Parenting is an ongoing learning process. There are many things we don’t know and even more that we can’t predict. As a parent, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day busyness of life and lose sight of what’s essential. Most parents want to know if there’s something they could have done better. To learn more about how you can become a better parent today.
Read the entire article to make sure you know the steps to help you reach your potential as a parent!
1. Avoid Comparisons and Labels
It’s hard to be a parent in the 21st century. With new and evolving technology, constant changes in society, and more pressure than ever before, your child will succeed. It can seem near impossible to teach them good manners. So how do you go about doing this? And what should you do when confronted with a toddler who is acting out at a restaurant?
It can be easy to compare your children to others around you or ones you know very well. “Tamy’s baby is crawling at six months, but my little Ashley, who is seven months old, has no interest! Is something wrong with her?”
Dr. Karp, the author of The Happiest Toddler on the Block, says, “It’s important to consider who your child is, and not just his age. For instance, if your child is shy and quiet, it may be that he’s not inclined to talk—not that he can’t.”
Don’t compare your child to others. It’s natural for a parent to want their child to be as accomplished and high-achieving as possible. But comparing children doesn’t do any good—in fact, it can backfire if the comparison is harmful or oppressive.
“A person who compares themselves with another will generally feel worse about themselves,” warns Dr. Mellissa Fahlman of Psych Central.
Labeling someone also does no favors: Remember that labels are words, not an accurate description of who people are. One label, in particular, you should avoid at all costs? Picking on behavior that may seem irrational but has a purpose behind it (such as tantrums).
Do you know the old saying “don’t judge a book by its cover”? Well, when you’re talking about kids and their labels, that’s important too. Labels and comparisons can be damaging for children. “Our smart little cookie,” you might say of your child who always has straight A’s. Even labels that are meant to praise your children’s different and unique abilities can be harmful.
If one sister is the dancer, then it means that the other sister will never try her best because she’s too afraid to fall short in comparison.
The same goes for saying things such as “You’re so messy.”
Sure, there’ll be times when you find yourself describing stuff you like and dislike, but to a child, they are taking on the label and tend to live up to the label.
Don’t limit what your kids may do later in life by the labels in which parents give.
2. Teach Self Regulation
Rebecca Jackson, Vice President of Outcomes and Programs at Brain Balance Achievement Centers, explains that our body shifts into fight or flight mode when someone becomes agitated. “In these moments,” she says, “our brain is focused on the present moment and cannot reason.” It can take up to 45 minutes for a person’s mindset after an argument (or tantrum) has calmed down. Giving punishments or consequences should be avoided in heated situations.
Children co-regulate their emotions to match their parents. Suppose a child’s parent was remaining calm in a heated situation. That child could bounce back much quicker—parents who stay calm can guide the discussion without yelling or getting upset.
Dr. Gabor Mate says, ” You’re not permissive, but you’re also not demanding that the child suppress their feelings to be in your presence. And this is how self-regulation happens. Not by you mustn’t yell, you mustn’t cry, you know what I am saying, this kind of punitive and accusatory stuff. React against his anger. All you are teaching is self-suppression which is not the same as self-regulation.”
The parent who can regulate their emotions will feel more relaxed, calmer, and have a steadier influence. The best way for parents to teach children self-regulation skills is by modeling these skills themselves.
3. Let Your Child Make Mistakes
Children are exploring the world around them. They want to know what is out there, and they want to see it for themselves. Parents want to protect their children from harm, but in doing so, they often interfere with their child’s natural learning process.
Children must make mistakes that will allow them to explore and learn without their parents interfering.
You may be watching your 2-year-old son building a tower. As soon as he places the next block on top, you know that the whole thing will come crashing down. So you stop him from adding another block by explaining that his tower will crash down to the ground if he adds another block.
Research shows this lesson is better learned than explained because it allows children to feel their frustrations while knowing what not to do wrong in the future.
It is crucial to protect children against harm, but they will never learn for themselves if they can never make mistakes.
Mistake helps children understand cause and effect. They wouldn’t grasp the concept if their parents always jump in to save them.
Children need to be able to make mistakes for them to learn how not to do something wrong. Children must have space where they are free of parental oversight to explore themselves and figure out what they like and dislike.
So next time, Instead of jumping to help your child avoid making a mistake. Resist the urge and observe the situation. Plan how you will teach your child the lesson of their mistake while providing emotional support.
6. Look Beneath the “Bad” Behavior
Every parent has experienced their child’s “bad” behaviors. Whether it is a tantrum, whining, or talking back to an adult, these behaviors can be frustrating for adults and children alike. But what many parents don’t realize is that there are underlying reasons for this bad behavior.
From shouting tantrums to whining, your child’s “misbehavior” is often an expression of a lack of control over their emotions. When your child has a meltdown, he is not trying to manipulate you, but they cannot control their emotions.
At the moment, it may be difficult to understand why your child is behaving uncharacteristically.
But when you take some time and look beneath your child’s “misbehavior,” there will often be a deeper reason for what caused this behavior.
The first step in correcting any lousy behavior is understanding why it’s happening in the first place. Once you know how to react with empathy and patience, they can begin to change this misbehavior into more appropriate behaviors.
Next time your child has an outburst, instead of reacting with frustration or anger. Try taking some deep breaths to help bring your emotions neutral before responding.
7. Be An Example
Being a parent is not easy. You have to do so many things that don’t come naturally, and it’s hard to learn how to be a good one from scratch. It can be difficult for parents when they’re trying to figure out how much discipline their child needs. Or if they should let them watch TV all day or limit screen time.
Children are mirrors, and they do, say, and act like their parents. It can be frustrating and hard for parents because if they don’t want their children to do something, they shouldn’t do it.
So when the parents themselves feel guilty over the example, they are setting for their children. It can be difficult for them to teach their children anything different.
8. Praise Your Childs Efforts
Parents, do you want your child to grow up feeling loved and appreciated? One way is to praise their efforts. Praise doesn’t have to be a verbal response, either. As they complete tasks or exhibit behaviors that are exemplary. Parents can show their appreciation by telling them how proud they are of the work they put in.
It is not always easy to see the good things your children do. Our brains are wired to find fault and to focus on the negative. Your two children could have been playing and getting along together very well. Until fighting and arguing broke out, and their parents get after them from their fighting.
The parents deal with their children fighting and feel like all their children do is fight. But 10 minutes ago the two children were playing very well together.
It’s important to take the time to notice and acknowledge when your children get along, do something when they are told, or show actions of responsibility.
The most effective praise is praising a child’s efforts. For example, you may say something like, “Wow, honey, it looks like you worked hard on your art project. I see that you used green, blue, and orange with lots of circles. You must be so proud of yourself!”
Praising your child’s efforts when appreciating them for following the rules will lead to children continuing to want to do good and obey!
9. Teach values, Not rules
Rules are not enough to teach children the values that they need in life. They also need love, support, and encouragement. Parents and children will stick to and follow the rules better when family values back them. As opposed to arbitrary “rules,” family values provide a framework that is more likely to be followed because it has meaning.
Rules without values often seem pointless or lacking in purpose, leading both parents and children to disengage with them. Yet, if parents take time from their busy days for teachable moments. Such as teaching kids about respect- then the rules become much easier for everyone involved to follow.
The key to teaching values and following rules is to make sure that the family communicates their shared values instead of laying down arbitrary rules without context. Parents can display their values through modeling, conversations about expectations, and work in partnership with children; in this way, parents will set clear expectations for themselves and honor their family values.
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