You know that saying, ‘Actions speak louder than words’? When it comes to parenting, that’s pretty much the crux—what you do, matters. That said, we’ve all, at some point or another, questioned our parenting abilities. Perhaps it was with a pet we’ve had (I remember having two turtles that survived for nine years with proper love and care, only to fall sick and eventually pass on when I moved into my new home); for some it’s a bird, a dog, or even a horse. And while pets are often considered one’s first child, having children is a whole different ballgame.
That said, it’s a tough job, but a few simple tips and tricks can help in the long run. Here are the 10 basic principles of good parenting that everyone should know:
No 1: Practice what your preachYour child isn’t going to listen to you, or do what you ask them to, if they see you flout the rules yourself. Remember, children learn by observing their parents, so what you do will matter far more than what you say.
No 2: Shower them with your presence, not presentsAs much as everyone enjoys getting presents, remember money cannot buy you love, happiness, or even well-rounded children. Your presence will be far more valuable in the long run that a shiny new toy.
No 3: Be involvedAs your children grow, they’ll not need you for every task. But, it’s important that you’re involved so that you don’t necessarily have to assert your presence, but can act like a guiding force on the periphery.
No 4: Evolve and adapt to your child’s needsIf you have one, two, or even three kids, you’re probably well aware that parenting them has its variations. For example, one disciplining technique may not work for all your kids. You need to be aware of your children’s individual personalities, and adapt your methods to their ways.
No 5: Set rules and follow themWhether it’s eating all meals as a family, no devices at the dining table, or going to bed by 10 pm, make sure that the rules you set are adhered to by everyone at home. Now, while you and your partner may not necessarily go to bed by 10, winding up, and heading to the bedroom for the night will show your kids that the same rules apply for all at home.
No 6: Be consistentRules are meant to be broken, but not regularly. Consistency in schedules, house rules, meal times, homework, and even recreational activities, will help you stay organised. This also works for following through on your word. If you’ve told your child that you’d take away a videogame if they haven’t finished their homework, mean it. Following through on what you’ve said will help better discipline your child, and help them make better choices later on as well.
No 7: Allow them to be independentStart to involve your kids in daily household chores like washing the dishes, setting the table, or raking the back yard. The older they get, the more advanced the chores can be. Teaching them basic life skills, like making their beds, or even preparing breakfast for the family, helps foster their independence.
No 8: Don’t be too harshChildren learn and grow when they make mistakes. However, instead of doling out a harsh punishment that’s only going to leave them with a negative experience, it helps to use positive reinforcement to discipline, and give them a subtle grounding. For example, if your child hasn’t finished his meal, simply give them the option of skipping that piece of chocolate for dessert, or having their cake only after they’ve eaten everything. Presenting them with a choice allows them to make informed decisions later in life.
No 9: Have a positive approach with your expectationsThere’s no denying that there are certain expectations we have from everyone. Your children are no exception. However, when you firmly, but calmly share these expectations with your child, you’re also giving them the impression that what you’re asking for is a good thing, and they’ll respect your wishes and will happily do what they’ve been told.
No 10: Respect their individualityRespect is a two-way street, so if you want your child to respect your wishes, you need to respect their choices. More importantly, if they do things differently, respect the fact they they’re individuals and have their own ways of doing things. If there’s something that can be done faster, or more efficiently, respectfully showing them an alternate method will empower them to choose what works better. However, if they still prefer their way, respect their choice and above all, be patient. They will eventually figure things out for themselves.