses. Some persons are unemployed, others are mourning the loss of a special relative or friend, and others have suffered tragedies such as those impacting the Sandy Hook community in Newtown, Conn.
In the midst of recent job losses, death and tragic situations, I encourage you to make the most of the special time you still have with your children. While celebrating this holiday season, take time to focus on your child or children. Help them to understand and make sense of the tragedy and losses of others, while insuring them you are still there to protect, love and care for them.
There are many ways you can show you care. Try to spend at least five or 10 minutes a day giving each of your children your undivided attention. Leave the cell phones and computers in another room and take time to listen to them and play with them in a “child-directed (Carolyn Webster-Stratton, The Incredible Years)” way. That’s right, for five to ten minutes let them decide what to play and join them. Follow their rules and imaginations to see where they will go. Praise their ideas for play, even if they are different from your own.
Another way to let them know you care is to praise them every chance you get. Give them specific praise for the many things they do right and ignore things that really don’t matter. For instance, if you ask your child to clean up and they comply while pouting or stumping, praise them for doing a good job cleaning up, as they go along. By praising small steps along the way, their whole attitude may change to a positive one that you can praise too. Praise can also include rewards, hugs and other affectionate acts.
The final way to let your child know you care is to engage in positive discipline practices. Along with playing with your child in child-directed ways, and praising her for the things she does right, you can begin to use positive discipline strategies that will motivate your child to learn what she can do, when she engages in behaviors you would rather she not do. Positive discipline replaces spanking, yelling and other threatening parenting practices.
Parents, make the best of what you have. If you don’t have money for new things, you can give your child the gift of positive parenting, it is a gift that will last a lifetime.
For information on joining a parenting class where you can learn positive parenting practices, call the Vance County Parenting Education Program at (252) 438-8188 or visit a parent educator at 305 Young St., Henderson. Thanks to funding by Smart Start, participation in activities for these program is free of charge.