Anybody who has raised children knows that parenting is not an easy job. That’s the reason why some people describe parenting as the most difficult job you will ever love. Parenting can be very challenging, and unfortunately there is no instruction manual to make things a little easier. What’s more, every child is unique, so what works for one child might fail when tried with another. The truth is that there’s no such thing as a flawless parent. Every parent in this world has second guessed a decision they have made, or felt remorse after choosing the wrong words to say to their child. Fortunately, however, there are helpful tips that any parent can follow in order to develop better parenting skills.
1. Your Actions Count
Children learn by observing the world around them and the people who live in it. You are your child’s primary care giver. Hence all of your words and actions are going to have an impact on your child. This is something you need to remind yourself of on a regular basis. Ideally, you should base every interaction with your child on your ultimate objectives. For example, imagine that your child gets into trouble at kindergarten for refusing to share a toy. As a result of this, you want to teach him about the importance of sharing. The best way of achieving this objective is to bring up the topic of sharing in conversations, and set a good example by making sure you share things with your child and those who are nearest and dearest to you.
2. Show Your Affection
Parents who are emotionally cold or unavailable often do great damage to their children without realizing it. Thus it is very important to show your child he is loved, even if it is contrary to your nature. Children thrive when their parents show them lots of love and affection. You should therefore endeavor to tell your child he is loved on a regular basis, and give him plenty of hugs and kisses. Never assume your child knows how much you love him. Always remember that it’s impossible to ruin a child with love. Instead children are ruined when they are given material possessions in place of love and attention, or when their parents simply give up on them.
3. Stay Involved
Children develop high levels of self-esteem when they know that their parents are interested in who they are and what they do. If you want to be a good parent, it is important to take an active interest your child’s character, interests and activities. Imagine, for instance, that your child is interested in acting, and has a significant part in the school play. Ideally you should show up to see the play, and listen to everything your child has to say about it. Of course, this may mean that you end up having to sacrifice some of your own needs, but this is part and parcel of good parenting.
When it comes to parenting, all children have different requirements. A child who is five does not have the same needs as a fourteen year old adolescent. Similarly if you have one child who is an introvert, and another who is an extrovert, you may well find that what works for one isn’t so effective with the other. For instance, you might have a loud, gregarious son who responds well to a stern and honest lecture. However, the exact same lecture might damage your sensitive daughter’s delicate self-esteem. Good parenting means modifying your words and actions to fit your child’s age and character.
5. Correcting Your Child
Sometimes it can be hard to decide whether or not your child’s actions deserve punishment. As a parent, you should be careful when and how you correct your child. For instance, suppose you have an adolescent daughter who keeps questioning every decision you make, and disagreeing with many of your opinions. You may think that your daughter is being insolent and disrespectful. However, your daughter’s inclination to challenge you may simply be a result of academic growth. If you react by getting angry when she tests you, it could mislead her into thinking it’s wrong to be articulate or express strong opinions.
6. Establishing Rules
If you want to be a good parent, then you must institute rules and punish your child whenever they are broken. When you punish your child for breaking the rules, make the punishment consistent with his age. For instance, a little boy might respond well when you punish him by taking away a favorite toy. An adolescent girl, on the other hand, is more likely to learn her lesson if you ground her and stop her from hanging out with friends for a set amount of time.
Establishing rules is very important when it comes to your child’s personal development. Rules help children to develop self-discipline. Without rules and punishments, your child will not learn how to function efficiently in an adult world, and he will fail to develop any respect for authority. What’s more, your child will not learn how to make rules or discipline himself when needed. If a child has parents that do not provide enough discipline, he will probably develop into a disorganized and chaotic adult. No employer wants to hire an individual who lacks self-control.
7. Developing Autonomy
Although rules are an important part of good parenting, helping your child to become independent is equally vital. Some parents struggle to accept that it’s normal for a child to keep pushing against the rules. Instead, they choose to see it as rebelliousness, insolence and disrespect. All children push against the will of their parents. The pushing usually intensifies as the child gets older and starts to develop into an adult. It is human nature to struggle for freedom and dislike being controlled by other people. Children do not rebel to hurt their parents. Each child must learn to fly alone if he is to develop into an autonomous, self-reliant adult. Instead of pushing back against your child, try to reach a workable compromise.
8. Being Consistent
Children thrive on routine, and they feel secure when they know exactly what to expect. For that reason, it is a good idea to establish the rules ahead of time and resist the temptation to change them as you see fit. Your child will feel more secure if he knows exactly what he is and isn’t permitted to do. He will also benefit from knowing what the punishment for his actions will be. For example, imagine your preteen son is outside playing with his ball, and he’s too close to a window. You have visions of him breaking the window. Consequently, you go outside and warn him to move away from the house because he’ll have to do gardening chores for a month to pay for the damage if the window gets broken. An hour or so later, your son breaks the window. If you then decide to punish your son by grounding him when you had told him the punishment would be gardening chores, you would lose some of his trust. In that situation, the punishment should be gardening chores for a month.
9. Being Fair
When establishing rules, you should also be careful about what is motivating you to make them. Are your rules based on insight and common sense, or are they about asserting your authority over the child? Older children and adolescents can definitely tell whether or not a rule is sensible and nondiscriminatory. Even young children can sense when they are being duped. When your child is aware that the rule you’ve set is somehow unjust, his natural reaction is to resist it.
10. No Severe Punishments
Children can test your patience to the last. Sometimes your child’s behavior might be so bad that it makes you want to yell, say hurtful things, or even hit him. Always remember that your child learns by the example you set. If you scream and yell at your child when he makes you mad, you teach him to resolve conflicts by shouting at other people. When your child makes you furious and you react by saying unkind things that belittle him, you teach him to treat those who challenge him with unkindness. When your child has a major brat attack and you react by walloping his bottom, you teach him to solve his problems by becoming physically violent.
11. Clarifying Rules
Some parents make the mistake of assuming that their children know why a rule is in place. This is especially true for parents of preteen and adolescent children. As your child gets older, for example, you may take it for granted that he knows why he’s not allowed out until ten on a school night. Your son may have grown as tall as you. He may even act mature for his age. That doesn’t mean he’s got your astuteness of judgment or level of life experience. Reminding your child why the rules exist once in a while can give him a better understanding and make him more inclined to respect your wishes.
12. A Little Respect
As a parent, it is natural to want your child to develop into a decent adult with the life skills to cope autonomously. For instance, you probably want your son or daughter to be polite to others, have respect for differing opinions, listen to what others have to say, and treat other people with kindness and consideration. A child cannot learn to treat others with compassion and respect if he is not taught to do so. For this reason, you should always strive to treat your child with benevolence and esteem. Endeavoring to treat your child well will help him to cultivate admirable personality traits and develop sound life-coping skills.
There are many good parents in this world. Yet there never has been and never will be a perfect parent. Parenting is a tough job, and there are bound to be times when you feel as though you have failed yourself and your child. All good parents feel like this at some point. If you were truly a bad parent, you wouldn’t care if you had failed your child or not. When you mess up, cut yourself some slack. You are bound to make mistakes, but hopefully you will also learn from them.