Positive parenting wins are quick actions that build momentum fast and set the tone for the day! In his bestselling book, Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World, author William H. McRaven suggests that everyone should begin their day by making their bed with excellence. The simplicity of this advice puzzled me. How does a book that suggests we can change our lives and the world by making our bed get thousands of rave reviews and reach the bestsellers list? I wondered. After all, making your bed is hardly new wisdom.
Admiral McRaven’s unique twist is that he is teaching far more than a bed-making habit. Instead, his focus is on developing a mindset of excellence. Making one’s bed in the morning is simply the means of getting there. McRaven frames making one’s bed as a strategy for starting one’s day with excellence and, in so doing, scoring a quick win for the day. Although the advice is simple, it’s also pure genius.
An Experiment in Excellence
I took Admiral McRaven’s advice to heart and put it to the test (Yes, I actually began making my own bed). The mornings I began my day with this quick win, more wins naturally followed. In other words, Admiral McRaven isn’t so much an advocate for bed-making as he is for starting each day with excellence. In fact, as a result of reading his book, I still begin each day with this routine and have completed it well over 88 times.
One of my all-time favorite quotes comes from a man by the name of Ray Tucker. Ray says, “There are two types of leaders, those who generate energy and those who consume energy. Be a leader who generates energy.” I believe the same is true for parents. There are two types of parents, those who champion joy and those who consume joy. This post is all about practicing three simple strategies for transforming into a parent who champions joy, positive connection, and excellence in your home! Similar to Admiral McRaven’s advice, the suggestions in this post are all about racking up a series of quick positive parenting wins and setting a positive emotional tone for the rest of the day!"There are two types of leaders, those who generate energy and those who consume energy. Be a leader who generates energy." ~Ray Tucker Click To Tweet
Why Joy and Positive Parenting is Needed More Than Ever
It’s 2020, the year of COVID, riots, racial tensions, polarized election talk, and increased stress. Many parents I know are exhausted. They are scrambling to keep up with work, changing school schedules, and trying to manage their own stress buildup well.
The bright side is that increased challenges also bring increased opportunities for growth. While 2020 certainly has its unique challenges, it can also be a year when parents refine their ability to manage their own stress well. It can be a time when families draw closer together, plan better, and team up like never before. In fact, I believe that there is no better time to pass on these invaluable life skills to our kiddos than right now.
So how do we accomplish this?
3 Positive Parenting Wins
What if all parents put a slight twist on Admiral McWillam’s advice and started each day by generating positive parenting momentum? If every parent did this, I believe our country would be a brighter place. Even with so much chaos happening in the world, I believe we parents can be part of the solution. The goal of this post is to equip all parents with a simple plan for starting each day with three quick positive parenting wins. By doing this, you will transform into a champion of joy in your home!
Positive Parenting Win #1: Create Your Personal Win
Attitudes are more often caught than taught. Jenny, my amazing wife, tells me that new research is showing that parents and teachers can actually do more harm than good if they try to teach skills they are not using themselves. This is why starting the day with a personal win is so important. We cannot impart to others that which we do not possess ourselves. So how will you begin each day with a quick personal win?
- Follow Admiral McRaven’s advice by making your bed with excellence.
- Dive into a thought-provoking book and begin the day with new learnings.
- Jump into an exercise routine and start by focusing on your personal health.
- Or firmly plant your feet on the floor and proclaim, “It’s going to be a great day!” Something BJ Fogg refers to as The Maui Habit in his book Tiny Habits.
The most important thing is that once your personal win is complete, you celebrate! This means recognizing that you created a win. The goal is to set the tone for a day of excellence. By creating a quick win for yourself, you are now off to an awesome start! You have taken charge of your own emotions and are now mentally and emotionally in a place where you can pass this skill off to your kids. Congratulations, you have created your first parenting win!
Now, let’s build even more momentum. There are two more quick wins left to create!
Positive Parenting Win #2: Create Your Relationship Win
Next, it’s time to create a quick relationship win. This will be with most likely be with your spouse or partner. According to social worker Daniel L. Buccino, “The most important relationship in any family is the marital one, and the best thing parents can do for their children is to love one another.” The overall divorce rate still hovers at 50%. Ongoing parental arguments are stressful for kids. Children are like sponges. They absorbed our attitudes, actions, and words.
When kids see that their parents are in love, it brings a sense of security, safety, and calm into the home. Thus, joyfully connecting with your spouse is, indeed, another positive parenting win. Once again, as parents, we cannot impart to others that which we do not possess ourselves. So what will your quick relationship win be?
