BY LILA HOPE-SIMPSON
Nobody ever promised parenting would be easy and it's not. But sometimes, all it takes is a few simple tools to keep in your toolbox to make parenting a whole lot easier and more effective.
Here are a few tips:
- Set clear limits. Make sure your child knows what your rules are and what the consequences are for breaking these rules. Keep them clear, easy to comply, enforceable and stated positively. For example, instead of saying, ‘Don't run in the house' you can say ‘Walking only in the house.'
-Set realistic expectations. Don't expect to be perfect parents, have perfect children or a perfect household. Children will inevitably test their limits and misbehave and parents inevitably will have frustrating moments. Be realistic. And don't expect more than is appropriate for the age and stage.
- Pay attention. The most important gift you can give your child is your undivided attention. Even if you're busy, give your child frequent, short amounts of time when you stop what you're doing and pay your child full attention.
- Give clear instructions. Stay calm when your child misbehaves and offer clear instructions as to what you would like your child to do instead. Your kids aren't mind readers. Tell your child what he is doing wrong and be clear as to what he should do instead. ‘Stop throwing the ball in the house. Take it outside and throw it in the backyard.'
- Give plenty of physical affection. Be generous with your hugs, cuddles and
- Teach by doing. Children learn skills best through experiential opportunities. Show your child a new skill, then give her the chance to try it herself. Be a positive role model.
- Offer praise. Give your child plenty of praise when he or she is doing something you want to reinforce. Be specific and descriptive. ‘Thank-you for setting the table, it looks great!'
- Provide activities. When children and teens are busy, they are less likely to misbehave. For small children, make sure there is plenty of activities in the house, like crayons, play dough, toys, paint, craft supplies and dress up clothes. Older kids benefit by joining sports and extra-curricular activities. When kids get bored, beware!
- Have plenty of dialogue. Communicate with your children and they will communicate with you. Share stories about your experiences and ask about their day. Open-ended questions work best instead of questions that have a yes or no answer. ‘Tell me about your band practice," instead of "Did you have fun at your band practice?"
- Show an interest. Be there for your kids' sports events, concerts, parent-teacher nights and club events. Show that what they do matters to you.
- Take care of yourself. Parents who take the time to pursue their own interests and friends are more likely to be stress free, and less prone to anxiety or depression. Do something you enjoy every day - even if it's a five-minute tea break.
The empty nest comes all too quickly so enjoy your kids while they're home.
Lila Hope-Simpson is the Director of the Home & Heart Child Development
Centre and Family Day Care Agency in Wolfville.