The Seven Habits of Self-Reg Parents

The Seven Habits of Self-Reg Parents

As most of us know, parenting is an experience in which the learning never stops. Sometimes, the best way to gauge your progress as a parent is to stop and look back at how things used to be — six months or a year ago — and notice how much they’ve changed. I’ve done this occasionally, and I’m often surprised at how much my parenting habits and style have changed or improved. Usually, I feel a little better about myself, and my kids, as a result.

Learning to parent with a Self-Reg mindset is a special kind of learning journey. With that in mind, and with a nod to Stephen Covey, who established the “7 Habits” brand in 1989 with his bestseller, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, here is my take on the seven “habits” of Self-Reg parents. If you’re trying to be a Self-Reg parent, take a look at these seven signs and then reflect on the extent to which you were or weren’t doing these things a year or so ago. If the idea of Self-Reg parenting is new to you, these signs might give you something to aim for.

The 7 Signs You’re Becoming a Self-Parent

1. You read kids’ behaviour differently

When you see a “misbehaving” child your default thoughts are less likely to be: How do I make this kid stop/obey? Or, What’s the right discipline strategy to pull out of my bag of tricks right now? And you are more likely to think things like: This child needs my attention and help. What’s stressing this child right now?

2. It’s easier to stay calm when things get hot

You’re better at keeping your cool in tense situations and you find it easier to “forgive” your child (or partner) for behaviours that bug you because you can see that the behaviour is often caused by stress. In other words, you realize that they weren’t actually trying to drive you crazy.

3. You feel more compassion & less anger

You don’t fight with your kids or get mad at them as often, and when you do get mad, you don’t stay as mad for as long. You’re finding it easier to like and appreciate kids you found it hard to like before.

4. Your parenting is less reactive

You are more able to see when you should take a “time out,” or at least, “hit the pause button” rather than trying to fix a problem or mete out the ideal consequence in the heat of the moment, when everyone’s stress alarms are going full-tilt.

5. You re-think disciplinary tactics

You finally understand why even the best discipline strategies don’t work at times with some kids, and you are better at identifying situations where trying to impose discipline or exert control will just make things worse.

6. You understand your kids more deeply

You feel like you understand your kids (and some of their behaviours) better. And you are starting to understand certain behaviours that perplexed and frustrated you in the past.

7. You’re doing Self-Reg with yourself

You become better at recognizing and dealing with your own stress and how it affects your parenting, and what to do about it. You’re really starting to see that a less stressed parent is a more effective parent. And you find it easier to forgive yourself for your parenting imperfections.

Can You See the Pattern?

What do these seven habits have in common? I’d say that in different ways they all should contribute to lower stress parenting. And that’s nice work if you can get it, right?

Your Turn

Now I don’t mean to suggest that these are the only important habits of moms and dads who are really starting to get Self-Reg Parenting. They just happen to be the first seven I thought of! I’ll bet you can think of others. Please share your ideas with us – if we get enough great ideas, I’ll share them in a future blog. Maybe we’ll find a way to do something cool with them, like create a nice Self-Reg Parenting graphic that parents can download from our website.

John has had three distinct careers that have blended together at times: roots musician, stay-at-home father and freelance writer. A former long-time columnist and feature writer for Today’s Parent, John now specializes in knowledge translation, blogging and writing for non-profit organizations like The MEHRIT Centre, The Psychology Foundation of Canada and Dad Central Ontario.
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