10 tips to win at the parenting game

Score top points with junior with these simple tips…

Parents---10-tips-to-win-at-the-parenting-game-1

No matter how hard you try, raising a child is one job none of us can ever fully prepare for. So, most of us turn to parenting books, attend seminars and join support groups hoping to become better parents.

However, parenting isn’t about knowing everything and getting everything right all the time. To raise successful children, we first need to be an effective parent — someone who is focused on building a connection with our kids, while teaching them to respect boundaries, even as we give them room to grow and flourish.

Check out 10 simple steps that will bring you closer to this goal of parenting successfully...

1) Accept mistakes as teaching moments
Instead of rushing to correct junior’s mistake or getting angry, take a step back. Ask yourself, “What will my child learn from this?”

Says marriage and family therapist Dr Hana Ra Adams, “Taking a step back will also help you control your emotional reaction and go into ‘solution mode’.”

For example, instead of punishing your peewee for spilling milk or getting a bad grade, use it as a learning opportunity to help them become more responsible.

2) Instil independence
The more chances your little one gets to take chances or learn a new skill, the more often they are tested and thus figure out what they’re good at and where they need to improve.

Successful children do their own chores, too, points out Julie Lythcott-Haims, who wrote How to Raise an Adult. “It’s a way for them to learn that work has to be done and everyone needs to contribute for the betterment of the whole.”

Taking a step back will also help you control your emotional reaction and go into ‘solution mode’.”

3) Walk the talk
Children do as you do, not as you say, so make sure to practise the mantras you preach. You may urge your little one to stop worrying, but if they notice that you fret about every little thing, what they see will make a greater impact on them than your words.

“Show your child how you manage worries or how you deal with problems,” Dr Adams suggests. “Then he or she can incorporate those behaviours into his or her own actions.”

4) Show empathy
Very often, your tot’s reaction to a situation might be rather exaggerated, but don’t disregard it. To a child, even small things are a big deal because they may never have dealt with this situation before. “It’s very important to validate how a child feels,” Dr Adams says. “It helps them level their emotions so that they will be ready to hear some advice or find a solution.”

Listening well, setting boundaries and four more vital steps in parenting effectively…

Parents---10-tips-to-win-at-the-parenting-game-2

5) Prioritise two-way communication
Active listening is one of the most important qualities in a parent-child dynamic. Take the time to really listen when your child is talking. Notes Dr Adams, “The more interest you show your child in his or her stories or worries, the more the bond of trust builds.”

This also works in solving a problem, notes Cornelia Dahinten family coach and director of The Parent You Want to Be — Conscious Parenting Training and Playgroups, which organises parenting workshops and talks. Be open to your child’s point of view, assure her that you are listening — but you still get to make the final decision.

6) Set limits and offer consequences
Giving boundaries is the most effective discipline method in parenting, Dahinten notes. Giving your child choices not only instantly removes the dreaded power struggle between the both of you, it also teaches her that every choice comes with a consequence.

For example, if junior isn’t ready to leave the playground as it’s dinnertime, they have two choices — either leaves now, or they stay but storytime at bedtime will have to be cut short. Stick to offering just two choices though, so that they won’t feel overwhelmed.

7) Be flexible
Adjust your expectations as every child, even siblings, need to be parented differently. If a situation makes you uncomfortable, it’s time to change things. For example, if co-sleeping has been the only way to get your cutie to nod off, but it’s affecting the quality of your sleep, it’s time to improve the situation.

To stay involved and connected, show an interest even in the minutiae of her day, asking questions like, “Did you laugh really hard today?” or “What did you love about school today?”

8) Practise mindful parenting
Arrange to have uninterrupted time with your children to earn their love. As Dahinten points out, “You cannot parent a child whose heart you don’t have.”

To stay involved and connected, show an interest even in the minutiae of her day, asking questions like, “Did you laugh really hard today?” or “What did you love about school today?”

9) Show unconditional love
When your little one misbehaves, don’t punish them by withdrawing love or contact time. Their only takeaway from that is that you’ll stop loving them when they make a mistake, but it won’t help them understand what exactly they have done wrong, nor will it teach them to refrain from repeating the bad conduct!

10) Know your own limitations
Being a mother doesn’t mean being a martyr — know when it’s time for you to take a break and focus on your needs as an individual.

Indulge in a spa session, meet your girlfriends for brunch and enjoy alone time with the hubs. When you are a happy parent, you will project your upbeat quality on your offspring — which is the kind of environment a child thrives in!

Photos: iStock

Like us on Facebook and check SmartParents regularly for the latest reads!

You’d love these, too…

Nifty packing hacks for your next beach trip

10 ways to be a better dad

11 things you never knew about your boobs