Being a parent is much more than merely meeting your children’s basic needs ― you’ll need to build a deep and committed relationship with your offspring.
“Effective parenting skills involve engagement, bonding, positive responses, as well as understanding how your child feels in a particular situation,” says Daniel Koh, a psychologist at Insights Mind Centre. It’s also important to know your strengths as a parent and to listen to what your child has to say, he notes.
You’ll need to work on skills like patience, determination and persistence constantly, so that you can guide your child to grow into mature and responsible adults. By the way, a loving parent can improve their child’s brain development.
Here are tips on how to be a great parent:
1. Build positive relationships
Do fun things together! Humour and fun are the building blocks for mental health and relationships. Young children learn best through play, so set aside some time to paint with your child or go into the garden to blow bubbles. If you have an older child, play a round of video games with him or watch movies together.
You have many ways to make meaningful connections, too. For example, you can let your kids decide the kind of activity the whole family can do every weekend. Such opportunities offer you and your munchkins a way to engage in lively conversations.
Let your child know that if he misbehaves, he’ll get a warning first, followed by consequences such as a “time out” or loss of privileges.
2. Be consistent
When you show them right from wrong, you’ll need to explain clearly what the undesirable behaviour is and what he is to expect if he misbehaves. Introducing a few simple house rules will help him understand your expectations. For instance, he won’t get a playdate if he hits his little sister or he can’t watch TV until he has finished his homework.
But if junior continues to push your buttons, respond calmly. Avoid harsh consequences. Help him to see that he is experiencing the consequence of his behaviour. Always be consistent in following through with the consequences though.
3. Make your expectations clear
Parents expect children to do as they are told, but don’t children deserve explanations, too?
“Reason with your children and try not speak down to them,” Koh says. You can also avoid any power struggle by offering choices or encouraging your children to give suggestions on how to solve a problem, he notes.
“Every morning, my 4-year-old throws a tantrum over what to eat for breakfast,” says Saunthra Menon, 35. “Instead of locking horns, I’ll offer Akhil just two choices — toast or eggs — so, he can still feel in control.”
Encourage good behaviour with statements like, “I saw you helping your brother with his schoolwork and you were very patient”. Praise junior with kind words or offer rewards like a hug, toys or snacks to motivate him to behave better.
Ways to build a strong parent-child bond
As parents, you wear many hats and bear many responsibilities — you provide a safe and nurturing environment for your children to grow, and you are also their companion, communicator, coach, teacher and much more.
The foundation of effective parenting lies in your relationship with your child, so here are several ways you can forge a stronger parent-child connection.
Tip #1: Motivate your child
Who doesn’t want their child to succeed? Be her personal coach and motivate her as she works towards achieving her goals.
But what if she fails? It’s hard for parents to watch their child stumble, but it’s important to let her learn from her mistakes, accept the consequences of her choices, and figure out new tactics. Let her know that everyone makes mistakes and that you still love her.
Tip #2: Practise active listening
Listen to your tot. Make good eye contact and use gentle touch when speaking to her. Don’t interrupt when she talks.
Refrain from imposing your point of view. Try to offer appropriate direction and guidance. “See it from the child’s needs and point of view rather than from your own,” Koh advises. Ask various questions to find out exactly what it is she wants to do or be.
“See it from the child’s needs and point of view rather than from your own.”
Tip #3: Be a good role model
Remember, you are your child’s first teacher. Young children learn by watching what you do, so be mindful how you act.
As parents, you will guide junior through many important phases of his life, so be sure to equip him with the right skills to be an independent adult. From basic chores like running errands to handling complicated relationships, you’ll have to be there for him every step of the way, especially when he is struggling to learn a new skill. And it’s your job to teach — and re-teach —those skills to him.
Tip #4: Help him express how he feels
Praising junior when he finishes a task, however small, will fill him with a sense of pride that will motivate his interest to continue learning.
Tip #5: Keep the connection
“Keep all discussions or teachings short. Break down the tasks into smaller parts to aid understanding,” Koh advises. “For younger children, keep it age-appropriate.”
Remember to give junior a smile or hug when she needs comforting.
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