We all want to be the best parents we can be. Parenting is a challenging job; it’s never easy and often feels like you’re constantly failing. Parents make mistakes every day, but that doesn’t mean that you’re a bad parent. In fact, it means that you are a human who tries your best and has good intentions at heart. Being a parent is a constant learning process, but if you feel like your parenting skills could use some improvement, there are several ways you can do better at parenting. Whether you need advice on handling your child in specific situations or just want to read up on some helpful tips, read on for these effective ways to be better at parenting. An effective parent knows their children inside and out. They know what makes them happy, what they struggle with and what ticks them off (in the best way possible). These things aren’t secrets but rather things we forget as adults because of our own stresses and responsibilities.
Talk to Your Children
Ask questions about their day, their friends, their favourite activities. If you have more than one child, you might have a tendency to talk to the younger ones more than the older ones, but we all have the same need for connection. By asking questions, you show your children that you’re interested in what they have to say, which is a sign of respect and care that doesn’t go unnoticed. You can have a real conversation, or you could even try journaling with your child. This can be a really great way to let them get out their feelings when they might not be able to do so otherwise. If you have a child with special needs, try to talk to them about their diagnosis and how they feel. If they are old enough, they might be able to tell you how they feel, but if they aren’t, you can ask them how they want to be treated and what they need from you as a parent.
Give Them Space
Depending on your child’s age, you might have a tendency to hover over them, constantly checking in on them, asking them about their day and if they need anything. While you should definitely be present in your child’s life and be there for them when they need you, you also need to give them space to breathe. This applies to all ages of children. If your child is old enough to go to the store alone, let them do it. If your child has friends over while you’re at work, give them space to be their own person. Hovering over your child all the time can cause them to feel smothered, and they won’t need you when they really do need you. Let them make mistakes and figure things out for themselves as much as possible. By doing this, you are setting them up for success in the future.
Help Them Build Confidence
Kids are often insecure and have a hard time believing in themselves, but parents can help with this. If your child has a hard time making friends, help them find activities that they enjoy so that they can meet new people. If your child is overweight, talk to them about a healthy diet and exercise routine, but don’t make them feel bad about their size. Make it a fun way for them to get in shape and feel confident. If your child is struggling in school, help them come up with a study routine and encourage them to take on new challenges so that they can be successful. Don’t ever make your child feel bad about their confidence; instead, be there to support them as they work hard to build it.
Set Clear Expectations
Kids thrive on structure and routines, but do your best to not put them in a box. They need to know what is expected of them and why, but they also need room to explore and try new things. If homework is a consistent part of your child’s day, let them know when it is due and what grade they need to achieve. If your child has a certain amount of screen time per day, be consistent with that rule. If your child has chores around the house, let them know what needs to be done and why. Be consistent with your expectations and make sure that your child understands why you have them.
Take Care of Yourself
Let your children know that you need time for yourself. Take breaks from parenting when you need them, and don’t feel guilty about it. Let your children know that you need space, and don’t let them guilt you into being around them all the time. By taking care of yourself, you are taking care of your family. If you are burnt out, stressed and tired, you are not as effective a parent as you could be. By taking time for yourself, you recharge, so that you can be there for your family to the best of your ability.
Parenting is an emotionally and physically draining job. It’s not an easy task by far, but it is one that comes with immense rewards. Parenting can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. If you want to be a better parent, start by being more present with your children, communicating with them and being open to their needs. Remember that your children are individuals with their own feelings, thoughts and desires. They may not be exactly like you were as a child, and that’s okay. Parenting is a journey, and there will be ups and downs, but you can do better at parenting by being present and open to change.