While it’s been said a million times, our kids are really the future. And while it can be difficult to talk about or question, checking in on your parenting skills and style should always be a priority. The world has changed drastically as a result of the pandemic, giving many people a reason to work on their relationships with their families. It’s only natural that we adapt with those changes, and that may include how we choose to parent our children in times of high stress and tough demands.
Today, we’re going to cover a priority that has been on my mind ever since I became a mom: parenting.
For traditionally marginalized communities, the word “wellness” can seem inaccessible, mysterious, and convoluted. This view and our approach to taking care of ourselves affect how we raise our children. So how can we ensure that our kids develop good communication skills, self discipline, confidence and emotional control? How can we encourage them to speak up and be true to themselves?
Mr. Chazz Lewis answered these questions and even more in our newest podcast episode. Mr. Chazz is an early childhood educational specialist with a background in teaching and parent coaching.
With a community of over 240,000 people following him, he is helping parents be there for their children. From breaking generational cycles of parenting to building emotional toolboxes, Mr. Chazz is dedicated to helping both parents and teachers develop their parenting skill sets.
New and seasoned parents alike, this podcast is for you! If you’re interested in learning a few tips on good parenting skills, you can listen to the conversation here, or keep reading below for the full scoop.
Meet Mr. Chazz Lewis
Mr. Chazz Lewis is dedicated to helping both parents and teachers raise their children with joy. Mr. Chazz started out as a Montessori teacher. He realized then that old-school fear-based techniques don’t work.
Mr. Chazz started researching better ways to help students learn through their emotions, showing other teachers what was possible. He quickly developed a reputation for being able to work with kids who pushed back, learning the most from them.That’s when things changed.
Mr. Chazz realized that if he was able to share what he learned on his teaching journey with other teachers, his impact on the community could be massive.
This drove him to become an educational specialist, where he coached different schools, and traveled to these schools to support teachers and directors both inside and outside the classroom.
Some people described his dedication to help and learn as “storm chasing.”
“I like to think of it a bit more as being the Olivia Pope of classrooms, and going in and assessing a situation course.”
Better parenting tips on TikTok
The pandemic shook every parent and educator. Parents had to both work full-time jobs, and also help their kids at home with remote learning, which was extremely difficult to juggle. Mr. Chazz also faced a problem: he could no longer travel to all schools and events.
Parents were “the everything” to their children, and with that brought a lot of change. As a father and teacher, Mr. Chazz recalled the pains of feeling overwhelmed. The feeling of “ruining” your children is in your head, and asking for help when everyone is struggling makes you feel guilty. He desperately wanted to be able to do something about it.
Then Mr. Chazz had an idea. He went to TikTok to share quick and short videos so busy parents could find and use his parenting tips for free. Some of his more popular topics include:
- Parenting tips on punishment
- Parenting tips on getting it right
- Parenting tips on apologizing
Parenting with awareness
That’s when Mr. Chazz developed his framework for and parenting – “parenting with awareness,” as well as conscious parenting. It’s all about mindfulness, managing our own emotions and focusing on self-control. By learning to navigate your emotions, identify them, and meeting your needs in healthy ways, your children get the natural benefit of your growth and emotional wellness reflected onto their own behavior patterns.
With conscious parenting, we can help our kids experience and regulate their emotions, but still provide boundaries around behaviors. Negative behavior patterns centered around discipline and managing emotions passed down for generations can be broken just by taking care of not only our emotional needs, but our children’s as well.
Punishment normally focuses on the consequences of your children’s actions, not the impact they have on others.
The goal is to teach our kids to act responsibly and make good decisions. Punishments are a short-term fix; looking at the bigger problem is the start of the solution.
Getting it right every time
After punishment, we can feel regret. We worry that we could potentially “ruin” our kids. Instead of trying to be a perfect parent, use this as an opportunity to think about what you’re going to do next time. Learn that mistakes do not define you, or your children.
