Friday, March 5, 2010

What's In Your Parenting Toolbox?

By Pam Dyson

Parenting, like any other job, has tools that can make the job a little easier. Sometimes we already have these tools at our disposal but we’ve forgotten to use them. I have put together a list of essentials for your parenting tool box and suggestions on how to use them effectively.
A Calendar:
A calendar is the most important parenting tool. Children are aware of the importance of calendars because they see you using them. Many families have a large one in their kitchen and use a different coloured pen to note each family member’s activities. You could also use a calendar as a way to monitor your children’s TV viewing time and when they are allowed special treats. When your child asks you if he can watch TV or have candy you can tell him to check the calendar. You’ve diverted an argument because he’s going to have a difficult time arguing with the calendar. If you were to note on that same calendar a special “Mommy and Nick time” just think of the message you’d be sending to your child. Wow! I’m so important to mom that she puts our time together on the calendar!
A Timer:
Children, especially young ones, have no concept of time. Whether it’s ten minutes or an hour it’s all the same to them. Help your child understand how long she has left to play before dinner by using a timer. Explain that when the timer goes off it’s time to come to the table. For children who don’t transition easily you can set the timer to go off five minutes before dinner so she has a heads up. Set the timer and play the beat the clock when it’s time to clean up toys. When you’ve had a challenging day and your kids have you pulling out your hair give yourself a time out. Tell them you’re going to take a ten minute break. Set the timer and tell them to come and get you when it goes off.

Sticky Notes:
Use sticky notes to teach your child organization and how to complete tasks. Write each step of a task on a sticky note and put them on the wall or on the refrigerator in numerical or alphabetical order or use a different coloured note for each step. Your child removes the sticky note upon completing each step. It’s a great way for a child to visually see how a task is completed following a step by step process.

Love Notes:
Little things can make such an impact on children. Tuck a love note in your child’s lunch box, on their dinner plate or under their pillow. Better yet, mail them a note. Your child will be thrilled to get a piece of mail from you. Do it on a regular basis and encourage your children to do it for their siblings.

These parenting tools can be used to avoid problems, set limits and teach your child new skills. Not every tool will work with every child so adapt them to fit your unique situation.

Check out Pam Dyson, MA, LPC Child Development Expert, Parenting Coach and Licensed Professional Counselor at; and


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