Life goes by so fast. You might be busy working, cleaning and cooking, saving for college, running the kids to and from sports and school – and time just flies by. The next minute your kids are adults, moving out of home on their own, making their own decisions (right and wrong) and you wonder whether or not they’ll be okay.
You start remembering, concerned that you might not have done a good job raising them, thinking of all the things you could have done better. Don’t let this become you. Instead, take time now, when they are young, to practice good parenting. Here are a few ways you can be the best parent possible:
Step 1: Listen and talk more
Life is full of distractions, but your children don’t really understand what could be more important than them – and honestly, nothing should be. So, when they ask you questions or want your advice, sit down and talk to them. Put away your technology, turn off your phone or computer, give them a cuddle, and talk.
Ask them questions, give them advice, and show them that you care. Encourage your child to open up to you. Be patient and listen as they express feelings and thoughts. React sensitively and pay attention to body language. If something is bothering them, get down to their level and look them in the eyes. Remember, your phone and the dishes can wait.
Step 2: Be a good role model
Monkey see monkey do. Children learn much of their behaviour from their parents. How can you expect them to grow up to be model citizens, or empathetic people if you’re not acting appropriately yourself? Start by talking about yourself. If you’ve made mistakes in your life, don’t be afraid to admit them.
But also make sure you tell your children the lessons you learned from those mistakes. Show them affection – give them cuddles and understanding, and as we’ve mentioned already, listen and talk to them – this will help them embrace the same behaviours when they are around other people.
Be positive. If you’re going through a rough time, focus on the positive outcomes so your child learns to do the same. Set goals for yourself to stimulate drive in your child – if they see you achieving your goals, they’ll realise that dreams can come true. Most importantly, be the best you can be – be kind to others, and think before you speak.
Step 3: Don’t be afraid of discipline
There’s too much emphasis these days on discipline and many parents are left wondering where they stand. While back in the 1980s it was common for children to get a smack from their parents, today this is frowned upon, with some studies finding children who are smacked are often more aggressive, and feel fear, anger and sadness. And that’s fine, but it doesn’t mean all discipline needs to go out the window.
There are plenty of other methods you can use to show children there are consequences to bad behaviour. This could include taking away toys or technology, time out or stopping them from attending parties or sporting events. Avoid taking away things they need – such as sending your child to their room without dinner. Honestly though, do what works for you. Every child is different.
Step 4: Have more fun
When was the last time you laughed – really laughed – with the kids? When was the last time you got in the garden and got dirty with them, kicked the ball around, sat on a swing in the playground while they pushed you? Too many kids spend too much time on technology these days – and so do their parents – so it’s important that you also try to find the time for plenty of fun together.
Regardless of their age, having quality family time is not just about having a laugh – it also gives children a sense of self-worth knowing that you want to hang out with them. It strengthens the bond between family members, helps parents and kids reconnect, and most importantly, it creates happy memories.
Life’s too short and you never know what tomorrow will bring – so rather than spend a beautiful, sunny Saturday inside the house watching Netflix while the kids stare at the tablets, get out. Go for a bushwalk, head to the park, take your dog out, do some arts and crafts – and turn the phones off.