Parenting Tips That Make a Positive Difference Part 2

More great guidelines to help you instill confidence and good values in your child.

Speak and act right

Children learn a lot about how to act by watching their parents, and the younger they are, the more cues they take from you. You are constantly being watched by your child. Before you lash out or blow your top in front of her, think about this: Is that how you want her to behave when she’s angry? Studies show that children who are aggressive usually have a role model for aggression at home.

Model the traits you wish to see in your child: respect, friendliness, honesty, kindness, tolerance. Demonstrate unselfish behavior. Do things for others without expecting a reward, express thanks and offer compliments. Above all, treat your child the way you expect other people to treat you.

Communicate clearly

You can’t expect your child to do everything simply because you, as a parent, “say so.” Children want and deserve explanations as much as adults do. If you don’t take time to explain, your child will begin to wonder about your values and motives and whether they have any basis. By reasoning with her, you allow her to understand and learn in a nonjudgmental way.

Make your expectations clear. If there is a problem, describe it, express your feelings, and invite your child to work on a solution with you. Be sure to include consequences. Make suggestions and offer choices. Be open to your child’s suggestions as well. Negotiate. Kids who participate in decisions are more motivated to carry them out.

Get flexible

If you often feel “let down” by your child’s behavior, consider the fact that you may have unrealistic expectations. Thinking in “shoulds” (for example, “My child should be potty-trained by now”), can lead to expectations that are not based in reality – inform yourself by reading up on the subject, talking to other parents or consulting with a child development specialist.

A child’s environment has an effect on their behavior. If you find yourself constantly saying “no” to your 2-year-old, look for ways to alter your surroundings so that fewer things are off-limits. This will cause less frustration for both of you.

Show unconditional love

As a parent, you’re responsible for correcting and guiding your child. But how you express your corrective guidance makes all the difference in how she receives it.

When you have to confront her, avoid blaming, criticising, or fault-finding, which undermine self-esteem and can lead to resentment. Instead, strive to nurture and encourage, even when disciplining her. Make sure she knows that although you want and expect better next time, your love is there no matter what.

Know your limitations

Face it — you are an imperfect parent. Like everyone else you have strengths and weaknesses. Recognise your abilities (“I am very loving and dedicated”) and vow to work on your weaknesses (“I need to be more consistent with discipline”). Try to have realistic expectations for yourself, your spouse, and your child.

Make parenting manageable – focus on the areas that need the most attention rather than trying to address everything all at once. Admit it when you’re burned out and take time out from parenting to do things that will make you happy as a person (or as a couple).

Parenting is a journey that our friendly Sunshine team can provide valuable road maps for – so feel free to contact us for advice.