Raising kids is never easy. No one goes into parenting knowing exactly how to handle everything that is thrown at them. But the best parents are always looking for ways to improve.
Listen to Your Kids
Have you ever been so busy that you don’t realize your kids are talking to you? It happens to the best of us. However, when you are spending time with your child, do your best to avoid distractions, including those intrusive thoughts about work, the laundry, or your phone that seems to be calling your name. Make it a priority to know what your kids are hoping for, what they fear, and what they feel anxious about. Listen and ask questions, even if they ignore you or try to evade answering. When you demonstrate that you care, you are showing them that you love and value them and their thoughts and opinions. Active listening also means you focus on what is being said without thinking about how you are going to respond. It’s about watching body language and picking up on cues.
Stick to Your Rules
As a parent, it’s your job to teach your kids the difference between right and wrong, which means you need to follow the rules, too. So, when you do something wrong, make a mistake, or lose your cool, fess up. Model how to apologize, take responsibility for your actions and make amends.
You also need to be sure your discipline is consistent but flexible. For instance, there will be times when you›ll say no to your kids and mean it. There will be other times when you realize you›ve made a mistake or perhaps responded too harshly. If you do change your rules, be sure you say, “I was wrong,” and explain why you changed your mind. Also, remember that we all make mistakes. So, don’t be afraid to admit that.
However, when the punishment fits the crime, stick to your guns. Kids notice inconsistencies and will use them in their favor. Remember, rules must be enforced after they are made. And whatever rules are set in your house, you need to follow them as well.
Be a Good Role Model
Don’t do anything in front of your children that you wouldn’t want them to do. If you find yourself exhibiting behavior that you don’t want your child to mimic, then it’s a sign you should change how you react in certain situations. Kids will copy what you do, not what you say. It’s important that your kid sees you managing your responsibilities to the best of your abilities. It’s not about being perfect, you are just teaching them about the importance of hard work, responsibility and honesty.
Control Your Emotions
If you lose your cool in front of your kids, they may become fearful or anxious, especially if they are younger. Whether you are arguing with a customer service representative on the phone or you are having a disagreement with your spouse, do your best to avoid exhibiting reactive, immature, or mean behavior in the presence of your children.
Anytime you lose control, yell, or argue with someone, you are showing your children this is how people react when times get tough. Instead, demonstrate how you can keep your cool and resolve problems in a calm manner. By doing this, you are showing them what emotional intelligence looks like. If you do blow up, be sure to apologize and take responsibility for your anger.
Sometimes parents struggle with unrealistic expectations and goals for both their kids and for themselves. When this happens, parenting can feel burdensome and overwhelming. If you find that you regularly feel that way, you may need to be more flexible when it comes to yourself, your kids, and your parenting. Being a perfectionist parent is stressful. They put extreme pressure on their kids to perform flawlessly, and also expect way too much of themselves. It’s important to take a step back and reevaluate whether or not your expectations are realistic. Likewise, learn to be more flexible and let go of things that don’t matter in the long run.
Show Lots of Love
There’s no doubt that you love your kids, but how do you show them? Do you shower them with kisses and hugs as often as you can? Remember, embracing your child will make them feel safe and loved. So will holding their hand, stroking their hair, and kissing their cheek. Another way to show love is to spend time together. This is a great way to show kids that they are a priority to you. Don’t forget to actively engage with them. This means putting down your phone and really engaging with your kids.
Also, initiate activities, such as playing board games, enjoying outdoor activities, or simply talking with your children to make the most of the time you have together. Showing interest in things that they are passionate about to show your kids that you love and understand them.