Let’s be honest: Most of us don’t waltz into parenthood knowing what we’re doing. We seek guidance from family, peers, and pediatricians, but even then, parenting is still often a learn-as-you-go process, which is why we make mistakes and fall into parenting traps.
The good news is that when it comes to parenting there is always room to expand your “toolbox” and learn new coping skills for handling the stressors that come with parenthood.
How Are You Coping?
As a parent, we often get asked about how the kids are doing. It’s not as common for the parent to genuinely get asked about their emotional health—and even if you are asked, would you be able to answer honestly?
One of the first steps in improving your parenting skills is recognizing the areas where you are struggling. Are you:
- Easily frustrated by your child’s behavior?
- Sometimes embarrassed by your own behavior or that of your child’s?
- Losing your temper easily?
- Responding to your child with criticism or yelling?
- Feeling hopeless or out of control?
Parenting is demanding work. It is important to take breaks and take care of yourself – “fill your cup” so you can again give to your family. Call a friend, get some exercise, do something you enjoy – do something that will give you some perspective.
If you are feeling overwhelmed or depressed for more than a couple of weeks, it may be time to seek support.
Be The Expert:
The next step in growing your parenting toolbox is to find the support you need. You are the expert when it comes to your own child and family. However, when you have concerns, you can learn from a professional who has expert knowledge about a child’s development and coping with the stressors of parenting. Whether you need support for you or your child, there are local resources available:
Parenting Education and Support:
- Parenting Now!: Parenting education/support services for parents with infants and young children. Open to all families.
- LaneKids: Parenting education hub with evidence-based parenting education opportunities and activities for all families.
- Baby Connection: Fun, free drop-in service located at Parenting Now!, every Wednesday, for baby weight checks and infant feeding support and education.
- Daisy C.H.A.I.N.: Prenatal signup for home visits, walk-in breastfeeding support, and various social support opportunities.
- Healthy Families Lane County: Free home visiting program provides parenting education and support to new parents, beginning prenatally or after birth; baby must be enrolled before they are three months old.
- Center for Community Counseling: Low-cost counseling to uninsured and underinsured adults.
- Direction Service Counseling Center: Outpatient counseling and mental health support for adults, children (ages 18 months and older), adolescents, and families.
- Willamette Family, Inc.: Quality substance abuse treatment, mental health, detoxification, primary medical, on-site child care, and family services.
When you have a concern about your child’s development:
- Child Development and Rehabilitation Center: Comprehensive diagnosis, evaluation, and management of various conditions, including developmental delay.
- Early Childhood CARES: Early intervention and early childhood special education for children birth to school age.
Be An Informed Consumer:
There is a lot of information online about parenting. When seeking out parenting advice online (via a personal blog, popular website, etc.), pay attention to the credentials and expertise of the person giving advice. Is the information based on personal experience or opinion alone; or is it research-based and coming from a source with credentials in that particular field?
Be A Goal Getter:
With more information and strategies in your toolbox, the next step in improving your parenting skills is to set goals for yourself and your family.
Start small with goals that are realistic and achievable. Make a list of two or three clear goals. Examples could be:
- Notice at least one positive thing my child does each day and compliment them on it.
- Take three calming, deep breaths when I feel frustrated.
- Use a calm voice when I need to redirect my child’s behavior.
Try out your goals and review how they went: Did my child respond well to them? Was I easily able to implement my goals? What could I do differently?
With time and practice these small steps will help you improve your parenting skills and help your relationship with your child flourish.
This article is brought to you by Parenting Now! Parenting Educators and authors Amanda Bedortha, Claire Davis and Lynne Swartz and consultant Jay Thompson (andupdatemywebsite.com). Parenting Now! is passionate about happy, healthy families. For more information about Parenting Now! please visit their website (https://parentingnow.org/) or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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