Parenting is hard work. Let me repeat myself. PARENTING IS HARD WORK! But it can also be one of the most rewarding experiences in life. We love our children. We don’t always like the choices that they make, and sometimes their behaviors drive us crazy, but we love them all the same. We try our best, but we do make mistakes. We ALL make mistakes. But we try to learn from our mistakes- at least most of us do.
For many jobs out there training is required- a class, a workshop, an internship. Not for parenting. We aren’t even given an instruction manual. Talk about on the job training- and many times without a trainer. Yet parenting is the most important job out there, in my opinion.
What is parenting? What is effective parenting? I do not have all the answers, and I make my fair share of mistakes- just ask my children. But I do want to share with you some things that I have learned over the years. And then I want to hear from you.
Being involved in your child’s life. Take the time to listen to your children. Really get to know them. Get to know their friends. Go to their sporting events, piano recitals, and award ceremonies. Help in their schools. Get to know their teachers and coaches. They will be a lot less likely to get into serious trouble, if you stay involved. These things tell your children that you really care. If you do not disappoint your child, your child will be less likely to disappoint you.
Establishing rules and setting limits. Children and adolescents are not emotionally mature enough to make their own rules. You need to do it for them. They will thank you once they are an adult. If you do not effectively manage your child’s behavior when he or she is three, you will be in for it when he or she is thirteen. It is a lot easier to ease up on rules, than to wait until a child is an adolescent to set them.
Providing structure. Children do not know this, but they crave structure and routine. It makes them feel safe. They know what to expect. Have set bedtimes depending on age and individual sleep requirements. Have set meal times and turn off the cell phones. Routines are key to raising healthy children.
Treating your child with respect. Respect goes both ways. The best way to get respect from your child is to respect your child. Listen when your child is speaking to you. Talk to your child politely. Respect his or her opinion. Treat your child with kindness. Avoid humiliating your child or speaking negatively about your child to others. Your relationship with your child is the foundation for all of your child’s future relationships. If you bully your child, your child will either become a bully or allow others to bully him or her. History really does repeat itself.
Promoting independence. Your goal is to give your child roots and wings. Know that it is healthy and normal for your child to be pushing for autonomy. This is a natural process. Growing their wings should be gradual. It involves baby steps. You can’t deny a child all independence and then push them out of the nest one day. Nor can you give a child too much independence too soon. They need to grow their wings gradually. Read child development books so that you are familiar with normal development at each age. You want your child to love you forever, but it is not in their best interest to need you forever. (I know- this is a hard one)
Being consistent. Children need to know that you mean what you say. Your words mean nothing if you do not consistently back them up with action.
Helping children with homework or finding someone who can. A child’s success in school is the ticket to living a productive life. Do not depend on the teacher alone to educate your child. Get involved. Do your part. Collaboration works best. Create a united team for your child.
Putting the emotional needs of your child above your emotional needs. Yes, you have emotional needs- but DO NOT rely on your child to meet them. Take your problems to another adult. You are there to meet your child’s emotional needs- not the other way around.
Building your children up rather than tearing them down. How you treat your children is how they will treat themselves. The things that you say to your children will become internalized, and they will one day tell themselves the very thing that you have told them. You have a lot of power. Be careful. Those things that you say when you are angry and frustrated, your children will believe- whether you meant to say it or not.
Loving your children unconditionally. It is okay to dislike or disapprove of your child’s behavior- but make sure your child knows that you love him or her regardless. You like the child- you don’t like the behavior. You are not a bad boy- but the behavior is unacceptable.
This list is not complete. Many readers are very effective parents. I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! OTHER PARENTS OUT THERE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! SHARE THE LOVE. Please add to my list in the comment section of this post. Characteristics of effective parenting…. your additions please.