I did not expect parenting to be so hard
New parents may be unprepared for the exhilarating, yet an exhausting, journey that lies ahead in parenting. It’s important for all parents to realize that just because a person is able to procreate, doesn’t naturally provide the patience and knowledge needed to be an effective and healthy parent. Gaining knowledge about the nature of children and healthy and effective parenting styles, will help parents to be calmer and empower parents to be more effective in raising responsible kids.
I am hoping to parent differently than I was parented
Many times a parent may be aware of times that didn’t go so smoothly in his or her own childhood and wish to parent differently once he or she has children. At all ages and stages of our children’s lives, we may remember back to how our parents may have reacted in similar situations. Prior generations did not have the information that we now have available about healthy parenting. But family loyalties and legacies in each of our families has shown to significantly impact our parenting.
I am nice to my child but then he misbehaves
Parents and other caregivers sometimes hope that if they act nicely to a child, the child will act nicely in return. This is referred to as the “strings attached” approach. Adults (and some older children) can relate to the concept of fair giving and receiving, but most children are not mature enough to respond this way. By expecting this level of maturity, a parent is being unfair to a child. The executive role of parenting cannot be done through love and understanding alone. Effective discipline promotes self-esteem, self-respect, self-control and preserves a positive parent-child relationship.
Am I a bad parent when I get angry with my child?
Anger is a natural and inevitable emotion and it’s okay to feel angry with a child. The key is for parents to learn healthy ways to express angry feelings to a child. Anger is usually a secondary emotion, so figuring out what the underlying feelings may be (frustration, disappointment, embarrassment, etc.) can be helpful in managing how to express anger. At these emotionally charged times, parents are role-modeling for a child how to handle anger.
My child and I are so different and we’re always clashing
The make-up of who a child is consists of ages and stages of development, uniqueness, maturity level, and situational factors. The uniqueness of a child (or any person) includes the individual nature of temperament, intelligence, brain dominance, giftedness, and learning styles. If these unique traits of a child do not “match” the unique traits of a parent, then there may not be “goodness to fit” and power struggles and miscommunication may result. When a parent is able to better understand these unique traits in a child, and how it may differ (i.e. conflict) with his or her own unique traits, the parent becomes calmer and more confident in parenting.
Is it okay to spank my child?
Spanking and other forms of corporal punishment is not a healthy or effective way to discipline children. The goal of discipline is to teach children proper behavior and self-control. Spanking may teach children to stop doing something out of fear. Despite some underlying attitudes and beliefs that spanking is an effective way to discipline children, extensive research strongly indicates any form of corporal punishment will negatively impact a child’s self-esteem and the relationship between parent and child.
My spouse and I don’t have the same style of parenting
Reconciling different parenting styles may be a challenge for many spouses. Consistent messages from parents to children is a key element of healthy and effective parenting. Many times when we court and marry our spouse, we have not even thought about parenting styles, and then we have children and parenting style differences may suddenly surface. Parents should take time when children are not present to work on a consistent “parenting philosophy” that can accept and even honor different parenting styles. Working together, rather than against each other, will help support and nurture responsible kids.
How can I be a good parent?
A healthy and effective parent is an intentional parent, who understands a child’s needs. There are no “perfect parents” just as there are no “perfect children.” Striving for perfection in all areas of parenting can only cause frustration and stress. Parents are given numerous chances each and every day to provide healthy authoritative parenting for their kids.
Show your love. Tell your kids you love them every day by sending messages of “I believe in you, I trust you, I know you can handle life situations, you are listened to, you are cared for, and you are very important to me.”
Be consistent. Your rules don’t have to be the same ones other parents have, but they do need to be clear and consistent. (Consistent means the rules are the same all the time and followed by all family members.) Establish a “parenting philosophy” with your spouse.
Prioritize your relationship with your child. Building a strong relationship with your child should be a top priority, and when communicating with a child, it’s most effective to remember to preserve the strength of the bond. The importance of strong, healthy bonds between parent and child cannot be overstated, because these bonds serve as the foundation upon which all other life relationships are formed.
Listen to your child. Active listening is the greatest gift to a child. Learn to accept, although not necessarily agree with, what your child is saying. Temporarily put aside your own thoughts and values and show empathy when listening to a child, trying diligently to see things from his or her perspective.
Strive for an emotional connection with your child. Understanding your child’s emotions will help you understand what motivates his or her behavior. Emotions are the real fuel of power struggles with your kids. When you identify those emotions, you can choose strategies to teach your child what he or she may be feeling and how to respond to those feelings in a more appropriate way.
Evaluate the behavior, not the child. Be intentional about self-esteem building and address misbehavior directly, rather than through evaluating the child. It’s better to say “I see you’re having trouble sharing with your friend,” rather than “Don’t be selfish, you need to share.