Parenting is rarely easy.
Even if you have the most easy going child, who is usually eager to please, there will likely come a day when you are both tired and frustrated and you have to deal with some parenting problem that you just don't think you have the time for. Maybe your toddler has decided she doesn't want to sleep in her bed anymore, your preschooler is going to start biting everyone at daycare, or you twins simply don't want to share their toys with each other anymore.
Add in whatever other stressors you have in your life, and you might be tempted to look for a quick fix for these parenting problems.
Quick Fixes for Parenting Problems
Unfortunately, as you may have suspected, there is rarely a quick fix for most problems. And any solution that seem like a quick fix will likely just create new problems, make your parenting problems worse, or simply make them last longer.
For example, you might be tempted to give in to your child's demands for something when he is nagging you when you are on the phone, but while this quick fix might have let you finish your conversation, you almost certainly set yourself up for a lot of interrupted phone calls in the future.
Some other quick fixes for parenting problems you should also likely avoid include:
This does not mean that you have to avoid cosleeping if you have chosen this method of sleeping with your kids, especially if you are doing it safely, keeping in mind the American Academy of Pediatric's warnings about cosleeping with a newborn or infant because of the risk of SIDS.
Parents should likely avoid cosleeping as a quick fix for sleep problems, like when their child doesn't want to go to bed or wakes up in the middle of the night, unless they plan on continuing to share their bed for the next few months or years.
Other quick fixes to avoid when your child doesn't want to go to bed or wakes up in the middle of the might includes giving them a bottle or cup of milk or juice, getting in bed with them, or rocking them back to sleep. Any of these things will likely create new habits that will continue each night when your child wakes up again and again and again.
Most kids go through little phases of waking up, even if they used to be good sleepers. Avoiding a quick fix for this common parenting problem, making sure your child doesn't have a fever or other medical reason to be waking up, and then sticking to your usual bedtime routine, will help to make sure that he gets back on his usual sleep schedule and that everyone continues to sleep though the night.
Although many kids love milk, some older kids won't drink it. Not wanting to drink milk is also common when toddlers first switch from formula to whole milk and breastfeeding toddlers wean.
So what do you do when your kids won't drink milk? If you are like many parents, your first instinct is to flavor their milk. But while adding strawberry or chocolate flavoring will likely get your kids to want to drink milk, it will also usually add a lot of extra calories and sugar to a healthy drink, and they will likely not want to drink plain 'white' milk later.
Bribes are a common quick fix strategy for parenting problems.
Are your kids whining when you are in the grocery store? Bribe them with some candy to get them to stop. Are they acting up at the restaurant during dinner? Bribe them with a trip to the video game store to buy a new game if they will behave through the rest of the meal.
Bribes rarely work because they will come to be expected each and every time your child is in that same situation. It isn't hard to figure out what happens the next time your kids are in the grocery store and don't get candy.
Instead of bribes, which can actually reinforce bad behaviors, parents should try to use rewards for good behavior. Unlike bribes, rewards are given after your child has already been good or done something you asked, so that you are reinforcing good behavior. For example, you might reward your kids with ice cream because they were good at the restaurant, vs. bribing them with ice cream before you even sat down to dinner.
Yelling and Spanking
Yelling and spanking are perhaps the oldest quick fixes in the book.
Do yelling and spanking work? Well, if they did, you wouldn't find yourself needing to continue to yell at and spank your kids day after day. Even as more parents have started to yell at their kids, it would be better if they learned other age-appropriate discipline tips that will work better in the long run, such as taking away privileges, time out, natural and logical consequences, modeling good behavior, offering choices, and setting limits, etc.
Perhaps the biggest quick fix to avoid is giving in to your child's demands to simply get out of a frustrating parenting problem.
Whether it is temper tantrum over taking a bath, a child nagging you for more juice while you are on the phone, or kids who don't want to pick up their clothes, if you give in, even just once in a while, it will reinforce these behaviors for many more months and years to come.
So instead of a quick fix, take the time and deal with these parenting problems right the first time. It may seem hard and time consuming to research these parenting problems on your favorite parenting websites, to read a parenting book, or talk to your pediatrician about them, but you will save a lot of time and frustration in the long run.
Hilary Stout. For Some Parents, Shouting Is the New Spanking. New York Times. Accessed January 2010. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/22/fashion/22yell.html