There’s a very simple definition for intentional parenting. Being an intentional parent simply means making informed and conscious parenting choices. Intentionality in parenting means finding the time to connect with each of your kids, but also finding the time to connect with yourself in order to be more intentional with your actions and reactions.
Parenting with intentionality will bring you and your child greater happiness. Here are ten easy things you can start doing today to become more intentional in your approach.
1 | Believe in yourself
Science says that the extent to which you feel capable of effectively managing the challenges your kid encounters has an impact on how she will deal with life’s transitions. In other words, parenting efficacy suggests that whether or not you think of yourself as a “good enough parent” has an impact on how you parent and on the overall satisfaction you derive from parenting.
How to be intentional in your parenting
No one in this world knows you better than you know yourself. Reflect on your beliefs and your values: What really matters to you? How do you want to raise your kids?
Parenting efficacy is also influenced by whether or not you feel supported in your parenting journey, and by the positive relationships and interactions you share with others. Build yourself a solid support network you can turn to when in need of help.
2| Don’t forget that childhood is not a race
We live in an age of competition, in an era where it seems almost natural to pit kids against each other. But here’s the thing: childhood is not a race. Your child is unique and expecting him to act like his siblings, friends, cousins or classmates will only make him miserable.
What you can do to raise your kid through intentional parenting
- Let you child know that he can count on you.
- Let him know that your life wouldn’t be the same without him
- Foster his sense of self-acceptance. Some researchers have found that although self-acceptance is possibly the key to a happier life, it is one of the habits practiced least. Teaching your child to develop a positive image of himself is one of parents’ fundamental roles.
- While it might be difficult to help children develop positive self-talk, how you speak to your child can have an impact in the childhood years and beyond.
- Set reasonable expectations. Don’t expect more than he can give.
- Let him know that his best is good enough.
- Help your child see himself as a successful person (“I know you can do it,” “Yes you can.” “I knew you would make it,” “wow, how did you come up with that?”). Focus on his positive traits and let him hear all the lovely things you think of him. Download your free printable of 50 phrases every child needs to hear below.
3| Let go of the driver’s seat
You child learns best through trial and error. Being too quick to rescue her can make her get accustomed to the fact that there will always be someone to smooth out difficult patches. While there is a strong link between parental intervention and children’s well-being, research shows that being over-responsive to children can be counterproductive.
Science says that inappropriate parental intervention can lead your child to develop greater anxiety and stress and could even lead her to develop ineffective coping skills in adulthood.
What you can do promote intentional parenting:
- Give your children chores. Research has found that giving your kid regular chores may have long-lasting benefits academically, socially, emotionally, and professionally. Here are over 70 chore cards you can use to actually get your kids to do chores.
- Let your child be bored. Provide less structured learning environments where your children can use their imagination to entertain themselves.
4 | Be Democratic
Much evidence suggests that when you adopt a democratic parenting style, you reduce the chances of socially and psychologically destructive behavior. Being a democratic parent means viewing your child as an individual with his own ideas, desires and opinions, and allowing him to express them even when they are different from your own.
How to be a more intentional parent
- Allow your child to participate in family decisions
- Encourage him to express his opinions
- Be willing to listen to his point of view.
5 | Celebrate Simplicity
It has often been said that the best things in life are free. That “stuff” doesn’t buy happiness. Voluntary simplicity revolves around the idea that much of life’s satisfaction can be obtained through immaterial things. According to Duane Elgin, voluntary simplicity is “a deliberate choice to live with less.”
Voluntary simplicity is an easy way to adopt intentional parenting and to teach your kid that happiness can be found in simple things. This way of living has also been proven to spur creativity.
How to make your parenting actions more intentional:
- Teach your kids to enjoy simple pleasures – walks in the park, taking pictures of animals, collecting objects in their environment.
- Adopt fun and simple family traditions focused more on spending time together as a family.
- Guide your kids to find and create alternatives to store-bought toys.
- Model by example. Donate or get rid of objects you no longer need.
6 | Make time to bond with your kids everyday
Is there ever enough time when you’re a parent? Finding the time to spend with your kids is not always easy, yet it is this time spent together that determines your bond and the type of relationship you build during the childhood years and beyond. Regardless of how much you have on your plate, it is always possible to find moments to spend with your kids. Intentional parenting is about connecting with your child every day. The good news is that there are relatively easy ways to make time even when you have a crazy schedule.
Simple ways to be intentional in your parenting
- Grab little pieces of time to connect – when shopping, driving in the car, waiting in queue, etc.
- Start morning or evening routines that help you connect with your kid
- Get specific about one thing you’ll do with your kids every day and when. Grab my free 30-day challenge to help you spend more family time. And here’s the best part: all activities can be done within 10 to 15 minutes and are completely free. Grab your free printable copy below.
7 | Become an Emotions Coach
Most of your child’s behavior is driven by emotions: anger, frustration, fear, sadness, etc. Teaching your child to identify and respond in an appropriate manner to difficult emotions has many benefits. An emotionally intelligent child has better social relationships, fewer behavioral problems, and better academic outcomes.
Here’s how you can adopt intentional parenting
- Work on your own emotions first.
- Increase your child’s awareness of her emotions.
- Teach her to identify her triggers.
- Teach her to avoid repressing her emotions.
- Teach her appropriate ways to respond to powerful emotions. The Emotions Kit is filled with age-appropriate resources to help you communicate with your child about emotions
8| Open Up Your Child’s World
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity.”
Curiosity is one of the ways in which openness is manifested. Contrary to popular belief, curiosity is not innate; if it is not stimulated, it dies. Curiosity has been tied to many benefits. Some studies have found that there is a strong relationship between curiosity, intelligence, and scholastic aptitude. Other studies have found that curiosity enhances creativity and is as important as intelligence in determining academic outcomes.
Easy tips to become more intentional in your parenting
- Fuel the fire for learning. Provide opportunities that help your child explore different experiences.
- Provide less-structured environments. Less-structured environments refer to environments in which you provide your child with some structure then let him make decisions within that structure. For instance, you can propose an activity or provide the necessary resources to accomplish an activity, and then let him carry out the activity by himself.
9 | Negotiate
All aspects of life involve some form of negotiation. Good negotiation reduces conflict, builds rapport, and makes all concerned parties feel like winners. It turns out that negotiation is also one of the most powerful family conflict management tools. What’s more, researchers have found that families that negotiate are happier and more likely to stick together.
How to be an intentional parent
- Prepare like a “master negotiator”: What’s the real issue? Are there underlying issues? Have you explored all the possible options ?
- Pick the right timing. Make sure you’re both calm before you begin negotiations.
- Be clear on your non-negotiables: “I need to know where you are at all times and I need to know who you’re hanging out with.” Being clear on your non-negotiables makes it easier to determine what you can be flexible about. Here’s are useful tips on how to use negotiation to reduce family conflict
10 | Talk About Money
Although money is a taboo subject for many parents, teaching your child about the value of money at an early age provides her with important tools to navigate adult life. Research has shown that by the time kids turn seven, they’ve already formed money habits. However, researchers have found that the best way to teach children money matters is to use real life situations because young kids are unable to understand abstract financial contexts.
How to become an intentional parent:
- Defer gratification. Teach your child about the importance of waiting.
- Let your child handle some money.
- Teach your child to save by saving yourself. Let him see you put away money in a savings jar.
- Encourage your child to save some of the money he receives.
- Remove temptations whenever possible. There is proof that children exposed to too many advertisements request more toys than those who watch fewer TV advertisements. Here are useful tips to teach young kids about money.