Everything Versus Something

It happens at the most surprising moments.  A flash of inspiration bolts into our heart, and like Nike, the energy shouts, “Just do it!”

Perhaps it was a sidelong glance at well-mannered children in another family, or even one of the articles on this site.  Every so often the burning desire to change, to make a substantial difference in the life of our child, consumes us.

“From now on, I will pay more attention to my child in the evenings,” pronounces Dad.

“From this day forward I shall never lose my temper,” Mom exclaims.

Good intentions.  Wonderful intentions.

Yet what happens the next day, or the following week?  The majority of the time we are back to where we started, and any progress caused by the inspiration has long since disappeared.

We want to be better parents, yet changing habits and personality is so difficult!

Here is a tip that will allow you to make substantial- although not instantaneous- positive changes in your parenting style:

First, a short fable:

The simplicity of this concept can be demonstrated by the ancient story of the Greek wrestler who would carry a calf on his shoulders for a few hours each day.  He did so from the time that the calf was born until she was three years old – and despite the fact that the calf grew heavier and heavier, he was able to do so.  Those who watched him were amazed at his incredible strength; those who heard about it did not believe what they heard.  None of them realized that what he done was fooling his subconscious mind by conditioning it.

His mind was well aware that lifting a full grown cow was a virtually impossible feat for a human being.  However, lifting a newborn calf was within the wrestler’s abilities.  The day-to-day growth of the animal was so slight it was nearly imperceptible.  His strength increased daily in minute increments.

And therein lays the secret to accomplishing the impossible, the formidable or the overwhelming:

Break your huge task into many smaller goals.  Create goals that are relatively easy to accomplish.  The next step is to build upon them.

The bottom line is this:  If you can make one change, you have the ability change once more, and then a third time as well.

Today, let’s start small.  Small, yet effectively.

What is the little parenting resolution you are going to make today?  Share below, and please do post your progress!

To our success!

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  1. Before sending out this email, I’ll volunteer to publicly state my own resolution here.

    I’m not a morning person… never have been!

    I tend to set my alarm for 25 minutes prior to the time I must wake up to have smooth morning with the children, and then get out of bed 30 minutes (that’s 8 snooze hits!) after the initial ring.

    For this coming week (aside from weekends) I will set my alarm with sufficient time to have a wonderful morning with my children -even if an emergency like a lost shoe or spilled cereal occurs- and get out of bed at with that first ring of my clock!

    My commitment is for one week, and I hope to up that to 2 weeks and then a month after this week has ended… please understand that I have not made this a commitment for life, we’re starting out SMALL!

    I’ll report back hear in a week:)

  2. My resloution for the week is to play with Zacka dn his dinosuars at least 20 minutes in the evening. It’s really hard for me to get into playing dinosuars and monsters all the time, but I’m going to try.

  3. This post makes me cry, guess I have some guilt of all the things I would like to do better. I’ve been told that I am hard on myself, and maybe I am, but I always feel like I could be more involved and more enthusiastic when it comes to the things the kids are interested in.
    So here goes..

    This week my goal is to play with each of my kids (I have two) for 20 minutes each..their choice…We do things together, but alone time is hard to find.

    thanks for the reminder..

  4. My committment this week, to devote at least 20 mins a day to playing trains with my little guy, Reagan. I know this will be hard for me, my “mommy’s task” list is growing daily…

    I can do this… one week at a time.

  5. Great post. Small steps is indeed a very effective way to change, eliminate, or develop a habit.

    I wrote a post in my blog that describes this technique in more depth and has some forms you can use to help you keep track of your progress.

    I call it “small victories”, you can find it here:


    – Rodger

  6. I will take a walk with my kids to discuss each day’s happenings. It’s free and good for us. The kids always enjoy it (and so does the dog).

  7. My resolution is to relax around my 17yr old son, and look for the positive. He’s a good kid, but I know I worry too much about what he could or might be doing. I wish small souls had been around when my children were babies!

  8. The fable is also why we are given babies – so our parenting skills can develop with the child. Managing a stroppy 9 year old is hard, imagine if you were doing it without 9 years of practice?!

    Oh, and that snooze button! Mine comes in the shape of a wriggly, cuddly boy – a good half hour before I would ever want to be awake 🙂

  9. My goal is to honor my 16 yr. old daughter’s request not to ask her if she’s meeting with a teacher for help regarding a class she’s currently failing. She knows the ramification for failing will be repeating the class again next year, as well as not being allowed (by law) to participate in track. I must allow her to succeed or fail on her own and deal with any negative consequences she incurs. I must realize her successes and/or failures are not a direct reflection upon me as a parent. I’ve modeled and provided guidance, and I must allow her some independence. I will always be her parent, but I won’t always parent her.

