Having children is like living in a frat house — nobody sleeps, everything’s broken, and there’s a lot of throwing up. – Ray Romano
Parenting is both the most difficult and most rewarding job. Kids don’t come with a manual, but if they did it might include these questions you should get in the habit of asking yourself.
Are My Kids Having Fun?
Life tends to get so busy that sometime we forget to prioritize play.
Am I Having Fun?
Same question (almost). If you are so busy chauffering and cooking and doing laundry that you are forgetting to enjoy your children, you need to take a hard look at your priorities.
Did My Child Eat Well?
Consider quality, not quantity. Were fruits and vegetables the bulk of the diet? Great. Are you limiting too strictly? Every child needs to taste cotton candy once.
Did My Child Sleep Well?
Children need their sleep. If they aren’t getting a reasonable amount of sleep they are not thriving.
Did My Child Learn Something?
This isn’t the same as a getting good grades. It’s about being curious and excited to learn anything from weaving to dinosaur names. Open their minds to the joy of learning.
Did My Child Successfully Negotiate Stress?
Kids need to learn to recognize both how stress feels and how to reduce it in order to navigate the adult world. If you never allow them to experience fear, failure, or grit, they don’t get the opportunity to develop these skills.
Did I Yell?
How did you feel after yelling? How do you think your child felt?
Why Did I Yell?
You know yelling feels awful for both you and your child. Why do you do it? Some part of you thinks that it works. Remind yourself that it is not the most effective way.
Did I Blame My Child?
If you hear yourself saying “you make me so mad” or “you make mommy sad,” it is time to take ownership of your feelings. “When you come home late I feel worried” or “when you use that tone of voice I feel like you don’t respect me” would convey your feelings without blaming your child for them.
Did I Praise Enough?
It takes seven positive comments to negate the effects of one negative. To build our children’s confidence and self-esteem, we need to praise them more than we might think.
Did I Praise the Right Things?
Praising a child for things like being smart or pretty is actually harmful to his ability to become resilient. If the child thinks smart is something he is rather then recognizing the grit he puts into learning something, when he eventually is confronted by something that is harder to learn he might think he isn’t smart rather than attempting to work it out.
Am I Treating My Child’s Success as My Own?
Recognize that if she is successful, it is her own. You don’t get to relive your dreams of becoming a soccer player or ballet dancer through your child.
What Do I Want My Children To Feel Today?
Important, respected, and happy.
If This Was My Last Day, What Would I Do Differently?
We have to go to work and cook dinner and do homework but if we looked back on the day, would we do it this way again? Did you laugh? Did you listen?
Did I Do Something Today to Foster My Child’s Independence?
As your child’s pre-frontal cortex develops a parent is tasked with balancing independence with protection. What are you still doing for your child that he could be doing for himself? Let him do it, it helps foster self-trust.
Am I Parenting Out of Fear or Comfort?
Am I moving towards something I want for my child or away from something I don’t want? It is always more powerful to move toward.
Am I Part of the Problem or Part of the Solution?
Are you helping your child avoid things she doesn’t like doing? That is encouraging avoidance. Instead be on her side encouraging her to develop grit and perseverance.
What Is My Most Important Role as a Parent?
Spend some time thinking about this, then align all your parenting with that role.
Did I Learn From My Mistakes?
We all make them. Admit, then learn from them. Move on. Tomorrow is another day and you need to model this for your children.
What Am I Thankful For?
Reminding ourselves of what we already have or do opens our minds to finding more great things and opportunities as parents.