Dr. Deb’s Mental Health Vitamin: Top 10 tips for parents

February 20, 2018 / by / 0 Comment

Dr. Deb Wade

By Dr. Deb Wade
GCU Vice President, Counseling and Psychological Services

The goal of today’s vitamin is to supply needed energy and insight for those who are deeply entrenched in the parenting stages.

The media bombards us with tips and suggestions on how to parent the millennial population. But, in reality, some parenting wisdom is relevant through the ages regardless of the label — Baby Boomers, Gen X’ers, Gen Y’ers or Millennials.

My Top 10 list for parents of any stage:

1. Celebrate the Good Things …

Remember the 98/2 Rule: If you spend 98 percent of your time concentrating on the 2 percent that is negative, do not be surprised when the negative begins to grow. Everyone needs pats on the back. Find the positive and recognize it – out loud!

2. Write Love Letters, “Just Because” Letters, Notes of Encouragement …

The art of letter writing is indeed becoming extinct, but it’s still a perfect mode in which to communicate with your child or teen. Occasionally, write a letter expressing your heart. Spend a few minutes reflecting how much you value him/her … just because!

3. Post “Stuff” on the Refrigerator …

No matter how old, or how tall, your teen may grow (and this certainly applies to children), he/she will love seeing special papers, items of interest posted on the refrigerator for all to see. They don’t bring home papers? Then get a small grease board, put it on the refrigerator, and post special messages to each member of the family. (“Knock the lid off that test today!” or “Drive carefully and come home safely!” or “Bless their socks off with your presentation!”)

4. Take a Trip or Outing …

How special it would be to take a weekend trip/overnighter with your child or teen! If that’s not possible, pick out a special event, invite your youngster and go together … just the two of you!

5. Fix His/Her Favorite Meal and Call it a “Suzie Night” or “Johnny Night” …

In fact, make this a once-a-month happening. Tell him/her to select the menu and then accommodate. No cell phones or TVs – just fun discussion and laughter, with a full and satisfied belly!   

6. Ask for His/Her Opinions and Ideas and Insights …

They might be shocked – do it anyway! Let’s practice. “I want your ideas on …” or “What’s your opinion on …” Not only will they feel important, you might come up with some real great answers that you hadn’t considered!

7. Use Many Pet Names and Endearments

No matter the age or stage, everyone likes to have a special sweet nickname or to be called by a term of endearment: “Sweetie” or “Sugar” or “Boo Bear.” (My mother used to call me “Miss Toad” – I have no idea why, but I loved it!)

8. Avoid Nagging, Hollering, Whining, Criticizing …

Yes, we are humans who are under pressure and have short fuses … sometimes. We know, however, that when the frequency of these things increases, the listening stops and the shutting down occurs. Instead, learn to time yourself out: “This conversation is over for now, but we will continue it at a later time.”

9. Don’t Ever Forget: A Mom’s (or Dad’s) Touch Can Still Heal a Lot of Things …

Hug them frequently; touch their faces, their hair; pat them on the back, on the arm; give butterfly kisses!

10. Talk to Your Child or Teen Constantly and Consistently about How Special, How Unique, How Precious S/He is … This is Deep, Revealing, Vulnerable and Tender Talk …

Not only do your kids want to hear these things, you are also modeling for them how to talk about “heart matters” with tenderness and softness. And remember … what YOU think of your children, they will think of themselves!

“They” say that parenting is one of the most difficult jobs on earth … and there is no instruction manual. However, our kids deserve the best of us and need to hear from the best of us!

The icing on the cake? You feel better, too … and become a candidate for “Parent of the Year” in your own home! What an honor!

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