Want to be a kick ass parent?
I don’t know about you – but I didn’t have a clue about unconditional love until I had my daughter. And it was this that made me want to be the best parent I could possibly be.
People told me this unconditional love hits you like lightening the moment you first hold that tiny bundle in your arms, but it didn’t happen like this for me.
I loved my Little Lady, of course, from the moment she was born, conceived in fact.
But that intense, almost crushing, unconditional love – that crept up on me.
And that love simply makes me (sometimes completely against my will!) want to be a kick ass parent (even when I’m ‘ahem’ being the one that needs my own butt kicked).
Over the initial weeks and months, drop by drop, that love just built and built.
She’s 6 now and each day I still feel like I love her just that little bit more.
Why does this happen? I’m convinced it’s because children open our hearts.
Being a parent is one of the hardest and scariest things we’ll ever do. It forces us to be brave in ways we never imagined, because we are driven by this unconditional love.
It also, of course, makes us mess up in ways we never imagined too.
But that’s ok, because our children don’t expect (or need) us to be perfect.
- They need us to be authentic.
- They need us to love them.
- They need us to play with them.
- They need us to try our best.
- And they need us to kick ass.
And that doesn’t mean comparing ourselves to others and then scolding ourselves because we think we’ve fallen short.
It means pushing ourselves and our own boundaries, where we are. No one else.
My Little Lady literally demands the best of me. Every day. She’s forced me, kicking and screaming at times, to become a better person. To kick ass.
As I see it, if we strive to be the best we can be, we open up the opportunity for them to do the same.
I love this quote by Osho:
“The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new.”
A child and a mother (and father) are born at exactly the same moment – the moment at which we begin an incredible, scary, joyful, heart wrenching and life-affirming journey together.
Here are 43 ways to be a kick ass parent – some of which may go against what your child (or you!) thinks they want – but ultimately, (I believe anyway!), your child will thank you for.
You’re a great parent. I believe in you. And I just know you can kick ass.
43 Ways To Be a Kick Ass Parent Your Child Will Thank You For
- Pay your child a compliment
Remember how it feels when someone we truly love says something nice to us? It feels good. Kids get ordered about, corrected and fixed every day. Remember to make them feel good about themselves too.
- Let go of a behaviour that does not serve you or your child well
Asking my Little Lady 89 times a day if she needed a wee led to her avoiding the loo completely. If a behaviour isn’t working, find the grace to let it go.
- Take a selfie of you and your child and be happy with who you see
- Lay a necessary boundary with your child (even if they don’t like it)
- Look for ways to encourage and motivate your child for who they are, not who you want them to be. Why? Kids that feel accepted and valued for who they are tend to have healthy self esteem. Here are 6 methods that might help.
- Inspire your child and encourage them to dream fearlessly
Here are 6 tips that might help.
- Look in the mirror with your child and say ‘I love you’ to your own reflection
Think it sounds corny? Try it. It’s much harder than you think
- Laugh with abandon with your child
- Get outside your comfort zone and do something really daft with your child – maybe a silly pillow fight or some imaginative play, such as witches and wizards, where you play a really goofy, hopeless wizard to their talented witch (this is often a great way to build kids’ self esteem!) I’m indebted to this book for helping me out with silly play.
- Try and avoid yelling as your ‘go to’ parenting tool when your child acts up – instead, connect with them and take time to get to the root of the behaviour. Yes, it takes more time than SHOUTING, but long term it pays huge dividends. Here are some great ideas for games that foster connection and emotional intelligence when kids or your partner (just kidding on the partner bit 😉 ) play up.
- Tell your child you love them – unconditionally and forever
- Teach your child how to use technology wisely
Do this when they are young and it’s less likely to become a problem, or place of retreat, when they ‘re older. A recent NY Post article likened excessive screen time to ‘digital heroin’, so the dangers are real, but like it or not, technology is part of life, so the trick is to teach balance.
- Pick a problem or something that is not working between you and your child and do something about it
- Get out into nature with your child and really explore together
Here are some 9 woodland activity ideas to get you started.
- Really look for and see the innocence and good in your child
We often have a tendency to see the bad before the good, but flipping this habit can often change your perspective on things.
