[ HOME ] [ NEXT ] [ BACK ]
Steps to More Effective Parenting
Raising children is one of the
toughest and most fulfilling jobs in the world and the one for which
you may be the least prepared. Learning “on the job” how to be a
parent can be fraught with pitfalls. As advocates for children , we at
the Dupont Hospital for Children want to help you raise healthy and
happy children. Here are some ways to tackle your child-rearing
responsibilities that will help you feel more fulfilled as a parent,
and enjoy your children more, too.
Nurture your child’s self esteem
start developing their sense of self as babies when they see
themselves through your eyes. Your tone of voice, your body language,
and your every expression is absorbed by your child. Your words and
actions as parents affect your child’s developing self-image more
than anything else in his world. Consequently, praising your child for
his accomplishment, however small, will make him feel proud; letting
him to do things for himself will make him feel capable and
independent. By contrast, belittling your child or comparing him
unfavorably to another will make him feel worthless.
making loaded statement or using words as a weapons: “What a stupid
thing to do!” or “You act more like a baby than your little
brother!” Comments like these bruise the inside of a child as much
as blows the outside. Choose your words carefully and be
compassionate. Let your child know that everyone makes and that while
you may not like his behavior. You still love him.
Catch your child being good
you ever stopped to think about how many times you react negatively to
your child in a given day? You may find that you are criticizing far
more than you are complimenting. How would you feel about a boss who
treated you with that much negative guidance?
more effective approach is to catch your child doing something right,
and praise her to the skies. “You made your bed without being
asked-that’s terrific!” or “I
was watching you play with your sister and you were very patient!”
These statements will do more to encourage good behavior over the long
run than repeated scolding. Make a point of finding something to
praise every day. Be
generous with rewards-your love, hugs and compliments can work wonders
and are often rewards enough. Soon you will find you are “growing”
more of the behavior you would
like to see.
Set limits and be consistent with your discipline
is necessary in every household. The goal of discipline is to help
children choose acceptable behaviors. Children may test the limits you
establish for them but they need limits to grow into responsible
adults. Establishing house rules might include: homework is to be done
before any television privileges are granted, or hitting, name-calling
and hurtful teasing are unacceptable.
may want to have a system in place: one warning, followed by
consequences such as “time out” or loss of privileges. A common
mistake parents makes is failure to follow through with consequence
when rules are broken. A rule without consequences is not a rule at
all-it’s a threat. You can’t discipline a child for talking back
one day, and ignore it the next. Being consistent sets an example of
what expect from our children.
Make time for your children
so many demands on your time, it’s often difficult for parents and
children to get together for a family meal, let alone spend some
quality time together. However, there is probably nothing your child
would like more. Get up 10 minutes earlier in the morning so you can
eat breakfast with your child or leave the dishes in the sink and take
a walk after dinner. Children who are not getting the attention they
want from their parents often act out or misbehave because they are
assured of being noticed. Many parents find it mutually rewarding to
have prescheduled time with their child on a regular basis. For
instance, tell your child Tuesday is her special night with Mommy and
let her help decide how you will spend your time together. Look for
ways to connect with your child without actually being there-put
a note or something special in her lunchbox.
seem to need the undivided attention of their parents less than
younger children. Since there are fewer windows of opportunity for
parents and teen to get together, parents should do their best to be
available when their teen does express a desire to talk or participate
in family activities.
feel too guilty if you’re a working parent. Quantity is not nearly
as important as what you do with the bits and pieces of time you have
with your child. It is the many little things you do together-making
popcorn playing cards and window-shopping that your child will
Be a good role model
children learn a great deal about how to act by watching you. The
younger they are, the more cues they take from you. Before you lash
out or blow your top in front of your child, think about this: Is that
how you want him to behave when he’s angry? Be constantly aware that
you are being observed by your children. Studies have shown that
children who hit usually have a role model for aggression at home.
model the traits you whish to cultivate in your child; respect,
friendliness, honesty, kindness. Exhibit unselfish behavior. Do things
for other people without expecting a reward, such as taking dinner to
sick neighbor. Express thanks; offer compliments. Above all, treat
your children the way you expect other people to treat you.
Make communication a priority
can’t expect children to do everything simply because you, as
parents, “say so.” Children want and deserve explanations as much
as adults do. If we don’t take time to explain, children will begin
to wonder about our values and motives and whether they have any
basis. Parents who reason with their children allow them to understand
and learn in a non-judgmental way.
your expectations clear. If there is a problem, describe it to your
child, express your feelings about it and invite your child to work on
a solution with you. Be sure to include consequences. Make suggestions
and offer choice. Be open to your child’s suggestions as well.
Negotiate with her. Children who participate in decisions are more
motivated to carry them out.
Be flexible and willing to adjust your parenting style
you frequently feel “let down” by your child’s behavior, it may
be because you have unrealistic expectations for her. Parents who
think in “should”, e.g., “She should be potty-trained by now”,
may find it helpful to do more reading on the matter or talk to other
parents or child development specialists. This may enable you to
adjust your expectations to a more realistic level.
environment in which your child moves also has an impact on her
behavior. For example, you may be able to modify your 2-year-old’s
behavior by changing her environment. If you find yourself constantly
saying “NO” to her, there are surely ways to restructure her
surroundings so that fewer things are off-limits. This will cause les
frustration for both of you.
your child changes, you will probably have to change your parenting
style, too. Many parents find it helpful at some point to draw up a
“kiddie contract” to encourage good behavior and motivate their
child. This can be as simple as a weekly list of chores and
responsibilities posted on the refrigerator. Chances are, what works
with your child now won’t work forever.
tend to look less to their parents and more to their peers for
examples of how to be. Continue to provide guidance and appropriate
discipline while allowing your child to earn more independence. And
seize every available moment to make a connection!
Show your love is unconditional
a parent, you are responsible for correcting and guiding your child.
But how you express your corrective guidance makes all the difference
in how your child receives it. When you have to confront your child,
avoid blaming, criticizing or faultfinding, which undermine his
self-esteem and can lead to resentment. Instead, strive to nurture and
encourage even when you are disciplining your child. Make sure he
knows that while you want and expect him to do better next time, you
love him-no matter what.
Be aware of your own needs and limitations as a parent
it you are an imperfect parent. You have strengths and weaknesses as a
family leader. Recognize your abilities, “I’m loving and
dedicated”. Vow to work on your weaknesses. “I need to be more
consistent with discipline”. Try to have realistic expectations of
yourself, your spouse and your children. You don’t have to have all
the answers be forgiving of yourself. And try to make parenting a
manageable job. Focus on the areas that need the most attention rather
than trying to address everything all at once. Admit it when you’re
burned out. Take time out from parenting to do thing that will make
you happy as a person and as a couple. Focusing on your needs does not
make you selfish. It simply means you care about your own well-being.
Which is another important value to model for your children.
[ HOME ] [ NEXT ] [ BACK ]