Effective parenting covers everything from ensuring that your kids are well-fed to encouraging them to be independent thinkers and hard-working citizens. There isn't one absolutely correct way to be an effective parent. Kids who grow up without strict bedtimes but who are strongly encouraged to excel at school, might be just as successful in the classroom as kids whose parents make it a point to get their children down at the same time every night. The following five ways of effective parenting all have one thing in common: Parents should love their children and think about their best interests with every rule, meal and play time they make.
Take Care of the Basics
Effective parenting starts with providing your children the basics of a safe, healthful and happy life. Parents need to provide a clean and safe home, nutritious meals, clothing and protection from diseases and other unwelcome elements in their young lives. Parents also need to ensure that their children not only get to and from school safely, but are able to provide them the help they need to be successful in school. If parents can meet these basic goals and impart some wisdom and life skills, they have met the first requisite for effective parenting.
Be a Good Role Model
One key way to be an effective parent is to set a good example for your kids in all situations. When you're frustrated or a problem arises, if you handle it calmly, your kids will see that this is the way to deal with challenges. Likewise, if you yell and get upset, they'll likely view that as an appropriate response. This goes for other things, too. Be a gracious winner in competition. Treat others politely and respectfully. Be a careful driver. Eat well-balanced meals and get exercise. Read together. Model good behavior and your kids will likely emulate much of what they observe.
Demonstrate Parental Warmth
Another way to provide your kids with positive parenting is to be affectionate. Let them know that hugs and kind words are important. Establish good-night hugs as part of the bedtime routine. Make a point to spend time with them and tell them that you enjoy their company and appreciate their sense of humor or their ideas and thoughts on various subjects. Be sensitive to your children's needs and provide plenty of positive reinforcement.
Be Firm and Consistent with Discipline
One of the biggest, yet easily made, mistakes of parents is to be inconsistent when it comes to rules and discipline. That's not to say that you can't make exceptions in unusual circumstances. But you will be a more effective parent if you make the rules of the house clear and then stick by the rules day after day. Listen to your children if they feel certain rules are unfair or out of line, but be firm if you feel strongly about a particular policy. Likewise, when making rules and establishing expectations, keep in mind the age of the children and make age-appropriate demands on their behavior. A 5-year-old can be expected to say "please" and "thank you" most of the time, while a 2-year-old may not be there yet.
A critical element of effective parenting is encouraging your kids to think and act for themselves. Start by encouraging their participation in chores and other household activities. Young children might pretend to do the kind of work you're doing nearby, but let that kind of imaginative play flourish. Soon enough, they'll be helping you make dinner or tend to your garden. And in school, try to let your kids make as many decisions about their homework and projects as possible, but monitor their efforts and provide guidance where appropriate.