It’s not easy being a parent, and as parents we all want our kids to be healthy and happy. We want to do what is right for them now and our hope is that they grow up to become content and well-adjusted adults. Our role as parent is to set the tone for things to follow. The lessons that we teach our children and the way in which react with them today will become their foundations for tomorrow.
Parenting is not without challenges and also is not a science, but there are small ways that you can make a difference and become the parent you want to be.
Here are a few tips that can you help you become a better mom or dad to your child (or children):
- Smile more. Laughter might be the best medicine but a smile is just as good. Kids who wake up to smiling parents will feel better about themselves. When you wake up your kids for school or when they walk to the breakfast table, red-eyed and forlorn, smile. You may feel just as irritated and tired as they do but smiling will uplift the worst of moods and not only will your kids feel better, but you will feel better too! Smiles are not just contagious but they have been proven to boost the immune system.
- Show you care. With today’s busy way of life, we often just assume that our children know how much we really care and how much we love them. One way to become a good parent is to show your children how much they mean to you. Surprises and thoughtful gestures will let kids see and feel how much you care for them. Don’t forget to hand out endless hugs and cuddles. These shows of affection will boost the child’s confidence and morale and they’ll feel all warm and fuzzy inside. You can never spoil a child with too much love. Praise your child with meaning and when they try to do something nice for you (even if they haven’t done it correctly), remember to say thank you!
- Establish boundaries. Adults and children function better in boundaries. When boundaries are set, we know what to expect and when a child is provided with boundaries, they will know what to expect. Being a consistent parent is one way of becoming an -improved’ parent and when parents are inconsistent, their children end up feeling very confused. Don’t tolerate certain behaviour one day and become intolerant of it the next day. By setting limits, you will be helping your child to develop a sense of self-control.
- Don’t show favouritism! Parents are, after all, only human and it is often natural for them to favour one child over the other or others. No matter how you may feel, showing favouritism to one child does not work. The child that is favoured and the child that is not will both suffer. Do not compare your kids – instead of comparing, why not choose to celebrate each child’s uniqueness?
- Show respect! Treat your child how you would like to be treated. Talk politely and show respect for your child’s opinion and listen to what your child or your children have to say. Bear in mind that your relationship with your child will set the tone for the relationships that your child will have with others.
- Choose your words carefully. Words that are said in haste, anger or annoyance can leave a long- lasting impression on your child’s hearts. When emotions run high, hurtful and unkind words are spoken and if you are emotionally charged rather than reacting immediately – take a moment to think (count to three or walk away). Waiting a few seconds or even a few minutes to speak – will go a long way in diffusing a heated situation, as tempers and emotions will be settled.
- Be on your best behaviour. Children are like sponges and they soak up everything they see and hear. If your desire is to raise your children to be well-mannered, even-tempered, respectful, kind and caring – your children will need to have parents who practice what they preach and who set a good example. Your actions speak volumes and if you are constantly arguing with neighbours, showing little or no respect for your spouse or partner and swearing at bad drivers – your behaviour is not setting a good example for your children. Teach your children how to be respectful and kind by example.
- Be involved. Being involved in your child’s life may mean a shift in your priorities and a shift in your schedule. Make the time to spend quality time with your child. Set aside a few hours each week to play games, go for walks, etc.
- Don’t burden your child with more than they can handle! Divorced or separated couples often unwittingly use their children as messengers or they unload their negative feelings and emotions about their estranged spouse or partner onto their children. If your partner has done you wrong, do not expect your child to pick sides and don’t try to win your child over to your side. Although single moms or dads yearn for emotional support, they shouldn’t use their children as sounding boards for their problems.
- Believe in yourself and in your kids! Don’t underestimate your ability to be a super parent. You have the power to be who you want to be. At the same time believe in your kids and show them endless unconditional love and support. There will be days when you believe that you don’t have what it takes – what you need to do is learn from your past mistakes and remember – tomorrow is a new day and it offers brand new beginnings. There will be times when your children let you down and disappoint you – be forgiving and help them to learn from their mistakes.
- Take time out to be you! Parenting is a 24 hours / 7 day a week job. There are no bonuses, no overtime pay and no paid leave. Even super-efficient parents need to take time out for themselves. Schedule a time-out and spend a few hours each week or each month doing something that is just for you. Go for a spa treatment, a weekend away or to a movie. Give yourself a break, you deserve it!