Mistakes happen, but how you apologize to your child matters. Genuine, true apologies will teach your kids to self reflect when they get upset, and in turn learn from their mistakes.
Parenting tips: learning from challenges
How do you teach kids to learn from challenges in the classroom? How do you show them that it’s okay to fail? By having empathy and truly understanding children’s perspective of problems and the world.
“I was raised with a phrase that I always hear in my head. My parents used to say ‘a hard head makes a soft behind’,” said Mr. Chazz. It took him a long time to shift that perspective, and it wasn’t some big “aha moment.”
Children that challenged Mr. Chazz in the classroom helped him grow so much more, and develop new tools for both teaching and parenting. Really seeing the kids and what they were trying to communicate are what sparked that shift in his perspective:
“These moments are the moments when you really reflect and think about the moments in your life that challenge you the most, the moments that force you to grow. And you either grow, or you crumble.”
Improve your parenting skills every day
At a parent level, Mr. Chazz also has a wide, distributed impact. He’s reaching the teacher, and by essentially helping parents, he impacts kids, who are impacting their sphere of influence.
So why does he do this?
“Parenting is a journey,” Mr. Chazz said. There’s no destination of perfect parenting or parenting in general. It’s continuous. Your parenting didn’t start with you, and it will not end with you. It’s part of a generational cycle of parenting, and we have to realize that being a perfect parent isn’t important.
What’s important is improving a little every day. Sometimes as parents, we get bogged down into perfection, fixated on getting everything right; saying the right thing, doing the right thing, and making sure we don’t hold our kids back or do something that will ruin them for life.
We need to avoid being perfectionists. Instead, Mr. Chazz suggests that we be improvs. The goal isn’t to be perfect every day, the goal is to improve a little every day.
Becoming a better parent with accountability
Making mistakes is part of being human. But when adults make mistakes, like yelling at their kids, how often do they apologize?
The answer is not very often at all.
There’s a trend that points parents to be perfect, and to never make mistakes. It’s created an image that parents can do it all, setting big expectations for new parents to fill.
How often did your parents apologize? Mr. Chazz says very little, if at all. And they probably felt that if they apologized, their kids wouldn’t see them as perfect, and may not listen to them. This all comes back to the generational cycle of parenting, following the example our parents set, and passing it onto our children.
How do we break the parenting generational cycle?
The most powerful thing you can do is to teach children how to make mistakes, learn from them, and reflect and bounce back from them. The best way to do that is to teach your children accountability, and that can start with a simple, genuine apology the next time you make a mistake.
We need to take accountability for our actions when we mess up. Kids are going to mess up, and make mistakes just like you and I. And no one’s learning more than children. A lot of questions can follow mistakes. Parents should think about these questions:
- How do we apologize?
- What does an apology look like?
- What does a genuine apology look like?
- How do we repair the relationship?
- How do we talk about our own emotions?
- How do we come up with a plan of what to do next time?
Feeling overwhelmed is way more powerful than appearing perfect. If parents always try to appear perfect, as if they never make mistakes, this is projected onto our kids. It passes along a message that says when they make a mistake, the weight is so much greater because they feel they can’t come back from that mistake.
So now children can dig in their heels even more and lie when they've been given the message that mistakes aren’t okay. They think their mistakes aren’t normal when they clearly are, and as they get a little older, they start noticing parents make mistakes too. And some parents don’t like that.
Sometimes parents dig our heels in even more, and reflect. We can think “maybe I am gonna change the way I approach things.”
From very early on, Mr. Chazz reminds us that children give us lots of opportunities to make mistakes and show them how to repair, recover, and take accountability for those mistakes.
Parent tips on punishments and rewards
Many of us have been parented with a focus on punishments, and maybe on punishments and rewards. This is normally based on the idea that if parents can make their children feel bad enough or good enough, they’ll meet set expectations. It’s the idea that they’ll want to please the parent, they’ll want to avoid the punishment, or go towards the reward so much that they’ll meet those expectations.
Of course, there’s a lot of problems with that.
