success

The Best Parenting Advice I Ever Received: Set Yourself Up for Success

After I had my children, my grandmother gave me some great advice. “Set yourself up for success, she said.

Wise wise words. It has become a philosophy in our house and affected many parenting decisions we’ve had to make. Set yourself up for success means not creating habits that don’t serve you well. It means not necessarily taking the shortcut if that starts a behavior you’ll only have to correct later. It means not doing something that will inevitably exhaust you and rob you of all your emotional and physical resources.

It’s the antithesis of credit card parenting.

Think of “set yourself up for success” in light of certain behaviors that can easily become habits. These may (or may not including your own household, values, and principles) be behaviors to think about beforehand:

  • giving them snacks/sweets to pacify their mood
  • allowing disrespectful back talk
  • buying treats every time you go shopping
  • letting kids play on your phone or with other screens
  • offering the pacifier too much (I love the pacifier – really do, but some over do it)
  • feeding or rocking a child to sleep (great for bonding but long term is a difficult habit to break)
  • allowing children to get out of their beds when they choose
  • letting them refuse meals and then preparing something else
  • allowing kids to receive anything and not say please and thank you

Thoughts on Set Yourself Up For Success

Avoid Behaviors That Could Become Bad Habits

People say that habits can form after doing something only 21 times (which I totally agree with). This just gets amplified when you are dealing with kids because you say the same thing like 100 times a day. Behaviors can turn into habits real quickly.

You can do one unhelpful but convenient behavior a few times a few weeks in a row and – boom – ugly habit formed. One such example is nursing or rocking your baby to sleep. I get it.

All the hugging, rocking, and kissing, one can never get enough. Tuy nhiên, I am also a firm believer in putting your children into their crib awake (drowsy, but awake) so they can learn to put themselves to sleep.

If you nurse a baby to sleep for one week, that’s over 50 times that you’ve done it. Think about doing it for a few months… that’s over 500 times you’ve consistently done the same behavior. The baby depends on it and needs it to fall asleep. And soon, you are unable to keep up that intensity any longer because you’re exhausted.

Kids Get Used To Things And Don’t Want To Change

Even adults hate change so why wouldn’t children? There are lots of little things you do that kids will get used to and consequently become “dependent” on. This is not a bad thing in itself, as routine does bring security.

Trong thực tế, there’s a lot of good in doing things consistently. Bedtime routines, dinner time, and rhythms your family adopts will have a positive and beneficial effect on your kids. But, depending on the behavior at hand, it may be something that’s a lot harder to stop than to start.

This is why it was important for me to make sure my kids got used to the things I considered correct (so they wouldn’t have to change). This is why I don’t say ‘No’ to my children or in my household.

1) I encouraged my children to use full sentences (even if they were 18 months and the sentences were only three words) to stimulate their vocabularies and 2) We instituted that anytime they wanted to say ‘no’, they said “no thank you’ instead. In their minds, no thank =no, and I’m grateful for that.

It’s Not About Right And Wrong, It’s About Sustainability

Everyone on earth is unique, I mean, who would want it any different? Since we are all different and our family dynamics vary, there will be some things you do that I don’t do and some things I do that you wouldn’t.

Aside from neglect and abuse, I think many areas of parenting come down to your personal and family priorities, values, and preferences. Most of the tips I suggest here are not what I think is the only way, but simply, what I have found to be the easiest way.

I don’t mean easy in the short-term. I mean easy in the long-term. And those are two very different things. By starting out well and setting a good pace, I’m positioning my child and myself to “succeed.”

If I start a marathon sprinting I simply won’t make it far without injury and likely will never finish. A good question I like to ask myself when I make a parenting decision is…

Can I do this every day (good or bad) and will this decision make my child a better person?

Hard Work Always Comes At The Front End

Time and time again I’m reminded that the shortcut is rarely the better way. What we do in the moment that seems convenient is often just putting off the hard work until later. That’s a little thing known as credit card parenting.

Rarely is it a good idea to take the easy way now and put the hard yards off. Plant first, harvest later. Now, something I consider to be annoying may not even phase another mother so understand, this is all relative. The point is that if you begin working towards your goal immediately, you’ll arrive sooner.

We all do it. We all take a few shortcuts here and there and sometimes end up in a habit with our children that drives us bonkers. It can happen with children of any age. If we just keep the idea “set yourself up for success” in the back of our minds from Day 1, or starting now, then we’ll likely avoid having to correct undesirable habits later.