There have been volumes upon volumes written about parenting and about how to be a good one. The following tips, if taken to heart, will lead you toward being the very best parent you are capable of being. Everyone’s health and wellness will be improved!
What is a “good” parent? It is one who loves, supports, protects and guides their child(ren) while consistently providing the necessary amount of structure and discipline to meet the needs that all children have. Some things interfere with even the best intentioned parent’s efforts to provide their child with those things. Some things actively help a motivated parent in their efforts to be the best parent they can be.
The following list is a simplification, but a useful one. It contains both things to do and things to avoid doing. The real ability to make use of this list is to take each tip, one at a time, and reflect on it. “How does this apply to me” and “Is this something I could do better at?” are good questions to begin with.
Here are the tips:
1. When you catch yourself doing or saying something to your child that was done or said to you by one of your own parents – something that made you sad and angry when you were a kid: STOP IT right away. The trap is set for all of us to auto-pilot into the ways we have been parented ourselves, even if we thought it was wrong.
2. Avoid corporal punishment (hitting, spanking, etc.) No, not because some people would argue that it is morally wrong or because it may be reportable as Child Abuse, but because 1) It tends not to work. The behaviors spanking punishes do not tend to go away because of the spanking and 2) Parents often feel badly about themselves after spanking their child. Most things that cause a parent to feel badly about themselves are not good for the child either.
3. Make it a point to catch your child doing something right at least twice every day. Too often, parental attention is garnered by kids behaving badly. Getting attention for being good creates a wonderful offset and also forms a more loving and firm ground for discipline when it becomes necessary.
4. Try to avoid comparing your child (yes, either favorably OR unfavorably) to their brothers or sisters. This frequently engenders unhealthy competitive feelings between siblings. It does not usually succeed in motivating the one who is not doing as well to do better.
5. Actively express interest and, when appropriate, concern but do not try to ‘force’ your child to talk about something when they don’t want to. Children who will talk with you on demand will often say what they think you want to hear. This does not serve the development of honest and open communication.
6. No matter what the age of the child, hold them responsible for their own actions. Making excuses for a child in an attempt to protect them can have the untoward effect of weakening them.
7. Admit to yourself and to your child that you can actually make mistakes. Yes, even a parent can be wrong sometime. If you are, say so and model for your child what it is to admit a mistake and appropriately apologize.
These tips are all directed at behaviors of kids and parents. Whenever there is a discrepancy between what a parent says and what they do, the child will respond to (and often copy) the action. Inconsistent language will likely be ignored. “Do as I say, not as I do” does not work. Being the person you want your child to become does.
There is no one way to be a perfect parent, but there are uncountable ways to be a good one!