Deciding to have a child is a major decision and should be done so with the understanding that it is one of the most intricate responsibilities you will ever have.
Everything you do during your child’s young life is ultimately moulding them into the person they will be for the rest of their life. Early childhood development is vital in that it lays the foundation for future life-skills.
Although being a parent is tough and facilitating your child’s growth is challenging, watching your child blossom into someone you are proud of is extremely rewarding.
There is no hard and fast way to raise your child but there are various good parenting skills that can be adopted to help you contribute to your child’s life in the most nourishing way.
Nobody is born with parenting skills and although these methods are great guidelines, it is important to adapt to your unique situation and adjust the methods you use according to what is in your child’s best interest.
7 ways to practice good parenting
There is no such thing as too much love
Never be afraid of showing your child that you love him. Love is the single most important building block in your child’s fragile upbringing.
The idea that there is such a thing as showing your child too much love because it may spoil them is a great cause for concern. Love does not spoil a child.
Replacing love with things is what will spoil your child. Buying your child toys or sweets or giving him leniency when it is not due does not show your child that you love him.
Be involved in your child’s life
Being a parent means that you need to re-evaluate and shift around your priorities so that you can make yourself available for your child. Making sacrifices may become a regular occurrence.
It is important that you are emotionally and physically there to provide support when your child needs it.
Take her to her ballet classes, and do what it takes to attend her recital. Be there during homework hours to provide support and guidance when it is needed.
It is not encouraged to do everything for your child; this is not being supportive as it teaches your child that they can hand over responsibility and you will do it for them.
Rather do things with your child to teach them that they are capable of achieving the task at hand, however they are not alone and you are there to support them where you can.
Facilitate your child’s independence
It is part of human nature to want to feel in control of our own life rather than it be controlled by someone else.
Self-control helps a child develop a healthy sense of self-direction which can only result in a successful life.
Although it is imperative to allow your child the necessary space to develop their self-control, it is equally important to set limits where you feel they are needed and then to stick to them.
Understanding that independence does not automatically mean rebelliousness is key in fostering a healthy environment to help develop this integral part of a child’s existence.
Consistency is key
No matter what, always be consistent with the rules that you have set out. Inconsistency will nurture misbehaviour.
If your rules change day by day, your child will soon realise that there is a strong probability that they will get away with doing something that they shouldn’t.
Children will push boundaries at almost every opportunity so it is vital that you stand your ground. Establish the areas that are non-negotiable and areas that you may provide some leniency.
Consistency will gain you well-earned respect from your child. Authority that stems from wisdom is far more constructive rather than authority that comes from power.
Reward good behaviour
By nature, we tend to pay attention to bad behaviour. We do so by punishing it or by pointing it out or by causing a scene about it.
Although there must be an established level of discipline where necessary, it is more beneficial to reward your child’s good behaviour.
Praise your child’s small achievements like making their bed or sharing toys with others for example. Give them hugs and love as a reward rather than material objects or sweets.
Find something positive to point out on a daily basis. This will encourage your child to find positive things accomplish and will also teach them that you acknowledge their efforts.
Always communicate with your child
Keep the lines of communication with your child open. If they ask for an explanation or reason behind your rule, give it to them. Do not reply with “because I said so”.
Telling a child to keep quiet and do as they are told will make your child question whether or not there is any reason that warrants the rule at all. Once they doubt your reasoning, they may take you less seriously.
Respect and unconditional love
Allow your child to feel that you give them the same amount of respect that you would give anyone else. Do not create a barrier between children and adults, where an adult will get treated with respect and a child will get little or no respect.
Speak politely to your child, honour their opinions and always listen when he shares his side of a story.
Although it is your responsibility to correct and guide your child when he makes a mistake, how you do it is extremely important.
Do not blame or criticise your child and do not find faults in your child. This kind of confrontation breaks down your child’s self-esteem.
Go ahead and correct your child’s actions but make it clear that it is not a personal attack, that you still love them the same amount and that you are simply giving them tools to make better choices in the future.
The 4 different styles of parenting and what effect they may have on a child
“It’s my way or the highway”. The authoritarian parent makes stern rules and will not waver when it comes to their child abiding by them.
This parent does not allow much space for a child’s opinion and will make no room for negotiation. An authoritarian will also be more likely to use punishment instead of reasonable discipline.
A child raised by an authoritarian may very likely develop self-esteem issues. Studies have shown that these children may become aggressive and also learn how to lie as a means to avoid punishment.
The Authoritative Parent
This parent understands the need for allowing a child to express their opinion but also has well established rules which are consistently enforced.
Although the rules that have been set out are clear, there is still some room for reasonable negotiation. Through this, the authoritative parent will be able to teach their child valuable life lessons.
This parent is more likely to use positive reinforcement to foster good behaviour and rule out bad behaviour.
Research clearly shows that children who grow up with authoritative parents, tend to have the ability to express their feelings and opinions freely. These children are also more likely to make good decisions and become successful.
The Permissive Parent
“Kids will be kids”. This parent has no boundaries and although rules may be established, they are not strongly enforced.
These parents allow their child to get away with most things and rarely ensure that any consequences are faced.
The permissive parent thinks of themselves as more of a friend than a parent and may only intervene when things become very serious.
The result of this is that children brought up in permissive environments tend to disregard authority and don’t take rules very seriously at all.
Health issues are closely linked as the parent struggles to limit the amount of junk food their child consumes and may not instil basic hygiene practices like brushing teeth.
The Uninvolved parent
These parents do not know much about what is happening in their child’s daily life. They do not ask questions about school and do not offer to provide support for their child.
It is quite likely that this parent does not spend much time with their child and tends to get caught up in the stresses and responsibilities of life.
You might hear this parent say that if the child needs something badly enough, he will ask for it. This parent does not understand the importance of child development.
Children who have parents who are uninvolved struggle with self-esteem issues. These children also tend to develop behavioural issues and have little trust in adults.
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It is not to say that each parent will fit into just one of these styles but it is important to understand the impact of each role has on your child and to identify room for improvement.
Studies show that the authoritative method is the best method as it establishes a healthy balance between what the parent wants and what the child wants.
With dedication and effort, you can develop a healthy relationship with your child while maintaining the relevant and necessary authority. This builds trust between you and your child.
In the end, your involvement, efforts and presence will greatly benefit your child both now and when they are adults, in the most valuable ways.