Whether you want to keep your stress down and your sanity intact, or just provide your child with the best possible parenting experience you can provide them with, it’s important to have some very consistent ways of doing things. Some parenting principles are going to provide less stress for you and your kids while making sure they are safe, loved, and on track towards a healthy and happy life. Following are some effective parenting tips straight from parents who have been there and done that.
1. Create Consistent Routines For Less Stress
Kids need routines in their life to feel secure and motivated. This means routines for sleep, learning, eating, and free time. If you let kids create their own routine, they will always choose to do what requires the least amount of effort, and usually what is least beneficial for their life, such as playing video games, sleeping, or spending time on the Internet or, if they have it, their phone.
You also need routines in your life to feel sane. It will help you remove a lot of the stress from your day-to-day activities because both you and your kids will know exactly what is going on in the day, and your kids will put up less argument about it. Moreover, if your kids are home alone for a few minutes before you get home or after you leave for work, a routine will help them do what needs to be done while you are away.
2. Use Calendars That Your Kids Can Clearly See And Use
It’s highly recommended that you get a few separate calendars for your house. Every parent I talked to swore by calendars and their ability to lessen stress and keep kids on track. There’s something powerful about calendars that make everything feel more organized. And kids are more inclined to stick with calendars that are in their line of view in the appropriate places.
You can use one to clearly display what the chores are for the day. One that helps kids see what the menu is for the day. One that lists out rules for the house. And one that has all the activities listed out for the month. You can pretty much use them for anything that needs more organization and structure. They help everyone stay on the same page and make it easy to show kids what needs to be done before anything else can happen.
3. Do Not Reward Bad Behavior
This is one of those effective parenting tips that will help your kids see how serious you are. At any age, it is important not to reward bad behavior. In other words, don’t give in to your kids when they ignore the rules or misbehave. You must stick to your guns and follow through with whatever punishment you set in place, or requirement you need them to do.
Jo Frost, aka Supernanny, gives a really good tip for this one. If you have laid out a punishment, and your kid is not happy with it, then they will test you to see if they can get away with what they want by bothering you. Jo suggests actively ignoring them. This means that when they call your name, try to get your attention through touch, or throw a fit from the corner of the room, you should just ignore them. Those are all tactics kids will use to try to get their way, and if you actively ignore them then you are not giving into what they want, which is your attention, anger, and finally reluctance to stand by what you said. After they stop bothering you, you can approach them again and tell them that they need to follow through with what you have laid out before they can do anything they want.
4. Give Kids Some Choices When You Can
If you want to save yourself a lot of headaches, create a rule that you will offer your kids choices when it comes to certain things. This will allow you to compromise in a way that lets you get your way, but without them actually knowing.
For instance, many times kids will not want to eat broccoli, but they will want to eat asparagus (I know, that may not be the best example!) Anyway, if you offer a choice between broccoli and asparagus, then they will feel as if they are responsible for the outcome and actively taking part in that choice. This will make them feel good, and they will likely follow through with their choice.
If you don’t offer a choice, then you will find that the stubbornness towards not doing what you want will last until a fight ensues and a punishment needs to be laid out. Save yourself the hassle and make certain things choice friendly, such as various snacks, foods, clothes, and toys.
5. Make Mornings Easier On Yourself
Trying to get the kids out of bed can be a pain in the butt, but if you develop a routine, you will have a much less stressful time going about it.
Start by tackling the areas that are the hardest with them. For instance, if they spend too much time fighting over what to wear in the morning, then get them to select their clothes the night before so they can just slip into whatever choice they made in the morning.
And, to make waking up easier on everyone, turn on some lights in the bedroom a few minutes before you actually have to wake them up. This may simply mean opening the door and turning the hallway light on, or you could put a lamp in the room with a softer bulb inside. Light is a signal that it is time to get up, so doing this will get them stirring in their bed and on the path to waking up. Then, have an alarm go off in their room that is far enough away from them that they need to jump out of bed and turn it off.
If you can get in their room while they are up out of bed, you can stimulate them even further away by asking them a question and promoting their consciousness to come to the forefront. This will help them get started on their morning routine quicker.
6. Always Be Conscious Of The Example You Are Setting
If you want your kids to develop good habits and ethics, then you need to demonstrate those things consistently. You can’t just tell them to do something and then go about doing things in a completely different way. They will see the lack of consistency between you and them and gravitate towards what you are doing despite the direction you are giving. Therefore, if you want them to eat healthy, get outside, treat people with kindness, do good things for the environment, and practice patience, you need to be a shining example of all those things.
