You have probably heard of the best-selling [amazon asin=B00CMC2QAQ&text=7 Habits of Highly Effective People] by Dr. Steven Covey. I was surprised to find out that he has written a less well known parenting book called the [amazon asin=0684860082&text=7 habits of highly effective families] as well! I was listening to an interview in which he shared his favourite parenting techniques and they resonated a lot with me. His underlying idea is that the main job of the parent is to communicate the child’s worth and potential in such a way that the child sees and believes it himself. He recommends families to work out a mission statement or guiding principles with their kids to help them navigate difficult situations. Though the idea of having a formal mission statement may sound slightly cheesy, the idea of sitting down and discussing what sort of a family each member would enjoy being part of and reminding each one of this in times of conflict sounds very reasonable.
Other ideas are that of an emotional bank account that you have with each family member and that it is important to limit negative remarks and criticism to a maximum of 20% of interactions/moments and to make sure a large part of your communication is encouraging, kind and friendly. He also recommends planning goals on a long-term horizon to make sure you focus on what’s most important to you (health, your family, your beliefs) rather than planning activities on a daily basis which often leads to putting secondary things first (rushing to a class, fulfilling chores) which leads to frustration and conflict.
I especially liked his idea of focusing on [amazon asin=0684860082&text=First Things First](as it happens, that is also the title of another of his books) and that includes putting your family and your relationship with your children above what others think about you. He describes how one of his eldest children did not live up to his community’s expectations in terms of academic achievement or behaviour and the parents got so upset about this that it ruined their relationship with their son. Once they decided to ignore what other people thought about their son and saw him for who he was, interestingly his perceived “issues” disappeared. I remembered an experience I had with my toddler when I woke her in the middle of her nap to rush to a birthday party because I didn’t want to be late, and because she had misbehaved just recently and I was overtired myself, I told her to behave and not to embarrass me at the party. Of course, with that set up, everything went horribly wrong. But I realised how I had brought this onto myself and invested many weeks repairing the damage afterwards. These ideas have relevance for your choice of nursery or prep school as well: are you going to choose what is best for your child and her individual needs or are you going to worry about what others might think about you and how “prestigious” a school is? Hopefully we all make the right choice!
If you don’t want to buy the book, you can listen to a one hour free interview with the author here (it is #3 on this list of top ten podcasts) and you can probably skip the first 5 minutes of intro and the last 5 minutes to save you time!