Step 4 of Positive Parenting: Have Realistic Expectations
One of the primary goals of the Triple P-Positive Parenting Program is show that parenting education is for every family. Whether you’re currently experiencing high levels of stress or have found a good balance in your life, we can all benefit from learning the basic principles of positive parenting.
Over the last few weeks, we’ve been discussing the 5 Steps To Positive Parenting. This week, we look at Setting Realistic Expectations.
Stranger Than Fiction: When The Realities of Parenting Don’t Match Expectations
Let’s be real: We’ve all witnessed a toddler meltdown at a store and thought to ourselves, “When I have children, I will never let them act that way in public.” It’s easy to envision the type of parent you’ll become and what your child will be like while they are still nesting cozily in the womb.
But the demands of parenthood, the temperament of your child, how much support you have, and your child’s normal developmental phases will likely create a different reality for you—and that’s OK!
Parenting is one of the hardest jobs there is, but having realistic expectations of yourself and your children is one of the best choices you can make in easing the process. And next time you see an exhausted mom carrying her screaming toddler out of the store, you might give her a nod in solidarity or offer to carry her groceries out to the car instead of rushing to make judgments.
Each child is unique
As parents, we love to gush about our children’s successes: Jonah’s first word, Molly’s dance recital, Elijah’s game-winning pitch… and social media is the perfect place for us to share updates and pictures of all those beautiful moments, right? The downside to this ease of sharing is the potential for comparing your child’s development and milestones to other children. If you find yourself questioning why your infant isn’t walking yet or getting frustrated that your older child can’t throw a curve ball, here are some points to keep in mind:
- All children develop at their own rate.
- Each child has unique strengths.
- Children are individuals with their own personalities. Just because your favorite pastime was softball as a child, does not mean your child will love it too.
- Children make mistakes, but most mistakes are unintentional and part of their learning process.
- It’s OK to let your child try and fail; it is an opportunity for them to learn persistence or acceptance.
Above all, be sure that your standards of behavior (such as being able to stand still in a line for 10 minutes) or demands (such as chores) are age-appropriate. While it’s no fun to wait in line at the post office with a wiggly 3-year old, it’s developmentally appropriate for a toddler to want to move and explore the area. Finding ways to work within your expectations and your child’s age and abilities is one key to happy parenting.
Perfectly (un)perfect parents
Remember when you or your partner was pregnant, and you had all those grand visions in your mind about parenting, such as: no screen time; only organic, homemade baby food; teaching baby sign language; sleeping through the night by 6 weeks. Flash forward a couple years and now your toddler is eating cheesy puffs and watching Paw Patrol while you nurse your newborn for the 100th time today, dishes are piled high and you haven’t showered in 3 days. Sound familiar? We’ve ALL been there because this is the reality of parenting young children. It’s hard. It’s all-consuming. But we survive! Just remember:
- You will make mistakes.
- It’s OK to not have all the answers and to admit you don’t always know what you are doing.
- Don’t compare yourself to the mom at school drop-off with freshly laundered clothes and a full face of makeup. She once sported a messy bun and sweatpants just like the rest of us.
- Every moment with your child is a positive learning experience for you.
- The demands of parenthood will change over time. Some things will get easier (yay, no more accidents in public!), and some will get harder (first breakup).
Remember, the days are long now, but the years will be short. Your child will be this age only once; relax and enjoy the process as much as you can! Along the way, it’s important to take care of yourself just as much as you do your child. Next week, we will go over ways to take care of yourself as a parent.
You can also learn more about Triple P by going to LaneKids at www.lanekids.org
If you or your child are on Oregon Health Plan (OHP) through Trillium Community Health Plan, you can get Triple P Online for free by filling out the form below or at https://www.lanekids.org/triplep/. A staff person from Parenting Now will send you an access code within 24 hours and you’ll be able to start using the program right away!
If you are not on OHP, you may purchase the program for $79.99. Please click here to visit the Triple P website.
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