Nurture your child's self-esteem. Your words and
actions as a parent affect your child's developing self-esteem more than
anything else. Praising your child's accomplishments, however small,
will make him or her feel proud; letting your child do things
independently will make him or her feel capable and strong. By contrast,
belittling comments or comparing your child unfavorably with another
will make him or her feel worthless.
Catch your child being good. Have you ever stopped to think
about how many times you react negatively to your child in a given
day? The more effective parenting approach is to 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 reward enough. Soon
you will find you are "growing" more of the behavior you would like to
Set limits and be consistent with your discipline.
Discipline is necessary in every household. The goal of discipline is to
help children choose acceptable behaviors and learn self-control.
Establishing house rules will help children understand your expectations
and develop self-control. You may want to have a system in place: one
warning, followed by consequences such as a "time out" or loss of
Make time for your children. With 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. Children who
are not getting the attention they want from their parents often act out
or misbehave because they are assured of being noticed that way. Many
parents find it mutually rewarding to have pre-scheduled time with their
child on a regular basis. Create a "special night" each week to be
together and let him or her help decide how you will spend your time.
Look for other ways to connect with your child - put a note or something
special in his or her lunch box.
Be a good role model. Young 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 your child to behave when he or
she is angry? Be constantly aware that you are being observed by your
children. Model the traits you wish to cultivate in your child: respect,
friendliness, honesty, kindness, tolerance. Exhibit unselfish behavior.
Do things for other people without expecting a reward. Express thanks and
offer compliments. Above all, treat your children the way you expect
other people to treat you.
Make communication a priority. You can't expect children to do
everything simply because you, as a parent, "say so." Children want
and deserve explanations as much as adults do. Parents who reason with
their children allow them to understand and learn in a nonjudgmental
way. Make 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 choices. Be open to your child's suggestions as
well. Children who participate in decisions are more motivated to
carry them out.
Be flexible and willing to adjust your parenting style.
If you frequently feel "let down" by your child's behavior, it may be
because you have unrealistic expectations. As your child changes, you
will gradually have to change your parenting style. Chances are, what
works with your child now won't work as well in a year or two.
Show that your love is unconditional. As an effective
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 fault-finding, which undermine self-esteem and
can lead to resentment. Instead, strive to nurture and encourage, even
when you are disciplining your child. Make sure he or she knows that
although you want and expect better next time, your love is there no
Be aware of your own needs and limitations as an effective
parent. Face it - you are an imperfect parent. You have strengths
and weaknesses as a family leader. Recognize your abilities and vow to
work on your weaknesses. Try to have realistic expectations for
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 things that will make you
happy as a person (or 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.