As a parent, it is your job to love your child and to provide for his needs. It is also your job to properly discipline your child and to help shape him into the kind of adult you want him to be. Every parent has his or her own unique style, but there are certain things that can make you a more effective parent or a less effective one. Here are our top six tips for becoming a better and more effective parent:
Tip #1: Be Firm, Fair, and Friendly with Discipline
Discipline is an important aspect of parenting and it shouldn’t be confused with punishment or cruelty. Your child needs to learn that his actions have consequences and that the things he does may affect people other than himself. When implementing discipline, you need to be firm and consistent – always state clearly the consequence and the behavior that warranted it, then stick to your guns. Make sure that the punishment fits the crime as well – it should be fair but still something that will cause your child to think twice the next time before doing something. Finally, use a friendly style of communication when issuing discipline so your child knows that they have misbehaved but that you still love them.
Tip #2: Be a Teacher and a Coach for Your Kids
As a parent, you wear many hats. In addition to being a caregiver, you should also be a teacher and a coach for your kids. As a teacher, you should encourage your children to learn and give them the tools to do so. As a coach, guide your children to become stronger, healthier, and more responsible. Show your children what you expect of them by setting a good example but always try to see things from their point of view as well. Your child should learn to respect you, but he should also love and trust you – you need to earn that love and trust.
Tip #3: Use Positive Reinforcement More Than Punishment
As important as it is to correctly discipline your child, it is also important to praise him and reward him when he does well. If you are trying to teach your child to do something specific, it may help to assign a specific reward. For example, if your child wants to go outside and play with his friends, tell him, “When you have cleaned up your room, you can go out and play”. It is important to use the word “when” rather than “if” so your child knows there isn’t an option. Most parents find this method more effective in encouraging positive behaviors than simply punishing their child for misbehaving.
Tip #4: Encourage Your Child to Earn Rewards
If you give your child everything he asks for, you shouldn’t be surprised if he grows up to have difficulties managing his resources responsibly. To help your child grow into a responsible adult, encourage him to earn rewards while he is young. One thing that works for many families is to develop a reward system – create a list of chores or household tasks you want your child to do and assign each one a specific reward. This works well as a means of helping older children earn their allowance or you can assign points or chips for each task then create a list of rewards your child can work toward. You can also use this system to encourage positive behaviors and to discourage undesirable behaviors by creating a list of behaviors that will result in a loss of points – things like throwing things, using swear words, or not completing homework.
Tip #5: Don’t Expect Your Child to Be Someone He is Not
Many parents dream of having their children grow up to fulfill goals or to embrace opportunities they never did themselves. What you have to remember, however, is that while your child is part of you, he is not an extension of you and certainly not a clone. Your child is an individual and while you can help shape him into a responsible and confident adult, you shouldn’t try to control him. Give your child the love and trust he needs to grow up into his own person while still doing your job as a parent by issuing discipline and consequences as needed to help him learn.
Tip #6: Be Generous with Your Love
Some parents believe that if they are too loving with their child, he might grow up to be soft. The truth is, however, that loving your child well is going to be more impactful on who he becomes than how well you discipline him. Don’t mistake spoiling your child for loving him, either. Just make sure that your child knows you love him no matter what, even if you must sometimes discipline or correct him to help him learn and grow.
It is never too late to improve your parenting skills and your child can always benefit from it. If you want to become a more effective parent, try out some of our top six parenting tips listed above.
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