“That’s enough!” you yell, slamming your mug on the counter with such force hot coffee splashes over the side. Your kids stop in their tracks, staring at you with wide, scared eyes.

Ugh! You yelled again. You were trying so hard not to yell anymore. Some days it just seems impossible to keep your cool.

Immediately, the familiar wave of guilt and shame rushes over you: “I’ll never be the perfect mother my kids need me to be.” Feeling defeated and deflated, you vow not to yell any more, and hope that your kids aren’t scarred for life.

Kids need imperfect parents

Thankfully, you don’t have to be the picture-perfect parent to raise awesome kids. When you learn to embrace imperfection, you realize that making mistakes and struggling can actually be a great way to teach your kids.

Here are 5 ways imperfect parents can raise awesome kids:

Apologize: If you’ve messed up, admit it! Show your kids what a good apology sounds like by saying “I’m sorry” without adding an excuse or a “but you…” to the sentence. Give your child a hug or write a note. Then, work through these steps to repair your relationship.   

Embrace Mistakes: Create a family atmosphere where mistakes are a normal part of life. Encourage everyone to find ways to learn from their mistakes and give it another try instead of giving up. Practice strategies for combating negative thinking and negative self-talk.

Allow Do-Overs: Rather than beating yourself up for yelling or punishing your child for a rude comment, stop. Take a break. Cool down, then try it again or allow your child a chance to try it again. It’s okay to go back to your child and say, “Wow, I was really upset earlier. Can we start over?”

Disagree Respectfully: Conflict is part of life, but it doesn’t have to ruin relationships. Model good communication skills by being willing to hear your child’s perspective, listening with empathy, and problem-solving together. If things get heated, take a break and resume the conversation when everyone is calm.

Be Flexible: Sometimes your kids will need firm, unshakable boundaries; other times, they will need a little more hand-holding and cuddling. Rather than feeling pressure to be consistent, tune into your child’s needs, learning to trust yourself and being confident in your decisions.

When your kids see that you are imperfect, you send the message that it’s okay for them to be imperfect, too.

They realize that having a bad day or getting into an argument isn’t the end of the world. That families love each other, even when things are tough.

Next time you start to yell, maybe you’ll pause and take a deep breath, setting your coffee cup down gently this time, realizing that you’ll never be the perfect parent. You’re a work in progress, just like your kids. And that’s okay.

Positive Parenting for Imperfect Families

Imperfect parents know that there is no “one size fits all” parenting strategy. Just because it works for someone else, doesn’t mean it will work for you.

Wouldn’t it be nice to tailor parenting advice to your own specific situation? To learn how to discipline your unique child as they grow and change? Plus, it would be great if it was simple. Easy to remember in the heat of the moment.

The “Positive Parenting for Imperfect Families” e-book lays the foundation for strong, healthy relationships with your kids without making life more complicated or expecting perfection. Learn how to effectively discipline your kids without using timeouts, bribes, or threats.

Skip your morning coffee and get started today! Imperfect parents can raise awesome kids!

Nicole Schwarz, M.A., LMFT