WEB EX: Keep Your Sanity!! Top Ten Strategies for Working Parents

Busy parents can still create a happy and balanced environment

Parenting is a full-time job. But with so many parents working additional full-time jobs, balancing the two is a struggle. Dr. David J. Palmiter Jr. offers 10 strategies for keeping your boss and your kids happy in his book Working Parents Thriving Families: 10 Strategies that Make a Difference. (Sunrise River Press, 272 pages, 2011.) 

If you find yourself wanting to negotiate a raise with your four-year-old or finger paint with your supervisor, use these strategies for a more balanced life.

Strategy One: Complete one hour each week of “special time” with your child

Spend an hour a week focusing on just your child. Do nothing except praise your child and observe him doing an activity he loves. If he’s a painter, watch him paint and marvel at the way he mixes the purple just right; if he’s a basketball star, watch him shoot hoops and compliment his free throw skills. Your child will be reminded of how special he is to you and will develop confidence in his skills and abilities.

Strategy Two: Discover, promote and celebrate your child’s competence

Watch your child in his natural environment to discover what he does best. If nothing stands out as obvious, spend time trying new things until your child finds something at which he excels and loves. Encourage your child in these activities and make sure he knows you are as excited about his accomplishments as he is.

Strategy Three: Monitor Your Child

Know what you are child is doing and watching and restrict him from inappropriate materials. Do not control his decisions or prevent him from developing independence, but be aware of what he is up to and who he is with and maintain a constant interest in his whereabouts and activities.

Strategy Four: Establish Enjoyable Family Rituals

Families who have enjoyable rituals are less affected by stress and trauma. Establish a fun activity the family can do together at least weekly. You do not need to spend a lot of money – it can be as simple as playing a board game or going for a hike.

Strategy Five: Practice Sound Discipline

Let your child know when he is behaving correctly and be specific about what he’s doing wrong when he’s not. Reward your children when they meet responsibilities and let them experience natural consequences or give them a time-out when they do not. If your child has hurt someone else, arrange for them to make reparation and ensure they follow through.

Strategy Six: Promote healthy decision making, independence making and adaptive thinking

Look for opportunities to offer your child choices. Palmiter details a problem-solving method that parents and children can use to evaluate problems and make healthy decisions regarding them. Turn negative situations into positive learning experiences for your child.

Strategy Seven: Take care of yourself and your relationship with your significant other

Children learn by example. Make time for yourself to do things that make you happy to give your child a positive, healthy role model. Stay invested in and dedicated to your partner because a strong relationship between the two of you equates to a more stable family overall.

Strategy Eight: Emphasize a healthy lifestyle

Plan your child’s diet according to nutritional guidelines, limit his electronic use to no more than two hours per day, ensure your child gets an hour’s worth of exercise or active play time every day, and establish bedtime rituals to ensure your child gets enough sleep. Be sure you are also eating well, exercising and making smart decisions to model healthy behavior and choices.

Strategy Nine: Establish Collaborative Relationships with other important adults

If you and your child’s other birth parent are divorced, make peace with him or her and with yourself. Be involved with and create positive energy between you and your child’s teachers, day care providers, and other adults in their lives. Intervene when there is a problem and work with, not against, others to find a viable solution.

Strategy Ten: Get help if your child is demonstrating problems you’re unable to fix

One of the strongest things a parent can do is seek help when it’s needed. Identify when there is a problem you cannot solve yourself and seek expert advice. Be supportive, understanding and open during treatment or therapy.