7 Ways To Parent Better
What responsibilities do you and your spouse take on as parents? It’s important to find your style of parenting with teamwork. How do you help each other? Do you have to ask or is it just expected? It’s important to communicate with one another what your strengths are as parents because it will be easier to divide up tasks. Finding ways to balance each other out is extremely important, it creates a healthy relationship and it also sets a great example to your children on demonstrating how to work with another person.
What are your values as a parent? Think about what you value about your parent-child relationship, write them down. Your list of values will be constantly changing and evolving as your child grows. Try to incorporate at least one of those values each day even when things are not going well. If you’re a juggling parent then try to incorporate your values into themed weeks. For example, if respect is an important value to you, then for that week, you will work on demonstrating examples of “what being respectful is” and talking about it. This way the whole family gets involved.
Be consistent. Don’t give in on some days and then be stern on others. Children need to learn what is acceptable and what’s not. Giving in to your child will allow your child to learn how to “push your buttons” to get what he or she wants. This learned behavior causes inappropriate reactions to responses. If you’re a softy, then change the way you respond by saying something like, “I need to think about that before I give you my decision.” It’s easy to give an automatic response and give in because you’re frustrated or overwhelmed. However, your inconsistency then causes your child to possibly learn how to behave inappropriately.
Establish a routine for your children. This is a great learned behavior to establish and it’s probably one of the best gifts you can give your child. By teaching them this skill they can learn how to adapt it into their own lives as they get older. Set a routine for them while they are in school and when the summer time comes as well. For example, during the school year, establish a before school and after school routine as well as a before bed routine. This will allow them to transition into different events or situations in a healthy way and allow for less resistance. During the summer, establish a routine for when they wake up and before they go to bed.
Attend to positive behaviors by offering praise. This allows the child to realize that you’re acknowledging them when they are doing something that’s appropriate. Most often we attend to negative behaviors, which then allow the child to learn how to get attention, however, in a negative way. Turn that around by attending more often to positive behavior. For example, your child is a messy eater and you’re constantly telling them to sit and eat properly, thus enforcing the behavior and giving attention of eating messy. This is negative attention. Instead, the next time they take a bite and get all the food from that spoon in their mouth without dripping, make a REALLY BIG DEAL out of it! That way you can enforce the behavior that you want to see. Help allow your child to recognize the difference between negative attention and positive attention. The end result is that you will start seeing more appropriate behavior.
Be mindful of how you’re behaving because of the way that you are feeling. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, that will allow your child to pick up on your unhealthy behaviors. You are allowed to feel overwhelmed; however, you don’t need to behave in an unhealthy manner just because you do. Also, be mindful of how your child is responding to you. Observe their body language and facial expressions. They may not be saying something to you about the way you’re acting because you are their parent but that does not mean that it doesn’t bother them. Remember you are role modeling for them how you want them to behave.
Quality over Quantity
You come home from work and plop yourself in front of the TV or grab your IPAD to deprogram yourself from your hectic day. Your kids are in the same room as you watching a movie or playing a game. This does not constitute as quality time. The quantity of time that you spend with your child is not healthy if it’s not quality time spent together. Just because you’re sitting in the same room as one another does not mean you are fostering healthy examples of communication or relationships. The time together must be of quality, even if it’s just for 5 minutes. Start working on quality time by asking your child to tell you one positive and negative thing about their day, and you do the same in return. Get to know your child’s likes and dislikes and learn more about their personality as they get to know more about you. Remember that the years go by too quick to not take 5 minutes from your day.