1. Be involved in your child's life.
Being involved fully in your child’s life can be hard work, and more often than not means rethinking and rearranging your priorities. Lots of parents feel they don’t spend enough time with their children or that they have to sacrifice what they do for what the child wants. It’s important to get the balance right; if you work all week and can’t imagine a weekend looking after the children and need some ‘downtime’ yourself, make sure you make time for both. Take the children to the park, ice creams, read to them , spending quality time together but say ‘mummy/daddy needs an hour to catch up on emails/football etc’ to get the balance right.
2. Establish and set rules.
Make sure you and your partner stick to the same rules. It’s no good if Daddy comes home and lets the children have chocolate buttons after Mum has said they are only allowed a certain amount of chocolate if they are good! Establishing some ‘family rules’ with your children is a great way to communicate your expectations and be consistent in your parenting. Make sure there are no more than 3-5 house rules as too many can seem like lists and lists of rules which children would soon find tedious.
3. Avoid harsh discipline.
Many people use the same tactics their own parents used, and a lot of times that meant using really harsh discipline which can make children angrier and either more enclosed or more likely to take it out on others. Sometimes being a parent can make you very frustrated, especially when you have a whinging whining child (for no reason) and the child will not reason with you. The best thing to do in this circumstance is try not to make an issue out of the whinging by not getting cross. Laughing during a tense moment can ease the pressure off you and may even make the child stop the tantrum when they realise it really doesn’t work. Take a moment to stop, breathe, count to ten and carry on as normal with what you are doing. Your child will hopefully get the point that you are not interested in the tantrum and you can make light of it.
4. Explain your rules and decisions.
Always explain your rules and decisions so that your children know exactly why you are punishing/praising them and they can learn from this. For example, ‘Smita, I am not going to give you your chocolate cake until you finish your gobi because you have to eat up your dinner before you can go on and have a desert’, rather than a simple no.
5. Treat your child with respect
Sometimes it’s difficult to understand the sheer dependency and enormity of raising children and parents do often view them as small beings who really should be grateful, have less tantrums, stop whinging, and stop arguing with their siblings etc. These are all ideal types of behaviour which we would love children to understand, but in truth, the ungratefulness, tantrums, whinging and so on, can be down to parents barking orders all day long, ignoring common courtesies toward the child, and in defiance, children ignore the parents altogether. The best approach would be to treat your child as respectfully as you yourself would like to be treated.
6. Help them feel safe
It is very important for children to feel safe and this can start at home by hanging family portraits around the house, or pictures of them with their siblings in their bedrooms -a great way of giving them a sense of belonging.
Try not to argue with your spouse in front of the children. If they are sleeping, argue quietly. Children may feel insecure and fearful when they hear parents bickering. Also, children will learn to argue with each other the same way as they hear their parents argue with each other. The best way to deal with this is to show them that when people disagree, they can discuss their differences peacefully.
7. Do Something Familiar.
Children love routine and ritual, and if there is a special thing you and your children love doing, make time to make it part of your day/week. A particular story you always read before bedtime or something you always say to them before they go to bed. Children love the repetition of something lovely and will remember these little loving moments as they get older.
8. Read together
No matter whether you have a tiny baby or a wriggly toddler, they all love to be read to. You may need to adapt what you read slightly, more colourful bold books for babies, and simple, funny or sweet stories for toddlers. A 4-5 year old will be able to handle slightly more complex story and interesting illustrations. Reading with your child creates a perfect bonding time together.
9. Find out one important thing about your child’s day.
Although this really applies to slightly older children, finding something important about what they did at nursery or the childminders or even if they had a day out with daddy, is very important. It shows that you are interested in what they do and involved in their world. As they get older this can work as they may tell you the good things but also comfortable enough to tell you their worries and fears.
10. Don’t worry about the previous nine items.
Just when you think you’re doing ok as a parent, then along comes an article like this one to make you feel like you are not doing the job right!? Of course, that’s not the point. All the goals we’ve listed are worth aiming for, but no one will ever accomplish all of them, every day. So don’t beat yourself up trying to do the impossible. If expectations seem to high, be realistic about it and try not to judge yourself against other parents… remember they are probably feeling like you do as well.
A good way to look at how to become a good parent, is to try and enjoy the time you have with your little ones. Take a step back, take a breath, look at these little people you have created and spend time with them. It’s these moments with your children that make them feel loved. Leave the washing for another few minutes, have that chat with a friend on the phone a bit later and take those extra moments to spend with your children.