  10. I will get the bedtime routine started 15 minutes earlier for the rest of this week so I am not so stressed that the kids are up late because my stress makes their bedtime even later which makes my stress go up which makes them even harder to get to sleep which makes my stress go up…

  11. Ellen, a week? That’s no *small* victory. How about a day? Then after a week, move to two days…then three. Seriously, you sound like me in the mornings, and just one day is a victory! Plus, if your goal is a week and you don’t make it the first day, your goal for the week is shot.

    Also, I find it helps to incent myself. For example, “I will get up when my alarm rings the first time, and I will ‘reward’ myself with a nice cup of green tea with breakfast because I’ll actually have time to make it.” So, when the alarm goes off, I think about how much I will enjoy that cup of tea. 🙂

    Good luck tomorrow morning!

  12. Lisa Marie says:

    For the rest of this week I will slowly count to 10 instead of losing my temper and yelling at my 8-year old daughter.

    She’s a lovely little girl, but likes to daydream and it drives me crazy especially when we have someplace to go!

  13. I love this idea because only small changes weekly can add up to be big changes later. My goal this week is not to nag my girls(3) to get their household work done. Gentle reminder and then a reasonable consequence. Here is to small steps. And thank goodness it gets easier to parent as your children get older ie. You break ground with your first, things get easier with your second and the third is a breeze.

  14. I will sit and listen to my Kindergarten son read at his level 15 minutes every night this week. I know I am a terrible parent for not doing this already, but our evenings are always so busy that reading gets pushed to the side. I am a teacher, and I know better, but it still happens. I will do this for my son.

  15. For the rest of this week I will moderate my voice when talking to my 2-year-old and try to remember not to dwell on the little things (like messes, dawdling and raspberries).

  16. Mary,

    I’m bad about that also with Zack. He wants us to read to him at night. We do some nights and then other nights it just gets pushed aside. We get so darn busy at night.

  17. I promise to be more patient at home – We have 4 boys – 4 1/2 yrs, 2 1/2 yrs, 1 1/2 yr and 4 mos – yikes! When I get frustrated due to the evening craziness – I promise to take a moment to myself – think – and step back into my family 8)

    I only make things worse when I get upset.

  18. I am going to try to not yell after asking my kids to do something repeatedly. I’m going to calmly state the consequences of not listening. Man, this is a tough one!!!

  19. Laura A. – I agree! A big challenge of mine is bedtime. Not so much a problem with my 11-year-old, but my 8 and 6 year olds are NEVER done with all of their important doings by bedtime. Start off with eating dinner 15 minutes earlier…hopefully this will help everything else that leads up to bedtime run more on-time and smoothly. I resolve to get dinner on the table 15 minutes earlier…then bathtime will be 15 minutes earlier…and the struggle to get everyone in bed will start 15 minutes earlier. The less stress the better!

  20. I will try to decompress from my work day BEFORE I pick up my son from daycare and go home to prepare dinner for myself, my husband and my son. I tend to race from work to daycare to home to the kitchen and I often find myself snapping at either my husband or my son becuase I am tired and haven’t taken a few minutes to myself all day long.
    I know that taking care of myself will make me better able to care for my husband and son, but knowing and doing are such different things….

  21. Like so many others I find myself not really paying attention to my children. I don’t remember where I first heard it but the saying “Children spell love T-I-M-E” really hits home. I will give each of my kids 15 min of my undivided attention every night this week.

  22. I made a commitment at new year with my 4-year-old that we would try to whisper instead of shouting. We try very hard but it is VERY difficult. We have worked in small steps; I make sure I smile when I collect him from childcare, we both try to come home in a good mood – me from work, him from visiting daddy. I have started to remove favoured toys rather than arguing with him in the morning – he refuses to get up / stop playing with his toys / clean his teeth etc and the only way to not get cross is to have a sanction. Getting to nursery otherwise is a nightmare. My best piece of advice from a friend was to choose your battles – only get cross when it really matters – I used to set my phone to remind me at 8am each day – it helped! We have made majot progress since January but it requires constant effort on my part or we have setbacks.

  23. You guys have made me feel a little better about the time I spend reading with my son–very rarely. I love to read, and you just can’t read adult books aloud to a 2 year old. And he always wants to turn the page before I am done reading it. I have little patience and would rather not deal with it.

    So I guess I vow to start at least once a week reading with my son, and maybe in time I can be doing it every day.

  24. I agree with Kelly. So often I am repeating the same thing over & over…”brush your teeth”, “pick up your toys”, “clean you room”. Until I find myself exploding, instead of stating it once(maybe twice), then following through with a consequence. I will now stay CALM, and follow through.

  25. Reading is something that I have made a commitment to do with my son every day as I know that all the research shows that boys do not like narrative (story) books as they get older but prefer fact books. If we don’t engage their interest when they are young then they wont want to read when they get a little bigger so they wont be good at reading and therefore wont do well at school. It is most important for daddies to read to boys or they will think it is a girl thing and will again disengage. I have always read at least 1 story every day – even if that only takes 2 minutes – it’s a more realistic target than doing a specific length of time (particularly if bedtime is running late). It is also fantastic for language development as conversation can start with the book.