Are you the type of parent you thought you would be or are you everything you said you would NEVER be?

Are you wanting to be a better parent starting immediately?

Parenting can be hard and is often full of disappointments but it is never TOO LATE to transform yourself and your children into the family you dreamed you would be.

If you are serious about wanting to make some big changes in your family relationships, take our 10 Day Challenge by following the steps listed below. Post your successes and difficulties on our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/parentingtoolbox to get more support and success tips along the way.

SPECIAL NOTE: The power of the 10 days comes from its “additive value.“ Every day builds on the next. You don’t just do day 1 and never do it again. You have to keep doing day one for ten days (and perhaps longer) while adding day 2 and then day three, etc. By day 10 you will be doing 55 power parenting tools. YES, I said 55 new tools that will repair and restore your family relationships. If you are really serious about better parenting, start your challenge TODAY!!!

Day 1: Take Inventory.

What is your biggest strength as a parent? What is your biggest weakness? This isn’t a time for denial to rear its ugly defenses. Be honest. What is your best plus or minus when it comes to parenting? Perhaps you don’t like your child. If that is it, admit it. Perhaps you are a horrible cook. Time for the truth, because the truth, as they say, will set you free. Be honest about your strengths too. Don’t minimize them…blow them up. You will need this strength to get you through the days ahead. What do you love more than anything else about what you do as a parent or how you do it? Love crafts, snuggle time, early mornings, weekend walks, trips to the park, reading stories together? Capitalize on these positive resources to meet the challenges ahead.

Remember, you will do this inventory of your most positive and negative qualities, behaviors, moments over the next 10 days…it gets easier fortunately.

Extra tip: Get a notebook or diary and put a ”-“ or ”+“ and list a quality or behavior over the next 10 days to evaluate your ups and downs. This will give you more insights that will help you move forward.

Day 2: Do more of what works.

Based on what you answered for day 1, do more of the positive thing you listed for yourself. Do it daily, even hourly if you can. Build up some energy and good vibrations with this power parenting tool. Conversely, do less of the negative thing you identified. Simple right?

Give yourself some grace here…You won’t be perfect. You might still yell at your child when they leave the towel on the bathroom floor. Just start over doing it less and more of what works for you. If you hate cooking, it’s not really feasible to stop cooking and eat out every meal, right? What foods are less challenging to prepare or how can you combine what you love to do when you are doing what you hate to do. Setting limits and sticking to them is hard for you? Keep practicing it daily, hourly, etc. You get the drill, yes?

Day 3: Find an audience of appreciation.

Who can you talk to share your successes and your struggles? Who will applaud you when you have a good day and hug you when you don’t? You need an audience that is nonjudgmental and emphatic Not many of parents have this in their lives currently. You may have to look long and hard for this person(s) but don’t give up on this exercise. It is important. Call this person daily and tell them what you did great, no matter how small. Let them be your cheerleader. In turn, you can be there’s. This isn’t necessarily a time for confession however. Just state it factually. Tell each other it will get better and in the spirit of most recovery programs, fake it till you make it.”

Are you doing the power parenting tools from the days previously that you already learned? Do ever parent tool and add to your tool belt over the total 10 days!

Day 4: Use Empathy.

Empathy is defined as the perception of being deeply understood by another. It is a “felt" sense that can be conveyed in words, no words, or just a grunt. Really! It is the under carriage of all attachment-based parenting and (sadly) one of the things most traditional parents rarely convey to their children. Spend an entire day just being empathic. Say things like “that is so sad" when you child complains and try to make it sound real 🙂 Look at the situation from their perspective and voice that feeling. You don’t have to agree with it. You may still make them eat their vegetables but you can certainly understand their dislike of them.

This can be one of the hardest parenting tools in this challenge. We don’t realize how often we judge, lecture or dismiss our children’s feelings. As a child therapist with over 20 years’ experience, 80% of parenting is emotion-based. This is how we model appropriate social/emotional behavior that will ultimately make your child a success in life. It is more powerful than IQ scores. Truly!

Observe how your child’s behavior change after one one example, one day, one week.. What did you learn about yourself?

Day 5: Plan.

Most of the problems that will come up today with your family also came up yesterday and probably the day before that and the day before that…get my point? Problems are predictable. That is to your advantage because now you can plan to manage the problems in a new way today. If today doesn’t work on the problems, you can plan for something new tomorrow and so on.

