Mike Julianelle doesn’t wear jewelry. He doesn’t wear bracelets for men; he doesn’t wear a Fitbit, he doesn’t even wear a watch.

What he does allow on his wrist, however, is a rubber band.

Dad and Buried/Facebook

After the birth of his second son, Julianelle’s 7-year-old had trouble adjusting to life with the new baby. As a result, the New York dad found himself becoming “too hard” on him, Cafe Mom reports.

Dad and Buried/Instagram

In a post on his blog, Dad and Buried, Julianelle wrote the rubber band was a reminder of his harshness:

It’s a reminder that I yell too much, that I say “no” too much, that I lose my patience with him too frequently and I scold him too often and I don’t cut him enough slack.

More so, the rubber band served to remind him of the gentle nature of the boy on the receiving end. Julianelle had forgotten his son was just a child learning to adapt to the changing dynamics of their growing family.

Dad and Buried/Instagram

As he wrote:

It’s a reminder that he’s only seven years old, that he’s still just a little boy, that he’s still learning about the world, about himself, about me, and that most of the stuff he does that drives me crazy is the same exact stuff other little boys do.

It’s a reminder that he’s still adjusting to having a little brother, to sharing his toys, his home, even his parents.

If Julianelle were to snap the rubber band, and thus inflict pain, he would be reminded to temper his frustrations and respond patiently to his son “It’s supposed to act as a deterrent,” the father of two wrote of the tactic.

However, for Julianelle, the rubber band trick worked twofold.

Dad and Buried/Instagram

Julianelle explained his 7-year-old wasn’t the only one suffering from growing pains. He was a man in just as much need of tolerance and understanding as his own son.

As he wrote:

And it’s a reminder that I’m only human myself! That I’m still learning about the world, about myself, about my seven-year-old and his little brother, and about being a good parent.

I’m not a perfect person, and I’m definitely not a perfect father. I make as many mistakes as my kids do, despite the fact that I have a good thirty-five years more experience.

The rubber band helps me remember that, and helps me remember that that’s okay, that parenting is a process, that it’s okay to get some things wrong, so long as you keep trying and you learn from those mistakes.

Since wearing the rubber band, Julianelle said he hasn’t had to flick it much; its presence alone enough to remind him to embrace his children—and himself:

Thankfully, I haven’t had to flick my wrist much so far. Not because I haven’t screwed up, quite the contrary. (Yesterday was “Take Your Kid To Work Day” at my office; my patience meter was maxed out by 10am!)

But in the week that I’ve been wearing the rubber band, just its presence has been enough to keep me mindful of my parenting, and my relationship with my children, and of the kind of dad I want to be.

Having overcome the mistakes of the past, Julianelle is certain about what kind of dad he doesn’t want to be: “…I don’t want my kids to grow up scared of their dad,” he wrote in part, “or to think of me as the ‘grumpy’ parent.”

Dad and Buried/Instagram

With a trick literally on his sleeve to become a more mindful parent, Julianelle can rely on the rubber band for that (and then some): “Besides, every once in a while it snags an arm hair and wow, that’s painful in itself!”

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