Being a parent is tough. There isn’t one book, one article, or one guide that tells you everything that works perfectly for your child or children. That’s because each child is uniquely made and requires a different approach to learning. However, you can always be a better parent. Here are 9 ways to be a better parent:
- Be an example to your kids: Most kids will learn through example. If you don’t want them to do something, then you shouldn’t do it either. Some things are for adults only and it may be ok for your child to do it when they are an adult (have a glass of wine), but make sure to explain this to your child.
- Actively listen to your kids: You kids may come home excited and rambling about their day, and get an “Oh,” “Uh-huh,” or “That’s nice” from you. If you want your kids to come talk to you about bigger problems or issues, the listening has to start when they’re young. Instead, actively engage in the conversation by asking questions and getting excited about them.
- Speak calmly to your kids: It may be difficult not to hell in the heat of a situation, but speaking sternly and calmly is always going to be a better option. If a child gets yelled at every time you are upset with them, they will be afraid to go to you when they do mess up for fear you will yell at them.
- Ask; don’t tell: It is important to word commands towards kids in the same way you would want someone to talk to you. No one likes to be told what-to-do! Instead of telling your kids to “pick up your toys now” ask them “Can you please pick up your toys?” or “It is time to pick up your toys please.” The way we say something can greatly affect the outcome.
- Say what you want: As you have seen throughout this article, I have said all the things you “Should do” in bold while leaving out many of the things you “Should not do.” Telling anyone “don’t do this” will leave room for rebellion and it is an unrealistic expectation. It’s harder to remember the many “Don’ts” than it is to remember the “Dos.” So, focus on saying what you want to happen.
- Play with your kids: This may sound like a given, but when life takes over, it may be a struggle to spend time with your kids at all. Try to take even 5 minutes a day to play with your kids. It could be a short board game, wrestling on the floor, or cuddling up with a good book. Playing with your kids shows your kids your there for them even when life gets busy.
- Give Choices for your kids: As a parent, it’s hard to let go of that “I’m the parent and I said so” demeanor, but if you want your kids to grow up to be independent adults, they need to make choices as kids. These choices may be simple like do you want chicken for dinner or fish. Giving them choices includes them in the family and helps them to make bigger, better decisions as they get older.
- Let your kids fail: We don’t want to let our kids fail, but in reality, when did you learn the most? I learned a lot through my failures and they are what have gotten me to where I am today. In life, failure is bound to happen. The best thing you can do for your child is to let them fail and then work with them on decisions and life consequences to help them accept and learn from their failure.
- Remember each Child is different: Along the path to becoming a better parent, remember you each child is different. You can’t compare your 3-year-old to Patty May’s 3 years old down the road. Kids progress, learn and become responsible at all different ages. Take your child as who they are, and try not to make comparisons between them and others.
As a parent, you may seem like you have failed in so many different ways, but be open to your children about your failures. The more they know you aren’t perfect, the better their self-confidence in themselves will be. Work together parent and child to become better each and every day.