The nice thing is that you can DO ANYTHING DIFFERENT so long as it isn’t abusive or mean and you will problem make a significant change in your family member. Getting stuck if your worst enemy here. Innovation and novelty is your parenting toolbox friend.

Are you still using the previous days parenting tools? Are you sharing your progress with us on Facebook? Go now to share at http://www.facebook.com/parentingtoolbox

Day 6: Have a Routine.

I don’t care how old the child is, everyone needs structure. This is a basic element of parenting. You don’t have to post a daily to-do list but you can. You don’t have to set the timer for bath time but you can. You don’t need to have a large whiteboard with everyone chores listed but it might be a good idea. Children who have a structure feel more secure and safe. A secure child is better behaved. A behaved child makes for a happy home. Routines can be negotiated and relaxed as they get older but some form of schedule is always a necessary part of home life.

Day 7: Games are more fun!

It doesn’t take long for the little people to realize that work is not fun. Helping dad sweep the sidewalk was fun when they were younger but now it is torture. Anything that you can do to make an activity a game will increase your child’s cooperation. Challenge is an important part of parenting and life. Everyone needs it to stay motivated and happy.

You can take turns being the leader as you walk to bath time. See you can be the first one to fold the towels. Who can shoot their garbage into the bin? How high can you get the leaves raked into pile? Add incentives by offering praise at the end of a chore challenge and always give lots of admiration for technique, flair and creativity.

Of course, sometimes this backfires or older children get wise to the tactic but if you do this often enough in small ways, so it doesn’t seem so obvious, even teenagers will be more engaging with you.

Day 8: Use Leverage.

It doesn’t take long after the first child is born that mom and dad realized they are out-matched. How is that two adults can be so exhausted and the child is just getting his second wind at 11 pm! It gets worse when you have a second or third child trust me. My wife and I raised four children. How nuts were we…ha.

It is better if you accept the fact that you will be out-gunned, out-numbered, and out-smarted by the little people in the home. When you let go of the need to be perfect and have it all together or be faster, smarter, stronger, you will have much more fun as a parent. This doesn’t imply that parents stop being in charge.

Once you recognize you are out-numbered, you will have to start looking for special ways in which you can retain some leverage. Leverage is the ace card when negotiating with children. This is especially true for teenagers although negotiation happens a lot earlier than that. Many parents feel they have no leverage; therefore they can’t get their child to do anything they don’t want to do. The reality is that our children, in our society, have way too much entitlement.

You may have to feed them dinner but it doesn’t have to be fancy. You may have to take them to school but you don’t have to go to the Mall afterwards. You may have to clothe them but you don’t have to buy the expensive stuff. The thrift store has lots of decent items ready to be taken home and loved (again). In the real world, we all have to negotiate with other people to get what we need and want in life. Teach them in a calm and respectful way what it means to have to learn to scratch each other’s backs. I will scratch yours if you will scratch mine. They want something other than tuna salad for dinner. You want a clean bedroom. They want the more expensive shoes, you want a week of no homework battles. Everyone wins!

Day 9: Give Yourself a Cool Title.

The word “parenting" simply defined means to care for or raise a child. BORING! Try something with a little more pizazz like “Mom of Magical Moments" or “Household President" (but please no “dictator" titles) or “Conductor of Strategic Developmental Experiences" or how about “Captain of WOWness" or “Impresario of Daily Routines". Anything that puts a little smile on your lips when you child can’t find his shoes in the morning will make the situation more endurable.

Playfully, insist your family call you by your new title. In fact, they might want a new title too. Come up with one and imagine how someone with these titles might act toward one another and what they family as a whole might be or do with this fantastic new descriptors. Maybe this won’t help you be a better parent but you will feel like one.

Keep practicing all the earlier tools you learned today too.

Day 10: Take a Break.

Even the toughest marathon running mom will be worn out managing all the responsibilities of parenting. Get into the practice of taking time for you so you have more time and energy for your family. It could be an hour of quiet meditation after the children go off to school or it could be a night out with your partner while the children are with a babysitter. It could be taking turns sleeping in on the weekend while someone else makes breakfast for the kiddo’s. Taking time away to work or get your tooth crowned isn’t the point. This should be something specifically for you like starting a yoga class, reading a novel, gardening, taking a music lesson, personal shopping, having a sugary coffee drink with a friend. You will be amazed how much more energy you have for your family when you do this consistently.

Share your successes and your struggles on our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/parentingtoolbox

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