Parenting books can give you some great ideas, but "tips" can also be a source of added pressure for modern moms and dads, says Sheila Wenger, a lead instructor for the Parent Coaching Institute.
"It can feel like they've just added 10 things to their 100 item to-do list and they get overwhelmed, discouraged and feel like it can never be done. That's a very common phenomenon," Wenger says.
Wenger is among a network of PCI parent coaches nationwide, including several based in Michigan, who help families identify their core values and goals, then work toward achieving them.
She suggests the following steps for putting new parenting practices to work.
1. Look at the bright side
Every family is different. Take an honest look at what works for your household, assess your strengths and give yourself props for what you're already doing right. "This first step is crucial," Wenger says. "It builds a little hope."
2. Picture the possibilities
Now that you've taken stock, think about how things can be better and what you would like to see done differently. Take a little time to dream.
3. Start somewhere
You have a vision of where you want to be. What can you begin doing now to get there? Decide what kind of change you are truly able to take on. "Some parents are ready to tackle something big. Others need to start small. If you can get one small thing to work, it builds confidence to do more."
4. Reflect and reassess
Once the process is started and you've implemented new behavior, look at how it had a ripple effect within your family. Examine the ways even a small change can become amplified. "Little things mean more to a child than we ever know," Wenger says.
5. Seek support
Change can be difficult, and families may encounter chaos as their normal routine is upset. Through counseling in person or over the phone, PCI parent coaches help clients get through the process.
"We help them deal with the fact that the system of a family has to tear apart a little before it reforms in a new way," Wenger says.
6. Keep on trucking
Now that your new habit has become ingrained, take a look at what might work best as a next step as you continue on the path of identifying and implementing your family values for the long haul.