My MomShine journey began with creating a family structure that worked for us. I felt I was winging it when working long hours in startup life, so I immediately enrolled in Polly Ely’s MFT Parent School for some easy tips to overcome the top challenges I was experiencing. 

Instead of looking to others, I wanted a playbook I could feel confident in when the going got rough and to know I was doing my best without judgment both inwardly and outwardly to keep a sturdy lead for our family.

Here are some tips for getting through top parenting challenges with more ease.

1) Create easy-to-follow family rules to overcome parenting challenges

First, I needed rules to follow to build healthy family dynamics in our household. Ones that everyone could follow. Once outlined, have them in the house and have a family meeting. Ours include:

  1. Refusal to participate
  2. Taunting or teasing
  3. Mistreating yourself, others, or creatures
  4. Processing when we get mad without getting mean
  5. Sharing is caring

They are simple in the sense that they all go back to kindness. Often, fights start with our youngest when toys are taken from him. We love working on #5 because being generous is key. Also, treating yourself and others well and having a participatory attitude around the house is big. One fun thing to do is to give your family a team name. Ours is “Candy,” and then it rotates periodically, letting a kid pick the name of the candy of choice when we want to change things up. It helps us all work together as a unit and keeps everyone involved in the fun.

2) Maintain the family hierarchy

Kids don’t get to dictate which parent does bedtime or help them with their homework. The same goes for barking complaints instead of respectfully asking for what they want or need. Instead, pause and ensure you’re teaching them the best way to communicate and ask for what they need from you. Often, we go into autopilot and fall for these common traps, giving them control. Have a plan on the values and guidelines you want to teach and how you will teach them. Maintaining the lead in your house ensures that no gentle or passive parenting enables kids to take too much control before they’re ready.

3) Keep clear and calm communication during kids misbehavior

This can sometimes be the hardest to keep, especially when your kids’ actions are hurtful or upsetting. A splash of cold water on the face can go a long way. Children who are constantly yelled at by their parents are more likely to develop behavioral problems, low self-esteem, and depression, according to a 2013 study published in The Journal of Child Development. According to Jazmine McCoy, a clinical psychologist based in the Atlanta suburbs, it can interfere with their connection to us if it’s more common. But every parent yells from time to time. Just ensure it’s always followed up with a repair and rebuilding that connection to them after.

4) Set boundaries to help navigate parenting challenges

Boundaries are essential for children because they provide safety, structure, and guidance. They help children understand their limits, develop self-discipline, and make better decisions. They also ensure that they can set their own boundaries in the future. Some boundary work examples are having things that are yours off limits: your purse, makeup, drawer, etc. Also, have boundaries on behavior. The mantra, You Can Be Mad But Not Mean, gives kids a line not to cross when learning to process their emotions.

5) Eliminate worry parenting

Another way of thinking about this is not to probe for pain and instead let kids bring problems to you. Replace “Be Careful” with “You Got This.” Help them feel free from worrying and confident in their approach so that this can be a running inner dialogue they can lean on in the future. I started saying this to myself when I got scared. “I got this!” Competence is a significant growth area for kids, and perfectionism can stunt that growth. 

6) Asking for help can alleviate other parenting issues

Asking for help can alleviate other parenting issues while fostering a cooperative and supportive family environment. Encouraging kids along their learning journey is a crucial part of parenting, and since every child is different, it’s important to adapt to their unique needs and pace. Taking on too much at once can be overwhelming for children, so it’s beneficial to involve them in the family ecosystem in ways that help them learn to contribute what they can effectively.

Example 1: Teaching Manners at Family Dinner

One way to help kids learn to ask for help and to offer help is by practicing manners at family dinners. Instead of overwhelming them with all the manners, focus on one manner at a time. Make it fun by incorporating a code signal to avoid embarrassment when they forget, especially in public. For instance, you could touch your nose anytime a child interrupts a conversation. This helps them remember their manners and teaches them to recognize when you are subtly asking for their help. Set a monthly theme and reward kids for their progress, allowing them to improve in manageable steps.

Example 2: Morning Bases Routine

Another engaging strategy is implementing a “running the morning bases” type routine. Assign 3-4 tasks your kids are responsible for in the morning (i.e., the bases), letting them complete them in any order they prefer. If you have an hour to get ready in the morning, you can break it into 15-minute intervals and ask your kids which base they are on and what they plan to do next. Be patient and flexible with time, even if it means being late occasionally, so they understand the consequences of not completing their tasks promptly. This approach teaches responsibility and encourages kids to be helpful and proactive in contributing to the family ecosystem.

Using these strategies, you can create an environment where children feel empowered to ask for help and assist others, fostering a cooperative and supportive family dynamic.

7) Lead by example is the golden rule of parenting

When I first started the MomShine podcast, I couldn’t wait to dive into the topic of devices and how to handle them with my kids better. I wanted answers and training tools to lean on. Little did I know the most significant thing I’d learned was that all roads pointed back to me living a healthier relationship with my device.

The Golden Rule of Parenting: Model what you’d like to see from your kids.

The best thing I could do to help with tech was to show them how to use it and not be dependent on them. Work is in progress here, but there are no more phones at the dinner table, on vacations (unless for pictures), or weekends when we hang out. If I’m coordinating too much on it, I ask for a minute to resolve something and then put it away.

With any lesson we want to teach, it’s essential that we show the way and help apply why those life lessons are important. Honest and solid communication is the way to make a big difference. And when in doubt—keep it simple! That’s what MomShine is all about. Remember to enjoy this time with them along the way. That’s all they want at the end of the day.

Check out our new guide for 20 Quick Tips to Shine for more tips.