- 1) YOU CAN HAVE A GOOD CONVERSATION WITH YOUR KIDS NO MATTER WHERE YOU ARE
- 2) BE ADAPTABLE
- 3) DON’T BE AWKWARD
- 4) USE QUESTIONS TO SHOW THAT YOU ARE LISTENING
- 5) TELL YOUR OWN STORIES AS WELL
- 6) BE HELPFUL
- 7) YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO EVERYTHING
- 8) PICK YOUR BATTLES
- 9) USE TIME WISELY
- 10) BE A GOOD ROLE MODEL
- 11) SHOW SIGNS OF AFFECTION TOWARDS YOUR PARTNER
- 12) BE SPECIFIC IN YOUR PRAISE
- 13) DON’T FALL INTO THE TRAP OF PARENTING GUILT
- 14) DON’T BELIEVE EVERYTHING THEY SAY IN BOOKS
- 15) DON’T DO EVERYTHING BY YOURSELF
- 16) TEACH YOUR KIDS HOW TO BE BRAVE
- 17) DON’T LOSE IT WHEN YOUR CHILDREN HAVE MELTDOWNS
- 18) TEACH YOUR KIDS ABOUT GRATITUDE
- 19) KEEP YOUR CHILDREN ON THE MOVE
- 20) SAYING “I LOVE YOU!” NEVER GOES OUT OF FASHION
What does it take to be a good parent? How can you tell if you are doing enough? Isn’t it demoralizing when you see other parents seemingly putting a lot more effort into raising their children well, while you are still stuck in your pajamas? Have you failed as a parent because you never took your kids to Disneyland? Every parent has his/her own definition of ‘good’. For some, ‘good’ means managing to attend the child’s baseball game or concert. For others, ‘good’ is simply cleaning the Lego pieces spread all over the floor, before the guests’ arrival. What is almost universally applicable though is that every parent is trying. Parents try to surpass other people’s expectations of them, but also their own, which are often higher than they should be, because they keep comparing themselves to other parents, instead of realizing that every parenting experience is different. There isn’t a universal remote control button that you can press and access solutions to every parenting problem; however, there are some important parenting tips which do make the difference between good and bad.
1) YOU CAN HAVE A GOOD CONVERSATION WITH YOUR KIDS NO MATTER WHERE YOU ARE
Well, OK, maybe if you are in a church, this isn’t so applicable. But – do it, whenever you can! Don’t let the awkward silence take over, when you’re deep in your thoughts instead of loosening up tongues. Good conversation doesn’t necessarily mean ‘deep’, especially since it’s the simple talk that children understand best. Take advantage of the in-betweens, whether it’s carpooling, shopping or dinning. These moments allow for care-free conversations where you can actually find out more about what your kids have on their minds, because in most cases, you and your children are in parallel positions, thus avoiding any tension that might arise from a face-to-face (literally!) conversation.
2) BE ADAPTABLE
Pay attention to your children’s rituals and how they carry out their routines. If one of them is too drowsy in the morning and usually doesn’t feel like chatting, but after football practice, the kid turns into a stand-up comedian, of course it’s best not to force him into a chat when you know you won’t get anything. One child needs clearer instructions, other one might like intense conversations and another one’s notion of conversation is asking you 1000 questions. Don’t use the same pattern with all of them and pay attention to their uniqueness.
3) DON’T BE AWKWARD
When a parent focuses too much on how s/he should be, s/he overlooks how s/he really is. Over-analyzing every single response, before actually delivering it, makes us sound fake, unnatural. Use real emotions with your children – do gestures like nodding or disapproving with your head. Use appropriate language depending on the age of the children; don’t talk to them about Quantum Physics if they are only 4. If you want to know what’s happening in their lives, respond like an actual person who shows empathy, instead of being a robot. Children know when things go awkward and if they don’t like the flow of the conversation, they are less likely to share private matters with you.
4) USE QUESTIONS TO SHOW THAT YOU ARE LISTENING
We are so focused on getting our children educated, that we forget that we are those who initiate them in education, by teaching them how to be emotionally literate. This means that we have to encourage them to tell stories and articulate their problems, so that solutions can be easier found. Kids love to go off-topic – they start talking about one thing, like how much they liked the food they were served in school, only to suddenly start telling you that they need a certain pair of sunglasses. Keep your children focused by asking action questions like: “What did they serve? Who were you sitting next to? What did you like the most?” In this way, not only will they become better storytellers, but you will also show them that you are interested in what they have to say and not look as if you are thinking about 10 other things while your children are raving or complaining about something.
5) TELL YOUR OWN STORIES AS WELL
As much as children want you to know all about their adventures, they are also good listeners. Open up about your day as well – like, that one time when you needed to print 500 copies and the printer got stuck. Share your experiences and treat them like adults who can listen and understand. They will follow up with a lot of questions and you starting a conversation will be the trigger they need so that they can open up about their own daily occurrences as well. Avoid the classical “How was school?”, because that usually turns into a short answer: “Good!”. End of the conversation. Instead, once you have them engaged, ask if they met someone new, which class was their favorite or if someone annoyed them.
