Parenting is tough, and it's completely normal for your patience to wear thin. But if you’re finding it wearing thin more often than you’re comfortable with, try this.
When my first son was three years old, life was moving at a rapid pace. I was a new mom learning to navigate the roads of motherhood. Going into it, I thought that I had a lot of experience with kids. Expert babysitter, preschool teacher, camp counselor and, to top it off, a sister who I helped raise. My parents divorced when my sister was one and lucky for my mom, I happened to be at the perfect “baby doll” age and eager to help. I really did feel like her “mom”. Little did I know that there was a whole lot going on behind the scenes that my nine year old self didn’t realize. Feedings at 2 a.m., emergency diaper changes at 3 a.m. and a baby ready to go (and hungry!) at the crack of dawn.
My mom with my baby sister at one years old.
Fast forward to my twenty-six year old self and I’d finally realized what a super-mom my mom was a decade-or-so ago. At that time, I had two little ones only 18 months apart. Life was...busy. While my three year old was learning to potty train, my one and a half year old was refusing his nap. It was an especially rough couple months.
However, on the outside, everything looked perfect.
Dinner was made, the house was organized and activities were attended. But on the inside, all the activities, playdates, laundry, errands, house cleaning and pressure to be the “perfect mom” was catching up with me. It’s hard to say, but if I am honest with myself, I found my patience wearing thin. I was raising my voice much more often than I liked, and I went to bed feeling guilty that I rushed my kids to bed so that I could have some sanity. Neither “party” felt good, and I knew in my heart that it needed to change.
It was during this time that I realized that parenting was really... well, tough, and that I was underprepared with little to no tools to use to parent the way I wanted to parent. Rather than be proactive… I was being reactive. Why? Because I felt that I didn’t have any help. I tried parenting books, but my tired self couldn’t make it through the 100+ page books.
I was overwhelmed. I wanted to be a better parent. But how?
Have you ever experienced that moment when everything all comes together? For me, it was like an ah-ha moment but with a kick in the butt. It was the moment when my son Mickey, three years old, came to me and said… “Mommy, I’m not a good listener”. He said it with such conviction in his eyes and belief that “good listening” just wasn’t him. It hit me hard. In all my experience with kids, hands-down Mickey was the most confident child I have ever come across. Given the opportunity, he would stand up in front of a room of adults and hold his own. When he said this to me it hit me so hard because it wasn’t him. He was bold and confident. He never doubted himself like that. It hurt.
I had to honestly ask myself where he was getting that message from. My shoulders shrunk when I realized it was from me. Because I was short on time, sleep and had no tools to use, I was always focused on his negative behavior, and all of that negative attention was doing was simply reinforcing that negative attention was good attention. Ever since Mickey was young,he thrived on attention, any attention. “Wow Mickey, that’s awesome!” “Mickey, no!” Either worked for him. I realized it was my job to choose which attention would mold him into the person he was going to be.
It is often said that your greatest struggle is the launching pad to your greatest calling. This is how I feel about Kudo Banz. At that moment I could either choose to make a positive difference in who my child was going to grow up to be, or to continue to break his spirit and change his inner self. Did I want him to grow up judging himself? Or did I want him to grow up believing in himself? That day I strived to make a positive difference in my child’s life.
My years as a preschool teacher kicked in and I went to work creating a sticker chart for him. When we were home, he loved it and thrived on our new “plan”. He enjoyed getting a sticker for his chart when he put on his shoes without tantruming, played quietly while I was on the phone, and when he ate his lunch. However, when we were not at home things were still challenging. I’d tell Mickey about earning his sticker, but the connection between behaving now and receiving a sticker later was a challenge. Since the sticker chart was at home, it was out of sight and out of mind. I took out my problem solving hat and thought through the options. I could take the chart with me, but it would still be in my bag. I could give Mickey “tokens” but they could get lost. I needed something that could go with him… That is when it hit me. A wristband with stickers! I went to work creating a prototype.
I carefully thought through each aspect of my design and how it would work for Mickey. It had to be waterproof, comfortable and most importantly, easy to use! I ultimately decided on a waterproof wristband with three spots for “Kudos”. Easy as 1,2,3. I explained to him how it worked.
“Hey Mickey I have something fun to show you, I made a sticker chart for you that you can take with you. It goes on your wrist so you can always see your stickers!” He was over the moon.
Kudo Banz worked and Mickey thrived.
One of my favorite moments from those first few weeks was when he was in his car seat and I caught him through my rear view mirror. He was looking at his new band with such pride. He was so focused on it, revering it with such a genuine smile and sense of accomplishment. I will never forget that moment. He was so proud.
How many times have you set a goal to eat healthier or exercise more but reverted back after a few days or weeks? This is where habits come in. For example, think about brushing your teeth. In the beginning, it was a task, not a habit. But after doing it for a long time, it became a habit and now you brush daily without even thinking about it. This is exactly what Kudo Banz does. Kudo Banz helps parents teach their kids new behaviors by turning them into habits. Once these behaviors are taught, they turn into lifetime habits for both the parent and the child.
This is how Mickey and I were able to get back on track. Together, we went from focusing on the negative, to focusing on the positive. This turned into a positive habit for the both of us, and eventually when we put Kudo Banz away we were left with a behavior that was on autopilot.
Now I have a tool I can use, to help me become that parent I always wanted to be.
Kids are always learning and phases come and go, but now when I find myself raising my voice more often than I’d like I have a tool that I can use. I take a look at the behavior that is challenging us, set a goal with Mickey, and then get out our Kudo Banz. We work on the behavior until it becomes a habit and Mickey can add another skill to his bucket. He feels confident and I feel like the parent I want to be. It’s a win-win all around.
Why is Kudo Banz so effective?
It reinforces the positive behavior and helps it continue (rather than the negative).
It’s worn on the wrist, which is a powerful visual cue. (Visual cues like post it notes and fitness bands are powerful reminders.)
It reinforces the behavior when it occurs, making the cause and effect connection even stronger.