Good parenting can mean different things to different people. When we become parents there isn’t this manual that we all universally use to provide the best form of parenting. Because of that there are no set guidelines or rules for parenting. Parenting is a skill that is learned and developed overtime. Being a good parent does not mean that we will do things perfectly or we will not make any mistakes while we are learning. Good parenting is more about rising to the challenges of this role as lovingly and practically as we can.
Yes, without that manual it does make things more difficult. Because the way we choose to parent will significantly impact our child’s development. This means that we are striving to make decisions that are within the best interest of what our child needs and sometimes wants. The key ingredients to this is patience, love, understanding, guidance, and nurturing. Our skills may differ from one parent to the next and what works for one child or family may not work for another. But remember there is good news. The good news is that no matter how you were raised or who you are, there are ways that you can learn, develop, and master good parenting skills. Keep reading for some skills that may be useful to you.
Be a Good Role Model
kids at a very young age look up to their parents and other adults in their life. A common mistake we may see in parenting is that parents will use the “do as I say not as I do” motto. Children tend to imitate what they observe other adults doing. This is due to the mirror neurons in our brain. Be sure that if you are asking your child to behave or speak in a certain way that you are engaging in the behavior that you are asking them to do. Because your little one or your teenager will likely follow your actions rather than your words due to how we are hardwired.
If it’s a value to you to raise your children to be respectful, loving, and kind, it is important that as a parent you exhibit these kinds of behaviors as well. And a very important piece here is that you exhibit those values to yourself as well. If you are likely to talk negatively about your body or your dieting habits and food choices… Your child will pick up on these behaviors and in the long term may experience the same struggles. Another really important example here is if you want your child or team to have limited screen time, make sure that you’re not spending endless hours on your screen or binge-watching TV all night long.
Pay Attention with Love and Affection
We don’t have to spoil our children to show them that we love them or are paying attention. Of course, we’re going to be instilling discipline and teaching appropriate behaviors lovingly.
As humans we are social creatures therefore, we require attention. Thus, it is a fundamental need of your child to feel loved and cared for and to receive attention from you. This includes them feeling understood and heard. Provide your child with verbal affirmations such as you did a great job, I am proud of you, or I saw how much effort you put into that. Physical affection is also incredibly important so simple gestures like hugs and holding hands can go a long way with your little ones. It is pertinent for us to be there for them when they need us and spend quality time with them and listen to their stories and feelings. Your presence and your attention is something they need above all else.
Be Kind Yet Firm
Discipline can be tricky and instilling it appropriately can also be tricky. We get stuck between am I being too soft or am I being too harsh. But it is possible for a parent to exhibit firm discipline while being kind. Remaining positive while trying to instill good behaviors and discipline may be triggering for us due to possibly how we have been raised. It is still possible.
With younger children this could look like utilizing timeout. With teenagers this could look like informing your team that if they are not on time for curfew they will be grounded for a week. The most important piece about being firm and kind is making sure our consequence is appropriate for the behavior and following through with the consequence.
Manage your Own Stress and Anger
I think we can all agree that managing our own emotions is easier said than done as parents. It is normal for us to get upset or frustrated during stressful moments and it is important for us to learn to manage those feelings effectively. If we allow ourselves to be overcome by the intensity of these kinds of emotions, it can negatively affect our relationship with our children. Some tips that may help us stay calm when faced with a difficult situation are to utilize deep breaths or take a time out from the situation.
If we do have our moments, because we’re human, and we have an outburst when we are overwhelmed we can apologize for our behavior and acknowledge that we don’t want to do that in the future. Then talk about the situation again.
Do Not Forget About Your Own Mental and Physical Well-Being
Being a parent is taxing! You cannot pour from a cup that is empty. No matter how much you want to ensure that your kids and your family’s needs are taken care of, I cannot stress the importance enough to not forget to take care of your own needs and wellbeing. When we take good care of ourselves, physically and mentally, it can make a huge difference in how we’re able to interact with our kids.
It is not easy to be a good parent. Raising kids into being adults is trial and error. Hopefully these skills will assist you in navigating parenthood. If you are struggling and need support as a parent or as a human, give us a call!