Nine Steps to Effective Parenting – Advice for Parents and Caretakers
Raising children is one of the toughest and most fulfilling jobs in the world, and one for which you may be least prepared. Here are nine child-rearing tips that may help you feel more fulfilled as a parent.
1. Boosting Your Child’s Self– Esteem
Children start developing their sense of self as babies when they see themselves through their parent’s eyes. Your tone of voice, your body language, and your every expression are absorbed by them. Your words and actions as a parent affect their developing self-esteem more than anything else. Praising accomplishments, however small, will make them feel proud; letting children do things independently will make them feel capable and strong. By contrast, belittling comments or comparing a child unfavourably with another will make a child feel worthless. Avoid making loaded statements or using words as weapons. Comments like “What a stupid thing to do!” or “You act more like a baby than your little brother!” cause damage just as physical blows do. Choose your words carefully and compassionately. Let your kids know that everyone makes mistakes and that you still love them, even when you don’t love their behaviour.
2. Catch Kids Being Good
Have you ever stopped to think about how many times you react negatively to your kids in a given day? You may find yourself criticizing far more often than complimenting. How would you feel about a boss who treated you with that much negative guidance, even if it was well intentioned? The more effective approach is to catch your child doing something right: “You made your bed without being asked – that’s terrific!” or “I was watching you play with your sister and you were very patient.” These statements will do more to encourage good behaviour over the long run than repeated scolding. Make a point of finding something to praise every day. Be generous with rewards – your LOVE, HUGS and compliments can work wonders and are often reward enough. Soon you will find you are “growing “more of the behaviour you would like to see.
3. Set Limits and be Consistent with Your Discipline
Discipline is necessary in every household. The goal of discipline is to help children choose acceptable behaviours and learn self-control. They may test the limits you establish for them, but they need those limits to grow into responsible adults. Establishing house rules helps children understand your expectations and develop self-control. Some rules might include: No TV until homework is done, and no hitting, name calling or hurtful teasing is allowed. You might want to have a system in place: one warning followed by consequences such as “TIME OUT” or loss of privileges. A common mistake parents make is failure to follow through with the consequences. You can’t discipline kids for talking back one day and ignore it the next. Being consistent teaches what you expect.
4. Make Time for Your Children
It’s often difficult for parents and children to get together for a family meal, let alonespend quality time together. But often there is nothing the child would like more. Get up 10 minutes earlier in the mornings so you can eat breakfast together or leave the dishes in the sink and take a walk together after dinner. Children who aren’t getting the attention they want from their parents often act out or misbehave because they are sure to be noticed that way. Many parents find it rewarding to schedule time together with their children. Create a “SPECIAL” night each week to be together and let your children decide how to spend the time. Look for other ways to connect-put a note or something special in your child’s lunchbox. Adolescents seem to need less undivided attention from their parents. Because there are fewer windows of opportunity for parents and teen to get together, parents should do their best to be available when their teen does express a desire to talk or participate in family activities. Attending concerts, games and other events with your teen communicates caring and lets you know more about your child and his or her friends in important ways. Don’t feel guilty if you’re a working parent. It is the many little things you do – making popcorn, playing cards, window shopping – that’s what children and young people remember.
5. Be A Good Role Model
Young children learn a lot about how to act by watching their parents. The younger they are, the more cues they take from you. Before you lash out or blow your top in front of your child, think about this: Is this how you want your child to behave when angry? Be aware that you’re constantly being watched by your children. Studies have shown that children who hit usually have a role model for aggression at home. Model the traits you wish to see in your children: respect, friendliness, honesty, kindness, and tolerance. Exhibit unselfish behaviour. Do things for other people without expecting reward. Express thanks and offer compliments. Above all treat your children the way you expect other people to treat you.
6. Make Communication A Priority
You can’t expect children to do everything simply because you, as a parent, “say so”. They want and deserve an explanation the same as adults do. If we don’t take time to explain, children will begin to wonder about our values and motives and whether they have any basis. Parents who reason with their children allow them to understand and learn in a non-judgmental way. Make your expectations clear. If there is a problem, describe it, express your feelings and invite your child to work on a solution with you. Be sure to include consequences. Make suggestions and offer choices. Be open to your child’s suggestions as well. Negotiate; children who participate in decisions are more motivated to carry them out.
7. Be Flexible and Willing to Adjust Your Parenting Style
If you often feel let down by your child’s behaviour, perhaps you have unrealistic expectations. Parents who think in “should” for example (my child should be potty trained by now”) might find it helpful to read up on the matter or talk to other parents or their Health Visitor. Children’s environments have an effect on their behaviour, so you might be able to change behaviour by changing the environment. If you find yourself constantly saying “no” to your 2 year old, look for ways to alter your surroundings so that fewer things are off-limits. This will cause less frustration for both of you. As your child changes, you’ll gradually have to change your parenting style. Chances are what works with your child now won’t work in a year or two. Teens tend to look less to their parents and more to their peers for role models. But continue to give guidance, encouragement, and appropriate discipline while allowing your teen to earn more independence. Continue to seize every available moment to make a connection.
8. Show That Your Love Is Unconditional
As a parent, you’re responsible for correcting and guiding your children. How you express your corrective guidance makes all the difference in how a child receives it. When you have to confront your child, avoid blaming, criticizing, or fault finding, which undermine self-esteem and can lead to resentment. Instead, strive to nurture and encourage, even when disciplining your child. Make sure they know that although you want and expect better next time, your love is there no matter what.
9. Know Your Own Needs and Limitations as A Parent Face it
– you are an imperfect parent. You have strengths and weaknesses as a family leader. Recognize your abilities – vow to work on your weaknesses. Try to have realistic expectations for yourself, your spouse and your children. You don’t have to have all the answers – be forgiving of yourself. Try to make parenting a manageable job. Focus on the areas that need the most attention rather than trying to address everything all at once. Admit it when you’re burned out. Take time out from parenting to do things that will make you happy as a person (or as a couple). Focusing on your needs does not make you selfish. It simply means you care about your own well-being, which is another important value to model for your children.