7. Make Online Safety A Priority
This is one of those effective parenting tips that we didn’t have to worry about not too long ago, so many parents are still not aware of how dangerous the online world is. It used to be that we told our kids not to get into strange vehicles or take candy from strangers, but now there is a whole other level of parenting that needs to take place to keep the kids safe.
The online world is full of creeps and bad people, and kids just don’t have the mental capacity to realize that yet. They can easily be swayed to share personal details, talk inappropriately, or plan to meet up with someone they find interesting. The consequences of these actions are not something they consider heavily.
That’s why it is important for parents to make sure their kids are as safe as possible online by laying out guidelines, using parental controls, and being aware of issues that may be occurring.
Laying out guidelines: Talk to your children about the importance of not giving out personal information online. Also, let them know that they are not required to respond to every message or engage in any conversation that makes them feel uncomfortable. Lastly, they need to know that they are not allowed to arrange a meeting with anyone they meet unless you approve it first. These rules are non-negotiable and they need to be repeated by the kids to show understanding.
Using parental controls: Don’t feel bad about limiting certain websites or monitoring activity. It’s important to keep the bad websites out of your home and check out where your kids are going on the Internet so that you can determine what is or what is not appropriate.
Being aware of issues: If you see any suspicious behavior online, address it quickly. For instance, if your kid closes the computer when you come in, that’s a huge sign that something they are looking at or doing is something they don’t want you to see. Or, if your kid spends a lot of time on the computer suddenly and then decides to start spending time with a new friend you have never met, make sure you meet the new friend and see where they are going before you allow them to freely hang out with them. They may get upset, but it’s better that than kidnapped or hurt.
8. Make Quality Time Essential
On your calendars, carve out specific time for family. This is specific time where there is no TV or other habitual activities. And is reserved for doing things together as a family, even if it just means sitting around the table talking.
For example, supper should be spent as quality time. Sitting around the table discussing your day will help you keep connected to your kids and their life. If you can carve out more time where you spend time together playing games, doing crafts, or getting out in nature, then you will help develop your connection with your kids even further.
9. Make Home A Safe Place To Share Feelings And Have Conflict
It’s important to accept and teach that emotions and conflict are a part of life, and then give your kids the tools they need to work through their emotions and conflict. For instance, self-compassion is very important for working through fear or anxiety. Moreover, proper communication is important to work through conflict.
If you and your kids are having a disagreement, sit them down and discuss the issue in a calm and rational tone. Have a conversation where you allow them to share their feelings, understand yours, and work towards a resolution. Your kids will benefit from this in two ways. First, they will feel comfortable sharing their feelings with you and, second, they will learn some great skills to tackle the realities of the world when you are not around.
10. Pick Extra-Curricular Activities Based Around Your Kid’s Interests
Many parents pick activities based around their interests and try to force their kids to like the activity and learn how to do things they don’t want to do. While teaching kids responsibility is important, making them do activities that they hate is hard on both you and them.
For instance, if you like soccer, but your kid hates it, then enrolling them in soccer is not the answer. It will be a struggle every week as you take them to soccer, and their confidence will be affected as they try to do something they simply do not have any passion towards.
On the other hand, if your kid likes soccer and you enroll them in it, then they will enthusiastically get ready each week for their game and put all of their effort into it out on the field. In addition, they will feel great during and after their game as they talk about everything they accomplished on the field and how much fun it was.
The point of extra-curricular activities is to help them discover what they like, expend energy, and feel good about themselves. Choose things that offer them all of the qualities, and you will both be much happier.
11. Remember That They Are Kids
This is one of those effective parenting tips that can be hard to remember in the heat of an argument. But, it’s important not to label a kid as an adult. If you do, then you will expect things out of them that they cannot give you.
Kids cannot take on adult problems because they don’t have the skills to work through them yet. They cannot be expected to behave as an adult who has had years of practice learning how to behave. They cannot be expected to know what they want to do with their life, or punished when they change their passion, because they are still learning who they are.
If you have compassion for kids and the fact that their brains don’t develop until they are about 25, especially in the area where decision making, expression, and cognitive behavior stems from, you will be able to have more patience as you work through all the above parenting tips and more.