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How Parents Can Move Forward After an Unprecedented Year

Last year our worlds changed almost overnight, and we found ourselves working from home or maybe out of a job. We were thrust into the role of teacher and unable to access the supports we were used to: friends and relatives were no longer able to step in to help for fear of COVID spread, activities were canceled. Some of us look back and see that we were not doing our best parenting….and that is entirely understandable. We all made mistakes last year. The pressure was intense, and the unknowns were daunting. How do we move forward?

Give ourselves grace: We are living through tough times. Self-compassion is essential right now to calm and ground our nervous systems and give us clarity. Our kids made mistakes this year too, and they were not their best selves either. They will benefit from our compassion, understanding, and grace. Consider doing less this year to reserve your energy so that you can access compassion and grace.

Repair relationships that need repairing: When we apologize to our kids, we model the courage and skills we want them to have in their relationships. Follow the Steps of Repair:

  • Regather: Take the time to regulate and get calm.
  • Recognize & Take Responsibility: Acknowledge that you made a mistake and own your actions. “I blew it. I realize I made a mistake.”
  • Reconcile: Offer a genuine apology. Be brief and genuine (no explanations or excuses). “I am sorry.”
  • Resolve: Commit to doing better next time. Ask the other person how you can fix your mistake and move forward together, honoring any agreements you make.

Offer Forgiveness: Everyone is struggling right now. When our kids blow it, be sure they know that you forgive them. Forgive yourself for any mistakes you have been making.

Normalize making mistakes: Mistakes are inevitable in 2021. Could you create a new, calm attitude about them?  Allow your kids to see you fixing your mistakes. Be a model for gracious mistake-making, showing an attitude of self-compassion and curiosity about what you learned.

Lean into mistakes with curiosity: When mistakes are normalized and acknowledged with grace and curiosity, they can be influential teachers and can create situations of great possibility. Rather than ignoring or downplaying mistakes, dive into exploring and examining them.

Problem-solve together:  Find the irritation points that had your household struggling last year.  Together with your children, brainstorm potential solutions. If this is a problem in which a child has a particular role, encourage them to choose a solution to try for a week. Check back at week’s end. If that solution did not work, keep at it. Ask your child to choose a new solution to try. Be sure your child knows that you are their ally, and together, you will solve the problem. Review or check out Sound Discipline’s problem-solving video for support.