For many of us parents, our life can be divided into two distinct parts; before we held our child for the first time, and after. We make an unsaid promise in that moment that we will protect and cherish the beautiful life that we are responsible in creating for them. But amidst the struggles of our daily lives we lose a track of this promise. Here are a few reminders that may help you re-center your focus on the things your kids need from parents.
1. The Small Things
Society and its perception of parenting have undergone an immense change since we were kids. Nowadays society doesn’t consider you a good parent unless you have your children enrolled in multiple structured activities– from a sports club, to a violin class, to learning German. We get it, you want your kids to have it all; experience all the opportunities that you couldn’t. But too much on your child’s plate leaves them feeling overextended and tired, especially if they don’t enjoy them. What they really do enjoy though, are the little things that you do with them. Be it reading stories to them, cooking together, telling them about your childhood, or going on a drive together to have their favorite ice cream. Building these little traditions that you follow through and through will not only ensure more family time, but give them a healthy balance and a positive outlook in life.
2. Eat, Play, Love
The title may be cheesy but it’s among the most essential ones. Families that follow a traditional family meal setting experience a deep level of interpersonal bonding. It provides a way for everyone to know each other better by sharing everyday experiences. Your kids are also more likely to develop good eating habits, given that the food you provide emphasizes a balanced diet filled with a lot of whole grains, greens, and fruits. Ensure that you play with your kids too, because as much as they enjoy playing with other kids, they love playing with you more, and having fun together only but strengthens your bond on multiple levels, it also helps you find a balance between being a parent and a friend. That said, show your kids love through your actions. Tuck them in at night, ask them how they feel, give them a lot of hugs and kisses. Studies have proven that hugging for at least 20 seconds produces the “love hormone” called oxytocin that reduces stress levels and makes you happier.
3. Appreciate Them
Do you appreciate your kid every time you see him/her take effort? Do a good deed? Or even fail at something? Appreciating your children when they fail, for doing their best and putting in hardwork, makes them want to try harder the next time. Whereas appreciating them on achieving a goal, makes them want to achieve more. It’s positive reinforcement because your kids always want you to appreciate them. This also makes them want to behave well and avoid trouble. It boosts their self-esteem, which helps them make more friends and take part in activities. Not to forget that they appreciate you right back!
4. Don’t Undermine Their Feelings
Sometimes, babies and younger kids can’t find the right words to express that they are frightened by something. It could be the fear of anything– clowns, strangers, death, or something really silly even. You may laugh at it, but to them it’s as real as real gets, so you claiming that it’s silly will not only do nothing to help their insecurity, but will also make them reconsider opening up to you in the future. What you really need to do is comfort them, and help them overcome their fears. Also keep in mind to not undermine their feelings in other aspects. Don’t force them into structured entertainment because you think anything other than studies is fun. Be aware of what your child is feeling and take it into consideration because who else will?
5. Be The Person You Want Them To Be
It’s absolutely necessary that you follow the moral ideals that you want your kids to follow, because you as a parent are constantly, conscious or subconsciously, influencing them. If you want them to be honest, be honest in all your ways. If you want them to try harder, you better be doing the same. If you want them to treat someone nicely, make sure you aren’t being rude to the staff at a restaurant. How you handled the same situation in the past is irrelevant and lost on them. They’re observing, and learning from you in real time, so lead your example by being it.
6. Pay attention
Talk. Listen. Be there. Attention is a very personal matter to children. What you call love and care, is what they perceive from attention. They’re very observant of it because it’s the only real way they can grasp that you care. You may be an individual that is naturally inclined to not display emotions the way others do. However, this clashes with good parenting. It’s necessary for you to pay attention to your kid’s needs, be it physical, mental, or emotional. But it’s also necessary for you to differentiate between your perception of these needs and theirs. Every child is different; yours wants you to realize their uniqueness and love them for it. Pay close attention– to what they talk to you about, to things that make them feel differently, to the kind of sandwich they enjoy…the list can really be endless. Spend quality time with your kid, and if you have more than one, spend time with each one individually. Don’t be thinking about work, loans, or the grocery list. Be present.
7. Respect their individuality
Your children possess their own level of individuality, no matter how small. If your son wants to play with dolls or dress up, let him. If your daughter wants to play video games, or collect wrestling cards, let her. Respect them enough to let them explore their imaginary boundaries for themselves rather than you building them. By doing this you will only limit their creativity and disable them from thinking out of the box. Gender generalization shouldn’t be a cause for you to do so. Another way to respect their individuality is by not enforcing your ideals of a “perfect child” on them. Instead nurture their unique abilities and talents so they are free from the burden of self-doubt and inefficiency.
8. Reward Good Deeds
Use positive reinforcement to curb your kid’s behavior, which means reward them for their good deeds. These rewards don’t have to cost you money either. When you’re impressed with their behavior, let them have that extra cookie, or cook their favorite meal, or take the crust off their sandwich, or let them take a pass at broccoli that one time. The feeling of being rewarded for something makes them feel good about themselves, and makes them want to be in your good books more often.
9. Don’t Judge Them
No one likes to be judged. Not you, not your colleague, nor your neighbour. Is there anything worse than being judged? Well…yeah. Being judged by your own parents!
As a parent, and an adult, you’re aware that no one is flawless and one is bound to mess up every now and then. Your kids are no exception. A human flaw is what it really is. What you say to them though during these instances though, will have a lasting effect on them, either positively or negatively. Ensure that you don’t discourage them or break their spirit, because they WILL believe what you say, whether or not you said it in anger. It’s always best to stay composed and send them to their rooms, while you decide how you want to address the issue and then go about doing it. Consider the fact that they’re still young and have a long way to go, and a lot of reality checks to deal with before fixing up their priorities.
10. Remind Them That They Are Enough
Reminding your child that he/she is enough, is as much a necessity to them as is food, water, or shelter. You don’t know how your kid’s peers treat them at pre-school, or if your kid gets bullied in high school and is battling depression. Offer your children words of kindness from an early age. Tell them they are brave, smart, beautiful, confident, and deserve love, so they grow up having a very strong sense security and self-reliance. As mentioned previously, they WILL believe the words you say. Make them count!
It’s one thing to theorize good parenting but another to implement it on a day-to-day basis. Do your best, and allow your love to do the rest. Happy Parenting, everyone!
Do you follow these tips or have some of your own to share with us? Don’t hesitate and hit the comment section below to tell us all about them!