Tricks and Treats of Parenting

Happy Halloween! This holiday is sure to be filled with fun tricks and tasty treats, along with lots of pumpkins, witches, and black cats. From trick-or-treating to bobbing for apples, there are so many fun ways to celebrate.

Here’s a really unique approach: Take a little time to reflect on the tricks and treats of parenting!

Here are some parenting “tricks” that will save you a few headaches, along with some of the treats only parents can fully enjoy.

Parenting Tricks

Good parents always have good tricks up their sleeves

Read Familiar Stories at Bedtime

Reading is often touted as a way to encourage children to fall asleep. But what if reading is actually keeping children awake because they get so engaged in the story? Read stories they have already heard at bedtime, and save the new stories for other occasions. If you stick to stories they have heard before, they won’t stay awake in suspense, wondering what will happen. The sound of your voice will still lull them to sleep.

Have Your Kids Help Cook Veggies

Are there healthy foods you wish your kids would eat? Try having them help prepare those foods! If they peel carrots, steam them, and sprinkle on the seasoning, they’ll feel more comfortable with the food and will likely be more willing to try it. You can even take this one step further and grow some of their least-favorite veggies at home. After watching a cucumber grow for months, they’ll actually be excited to taste it.

Teach Manners By Example

Constantly insisting your child say “please” and “thank you” or that they use their manners at the table can get tiresome. Try leading by example instead. Your children’s manners may not improve immediately, but over time they will mimic your polite behavior. You won’t have to nag them (which can result in them eventually ignoring you).

Schedule Doctor’s Appointments in the Morning

Always try to get the earliest appointment possible for the pediatrician, a specialist, or dental exams. Kids often have the most patience in the morning, so they’ll have an easier time sitting through the appointment. Plus, they (and you) won’t have so many hours to get anxious. The appointment will be over early, and you can then spend the rest of your day doing something that you both enjoy as a reward. If doctors’ appointments are followed by a fun and rewarding activity, your child may look forward to them.

Allow Time for Cleanup After Playtime

So often, parents designate one room as the playroom so they can let that room get messy without worrying about toys being strewn throughout the rest of the home. But simply letting your kids keep the playroom messy can keep them from learning responsible cleanup routines. A good way to teach cleanup skills is to always announce to your kids, “Time to clean up!” about 10 minutes before the end of playtime. They can spend a little time cleaning up and then move on to the next activity.

Parenting Treats

Every parent feels a little overwhelmed and exhausted sometimes, but the little things make it all worthwhile. Here are some of the most enjoyable treats that come with being a parent:

Recognizing Yourself in Them

Sooner or later, your child will do something that makes you think, “Wow! That’s exactly what I would have done!” Maybe they say a word a certain way, or perhaps they make a certain facial expression in response to a friend. The first time you recognize yourself in your child, you will feel a really strong and unique connection to them that doesn’t fade.

Watching Them Experience Nature

While most people enjoy nature as an adult, it does not quite have that same wonder as it did when we were young — that is, until you watch your children experience it for the first time. Watching their eyes light up the first time they watch a beautiful butterfly or see a snake slither into the bushes can renew your own appreciation for this beautiful planet. It’s so amazing to watch a little human interact with the natural world!

Helping Them Discover Their Own Interests

Every child has their own unique interests and passions. Watching children discover those interests and passions is such a pleasure. You may have to encourage them to try a few different things and attend a few different classes before something “clicks,” but when it does, you’ll know it. They’ll want to spend all of their time doing that activity, whether it’s horseback riding, karate, soccer… Watching your children discover their passion is essentially watching them become who they’re meant to be.

Receiving Gifts from Them

Early on, you may help your children pick out or make gifts for their loved ones. At some point, your children will take this on themselves. They’ll create something for you and present it to you as a surprise, perhaps on your birthday or for another occasion. You may tear up when they do! There is something indescribably wonderful about knowing your child loves you and wanted to give you something meaningful to show that love. You’ll treasure that gift forever.

Watching Them Care for Someone Else

Maybe they help an injured friend. Perhaps they give their siblings a hug and say “I love you.” Watching your children show care and compassion to someone else will light up your heart since you are the one that taught them care and compassion. These interactions will assure you you’re on the right track and you’re raising a loving, caring kid with empathy for others.

So, there you have it; the tricks and treats of parenting! Keep these tricks and treats in mind as you go about your Halloween celebrations this season. You never know when one of the tricks might come in handy, and these treats are sure to come your way sooner or later. Enjoy; parenting is a fun ride despite its challenges.

Anthony Cupo is a trained mindfulness facilitator (TMF) from the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. He is a co-owner of Stepping Forward Counseling Center, LLC and has been meditating for over 30 years.

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