By parenting effectively, not only are you ensuring your child becomes the best person they can be, but also giving yourself a gift that keeps on giving! When children are effectively parented, they feel better about themselves and their abilities. They enter school excited and ready to learn. Most importantly, they learn how to love and respect others - including you!
Fostering a Loving Relationship
Be a good role model. Children learn a great deal about how to act by watching their parents. Children, especially young ones, think their parents are more or less infallible. They see their parents as being supremely intelligent and powerful - basically incapable of making bad decisions. Do your best to live up to this idealized image. Before you lash out or blow your top in front of your child, think about the example you're setting.
Embody the traits you wish to cultivate in your child: respect, friendliness, honesty, kindness, tolerance, and many more. Do things for other people without expecting a reward. Above all, treat your children the way you expect other people to treat you.
Children also look for role models at school, among their friends, and in the media. Some of these things you can control, others, you cannot. Know that, though your child may have multiple role models, you have a unique privilege in that you are a near-constant presence in his or her life. Make the most of this privilege.
Make time for your children. When you have a child, the most important duty you have is ensuring his or her physical well-being - feeding, clothing, and housing them well. This and countless other responsibilities require you to spend time working so that you're able to provide for your child. However, once these necessities are assured, it's very important to invest your remaining time in your children themselves. Never lose sight of the fact that, in the balancing act between your family and your work, your family should always come first.
When you spend quality time with your child, show them they're important by being fully present in the moment. Put your phone on silent, and turn off other screens, such as the TV or computer. Give your child your full attention.
With so many demands on your time, it's often difficult for parents and children to get together for a family meal, let alone spend some quality time together. Children who are not getting the attention they want from their parents can act out or misbehave because, to them, negative attention is better than no attention at all. Many parents find it mutually rewarding to pre-schedule time with their child on a regular basis. Create a "special night" each week to be together and let your child help decide how you will spend your time.
Look for other ways to connect with your child, as well. For example, put a note or something special in their lunch box, for instance.
Make communication a priority. Though your children should obey you, you can't expect them to do everything you demand simply because you, as a parent, "say so." Children want and deserve explanations as much as adults do. Parents who (at the very least) attempt to calmly reason with their children give them a chance to see why certain rules and restrictions are good for them. Make your expectations clear. If there is a problem, describe it to your child, express your feelings about it, and invite your child to discuss solutions with you. Be sure your child understands the consequences of his or her actions.
It bears mentioning that, even in the best cases, from time to time, your child will flat-out disagree with you about certain rules and decisions. Don't back down - you have an obligation to explain and discuss your rules, but not to acquiesce.
When talking with your child, get down on their eye level. This shows them that you respect them, which supports their respect for you.
Be flexible and willing to adjust your parenting style. If you frequently feel "let down" by your child's behavior, honestly assess your expectations. Are you expecting reasonable things from your child? Is your child capable of doing these things? Conversely, is your child more capable than you expect them to be - in other words, are they not being challenged? Don't be afraid to change your parenting goals, provided you keep your values consistent and sensitively explain your motives to your child.
As your child ages, they change. Over time, you will have to change your parenting style - sometimes gradually, sometimes abruptly. Be ready and willing to face this change - just because your child isn't always a cute little baby doesn't mean they are less deserving of love and respect.
Be aware of your own needs and limitations as an effective parent. Let's face it - we are all imperfect parents. We have strengths and weaknesses as family leaders. This is OK. Rather than agonizing over your shortcomings, recognize your abilities and vow to work on your weaknesses. Try to have realistic expectations for yourself, your spouse, and your children. You don't always have to have all the answers - be forgiving of yourself and your child will learn to forgive, too.
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. Recognize when you're burned out. Hire a babysitter and take time out from parenting to do things that will ensure your happiness as a person (or as a couple). Focusing on your needs does not make you selfish. It simply means that you care about your own well-being, which is another important value to model for your children.
Be open with your co-parent about your limitations. Talk to them about what you feel you do best and create the best parenting balance between the both of you. By maintaining open, honest communication, you can both parent at your best.
Avoid favoritism. If you have more than one child, as they grow, their needs and abilities will naturally diverge. Older children will be more independent and need less supervision, while younger children will need extra help and supervision. This is natural. Still, make an effort to spread your affection evenly among your children. Even if, for instance, you find that your younger children take up most of your time and attention, try to periodically let your older children know that you love and appreciate them just as much.
Schedule equal amounts of one-on-one time with each of your children. Make sure they each get special time with you.
Never arbitrarily give one child more gifts, affection, or punishments than another. Children will pick up on your prejudices very quickly and may grow to resent you, or, worse, the "favorite" child.
Show that your love is unconditional. As an effective parent, you are responsible for guiding your child with a loving, corrective influence. Just as you are imperfect, so is your child. How you acknowledge this imperfection and express your corrective guidance makes all the difference in the world.
When you have to confront your child about a mistake, avoid excessive blaming, criticizing, or fault-finding, which undermine self-esteem and can lead to resentment. Instead, strive to nurture and encourage, even when you are disciplining your child.
Use every mistake as an opportunity to teach your child something new. Make sure they know that, although you want and expect better, your love is available no matter what.
Thank you for your time and concern