Do you have any new year’s resolutions for parents?
Dina K., St. Louis, MO
Dina, I don’t really have any resolutions, but I did come up with some quick random tips on how to raise your kids well that you can put into practice this new year. I call them Edye’s 5 Parenting Wisecracks. If you want to add to my wisecracks, please do. I also threw in a short video at the end about reading, raising kids, etc. that you may enjoy. Viewer discretion advised.
Here are my 5 Parenting Wisecracks:
1) Crack a book
Read to and with your kids.
If you can’t afford the bookstore, visit your public library. Not many things are free in this world, but a library card is. Books and videos are at your disposal at no cost to you – that’s the ultimate hook-up. Take your kids when they are young so they develop a love for books.
If your kids are older and find reading difficult (or you find it difficult too) get books with bigger type or graphic novels. Some parents and educators may turn up their noses at comic and picture books. But I say do what you gotta do to spark interest. Audio books are great too. Hey, whatever it takes.
I can’t emphasize this enough: Be active in their school. Know their teachers. Help them with their homework.
Make up books. Get some paper, pencil and crayons and allow your children to make their own storybooks.
For older kids, pick out a book you all like and read it together, then discuss it – Actor Will Smith does it with his family. Not only does it foster a love for reading, it brings families closer together.
Start a book club with fellow parents and their kids. If reading is a challenge for you, improve your skills. Check out your local library or community college for literacy resources. Visit, www.literacydirectory.org/
2) Crack an egg
Teach your kids how to cook. Don’t know how? Get a cookbook and learn together.
Ask your grandmama to teach you and your kids how to prepare your favorite recipes.
Make sure your kids eat at least three healthy well-balanced meals a day. (Doritos and Coke is not a meal)
Make sure they eat breakfast. Have it handy and easy to reach when you can’t be there to fix it, e.g. instant oatmeal, fruit, cereal, milk, juice packets…
Chill on the junk food and take-outs.
Cut up fresh fruits and veggies, put them in a container and set it on the bottom shelf of the frig so the little ones can grab it.
Cool out on sugar, candy, pop and sugary juices.
Note: Chips don’t count as a vegetable and milk shakes aren’t a good source of calcium
3) Crack the whip
Have clear-cut rules of the house, and follow through.
Don’t let them run you.
Have consequences for bad behavior.
Make them accountable for their actions.
Don’t let them get away with it.
Mean what you say, say what you mean. And follow through.
Avoid beating them “‘till the white meat shows”. Don’t spank out of anger. Personally, I believe an occasional spanking on a covered bottom may be necessary, But whooping kids with extension cords, brooms and fists is downright child abuse. Constant hitting and slapping causes emotional and behavioral problems. Shaking a baby or small child can cause brain damage or death.
Try using time-outs. It actually works! (Trust me, some kids hate time-outs worse than spankings) The length of a time-out is their age. Example: 5 years old: 5 minute timeout. Note: Once they get around eight – 10 or so, that time-out stuff gets old. Time to pull out the big dogs…
Take away something they enjoy like their cell phone, video game, mall trip with their friends…
Be reasonable. Don’t over punish.
Watch your mouth. Be firm without the screaming, cursing and name calling.
Explain why they are on punishment.
Recognize that some consequences are punishment enough. Example: A four-year old falls off the bed and hurts himself after using it as a trampoline. Here lies a teachable moment. Punishment may be overkill.
Keep the lines of communication open. That means you learn to listen. Be fair. Let them know you love them, even when you discipline them.
Don’t hold it against your child or nurse a grudge.
4) Crack a joke
Parenting doesn’t have to be so serious all the time. Have fun, with your kids, people!
Live, love, laugh with your kids. Catch them doing good and let them know it.
Get down to their level and play with them (If your knees can take it ).
Have Wednesday game night (A treat for homework and chores completed).
Do crash and burn Fridays (Pizza and an action B Movie) or a girls pamper day at the nail shop (Again, for homework and chores completed).
Have open discussions. Give your kids and yourself permission to truly connect.
With that said, be friendly with your kids. Befriend them. But don’t try to be their BFF. You are not on the same level.
5) Crack kills
Have honest nonjudgmental discussions with your kids about drugs, cigarettes and alcohol.
If they are younger, talk about the meds you give them when their sick and how it’s used for a specific purpose, the dosage etc.
If a friend, family member or favorite celebrity smokes, abuses drugs or alcohol, talk about it. Ask your kids how they feel. If it affects your family, how will you handle it?
If they’re older, share your experiences. Keep it real. Why did you do it? Or why didn’t you? For some of us, why do you still do it? If that’s you, be an example and quit. For help, click here: drug addiction support and here: how to quit smoking .
Know your kids’ friends and their “people”.
Don’t feel guilty about checking their book bags and chest of drawers from time to time.
Read up on the latest drugs so you know your stuff. For more information, click here.
And now for your viewing pleasure, check out this video.