by Kristin Kuiper, LMSW, MSW
I’ve been reading through a stack of books these past several weeks, which I generally tend to do in the depths of these West Michigan winter months. One book that I’ve been reading offers some practical insights but also holds a perspective that is unique. Given the array of parenting books out there, I found this one extremely thoughtful and helpful. It is called Simplicity Parenting .
There are a couple of concepts from this book that I’d like to pass on to you, as those of you who have children of any age, strive to parent them well. This book really takes hold of the notion that to parent our children responsibly in our present culture involves knowing how to slow down and step back from the pressures that swirl around us as parents and around our children—pressures to have a lot, do a lot, and “go big or go home.” Here are some practical ideas that this book offers:
- Recognize that children get visually overwhelmed easily, which often leads to misbehavior. One way to minimize this is to create a “toy library.” Keep several bins of toys available to your children, but store other toys. Every so often, switch the toys bins that are available (exceptions include special items, favorite stuffed animals, etc). Having fewer choices minimizes anxiety in children. I’m sure that adults can relate to this—can you picture your own anxiety decreasing if there were only 3 choices of spaghetti sauce instead of 58 different varieties to choose from?!
- Sometimes even children need a break from the routines and pressures of their day. Seek to understand your child and notice the signs of when the pressures of school, activities, and friendships might be creating fatigue and irritability. Be willing to help your child take a temporary step back from some of these demands to restore their energy. Remember that you are their advocate in giving them permission to take care of themselves. A step back could look like an afternoon without plans outside of the home or a weekend where you keep social activities to a minimum.
- Projecting a general sense of optimism to your child can be encouraging and help them build trust in their own capabilities in how they engage their relationships and environment. Children look to adults to show them that they have a hopeful future. This sometimes requires limited the adult topics of conversation children are exposed to, doing more listening than talking, and showing them how you enjoy life.
My hope is that these tips can encourage you in your parenting adventures! How do you think you might try out these tips? Do you have other ideas? Please share...!