- Structure free play time for your child
Modern society has a tendency to structure kids time with endless clubs and activities, but being ‘bored’ and having free time to play leaves time for kids to explore, encouraging imaginative thought and problem solving skills (sciencey bit here). You might also want to try one of of these 15 educational (and fun!) toys.
- See your child as a miracle to guide, not control
- Let your child see you going your own way – not someone else’s. Throw on some music and dance with your child like no-one is watching...Click To Tweet
- Show your child you can stand up for yourself
- Consider dropping the rewards
Rewards are the rage these days, but good values need to come from the inside out and whilst rewards often work short term, there could be a long term cost to your child. I’m a big fan of Alfie Kohn who explains the risks of rewards here.
- Find the grace to apologise to your child and they’ll likely learn to do the same
- Read to your child (every day if you can) until they can read alone
Yep, even when you don’t want to:) Reading is a wonderful way to connect parent and child, plus it’s also linked to an improved mastery of language and higher aptitude to learning in general.
- Switch off your phone and really play with your child, on their terms
- If you catch yourself criticising or shaming your child, stop
Shaming makes a child ‘wrong’ for feeling or wanting something and can lead, long term, to them retreating and bottling their emotions (plus it feels crap). Find a different way to communicate with them. There are some great tips here
- Set healthy limits and boundaries without resorting to threats
- If your child is struggling with something, resist the urge to jump in and fix
Instead, simply listen and help provide them with tools to resolve it themselves. You’ll find 6 steps to help you here.
- Throw on some music and dance with your child like no-one is watching
- Acknowledge your child for something they have tried hard at or done well
- Stop being busy for half an hour
Then take your child to he park or beach – or anywhere outside where they can let off steam.
- Don’t compare your child to someone else’s
Instead, accept, love and nurture them for who and where they are in life.
- Get creative and make something with your child
If you need some inspiration, head over to Tinkerlab or try one of these 29 boredom busters.
- Tell your child about the day they were born and the emotions (positive!) you felt
- Let your child see you cry
If your child knows you are ease with sadness and can deal with it in a healthy way, this opens the doors for them to do the same.
- Talk to kids about money and budgeting
This doesn’t mean giving them a scarcity complex with phrases like ‘money doesn’t grow on trees’ or worrying them if times are financially tough – but it’s important children start to understand, early on, how much things cost and the importance of living within your means. You could try these money talking tips for starters.
- Be honest with your child
If your little one says ‘But Mummy, how does the sperm get to the egg’, try not to sweep their question under the carpet in embarrassment – find an age appropriate answer. Even if you have to come back to it later, don’t dampen your child’s natural curiosity and desire to understand the world, by failing to take their questions seriously.
- Nourish your soul
Whether this is a spiritual practice, such as meditation or prayer, a creative pursuit such as playing the guitar or sewing, or simply daily journalling – show your child you have something in your life that anchors you and comes from within. This teaches them an invaluable lesson in a world obsessed with achievement, fame culture and the acquiring of ‘stuff’!
- Let your child see you give back
This could be anything from volunteering to buying food for a homeless person or buying someone flowers. This teaches kids they can have a positive, meaningful effect on people and that life is just as much about giving, as it is receiving.
- Get into your child’s world and see things from their perspective
- Show your child you are kind to yourself and they are more likely to do the same
As parents, we berate ourselves all the time, but it’s essential we also model self love, care and kindness.
- Forgive yourself for a parenting ‘mistake’ and learn from it
- Let your child see you fail at something, pick yourself up and learn from the experience This encourages them to not be scared of, or avoid failure, which is after all, part of life. When they are old enough, explore some of the great scientists together and show them how these people discovered the ‘impossible’ through never giving in to failure or ‘getting it wrong.
- As your child some of these fun questions or these 25 questions for kids
You might even discover new things about one another!
- Hug your child like you mean it
Remember, being brave or stepping outside your comfort zone, is not about doing something without being scared or feeling a bit uncomfortable – it’s about feeling scared and doing it anyway.
This is being remarkable and being remarkable is what you are.
Well I didn’t say it would be easy did I? Most things that are really worth it generally aren’t:).
Do you have any tips for being a kick ass parent? Do you agree or disagree with these tips? Drop me a comment below!