6) BE HELPFUL
Good parenting isn’t just about asking questions, but also about finding solutions. Even though in this day and age it feels like children don’t need help from your life experience, they actually do. They crave direction and the feeling of security; it’s good for them to know that whatever questions they might have, they can count on you for answers. Discuss with your kids on how they can handle situations. Ask them how they would approach the problems, then go on to tell how you would do it. Use your wisdom without giving any lecture – the moment a conversation turns into a lecture, you are losing your audience. Acknowledge your limits and that you can still give advice, even if you haven’t experienced a certain situation first-hand. For instance, you can tell them that it’s up to them whether or not they should share their candy at school with X, but if you were them, you would do Y.
7) YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO EVERYTHING
Getting too involved in your children’s lives and doing everything for them, even though you are aware that they can do those things themselves (walk the dog, clean their rooms, do their homework), will only create a dangerous bond of co-dependence. As parents, we have to try and foster the exact opposite, which is independence and that’s something that can only be achieved by giving our children responsibilities. It helps their self-esteem to know that they can do things and that they can be helpful. As they get frustrated, be emphatic, but if you want to teach them resilience, don’t rush to fix the problems yourself. Your role is to give them a nudge towards the right direction, not to take their hand and bring them to the solution.
8) PICK YOUR BATTLES
We often get frustrated and angry about things that, at the end of the day, don’t matter that much. Like that time our daughter wanted to go out dressed in every color of the rainbow or when our son threw his dirty socks on the floor, instead of putting them in the washing machine. Such things aren’t worth our time and there is little point in making a big fuss about them; It’s tiring and nitpicky. Instead, we should keep our energy for things that really matter, like possible behavior issues (lying, stealing, aggressiveness, etc.).
9) USE TIME WISELY
Have fun and engaging activities with your kids. Start reading to them even as they are just newborns, because they love listening to you, even if they don’t understand what you are saying. Reading creates a great bond, but is also instrumental when it comes to brain development. Make sure to have a special time with the kids daily, even if it’s not something that lasts for hours. You can have 15 minutes where you play a game with them, but in those 15 minutes, there will be no cell phones or other distractions. Turn these things into rituals – even if they might not remember all the details of that bedtime story you told them when they were kids, they will remember the experience itself and cherish it.
10) BE A GOOD ROLE MODEL
Children watch and pay attention, even if you think they don’t. For them, you are the Master of the Universe, the number one authority in the world – don’t disappoint them. Kids look up to you and try to mirror your actions and words; after all, if mom/dad does it, it means it’s right. Model appropriate behavior and admit your own mistakes. Apologizing for something wrong you said or did won’t diminish your authority, but rather make them see their own mistakes. Limit your consumption of alcohol, if you don’t want them to pick such a behavior. Don’t smoke if you don’t want them to smoke. Don’t drive your car without a seat belt, if you don’t want them to forget about the seat belt. Don’t litter if you don’t want them to litter as well. Don’t preach things you don’t practice yourself or else you lose credibility. Words mean nothing if your actions as a parent don’t back them up.
11) SHOW SIGNS OF AFFECTION TOWARDS YOUR PARTNER
Again, if you want your children to have a healthy image about intimate relationships, make sure they are seeing the right things. If they only see you bicker and fight, they will learn that that’s the norm and probably mimic your own behaviors years later. You can set a good standard by respecting your partner. Respect his/her decisions, as long as they are not miles away from your own. Don’t criticize him/her in front of your kids, even if you have reasons to disagree with his/her opinion. Even if things aren’t always perfect and you feel the need to let your frustration out, don’t ever bad-mouth your significant other as consolation prize for losing an argument.
12) BE SPECIFIC IN YOUR PRAISE
Praise should always be given when due, no matter if it’s for something as simplistic as watering the flowers. Cherish every single helpful thing, if you want to reinforce positive behavior. Make sure to also “gossip” about your children and tell your friends the good things they did, making sure that the children themselves can hear it. Hearing you talk about them in a positive manner to others, gives them an even bigger sense of pride. However, praise should be specific – kids shouldn’t just know that they did SOMETHING right, but that they did that EXACT thing right. “I am so happy that you waited patiently for me to come home!” or “These good grades make me proud, great job!”.
13) DON’T FALL INTO THE TRAP OF PARENTING GUILT
Did you put too much salt in the food? Did you go outside with mismatched clothes? Did you dare to take a nap, instead of spend time with your kids? Parents worry all the time about not being perfect. They often have the preconceived idea that parenting means non-stop action, when in fact not only do parents deserve to give themselves a break, but they absolutely should do it, just like everybody else needs to press that pause button once in a while. Good parenting simply means raising good children, not always being on your feet and doing something even if you feel like fainting.
