There is no recipe to being a perfect parent and no child was ever born to this world with a manual.
Your job as a parent is to commit to the task, trust your gut instinct and follow your child’s needs. However, there are guidelines that will make it easier to navigate the disputable situations. Let us call them…
10 Mantras For Being A Better Parent
There are lots of tips and tricks to make your parenting routine easier, which you can learn from your family, friends, and colleagues.
Some might work for you, and some might fail, because every parent-child relationship is unique. Even with siblings, it is never quite the same route.
Yet to raise a mindful, independent, self-loving person and build trust and understanding between you and your child, commons principles do exist. Here is the strategy, even if your tactics will be individual, depending on your relationship with your children.
1. I Take Care of Myself
Being a parent is not always easy. It brings joy, but day-to-day routine may become grueling.
When you’re trying to care for you children the best way you can, it is easy to dissolve yourself completely in the life on your little ones. Do not confuse love and involvement with sacrificing your well-being.
You should allot some time every day to your own health and emotional needs. Otherwise, you will become fatigued and frustrated; every little thing that goes wrong will make you lose your cool. You do not want to be an exasperated, yelling parent, do you? Your children surely deserve better.
Try to have a sufficient amount of sleep and spare some time on things that are really important to you. While your baby is having an afternoon nap, look through the news in your professional area if you planning to resume your work later.
When your toddler is drawing, do some doodling as well, if it gives you joy and comfort. Ask your family to babysit one day a week, so you could go out to catch up with your friends.
You are important and your needs matter – this is the message that your children will be grateful for receiving when they are older and parents themselves.
2. I Foster My Child’s Independence
It is common to think that independence can wait, and it is better to withhold it until the proper time. However, when this “proper” time comes, your child might not be ready for decisions and responsibilities.
Therefore, it is important to start early. How early? It is advisable to follow your child’s needs.
If a toddler wants to do something by herself, let her try (unless this is something potentially hazardous, such as handling boiling water). Let your kids fail and try again. Be patient and let them learn to tie their shoes or button up their coats.
Let them chose what they want to wear (offer advice to make it weather appropriate), offer them a choice, ask them to make their bed and put away the toys, let them know they control at least something in their everyday life.
It will pay in the long run. In fact, quite soon you will notice that your child is more independent and capable than you thought, and you too have much more time, then you use to.
3. My Child Deserves Respect
You undoubtedly love your child and will do anything it takes to ensure their well-being.
However, often it does not occur to us, that our child deserves respect as well as our love and care. Respect can be shown not only by giving them an appropriate measure of freedom and choice but also by explaining and preparing them for the experiences.
Sometimes a tantrum only happens because a child was not ready for something. Instead of interrupting their current activity by saying out of the blue;
“We are leaving”, warn them “It is time we go home, you have 10 more minutes in the playground.”
4. I Follow the Rules I Have Set
Making up some rules and schedules is not as difficult, as carrying them out.
It may be hard to be consistent, especially when it comes to discipline, but if you want your child to understand consequences, better do not let them get away with their mischief’s just by looking adorable and repentant.
Some parents vent out their anger by shouting at their kids. Then, they feel guilty and try to make it up by indulgence, which sends the wrong message.
When you have rules: no ball playing indoors, no play-date if you break the rule – handling the situation becomes much easier. Of course, it goes without saying, that you should walk the talk. Be a role model and do not break your own rules.
5. I Let My Children Express Their Feelings
Often tears are treated as something bad and shameful, something that equals bad behavior.
However, when children cry they do not necessarily want to manipulate you and get what they want. Young children know no other way of handling their negative emotions – fear, disappointment, grudge.
Tears are natural and unavoidable – let your children express their feelings the way they can. Do not try to stop it as soon as possible; do not shame them for crying.
By seeing the need behind their tears and addressing this need rather than “bad” behavior, you will help your children developing emotional intelligence. Try to comfort them by showing your compassion and understanding.
6. I Won’t Make My Child Comply with Stereotypes
The most influential stereotypes are those we create ourselves.
“Maggie is so fidgety”
“Josh is a born athlete”
“Mark is rather meek”
“Vicky is quiet and contemplating”
Sometimes we unwittingly instill stereotypes by focusing on the features that are considered to be gender-specific and judge them accordingly. While both children are spirited and energetic (or calm and meditative), one can be encouraged while another is criticized.
Try to avoid stereotyping, even on the smaller scale (“we are the family of swimmers!”), and you will take a lot of pressure away. Instead of trying to live up to your expectations, your child will be figuring out who he or she really is.
7. I Love the Child I Have, Not the One I Wish to See
Of course, the vision is also important. Our vision of what our child will become helps us to nurture personalities in our babies, guide them, so they would grow up to be good people.
However, it is important to make a distinction between their innate features and undesirable manifestations of them. If there is a problem, make sure you criticize you child’s behavior, not your child.
Instead of expressing how displeased you are by their idiosyncrasy (“Do you have to be so squirrely?”), try to address the problem at hand (“Try to be more careful at the table, we don’t want drinks and crumbs all over the place”).
For the same reason, it is always better to compliment good behavior instead of punishing for the bad. Look for things worth praising for and encourage them.
8. I Put Quality Time Together Before Online Time
Today we often hear complaints about children’s over involvement with electronic devices. The best solution is to switch your own smartphone off when you are going to spend an evening with your family.
By showing your appreciation of this time together, by taking a sincere interest in mutual conversation you set the tone. Of course, it does not mean that technology is subject to reproof and expulsion altogether.
By all means, teach your children to organize their digital life, supervise their activities, explain dangers and ensure family safe browsing. Yet also explain that they should use their devices mindfully, without growing dependent on them.
9. I Control My Temper
It is very important to stay calm and reasonable when you explain the rules or discuss your child’s conduct. When you impassive, you teach your child to be objective about their behavior and to tell good from bad.
When you yell, all you can teach is what drives mom/dad mad. From time to time, no matter how hard we try, we can lose it. We may say something we will later regret and feel ashamed for. The best solution is to confess to it and apologize to your child.
Sometimes it is difficult, but admitting to your own mistakes sets a good example to follow.
10. My Partner is My Ally
Try to make sure that your partner and other adult family members follow the same rules as you do. If mom says “no” to something, the child must not dash to dad to have a second try. All the more so, one parent must never allow something in secret from another.
You should agree at least on general direction. When differences in opinion arise, do not argue about it in front of your children – be united. Discuss the matter later, or at least try to exchange your points calmly without getting personal or aggressive.
Remember, parenting is never done.
It is a lifelong process where you and your child grow together and learn from each other, and if you are lucky, you child will turn for your advice and guidance even when they are already independent self-reliant adult and a parent themselves.
Then you will sum up your experience and teach them your mantras for being a better parent:
- I take care of myself
- I foster my child’s independence
- My child deserves respect
- I follow the rules I have set
- I let my children express their feelings
- I won’t make my child comply with stereotypes
- I love the child I have, not the one I wish to see
- I put quality time together before online time
- I control my temper
- My partner is my ally