When couples are expecting their first child it can be both exciting and daunting, and when the baby is born their lives will be changed forever. They suddenly find themselves head over heels in love with their new addition, and facing a new set of responsibilities and challenges.
Parents often remark that children don’t come with an instruction manual, and they often find it more challenging than expected. Folk may struggle to keep up with the right clothes and toys as their child develops. It may be that you are currently expecting a baby or that you already have children. Either way, this article will provide you with some important tips to help you become the best parent that you can be.
Let Others Help You
You may have friends who offer to take you to hospital appointments or arrange a baby shower. There may be someone who’s willing to set up a meal rota to ensure you have dinners provided during the first week after the birth. Many parents have a clothes exchange to help save money. Because babies and kids grow up so fast, it’s often possible to obtain clothes that are in excellent condition. In turn, you can find a new home for what your child has outgrown.
Even the internet can provide you with a measure of support. You can gain help on improving your family lifestyle from specialist websites and even access chat groups. There’s guidance for parenting and recipes for healthy family meals. You can also access free phonics flashcards and read articles designed for mums or dads specifically.
Encourage Your Child
Don’t be silent when your child behaves well, and only speak when they step out of line. If your child displays good behavior or says something nice, praise them. Don’t silently love them or only show it by your actions.
By encouraging your child from a young age you will be feeding them a script that goes into their subconscious mind. It will help them feel celebrated and remain confident during the years to come. Don’t be a perfectionist parent with them, because no one is good at everything – including you.
Display Unconditional Love
A true parent would continue to love their child whether they became the President or a prisoner. Never say, ‘I don’t love you when you do that.’ Your child needs to know that they will always be your son or daughter, regardless of their behavior.
It’s better to say, ‘It makes me sad when you do that’ and to let them know that their naughty behavior is not who they really are. If you say, ‘Bad boy!’ you’re attacking their identity rather than their behavior. We can sometimes react when we see something we don’t like about ourselves reflected in others. Because your child has some of your genes, it’s quite possible this could happen.
Discipline Them Well
Let your child understand the house rules and boundaries you wish them to observe. If you say, ‘I’ll get really cross if you do that again’ this will achieve nothing: naughty children believe they’ve won when they manage to upset their parents. Rewards and encouragement can be a better way to inspire your child’s behavior. You could put a sticker chart on the wall. It could be updated each time they do something good (eg helping in the kitchen). When they get enough stickers, there could be a sweet or some other kind of reward.
Your child will learn more from consequences than having you merely shouting at them. It’s a good life lesson for him or her to learn that bad behavior brings bad results. You may decide to remove one of their toys for a week or not take them to a party if they have misbehaved. Should their mood and behavior improve hours or days later, don’t go back on the original consequences. If you do this, your ‘threats’ of punishment will no longer be feared or respected in the future.
Spend Quality Time Together
This can be sacrificial and inconvenient, especially for working parents who are tired, and juggling lots of responsibilities. As they say, love is spelled, T.I.M.E.
The reality is that your child will grow up very quickly, and before you know it they will be spending more time with others than with you. It’s therefore important to put your mobile phone away and provide some one-on-one time on a daily basis. Find out what they need, whether it’s a bedtime snuggle-up or a daily walk in the park together.
Listen To Your Child
Try not to finish their sentences or jump to conclusions. They may want to talk about something that’s worrying them, even if it seems small to you. As with adults, kids aren’t always looking for a solution – they sometimes just need to talk.
If your child is demonstrating bad behavior, try and find out what has caused it before you seek to punish.
Be A Good Role Model
Your child is a ‘mini me’- a smaller and younger version of yourself. They will be ‘listening’ more to your behavior than your words, even when you are unaware of it. If you have a disagreement with your partner, don’t discuss it in front of your child.
Children learn all sorts of things from their parents, including attitudes to money, exercise and food. If you speak bluntly to your child or use curse words, don’t be surprised (or angry) when they start doing the same. This is your chance to teach your child to be polite, respectful and positive, and to lead by example. In time they may base their parenting on the way you brought them up. This can be both an exciting and challenging thought!
At the end of the day, parenting is a privilege. We have a limited season to invest in their lives and their future. If we make our children our closest friends, they may remain so forever. In the years to come, we will reap the rewards and joy that only parenting can bring.