Nobody’s perfect. It doesn’t matter how hard you try; you’re probably going to get it wrong sometimes.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll second guess yourself when you see how other people choose to bring up their children too.
Let’s stop just a minute. If you remember one thing today about good parenting, it’s that you can only try your best.
I try to stick to some rules when it comes to bringing up Evie.
Full disclosure: I haven’t always been good at these, it’s taken a lot of practice and I’m STILL learning every day.
Parenting is a journey, and using these rules is great for setting limits and making sure I can be the best possible role model for my little lady.
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Be patient; they’re just testing boundaries
I wanted to start with this one because trust me, if there’s one thing you’re going to need as a parent of young children, it’s patience!
Most parents find that their darling little bundles of joys are incredibly skilful when it comes to testing your patience. Your child is growing and learning about the world around them.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that your little one just doesn’t quite understand how to interact with the world around them, so what you think is bad behaviour could be their little way of learning what is acceptable and what isn’t.
I’ve certainly learned that in order to get good behaviour out of Evie, I need to be patient – very patient.
The more patient I’ve been in terms of my parenting style, the better Evie responds to me.
Struggling to be patient? Read this great article from EmpoweringParents.com.
Use positive and supportive language
When it comes to discipline, finding a balance can be tough. We all want to be relaxed parents, but after a stressful day, that all-important patience can start to dwindle.
Using negative language, phrases like “Don’t do this”, “Stop doing that” can actually have a negative impact on your child’s behaviour too.
In this great article from Parenting from the Heart Blog, Alana talks about how you can swap some common negative language for more positive ones:
|Instead of:||Try using:|
|Don’t run||Walk, please|
|Stop touching your sister||Hands to yourself|
|Don’t throw toys||Please keep your toys on the ground|
|Stop interrupting||I can see you want to talk to me. Wait one moment, please.|
|Leave him alone||Come over here and play.|
|Don’t hit||Only gentle touches, please|
|Stop yelling||Quiet voice, please.|
What I like about this approach, and try to take with Evie, is that you shift your focus toward teaching your child how they should behave, rather than chastising them for how they shouldn’t.
Be tirelessly enthusiastic
I’ve never been a big believer in speaking to your children in a different way to how you would speak to an adult. I’m never going to be one of those dads who speaks to his children in baby voices or uses silly words for things; it doesn’t help your child learn.
With that in mind, something I will always do is show boundless enthusiasm towards Evie. It doesn’t matter what she’s telling me, I’ll always consciously make an effort to sound as interested and excited as possible, irrespective of the day I’ve had or how stressed I’m feeling.
There’s a reason for that…
To me, good parenting skills come from the ability to build a great relationship with your child. I often see parents when we’re out on days out barking orders at their kids or only half listening and I imagine how that parent would feel if the same thing happened to them at work or when they’re talking to their friends.
Single parenthood has really helped me to hone that skill. Since our traditional family life came to an end, it’s helped me to appreciate and cherish the time more than ever because I understand that our time together is always on a countdown until I have to take Evie back to her mum’s.
Taking a step back even further, our children grow up so fast. The bottom line is that they won’t be little forever. As they grow older, they’re going to face more complex and challenging issues with school, relationships and work.
I want Evie to be able to always come to me and know that I’ll be enthusiastic and interested.
Listen, don’t lecture
By the time most of us come to having children, we’re lucky enough to have been on this earth rather a few years. I’ve now had almost 32 of them and in that time I’ve made many, many mistakes that have helped me to become the person I am today.
We have to be able to allow our children to do the same. If Evie is anything like me, which she certainly is this far, all that’ll happen if I was to slip into ‘naggy parent’ mode is that she’d push back and do exactly the opposite of what I’d told her to.
Children need to be able to learn and, even if there are behaviour problems, they need to be able to express their feelings so that you can guide them supportively rather than dictate.
There are very few aspects of life in general in that don’t benefit from consistency. Whether it’s training at the gym, performing at work, keeping in touch with friends – You name it, people just like reliability.
I harp on about consistency all the time when it comes to parenting because nothing is more crucial when young people are learning the boundaries than knowing what the expected outcome is.
For example, imagine if day to day you’re nice and calm when your little one decides they don’t want to eat their dinner, but one day you’re in a bad mood and lose your temper, they won’t understand.
Likewise, if you have rules in place at home and you sometimes relent on them, they’ll always try their luck. A good example of this might be bedtime – If your child cries when you put them down to bed one night and you go to get them, they will no doubt try it again another night to get the same response…just in case.
Shower them with love
As parents, we all want our children to feel as safe, secure and loved as possible, right? Having a solid foundation helps to instil a sense of confidence in our children, as well as a feeling of self-belief.
I don’t know about you, but I certainly love to feel loved and I want Evie to feel that too.
There are so many ways you can show your child some love, but I think this great article explains it far better than I can.
Create clear rules and expectations
I covered this a little earlier when I talked about the importance of consistency. Setting very clear rules and boundaries is crucial if you want to help your child develop into a well-rounded little human.
Very often you’ll see parents swerve on a pendulum between either trying to be their child’s best friend or being the military disciplinarian. We’re all guilty of making mistakes on that front – I certainly have.
You can look at rule setting in terms of 5 Cs: Clarity, consistency, communication, caring and creation.
You can read this great article from Psych Central for more detail here, but in summary:
Being clear when you set rules, limits and boundaries for your children
As we talked about earlier, being predictable in your response so your child knows what to expect
Talk about the reason why certain rules are in place to help them to understand
Use positive language and reinforcement to encourage good behaviours
Encourage your child to feel that they have a responsibility for their own behaviour
Don’t take things personally
Trust me, there will be times when your child is downright brutal. Don’t take it to heart, they just haven’t learned how to filter out their thoughts yet.
As they grow, it’s our job to teach them the social skills to be able to realise that saying, “You look really fat today” probably isn’t a good idea in the long run.
Show rather than tell
Effective parenting is about demonstrating how to behave, rather than telling. One of the greatest gifts for me about raising a child is getting to be the person who teaches Evie how the world around her works by spending time with her.
There’s a great quote by John C. Maxwell that says, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way”.
As a parent, it’s time you take the lead.
Celebrate effort, not just success
In life, we’re not always going to win. To be honest, that’s not even the important part – The effort is what counts. Fear of failure is something we learn as we get older and become more mindful of silly feelings like embarrassment or pride.
The beautiful thing about children is that they don’t have any of those problems because they haven’t learned them yet.
If they fall, they get back up and try again and if they make a mistake, they move on.
I believe that embracing and learning from mistakes is the secret sauce to success in everything you do.
Nothing is more damaging to a person than holding on to the past, dwelling on mistakes and being bitter about what should have happened.
I believe in encouraging children to embrace their mistakes and move on. It teaches them resilience, which is great for their mental health.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read this post! If you think I missed anything, drop a comment below and let me know!
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