by Carolyn Knarr, MSW, LCSW, Director of Children’s Therapeutic Services
Every year around this time many of us make new year’s resolutions but very few of us keep them. Here are some resolutions for parents that are worth keeping:
1. Increase the amount of time you spend in casual conversation with your child.
A recent study showed that 85% of what parents say to their children is either telling them what to do or what not to do. Very quickly, children turn off their listening ears. Try making positive comments about what they are wearing, or their hair, or something they have done well recently. For example: “I don’t know if I’ve told you recently, but I’m really proud of the way you do homework without Dad and I having to tell you.”
2. Reduce yelling and arguing.
When I ask children what they would like to change about their parents, they almost always respond that they wish their parents wouldn’t yell so much. Children can be irritating and exasperating! But, if we want our children to learn emotional regulation, we have to model it. When you feel your blood pressure rising (literally!), stop, take a deep breath, and then tell your child you refuse to get into an argument with them. Tell them what they need to hear, and then walk away. Or, listen to what they have to say then thank them.
3. Help your children get more sleep.
Most don’t get enough. Did you know that teenagers need more sleep than younger school age children? They will do so much better in school and be in a better mood. Take away technology an hour before bedtime, as most technology stimulates the brain. Encourage a quiet activity, such as chatting with them, taking a bath, or reading.
4. Keep family time sacred.
If everyone is scattering every day, even having a family dinner one night a week is golden. It has recently been found that the more a family eats dinner together, the better the child’s grades and health. Fight for what you value.
5. Finally, enjoy your kids over the holidays.
Try to live in the moment, without having big expectations. Take ahold of opportunities to connect with them. As a mom of three, who now has an “empty nest,” I am amazed, when I look back, at how much I allowed business to get in the way of my family time. When they come home for the holidays, I put everything aside, plan simple meals (even for Christmas) and we just enjoy each other.
Have a great New Year!!!
Carolyn Knarr earned her Master’s Degree from Washington University, and has been counseling for over 20 years. She is a member of the National Association of Social Workers, and is a licensed clinical social worker.
Carolyn has a strong background in working with children and adolescents with ADHD, attachment disorder, trauma, bipolar disorder, and Asperger’s. She works closely with their families to help them with the emotional and behavioral aspects of these disorders. She utilizes play therapy, family therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy, and is qualified to do psychological assessments with children. Carolyn also sees adult clients, couples, and families.
Through counseling, Carolyn helps her clients look at past and present relationship issues, communication patterns, and the potential for healing and growth.