“One thing is that everything is predicted on the approval of the adult,” said Mr. Chazz.
Whatever the adult says is valuable, and that becomes what the child should be doing. At some point, the child becomes an adult and doesn’t have an internal process of listening to themselves and knowing what’s right for them when it comes to decision-making.
Parenting tips: teaching emotional control
Kids will try to please their parents, to do whatever the external people are telling them to do. It’s part of human nature. They look up to you as the adult in their lives and want reassurance that they are doing things right.
Kids can look up to adults at the expense of not listening to themselves about what is important to them, and what they care about.
Kids go to college just because everyone said to go, and rack up a bunch of debt. They think “I’m gonna go do this major, because someone said I should do this major. And it makes a lot of money and I want that reward. So I’m gonna go ahead and do it.”
Sometimes people will go their entire lives living this way. And then what ends up happening?
With the pandemic, things have changed. People are asking the big questions:
- What do I want?
- What do I care about?
- What’s important to me?
They realize they’ve been going through their entire lives without asking themselves what they want, and what they care about. They’ve just been following the status quo.
So how can we combat this way of thinking?
On building intrinsic motivation and decision-making skills
We can build a connection to our kids early on, even around early ages like 2 or 3 years old. We can connect them to their feelings, instead of the disconnect that comes with punishments and not having a conversation about the real problem.
If we don’t do this, we can’t build skills or intrinsic motivation. We need to navigate life in a way that makes us feel fulfilled, satisfied, and healthy. By improving ourselves and working on the connection to our kids, they can pick up those healthy behaviors.
Parenting tips on teaching kids how to respond
“It’s our goal to teach kids how to respond to authority, and how to advocate for themselves,” said Mr. Chazz.
As parents, sometimes we’re triggered by back-talk, and that can smother an opportunity to let your child respond, and learn to deal with their emotions in the moment.
When we lash out, there’s never an opportunity to practice those response skills. But there can still be an opportunity to hold boundaries, to say to our kids, “I’m not gonna let you talk to me that way,” and still allow them to respond and become part of the solution.
On building response skills during screen time
Screen time is a popular topic among parents, and it’s a good example of an opportunity to build response skills.
If our kids want more screen time, Mr. Chazz reminds us that we need to teach children how to ask for what they want.
If your child wants more time on their phone or tablet before bed time, you might default to a response like “I know that impacts your sleep, and I don’t like you on the tablet anyway.”
You might turn to research about screens impacting sleep and focus, but instead of shutting down the conversation, we need to teach our kids how to respond.
We should respect their ability to advocate and express themselves. Mr. Chazz suggests we think more in the vein of “we’ll think about it” instead of shutting down the topic, and encouraging your child to express what they want, and why they want it. You can even compromise and allow an experiment; let your child try out a little more screen time before bed, and log their sleep.
If that extra screen time doesn’t mess with their ability to wake up on time or fall asleep at a reasonable hour, instead of shutting them down and not allowing the extra time, give them a chance to respond and return to the conversation about extra time.
It’s not about giving an automatic “yes” and allowing the child to do as they please. It’s about allowing your child to respond. Just because they’re responding back or advocating for themselves doesn’t mean you have to say yes.
It’s about hearing them out, and letting them know that their voices matter.
Parenting tips on breaking the generational cycle
“Breaking the generational cycle of parenting is something that’s absolutely necessary,” Mr. Chazz says. Defaulting to old habits you may have learned from your parents passes on those patterns of behavior not only to your children, but their children as well.
Learning how to promote freedom of expression, healthy emotional control, and what conversations you should have with your kids is a great first step to breaking the cycle. Mr. Chazz had a lot to say on the subject, starting with another example.
Shift with your next generation
“Think about iPhones, right? What I’m talking about is it’s new technology. A lot of it is based on brain science, but it’s also based just off the learning and understanding that we’ve collected in the past few decades.”
