Monday, August 8, 2011

7 Minimalist Parenting Tips

Christmas comes early at our house!
Parenting is hard work.  Here are a few ideas to make it easier.

Do they always work?  Hey, they're tips, not miracles!  But these are pretty amazing considering you will be doing less.

1. One Word 

Kids don’t listen to long lectures, or even mini-lectures.  Not when they’re old enough to pretend they are, nor when they’re old enough to stop pretending.

Once you have their attention, remind them in a word:  “Dishes!”  “Towel!”  “Pyjamas!”

In context, this means as much to them as your five minute version.

  • Less energy
  • Less yelling and fewer unkind words
  • Less "tune-out” training for your kids
2. Wise Whys 

A “Why?” marathon can wear out the most seasoned parent.  Your answers never satisfy.
Guess what? Your child loves to talk to you and has found the easiest way to keep you talking.
When you are tired out, make it their turn.  
“What do you think?”
The answer may be a delight.  Other times it breaks their rhythm and leads the game to a natural end.  In any case, it gives you a break.

This also works when your child is asking “silly questions” she already knows the answer to.  Use it even when she may not already know the answer.  Thinking is good brain exercise!

3. Help Less

Babies are helpless, but not for long.  If your child can drag a stool over to a cupboard and raid sweets from a top shelf and argue why he needed them, he’s a pretty capable person!

What could a young child do in your house that you are in the habit of doing because you once had a baby?
  • Get their own clothes from a drawer and put them on?       
  • Set and clear the table?        
  • Feed pets?
  • Pack a schoolbag?

Love them more and more as they grow; and help them more by helping them less. 

4. Yes 

Kids aren’t adults and they don’t have our years of experience.  They haven’t learned the whole list of things they’re not supposed to do.  One of my top posts talks more about this.

So they will ask to do odd things.  (Often they don’t even ask.)  You will want to say “No.”  Think twice.  Kids hear “No” all day.  How does it feel when you are told “No”? 

There are times the answer must be “No.”  Is this really one of them?  Would a “Yes” and some help be even better?  Spend your “Nos” as wisely as your money.

My children are playing with the Christmas tree as I write this…in August.

5. Just for Fun 

There is always work to be done.  How much better if it’s fun?

Instead of trying to get the kids out of the way while you get jobs done, see which jobs can be done together. 

The job may not be done quicker.  But when it is done, everyone has:
  • learned something
  • done something
  • shared time together
Compare this to the kids watching a DVD while you race to the finish…then collapse when they are ready to spend time with you!

6. Listen


Just listen.
Don’t solve.
Don’t judge.
Use magic words like: “Hmmmm?” and “I see.”
Just try it.

7. Love and Hugs 

Want to halt a fullblown family argument?  Stop trying to win and instead hug your child and/or say “I love you.”

Not only is it true, it gives everybody time to think.
Many of these ideas adapted for my family’s use from How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
I'd love to hear what works in your house!

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