Although there is no exact science to good parenting there are a few rules that you can apply to your parenting style that will improve your relationship with your children and enable them to grow up into the people you want them to be:
Make clear rules
Parents often have very different views about how they want to discipline their children and what behaviour warrants punishment. To overcome these issues, sit down with those that look after your child a lot. Write down key rules that you would like your child to follow; choose no more than 10. Together, you should then decide how you will punish each rule that is broken. Teamwork is essential when it comes to good discipline. Make sure you explain each rule to your child; you could even make a rule board and put it up in your house.
Between making breakfast, cleaning the house and getting your kids to brush their teeth it can be hard to find the time to listen. Try to prioritise though. Will your kids be thankful that they had perfectly neat and ironed clothes, or will they remember that time you sat down and really listened to what they had to say? Children often live in secretive worlds, so when they decide to share something, no matter how insignificant it may seem to you, it can be a big deal to them. You could try to get into a routine of asking your kids questions about their day, their friends or a game they like playing.
Although rules are important, your kids will respect you a lot more if you spend time having fun with them too. Choose to do an activity they enjoy – if they are young play an imaginary, creative game with them. You could pretend to be pirates or jungle explorers and go on an adventure around the house. If they are a little older do a one-on-one activity with just them. You could go skating, have a pamper afternoon or have an active day out. The activity you choose doesn’t have to be expensive, it just has to interest them and be done on a regular basis.
Trust is something that doesn’t come easily to most parents. We worry that they won’t look to cross the road, that they might make the wrong friends or that they will get into trouble. However, trust is essential to make any relationship work and moreover it gives your kids the freedom to explore and learn about life for themselves. It is likely that at some point they will make mistakes, but they will also learn from those mistakes. Plus, trust gives you something to bargain with. They can have some freedom if they behave, and if they don’t then it’s taken away.
A lot of parents find it hard to discipline their child even though, deep down, they know that the child needs to be punished. A horrible mix of guilt and despair makes discipline a difficult issue. However, by punishing them you are instilling good behaviour and strong morals. Once you have decided what rules you would like your children to follow, make sure that every time one of those key rules is broken there is a consequence to their actions. It is essential to be firm and consistent. Giving your child an explanation about why you have certain rules also helps them understand your actions.
Parenting is the biggest time squeeze. You get up earlier and earlier and go to bed later and later, yet still there is no time left. The only way you combat the time hoarder that is parenting is to get organised. Get charts, alarms and bright pens. Instil a strong routine and get your kids to do a few chores. Another way to massively cut down on your chore time is to cook big batches of meals at once. You could make large quantities of soups, chillies or stews and then freeze them. They’re like cost-effective, healthy ready meals.
Show you care
Being a parent is hard work, but the rewards can be huge too. If you find it difficult to find ways of showing your child that you care maybe you could write them a little letter explaining why you think they’re great. Or you could write down eight reasons why you love them and put them on post-it notes. Hide these notes all over the house and ask your child to hunt them down. Sometimes it can be easy to buy children gifts when you want to let them know you love them, but emotional attention is a much clearer, stronger message.
No-one in the world can wind you up more than your kids. They can drive you wild and after very little sleep it can be easy to blow up with anger. Showing you’re angry won’t help the situation though and your child will also learn to be angry. To stay calm, first find out why your child is acting up and address the causes of their behaviour. If you are too angry to deal with the situation try to work out a technique that calms you. You could leave the room, inhale deeply, visualise a relaxing environment or just sip some water.
Every family is different as every child is different. Don’t get caught up in the competitive side of parenting for your child’s sake and yours. A healthy amount of encouragement is good and can have a positive impact upon your child’s development, but getting too pushy will drive your children away, make them unhappy and may cause resentment. If you want to give your kids drive then set some achievable targets, let them have a say in what they do and give them a break. Never blame them if they fail, but remind them they achieved something by giving it a go.
Keep them active
If kids are inactive they will get restless, bored and frustrated. In Britain, nearly 2.4 million children are overweight or obese. Your child should be active for at least one hour a day. You can sign them up for a team sport or a dance class, but a lot of kids don’t like organised sport. Instead you could take them to a playground, play active games outside with them or go swimming. You can buy them active toys instead of computer games or DVDs, such as a bike or skates. Going for walks is also an easy way to get your child up and active.