Raising kids can bring out both the best and the worst in parents. After a challenging day, it might be easier to connect with all the things you’re doing wrong – I know I’ve had days like that! Perhaps it’s about having more energy, more patience, handling our temper, or not feeling quite so emotionally over-whelmed. Recognizing our limitations can often be easier than identifying how to create change, committing ourselves to a plan, and sticking with it.
One of the greatest ways to successfully change a behaviour is to document it. We can do this through journaling, or by writing out a plan for ourselves. Committing our thoughts to paper somehow makes them more concrete. No longer are they fleeting words floating through our mind – on paper words take on a stronger meaning. They become real. Through writing we give order to our thoughts, which assists us in seeing a plan more clearly.
So, to become accountable to yourself, every night write in your journal the ways in which you were successful in carrying out your desired behaviour change.
Example: Becoming Accountable with Anger
- Think about the ways that you would like to better handle your anger. Be realistic and use small steps.
- Every evening, document the ways in which you handled your anger well that day. Did you follow your plan? What helped you to stick with it?
- If you had a “blip” (an experience in which you did not handle your anger well) – write about how you will handle things differently tomorrow.
Example: Becoming Accountable with Self-Esteem
- Think about the ways in which you would like to raise self-esteem in your child(ren).
- Every evening, write about the interactions you had with your children where you made positive attempts at increasing their self-esteem
- If you had a “blip” – write about how you will handle things differently tomorrow so that you remain focused on interacting in ways that raise your child’s self-esteem.
Journaling in this way will make you accountable to yourself. It doesn’t feel very good to sit down to do this journaling exercise and have nothing to say – which is the success of the technique: You will want to implement the behaviour you planned so that you have something positive to write about in your journal!
This article was originally posted on November 16, 2010, to Happy Parents = Happy Kids (focusedonparenting.wordpress.com) by Susan Guttridge