New technology and how we adapt to it is a great example of breaking that generational cycle. You might be apprehensive at first about new programs, iPhones, games and apps, but it’s the same with learning new parenting tips. While trying out conscious parenting, accountability, and emotional control, it can seem difficult at the beginning. But we can adapt, and pass that knowledge along to our kids.
It is a huge shift, and we’re not used to it. Adapting is something to be proud of, Mr. Chazz says, to be even thinking about change, to start going through a reflective process of how we can grow and be better.
That’s a huge leap, and another start to breaking the generational cycle of parenting.
Discover patterns and build on your parenting growth
Improving and doing something different with these behavior patterns is a must. It’s all about changing these patterns, but for us to change our behavior, Mr. Chazz warns, we have to change our mindset.
We need a set of tools for what to do differently, or we’re always going to go back to our default behavior.
How to add to your parenting toolbox
Your parenting toolbox is a set of tools you’re going to use to change for the better. Each tool is a skill you’ve developed together with your children, like accountability or responding skills. You can always develop new tools to improve parenting skills, especially for things like discipline and quiet time.
A few practical skills recommended by Mr. Chazz to develop and add to your toolbox are:
- Don’t guide before you see
- Understand what they’re missing, and help them cope
- Apologize genuinely
- Playtime and independent time
Don’t guide before you see
Don’t jump straight to anger or upset. If your child misbehaves, try instead to reach out, connect, and understand what they’re doing. Shift your mindset from survival mode to making your child’s feelings a priority.
Mr. Chazz uses jumping on the couch as an example; understand that kids have a lot of energy, and redirect them with the offer of a different game or place to play, instead of turning straight to punishment. Try to acknowledge your children and their wants before acting.
Understand what they’re missing, and help them cope
When you make an effort to have a conversation first and understand what their needs are, it helps them connect with what they’re feeling.
Acknowledging that your child is struggling validates their feelings, and makes it possible to understand what skills your child is missing, and how you can help them grow.
Mistakes obviously happen, and this process isn’t going to be done in one day or with one conversation. Your journey to better parenting and changing your mindset is an ongoing one, so if you can’t get it right in the moment and you mess up, treat this like an opportunity.
Maybe you blow up, yell, or do something you regret. This is an opportunity to apologize, and for you and your child to learn a great lesson.
Excuses like “I’m sorry for yelling, but you should listen the first time” are invalidating. You’re not taking accountability, and you’re not teaching your children what a genuine apology is. Forced apologies don’t make the cut, either.
Instead, think “what are we going to do next time” and apologize. Allow you and your children to reflect.
Playtime and independent time
5% of your focus 100% of the time isn’t as good as 5% percent of your time with 100% of your focus. You don’t need to play all day with your kids; it’s good for them to be a little bored, and for them to make space for independent play.
Make a schedule, work, and communicate. Really focus, connect, reflect, hear and observe. If you have a partner, band together to build a schedule that works for you both. If you’re a single parent it can be a little bit harder, but relish those playtimes.
Better parenting will always be a journey
In the words of the wonderful Mr. Chazz, “parenting is a journey.” Our parenting did not just start with us, and it will not end with us.
To an extent, we’re raising our children’s children. It’s a huge impact, and it’s all just part of one long journey. And in any journey, you’re not going to get it right in just one moment. If we mess up, there’s always an opportunity to continue and put one step forward.
When you’re alone, think about what recharges you. Think about self care moments, and check in with yourself afterwards. Go on walks, take deep breaths, any kind of regular exercise can help if you’re frustrated or overwhelmed. Your wellness is important, and a big part of becoming a better parent.
At WITH, we’re big supporters of self care, improvement, and positive mindsets, not only for yourself, but also for your coworkers and families.
You can also check out more articles from us in our health and wellness magazine:
- How to Lead a Team: When They Shouldn’t be a Priority
- What is Employee Wellness and How Can Leaders Make it Happen?
- How to Make Decisions, an Expert’s Take
P.S. Did you love the podcast? Feel like getting in touch? You can contact us here.