Parenting is a learn as you go process, but some mistakes are more costly than others. Look over the following important tips for parents and see where you stand before going any further with your own kids.
- Know you are being watched. No matter what you think of yourself, your kids look up to you and take your lead. For example if you smoke, they’ll likely want to pick up the habit as well. If every other word out of your mouth is a naughty one, expect the same in them. Hold yourself to the same expectations you hold for them and let your actions speak louder than your words because they are far more likely to do as you do and not as you say.
- Don’t limit the love. Even when your kids misbehave or repeatedly test your patience, they need to know you love them. No matter how difficult it becomes to manage them and keep civility in the home, the love you have for them must be abundantly clear at all times. Don’t let them equate disapproval with a lack of love as this will push them further away from you and the essential bonds with family.
- Be actively involved in your child’s life. No matter how busy you are or how weird your kid’s friends seem, get to know them. Talk to them and find out about them from other parents and school sources. Listen to what teachers and siblings say about the people your child socializes with as peer pressure can seriously challenge your parental authority. Accept individuality in clothing, music and hairstyles, but don’t compromise the family’s moral core when it comes to friends and acquaintances.
- Evolve as your child ages. It’s typical to keep hovering over your kids and making all their decisions for them, but it’s not as healthy for them as you might think. Despite your knowledge and good intentions, they need to learn for themselves and grow as individuals; learn to let go in stages as your child demonstrates responsibility and self-governorship.
- Live by set rules. Consistency is key in parenting and it’s vital that you explain the rules and repeat them as necessary. Post them on the fridge and discuss them at the dinner table. Make sure everyone is clear on what is expected of them and that they know why these rules are established. Don’t deviate from one child to another or change your mind based on your mood.
- Never discipline with violence. No matter how angry you get, understand that violence can permanently damage your child and rarely accomplishes anything else. You will teach your kids that violence is acceptable and they will employ it elsewhere, probably getting into more trouble in the process. Kids that are hit or constantly screamed at develop serious anxiety, self-esteem and other issues that haunt and hinder them forever.
- Be accountable to your children. Although you don’t need to explain every decision you make to them, it’s important that you are able to justify rules and demonstrate their significance in real life. When they ask you “Why?” be ready with a logical explanation that helps them understand your position and the benefits it holds for them.
What you do now as a parent will influence your children forever and no parent wants to mess that up! Recognize your strengths and weaknesses and get better as you go along!