Kids may not come with a guidebook, but there is plenty of information out there to help you along. And while not all information is good information, we sifted through a lot of the information out there to get to the bottom of what experts recommend.
Being a parent is an overwhelming job all by itself, and only adding to that stress are the piles of information available to parents. Everyone has an opinion, and many of which you probably didn’t ask for. (Thanks, social media.) So, how do you know where to begin? First and foremost, don’t allow yourself to get too bogged down with being perfect. Secondly, we’ve got you covered. We found a variety of expert-backed tips that are tried and true to help you out.
1. Treat your child with respect.
A lot of us grew up being yelled at, smacked, beaten, or berated, and we may likely feel the urge to yell or scream and do some of those same bad behaviors. However, it’s best to remember that the way that we were brought up is not always going to be exactly the best. Yes, we survived, but couldn’t we be better? Experts like Dr. Gail Saltz says to not call names or hit your child. Instead, be patient and respectful of them. Treat them like people.
2. Be consistent.
Whatever you do, do it consistently. That means consistent boundaries, consistent consequences, and consistent action. If you do something one way, then always do it that way unless you just find a better way. But if you change things up too frequently, it will make your environment feel unstable, which only causes more anxiety and confusion for your kids and yourself.
3. Make time for your kids.
No matter what is going on, you have to make time for your kids. And no matter what your child’s age is. When they are little, they need you to develop and as they get older they need your support and communication. They will always need time with you, honestly.
4. Create a routine.
A lot of people say that routines just don’t work for them, or they just ‘can’t’ do routines. But, in reality, as humans, we thrive off of consistency, I don’t care who you are. If you believe otherwise, it’s because you’ve never had an effective routine. The thing about kids and routines is, that when your child goes to bed at the same time each day, they won’t fight you as much when it’s time. Instead, they grow to expect it. The same goes for meals and play. With a routine, your child will feel more in control over their daily lives, so when the unexpected happens, things don’t feel so chaotic.
5. Learn to say, “I’m sorry.”
No matter how old we get, we are never immune to mistakes. And it’s important when you make a mistake that you acknowledge it and take responsibility for it. By doing so, you are setting a great example for your child and this also falls under respect.
6. Use natural consequences.
Natural consequences are pretty straightforward. Heidi Smith Luedtke, parenting psychologist, says “if your child refuses to put on his coat, let him get cold. If he fails to clean his room, let his toys get lost. It’s tempting to engineer other consequences, like taking away video games or TV time, because we don’t always trust that natural consequences will work. But over time they do have a way of shaping behavior.”
7. Remain flexible.
Parenting is a learning experience and what works for one person may not always work for you, so when one approach fails, it’s okay to be flexible and adaptable. Additionally, as kids get older, Kidshealth.org points out that it’s important to see that over time, your parenting styles will naturally change anyways. So, stay open.
8. Praise effort.
Research from Carol Dweck, Ph.D. shows us that it’s best to praise your child’s efforts rather than their innate abilities. The reason for this is that when you say “Oh you are so talented and special,” versus, “Wow, you worked so hard to learn how to do that,” your child is going to be less likely to face challenges with hard work. Instead, they will be more inclined to believe that good thing will happen to them because they are special.
9. Eat dinner together.
Family meal times are so important. It’s a time to socialize, communicate, and see how everyone is. Additionally, it’s where a healthy relationship with food is fostered for your children.
10. Maintain your mental health.
A lot of parents think being selfless is the way to go with parenting, but actually, that couldn’t be further from the truth. You have to take care of yourself, too. You cannot pour from an empty cup and so much of what your kids absorb is what they see in you. If you are constantly stressed and depressed, they are going to pick up on that.