We’ve all heard the phrase, “Practice makes perfect.” Well, it isn’t true, it just makes you better. The reason I’m bringing this up is because I’ve found that very few parents actually practice parenting. Most parents simply react to situations and have rarely even allowed their children the opportunity to practice something before actually needing to do it.
Case in point: Moms often have to go shopping with their children.
This is NOT the way to do it. When you go grocery shopping you want it to be a pleasant experience for all. So, Practice! On a day when you don’t really need to go shopping, take the lovely children to the store. In the car be sure to carefully explain what you expect of your children and what will happen if they don’t behave as expected. — Please Mommy – expect great things of them! Your children are awesome beings capable of way more than you know. Usually all they need is a little practice.
Try to keep your rules fairly simple. My rules were. You may not touch anything on the shelves unless asked by Mom to touch it. You may not ask for anything. You must stay within an arm’s distance of the cart. If you break any of the rules, we leave the store for appropriate discipline in the car. We will then return to the store to try again. I would always add that I expect them to be wonderful while in the store.
I would also remind them that other people are always watching our behavior. If someone in the store tells me how well behaved my children are, I will then get everyone a treat. I never offered a bribe for good behavior, but rather a reward. I found that the kids actually enjoyed people telling them how well behaved they were.
Now, into the store for practice. I would sometimes offer a reminder of the rules the first time into the store. If there were more than a couple of infractions, we would leave the store. Like I said, I don’t expect perfect, but I do expect better.
Always be prepared to educate your children on their behavior. Never be reactionary, but always purposeful.
Another Case: Riding in the car. Riding in the car is a necessary thing to get where we are going. I’ve seen some parents who have the most horrific times in the car with their children. This can be alleviated by practicing proper vehicle travel. The rules are simple – do not distract the driver! This is unsafe. I told my kids the importance of the driver always being able to concentrate on the task of driving, and not on the task of disciplining children. Take practice runs – always be prepared to pull over to the side of the road. Don’t threaten to pull over to the side of the road – DO IT! I usually did the practice runs on the way to some place the children wanted to go, such as the park, swimming, or a movie. The reward for good behavior was that they arrived to experience what they wanted to do.
I actually did this with other kids riding in my car too. There were three kids in the backseat who started fighting with each other. I pulled over immediately and turned around and told them that in my car we are never to distract the driver. Fighting is a distraction and they needed to stop or I wouldn’t be able to drive anywhere. Within a few minutes of driving again, one of them began pinching the other. Again, I pulled over. I just sat there as they all looked quite bewildered. One of them finally said, “okay, we won’t fight anymore.” I asked the others if they were in agreement. They all said yes. The remaining drive was extremely pleasant.
Another thing you can practice is “church.” I would take my kids to church on a day when no one was there. I told them what I expected. They were to be quiet in church. They weren’t to play with toys, but they could draw on a piece of paper. Funny thing, to this day, Tina, who is 22 still draws in church. She’s paying attention, but actually is able to absorb more when she is drawing.
The rewards of practicing parenting is that your life with your children will be more joyful, because you will be a better parent. Practice doesn’t make perfect – but it does make better.
If you’re finding that you are a frazzled mom, it just might be that you just need a little practice. What are some areas where you find being a mom is difficult? Maybe we can all come up with some practice exercises for yo.