No one said that parenting would be easy – but with a few simple guidelines you can ensure that you raise a happy, balanced little person who will go on to be a happy, balanced adult.

Boost your little one’s self-esteem

Your child’s sense of self starts developing when she is a baby. She sees herself through your eyes – so your tone of voice, expressions and body language are important signals for her and can either help or hinder the development of her self-esteem.

Let her do things for herself and praise her for her accomplishments, however small. Be aware of the power of your words at all times – belittling comments like “That was stupid” or “You’re more of a baby than your brother” are damaging. Be compassionate and let your little one know that everyone makes mistakes and that even when her behavior is not ideal, you still love her.

Catch her being good

Have you ever had someone in your life who criticised you just about every day? It’s a demeaning and depressing experience even for an adult – imagine the impact it can have on a child. It’s far better to encourage good behavior by catching your child doing something right and then complimenting her for it. Statements like “I watched how you played with your sister and you were so patient” or “It’s great that I didn’t have to ask you to make your bed today, you did it all on your own” will have far more impact than any scolding.

By finding something to praise every day and being generous with rewards (love, hugs, and compliments are often reward enough), you’ll soon encourage more of the behavior you would like to see.

Set limits and be consistent

Discipline is necessary to help your child choose acceptable behaviors and learn self-control. She may test the limits you establish for her, but she needs them to grow into a responsible adult. Help her to develop self-control and understand your expectations by establishing house rules such as ‘No TV until you’ve done your homework’ or ‘No hitting, name-calling or ugly teasing allowed.’ Your child needs to know that ignoring rules will (for instance) result in the loss of a particular privilege. Consistency is essential – make sure you follow through with consequences. It’s no use disciplining her for something she did on Monday and ignoring the same behavior on Thursday.

Make time for her

Children who aren’t getting the attention they want from their parents often act out or misbehave because they’re sure to be noticed that way. Even though your life may be very busy, be sure to spend quality time with your child. Get up 10 minutes earlier in the morning so you can eat breakfast with her or leave the dishes in the sink and take a walk together after dinner.

Create a “special night” each week to be together and let your child help to decide how to spend the time. Look for other ways to connect — put a note or something special in her lunchbox.

Don’t feel guilty if you’re a working parent. It’s the many little things you do, like making popcorn, playing cards, window shopping, that your child will remember.

Our friendly Sunshine team is always ready and willing to offer tips and advice to parents.

http://kidshealth.org/parent/positive/family/nine_steps.html#