14) DON’T BELIEVE EVERYTHING THEY SAY IN BOOKS
Think about this – did your parents rely on books to raise you? Did they do a great job? If the answers are NO and YES, respectively, it means you don’t need them either. The modern parent spends countless of hours reading about the best ways to raise his/her children, because he/she wants to make sure that no wrong move will ever be made. In reality, wrong moves will be made and sometimes, no book would have been able to prevent it. There isn’t a universal authority which answers all your parenting problems with 100% accurate precision. Sometimes, you just have to go with your gut – you don’t have to read a book to know if your child had enough milk or if it’s time to bed. The best parents do things instinctively.
15) DON’T DO EVERYTHING BY YOURSELF
There is no shame in admitting that you can’t do everything by yourself – parenting was not meant to be a solo gig and asking for help is something you should consider whenever you feel that you need a break. You can ask other caregivers – spouse, grandparents, babysitters – to step in and be part of your children’s upbringing, by giving them the same values that you do.
16) TEACH YOUR KIDS HOW TO BE BRAVE
It’s tough to tell kids what bravery means, when you have such a scenario where various friends of your children jump off a cliff and try to convince your children to do the same, by telling them not to be cowards. When you are peer-pressured into something, being labeled as a ‘coward’ if you don’t do it, it’s easy to see why kids are eager to comply, even if it goes against their beliefs. There is always the imminent fear of rejection, of not blending in, and it’s your job as a parent to teach your kids that it’s brave to be different. It’s brave to say NO, no matter how much the world is trying to convince you to say YES. It’s brave to jump when you feel like jumping. It’s weak to jump just because you were forced into it. Greatness can’t be achieved if you can’t stand out from the crowd and the only way to stand out from the crowd is by not saying YES to everything.
17) DON’T LOSE IT WHEN YOUR CHILDREN HAVE MELTDOWNS
It’s quite easy to feel like losing your mind, when nothing can stop your children’s tantrums. Well, nothing seemingly. The key is for you to be the cool parent when that happens – otherwise, you would behave like them and you are the one who is supposed to be in control of the situation. One big mistake that parents make is that they forbid their children to behave in a certain way. This is not to say that you should let pass everything they do, but, simply put, you have to change tactics when disciplining them. Don’t talk about not doing that anymore, with words like: “Stop doing that! Don’t cry anymore! Go to your room!”, because this attitude is harmful to your kids. When telling them to stop, you are teaching them that some emotions are unacceptable, which is not the case. They have to be aware and able to name their emotions – the trick is controlling them. Instead, show empathy. Ask them why are they feeling like that, what can you do for them or what do they think they should do, so that they feel better. Listen to what they have to say, as much as you would want to punish them quickly and call it a day. Not only is it better for everyone if they let it out, but it would also calm the tantrums quicker.
18) TEACH YOUR KIDS ABOUT GRATITUDE
Let and encourage your children to volunteer and help their community, even if this just involves mowing the lawn or walking the neighbors’ dogs. All these actions help making them feel useful and integrated in the society. Praise your children, but don’t bribe them into doing something they don’t want to. When praise becomes bribery, kids become spoiled, because they learn the pattern of misbehaving and being “rewarded” for their attitude. Their behavior would have the same consequence, no matter if good or bad. Explore the difference between good or bad with them. If you watch a movie together and someone does something wrong, ask your children what they think about it and most importantly, WHY. Do the same thing when you read bedtime stories to them; pause and ask if the witch was wrong to cast a spell. Explain these two concepts from early on, so that they can use their judgment when making decisions on their own. Explain the importance of being good and how the feeling of doing something right will give them fulfillment.
19) KEEP YOUR CHILDREN ON THE MOVE
Research shows that the more activity your children have, the better it is for their brain development. Keep them on the move all the time – if your toddlers can walk, encourage them not to use the stroller. If they can push the shopping cart, don’t take one of those shaped like a car. Help them find a sport they like and allow them to perform it.
20) SAYING “I LOVE YOU!” NEVER GOES OUT OF FASHION
Even if you think you are telling your children way too often that you love them, there is no such thing. Love has no boundaries and no limits. Saying and showing your love will teach your kids to put this human value to good use and brighten up everybody’s lives. Love is what makes the world go round and love is what makes us better people. So, keep saying it, even if your kids are tired of it. Say it even if they already heard it 428 times that day. Say it even when they ask you to park the car around the corner, so that the other kids don’t think they are uncool for going to school with their mom. Say it even if you get into arguments with them throughout the day and you’re still angry. Don’t let them go to sleep without the goodnight kiss.
What are the things that make you a good parent?
Latest posts by Mum.info (see all)
- Can you drink coffee while breastfeeding? - April 10, 2018
- See The Surprising Parenting Problems That Keep You Up All Night - September 18, 2017
- How To Put The “P” In Practical Parenting With 10 Amazing Tips - September 10, 2017