I recently attended the Thriving Mom Conference in Utah County put on by Lisa Andersen of Thriving Motherhood. Lisa was joined by Jody Moore, Georgia Anderson, and Ralphie Jacobs to speak about motherhood and what we can do to feel confident and thrive in our parenting.
The conference focused on 3 Guiding Principles:
- Managing your thoughts
- Learning and applying parenting techniques and tools
- Managing your time
Here is what I have learned from Ralphie Jacobs.
Parenting with purpose
Ralphie Jacobs is a mom of four girls, a believer of kitchen dance parties, a teacher of creating a life full of purpose, and a peanut M&M lover. You can find her on Instagram @simplyonpurpose – IG. Ralphie talked about parenting with purpose.
Often you use fear as a guiding principle in our parenting. You tell your children that if they don’t clean up their toys they can’t play with their friends. Fear works, however it is short term. Fear does not produce real change and it does not teach them “to love what is right.”
She shared her simple formula for parenting with purpose. You must:
- Model happiness
- Teach your children
- Look for the good
Doing these things takes effort. And it takes a change of perspective and a change of attitude. “Parenting is a learned skill.” It is not something that you suddenly know how to do as soon as you become a parent, it doesn’t work that way. It’s something that takes practice.
So, how do you “model happiness?” Ralphie taught that you need to model being happy in three areas. These are 1. being happy with yourself, 2. being happy with people smaller than you (ie. children), and 3. being happy with peers. This means that you don’t put ourselves down, you don’t treat your children or other children negatively, and you don’t act negatively to the people around you daily (like the person that cut you off on the freeway).
“Actions speak louder than words” and if you want your children to be happy and know how to be happy in difficult situations you need to be that example. This doesn’t mean that you are always happy. Life is not always happy. However, if in the difficult times of your life, or your children’s lives, you can act positively and show them how to work through the sad, frustrating, angry things, it will help your children learn those skills.
“Don’t cause childhood behavior to cause you to misbehave as an adult.”
Teach your children
What is the best way to teach your children to behave? Discipline. Discipline means to teach, it comes from the word disciple which means to be a follower or student of a teacher. Ralphie shared that the best way to discipline is positive reinforcement.
“Research has shown that the most effective way to reduce problem behavior in children is to strengthen desirable behavior through positive reinforcement rather than trying to weaken undesirable behavior through negative processes.” – Dr. S.W. Bijou, International Encyclopedia of Education
Positive reinforcement helps to motivate children to do things and teaches them to love what is right (behaving well). It means changing “don’ts” into “do’s.” Because don’ts equal “I am no fun” and you want to be fun and model happiness. So rather than saying “don’t …” redirect them to something they can do.
If you are in my shoes and have children between 0 to 4 years old then redirection is going to become your best friend. Ralphie taught that for children four years old and younger to use very little punishment, a lot of redirection, and a lot of role-playing.
Here is a video of her doing a role-play with a volunteer so that you can see an example of what she means.
She said that role-playing can be used for all ages and that her teenager still likes to do it to work through difficult situations that are coming before they happen.
Look for the good
Parents tend to pay more attention to bad behavior than positive behavior. Giving attention to negative behaviors causes children to add those behaviors to a list of things to do to get your attention. Therefore, the way you get children to behave well is to pay attention to the positive behaviors that they do and to use positive reinforcement.
Researchers have found that 80% of bad behaviors will go away by paying attention to the positive. Ralphie said to go out of your way to acknowledge positive behavior. This means taking time to walk to the playroom, poke your head in, and tell your children that you are so proud of the way that they are playing nicely together. This doesn’t have to take a lot of time and she said that it shouldn’t take more than 12 seconds because you don’t want to take away from their playtime.
When a child is acting out pay attention to and acknowledge positive behaviors in them and the other children around them. Ralphie shared a story about running errands with her children and one of them being really unhappy and disruptive at the grocery store. Rather than giving that child attention for her negative actions she gave attention to her other children for their positive actions. She stated that by the end of the time at the store her unhappy daughter had changed her attitude, bought her mom peanut M&M’s (her favorite), and apologized for her behavior. She said that “you can be respectful without being respected.”
By paying attention to the positive and looking through the “weeds” and picking the “flowers” it helps children to change their behavior much more quickly than when you react negatively to it.
You are human
Most of all remember that your children are human, just like you are. There are some days that you can’t handle doing certain things and your children will be the same way. Don’t confuse “can’t” with “won’t” and realize that sometimes just because your child could do something last week does not mean that they can do it today (they may not mentally be able to handle it). And that is ok. Work with them, model the behavior, teach the behavior, and praise the behavior.
What Ralphie shared was so inspiring and taught me so much. I am glad to be able to share it with you. Make sure to check her out on Instagram and share everything you learn with those you care about.
I hope that my sharing what I have learned will help you as a woman and mother. I hope that by learning about parenting with purpose you feel more empowered and confident in yourself and raising your children.
You are powerful. I hope this article has helped you recognize the power that you already have within, and that you will join me in spreading that recognition to everyone you know.
Be sure to check out “What I Learned from the Thriving Mom Conference: Part 1” and “What I Learned from the Thriving Mom Conference: Part 2” for more from the conference.