It might be as simple as:
- A kind word
- A gentle smile
- A warm hug or a soft kiss
- Coffee and curiosity (Asking thought-proving questions is an excellent way to communicate “I am interested in you!)
- Simply enjoying a moment in one another’s presence
Happy couples talk about everything from finances to feelings. Their goal is to peer deeply into one another’s inner worlds.
How to “Trigger” Your Parenting Wins
The best way to create this second positive parenting win is to set a trigger for it. A trigger is a simple reminder that ignites the habit you want to create. Start by deciding when you will connect with your loved one. Will it be after you see him or her for the first time? After pouring the morning coffee? Or after sitting down for breakfast?
You’ve probably noticed the keyword in all of these statements is “after.” This is because the best way to form a new habit is to attach it to a practice that is already in place.
This connection win can take less than a minute, but don’t underestimate its power. For many couples I know, starting each day with a connection moment is a relationship game-changer. Congratulations again! That’s two positive parenting wins down, and only one left to go.
Positive Parenting Win #3: Create Your Parenting Win
Now it’s time to create a quick win with your child. How will you help him or her set a positive tone for the day?
Jenny and I have experimented with a number of different strategies. During various seasons of life,
- We’ve had each child share three things they are thankful for over breakfast.
- We’ve completed a family devotional together.
- I’ve been intentional about greeting each child by name and sitting down for a personal moment to connect.
- We’ve cooked breakfast together.
There is no single right way to create your morning parenting win. And these positive parenting wins can rotate over time. The key is that you are your child are starting the day off on a positive note.
Why Helping Our Kids Get Off to an Awesome Start Matters
Beginning with a series of positive parenting wins communicates, “Whatever negativity that happened yesterday stays with yesterday’s baggage.” Even in these times of high stress, parents can teach their kiddos how to start each day off right. If yesterday was a mess, then congratulations, you are normal. Life is messy for all families—especially those with kids.
The genius of Admiral McWilliam’s advice isn’t in the making of one’s bed but in starting the day with positive momentum. Parents who begin the day with excellence are more likely to integrate excellence and other wins into the rest of their day. And the same is true for our kids. Plus, a series of positive parenting wins is the perfect way to set a positive temperature for one’s home.
Jenny and I often encourage parents to be the thermostat and not the thermometer. A thermometer reacts to the weather around it, and a parenting thermometer reacts to the moods of others. A thermostat, on the other hand, doesn’t react. It sets the temperate of the room. It can be well below zero outside our home, yet thanks to a good thermostat, it’s toasty on the inside.
The goal of these three positive parenting wins is to get the day off to a good start and to create a home where warm, cozy, and connected is the norm! Oh, and congratulations one more time. You just created your third win of the morning. Your day is off to an amazing start!
Positive Parenting Alone
Of course, the best way to rack up a series of positive parenting wins is when your spouse is on board. But did you know this is not necessary? If you feel like you’re on this positive parenting journey alone, keep pressing forward. There is hope! One of my favorite parenting metaphors is that of the pebble and the pond. When a pebble is tossed into a lake, it sends ripples that extend all the way to the shore. Jenny and I firmly believe it only takes one person to change a relationship. If you change yourself… Grow… Become a happier person … Or, if you reach out to your loved one to connect better… Then everyone else in the home will have to adjust.
Families are systems. When one member changes, the others are impacted. So be the pebble that sends positive ripples of change into your home.
Do you want to change your spouse or your kids? Great, I am all for it! And the best place to start is by taking 100 percent responsibility for the controllables. Do this by growing yourself first. Put these there positive parenting wins into action. Start each day with a series of quick wins, and build momentum fast. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at just how powerful this simple parenting strategy can be!
Continuing the Parenting Wins Conversation
Knowing what we should do is never enough. Each of these three positive parenting wins takes less than a minute. So the excuse “Jed, this sounds great, but I don’t have the time” simply isn’t true.
Have you tried any of these parenting wins in the past? Are you willing to dive into them now? If so, I’d love to hear more. What do your three positive parenting wins look like? How are you creating a win for yourself, a win for your marriage, and a win for your child at the start of each day? Please be as specific as possible. Jenny and I love picking up new ideas from others! Continuing the parenting wins conversation is as easy as leaving your thoughts in the comments below.
Jen and I are thrilled you stopped by! Kind words and coffee fuel this blog. If you enjoyed these thoughts on Positive Parenting Wins, help us keep this great content coming. Please tell us what parenting wins you would add to this list. Or use the buy us a coffee button to help fund our next project. To dive even deeper, you can also check out our positive parenting books and resources. Jen and I are passionate about helping families build happy lives. Know that we honestly couldn’t do this without amazing readers—like you!