Parenting Hacks: Old Tricks in a New Age

by Zac Hill

Runny noses, makeshift tents, messy rooms and an extra set of car keys each represent the many frightening joys of parenting. Whatever your version looks like being mom or dad today, we can all benefit by learning from one another and trying something new every once in awhile. The following “hacks” are a small collection that just might be worth giving a shot!

CELEBRATE

Home is a great place to celebrate your kids’ accomplishments and build their self-esteem. This doesn’t mean that you have to gush at them being the best artist or basketball player, but it does mean you are proud of them for creating something or practicing something they care about. The average 2-year-old child hears 432 negative statements per day, but only 32 positive statements, according to a research study at the University of Iowa. Parents remember the power of your influence and consider Parent Hack #1:

Computers, tablets and smartboards may be replacing textbooks but art class projects will never go out of style! When your child is young, it won’t take long for all sorts of creations to wage war on your fridge doors and counter space. Fight back by choosing one place to prominently display whatever comes home in the book bag. When something new appears, make the swap and capture a copy of the artwork through a scan or picture on your phone.

At the end of the school year, you should be in a great position to make a picture book to display in your home. Creating this system opens the door to your child taking more pride in their work, gives you an opportunity to celebrate his or her creativity, and potentially reduces A LOT of clutter in your home without losing the memories.

 EDUCATE

Home is also a wonderful place to educate your kids. From teaching them to garden to working on cars in the garage, they will be able to glean much from you as a parent if you spend some one-on-one time, teaching them. Jack Canfield, of Chicken Soup for the Soul fame, says that in a survey of 1,000 parents and 1,000 teachers, 72 percent of the parents said teachers were responsible for teaching their children, while 78 percent of the teachers said the parents were. Take the educational lead, parents, with Parenting Hack #2:

New toys and games are always fun but they eventually lose their luster and “the next big thing” will inevitably be asked for in a variety of ways – if you are a parent already, you know what this means.

At any age, your home is a prime opportunity to introduce financial education. Gone are the days of allowance. Creating a chore chart for the week with a commission attached to it establishes the parent’s expectation and child’s opportunity! Candy isn’t free... Cars aren’t either. Use your home to offer real world experience with income and savings before your child’s first job and eventual transition into the real world.

DEMONSTRATE

Home is where you’re a living demonstration to your kids on how to behave. It is so important for parents to lead their children by example. When your kids see you doing things you have told them not to do, they are left questioning and asking “Why?” So if you would like your child to be more active, be active with them. If you would like them to not say bad words, be an example and watch your language as well. And then give them the freedom to make mistakes and trust that you have raised them the right way, like in Parenting Hack #3:

Curfew may not be a trending topic but the debate between parents and teenagers over when to be home at night is far from over! If you’re in the curfew camp, consider a graduated scale. The point being, choose your starting age and time but remove any curfew by senior year.

Demonstrate the necessity of responsibility by providing a trial run at life on their own, all while knowing your son or daughter is returning home. The time will come soon enough where your immediate influence will likely be from a distance. The idea isn’t to push them out the door, just to show them what’s on the other side.

 CONCLUSION

Let’s face it, there’s no such thing as parent hacks - all we can do is take life one day at a time and do our best with it. When it comes to parenting, there’s always ideas to share and opportunities to learn from. A common thread, however, is the intangible value a home plays in every stage of life, so think about that as you celebrate, educate and demonstrate at home.

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