Last weekend, our 7, 8 and 10-year olds competed in the Baylor Tom Landry Sunny Kids Tri. This year, Arianna bumped up to the Youth Senior group and completed a 200Y swim, 6-mile bike and 2K run. When I speak of Arianna, I hardly ever speak of her as being an “athlete”. Boy, am I wrong! She IS an athlete and as her mom, I need to try harder and give her the credit she deserves.
Why do parents need to try harder?
Being a parent is a title, but also an active job and responsibility. Many days, it’s hard to get out of bed, or have the energy to make it through the day, but if you quit, and rely on someone else to do your job, your child will suffer. When parents try harder, children witness that parents struggle too, just like they do!
How can parents try harder?
Be your child’s role model.
In our home, one of our mantras is, “Don’t ask someone to do something you wouldn’t do yourself.” If I want my kids to speak kindly, respect others and work hard, then I need to model this behavior. I don’t do these things well, but I try harder everyday to lessen my harsh tone, listen when my children speak and push through the exhaustion. Charles Barkley said it best in this Nike commercial.
Be your child’s advocate.
To be an advocate for your child, start by understanding the situation, what you hope to achieve and your approach to finding a solution. Whether your child needs you in the classroom, in a social setting or relationship, children need to know that their parents will advocate (not make excuses) for them. When parents try harder, children become empowered and learn how to take on their own challenges and solve their own problems.
Validate your child.
Validating your child means that you listen to what they say, without passing judgment, criticism, or interrupting them when they share their thoughts and emotions. Validation isn’t about superficial praises or a reward system; it’s about speaking the truth about your child’s effort or accomplishment. Most importantly, it means that you don't always have to agree with them. When you try harder, your child will become confident in sharing thoughts and build self-esteem.
Learn from my mistakes. Parenting is exhausting, but you can try harder. Your children learn from the example you set, as well as how you advocate for them and validate their feelings.
Niccole Maurici, University Park mom of four and former certified personal trainer, is the co-founder and creator of the StrongestMom.com? website and fitness videos, which promote values important to moms: encouragement, support, positive thinking, and dedication. To learn more visit our website strongestmom.com.