Even though we need a license to do many things in life, everything from driving and getting married to practicing medicine and fishing, there is no license required when it comes to the most important job on earth—parenting.
And parenting our children in the 21st century is far more complicated than it was a mere generation ago. Many well intentioned, and loving parents, are struggling.
Struggle in the home is often the result of having limited parenting skills (like when you only know how to punish and reward your children), facing a constant avalanche of negative media influences and simply being too exhausted to do, what you know is the right thing to do (sound familiar?).
Many of us have simply forgotten that good parenting means putting some of your own basic needs first sometimes.
Plus, when it comes to changing our children’s behaviour most parents only know how to use discipline and punishment.
These child discipline strategies may stop misbehaviour temporarily, but rarely do they teach our children to do better the next time. In fact, it is my experience that most child discipline used today, in the end only teaches our kids to lie to us so they don’t get caught.
So what is “Good Parenting”?
As a family counsellor and play-at-home-mom, I’ve found 10 parenting tips that naturally lead to good parenting because they give your children more of the best in you, so you can actually motivate your children to want to be well behaved, to want to be responsible and even to want to do their chores (at least most of the time)!
Parenting Tip #1 – If you love your kids put yourself and your basic needs first!
We would all be wise to remember and follow the wisdom ALL airlines in the world share, “Put your own oxygen mask on first BEFORE helping your children to put on theirs.” Why? Because we truly can’t help others, until we help ourselves.
When Mom (and Dad) ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!
Do I hear an amen?
Children can’t flourish when their parents are repeatedly burning the midnight oil, and on the brink of parenting burnout. Far too many children are living with unhappy parents who are stressed out. Children flourish when they are raised in a home with healthy balanced parents.
The best way to give more to your children is by giving more of what you need to yourself. A little self care (like sleep, healthy food, a bit of exercise, time alone) goes a long way and ultimately, means we can take better care of them. It also means being a healthy role model for our kids.
Parenting Tip #2 – If you are married or in a committed relationship—make regular date nights a priority!
Most of us have heard of Generation X and Generation Y. But did you realize that Generation S—Generation Spoiled—is on the rise?
Many children today are raised with an unhealthy sense of entitlement because their parents have made them the center of the entire universe. With all the demands on our time it is easy to devote ALL our time to parenting and forget about ourselves and our significant other. Yet, with divorce statistics still hovering at 50%, children are far too often coping with unhappy, failing marriages and partnerships.
A key to good parenting is to nurture your marriage—nurture some adult time.
Take a stand for your relationship. Make regular dates.
Whether it’s a romantic candlelit evening at home after the kids are asleep or a night out on the town (heck, just a simple walk hand-in-hand in your neighbourhood) can mean the difference between surviving in your marriage and thriving. So make the date, keep the date and do it, for you, for your better half, and especially for your kids.
Parenting Tip #3 – Be grateful for your children.
This tip sounds obvious perhaps, even a tad trite. Yet too often, it is our loved ones we most take for granted.
No matter what your situation is—no matter how often your children drive you into the parenting deep end—know there are hundreds of thousands of people in this world who would gladly trade places with you. There are women who would give anything just to be able to have a child, lonely men without any family to share the holidays with, and grieving parents who live with the loss of their child each and every day. Strive to remember how truly fortunate you are to have the child, the children, you do.
Regularly hug your children and remember to tell them how grateful you are, to be their parent.
Tip #4 – Teach your kids to fish for themselves.
Most parents simply do too much for their kids and it is with good reason. It is often easier, cleaner and quicker to do it ourselves than letting the kids help out. Yet, inspiring your children to regularly help out is one of the most loving things you can do. Not doing so, robs our children of the opportunity to learn vital life skills that naturally boosts our children’s self-esteem.
“How To Get Your Kids Doing Their Chores Smiling” is a chapter in my award winning book, When You’re About to Go Off The Deep End, Don’t Take Your Kids With You . Lots of parents think I am from another planet when I suggest that kids can learn to do chores with a smile on their face. Surprisingly, it is possible and quicker than most think.
