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Somehow as parents we think if we have a tough season in parenting, we are doing something wrong. Sometimes that is correct and we are actually a little off somewhere. Other times, it’s just the season we are in, part of the path for this child and something we need to walk through as a family.

Consider this: when you were five years old, did you know what you would be doing when you graduated high school? When you graduated, did you have the next 20 years figured out in advance? Today are you living the life as you decided it would be when you were 20? Most likely, the answers to those questions are no. How many times have you course-corrected over your lifetime? Probably more than you can count. So why do we expect so much out of our kids? Why don’t we build in wiggle room for course-correction along the way instead of panicking when we hit a tough season?

Here are three tips to keep in mind if you are parenting in a tough season:

Tip #1: Breathe. You cannot help your children if you are stressed out and unable to think clearly. Can you re-prioritize? Can you drop some of the tasks from your plate? Can you take a short break to clear your head? Similar to the instructions you receive on an airplane before take-off, you need to find out how to put your oxygen mask on first.

Tip #2: Feel. You are not going to solve a relational problem with your kids 100% in your head. They must feel your heart. You are going to need to tap into your compassion, empathy, understanding, curiosity and grace. This is a human being in front of you. This is a separate person with their own dreams, challenges, fears and ideas. How can you connect with this person and build a bridge to a better outcome?

Tip #3: Communicate. Communication is a two-way street. Kids don’t want to be lectured; they want to be loved. Often times parents love by lecturing. It’s well-meaning, but ineffective. Ask questions out of curiosity, not judgment. Listen to understand, not to blame. Open up to new ideas and work with your child towards an acceptable outcome. The critical thinking and relational skills they learn in this process will serve them their whole life.

These are just some of the skills I teach in my parenting classes. Relationship building is key in parenting, and most people don’t realize that. If you want your children to follow your guidance, you are going to have to create a connection and a relationship of trust. When they are little, they will follow you regardless. However, as they get older, you will lose them in the tough seasons if you have not built a relationship. In their teen and young adult years, they are making decisions that will impact them the rest of their life. That’s the time you want to have a voice. Ironically, it’s also the time they don’t have to give you one.

There are many creative ways to create and maintain healthy relationships with our children at all ages. If you are in a tough season of attitude, behavior issues, lack of communication or other frustrating situations, contact me for a free 15-minute phone consultation (951-240-1407 or traci@alovingway.com). I can help you assess what is happening and how to resolve it. You can also sign up for our free monthly newsletter for great parenting tips and insights each month! http://www.alovingway.com/newsletter.htm