Parenting can be the toughest job you will ever do. It comes without an instruction manual or a salary. It is a 24-hour job with very few breaks, often requiring sleepless nights for one reason or another. It will require you to be innovative, tough, and loving and will cause you to experience every emotion imaginable. Every parent has wanted guidance at some point and although there are never any perfect answers, there are some basic guidelines that can make parenting slightly easier. The following are ten pointers that may help when you feel you need it the most.
Children need to know you are in control. They crave boundaries and feel safer when they know exactly what those boundaries are. When you set solid limits for your child, you are sending a clear message that you are in control of the situation and you can take care of anything that comes along.
Actions need to receive consequences. After those clear boundaries have been set, they will require consequences if your child oversteps them. The consequences have to be consistent and fair. Discuss the consequences upfront and let your child know that this is your job as a parent and you have to enforce rules because you love your child. Remember it is a child’s job to test the limits and it is our job as parents to pull them back over the line.
Discipline should not hurt. There are many effective ways to discipline your child, but physical force or yelling should not be included in that list. It doesn’t make sense to scream at a child or hit him when we would not want our child to do either of these behaviors and we want to model correct behavior. Experiment with a variety of techniques such as time-outs, or taking away privileges or items. Do not be frustrated if something that worked once beautifully does not work again, just regroup and try again.
Most problems can be averted by making sure your child is rested and fed. Most of the time when one of my three children had a meltdown it was because of poor planning on my part. They were hungry or tired and couldn’t cope anymore. I know many adults whose mood plummets when the blood sugar drops from hunger, you can imagine how a child with weaker coping skills feels.
Remember that you are the adult. We sometimes feel bad because we have to say no so often, but being the enforcer is part of the job and if we said yes all the time, our child would not be the person that we would hope he would become.
Be a role model that your child is proud of. This never has to mean that you are perfect, just that you are trying to be your best. Model great behavior that you would like to see from your child.
Encourage and support your child then get out of the way. Be your child’s cheerleader but give your child the chance to make his own mistakes and successes. It is better to step back a bit and let him or her fly on his own.
Time spent with your child is the only thing you have to spend. What your child needs more than anything else from you is your time. You do not have to spend oodles of money on expensive gadgets, just be there completely without e-mail or your cell phone.
It’s not always your fault when your child does something wrong. Just because your child did something wrong and perhaps got in trouble at school, it does not mean that you are a bad parent. Everyone makes bad choices at some point. Use the moment as a learning opportunity instead of killing yourself with guilt.
Time for yourself will make you a better parent. Being a parent is tough. You need to have some interests that you can enjoy as an adult. Take time to be with friends, to laugh, and to share. If you have rest and renewal you can be a stronger parent.