Parenting Tip #5 – Focus on what you like instead of what you don’t like.
Parents who take a half glass full attitude are able to weather family storms easier and in fact, experience less family power struggles, and less family drama that the half glass empty kind of parents.
The more you notice the things that you like, the more you will inspire your child (and spouse!) to repeat those behaviours.
If children aren’t being appreciated and aren’t getting attention for what they do well—and when they behave well—you better believe they will learn to get your attention for not behaving well!
So cultivate a positive attitude, a positive presence and watch many of your family struggles slip away.
Parenting Tip #6 – Give respect before you expect respect from your children in return.
Live the golden rule. Only do to your child, what you would have done onto you.
In this light, things like yelling, hitting, punishing, spitting, arguing, rolling your eyes, and pointing out your child’s faults have no place in your home. Commit to respecting your child so they can follow your lead.
Parenting Tip #7 – A family that plays and works together stays together!
Laughing, playing and even working as a team to keep the household running smoothly is the foundation of a happy home.
Plug into your family, by unplugging the TV, computer and playstation regularly.
Have more fun doing things together—play with your kids but also capture quality time together by making dinner and even cleaning the house together. It is the children who get their regular dose of quality time with their parents that do not need to drive their parents crazy with attention seeking drama.
Parenting Tip #8 – Pick your fights wisely.
Good parenting means taking the opportunity to bring out our best, so we can bring out the best in our children.
One way we can bring out the best in ourselves is by learning when to take a stand and when to gently surrender.
Before budding in, ask yourself if you really need to. Sometimes what we think is our problem (like our kids’ messy room, or our kids’ choice of mismatched clothes) really isn’t our problem. Sometimes what seems so frustrating in the moment (a messy room, rolling of the eyes, a forgotten chore, a spilled glass) are really so minor, it is actually laughable.
So in the heat of the moment, we are wise to take a step back, get a broader perspective and act consciously instead of reacting unconsciously in which we wind up doing a Cruella Deville impersonation!
Far too often, stubbornness can take hold of the most loving parent. Anytime our patience crumbles and our anger builds, our interaction with our children is doomed. In this negative state we forget to listen and forget to be respectful. Looking to find an alternate way (especially for long standing, ongoing issues) by staying focused on the issue (not on whose right—like you!) can often bring quick resolution. If there is no third way agreeable to both parties (and often with children there is not), stay firm, but be gentle, respectful and compassionate to your child’s feelings (even if it is not going to change your mind).
Ironically, good parenting doesn’t mean kids will actually do what we say ALL the time. So make the serenity prayer your parenting mantra:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
Parenting Tip #9 – Say what you are going to do and lovingly stick to it.
Most parents unknowingly teach their kids to not listen to them. If you consistently repeat yourself and don’t follow through on what you’ve said, you are teaching your kids to ignore you and your words.
If you are not going to do what you say, and if you can’t follow through, simply don’t say it. And when you do follow through, make certain you check your anger at the door and do your best to remain calm, compassionate but firm.
Kids need a certain amount of control in their life but also need clear boundaries. So by all means, establish healthy and respectful family rules, just ensure that there is some wiggle room for flexibility. For instance a family rule might be that the common areas of the home need to be clean before bedtime stories, but the tidiness of the children’s rooms are left up to them (BTW you can always shut their bedroom door if the lack of order really bugs you!).
Parenting Tip #10 – Forgive yourself. I repeat, forgive yourself.
Face it; you are going to mess up! But the sooner you forgive yourself, the sooner you and your family can move on.
If you can, make it up to your family but them let it go. Learning to be gentle with yourself means you will be able to be gentler with your children—one of the best good parenting tools to have in your toolbox.
Mastering these top 10 parenting tips for good parenting takes time. But the more you learn the easier and more enjoyable your family life can become.
All these 10 parenting tips for good parenting are based on common sense—but using them consistently achieves uncommon results. You and your family deserve this. So go for it!