Any experienced parent will tell you, there are a few ways to help your children and implement the best strategy for raising them. It is all about balance and knowing when to be flexible and when to stand your ground.
Children are under mass pressure to be perfect from the start, and that is not the real world you want to prepare them for. Children are just that, children and you are an adult parent and in charge. You should always aim to let them feel this carefree childhood and lead them to well-formed and successful adulthood.
What is quality time with family?
When it comes to raising children properly always think quality over quantity. Showing affection should not be limited and time spent together should be measured in quality. But how to achieve that balance?
As working parents know, it is getting harder to find the time in a day to dedicate to your children. With work, house, and generally increased speed of life, little is left for the ones who need it the most. Children need a bit of time devoted just for them, without distractions.
On this journey, there are a few crucial things to remember, and we will mention them all today.
The good news is, that children are not concerned or affected by the exact time spent together, rather how that time is spent. Is it quality and interaction, communication and affection that counts? Yes! There is no need to overthink this, spending time together can be very simple yet still bonding.
How can we improve the quality of family time?
Since modern parents don’t have enough time to spend with the children and are often too busy with everyday life, it is important to use that time properly. If we decided that it’s not the length of time spent together that matters, rather the quality of it, we would be better parents. As feeling guilty over this situation doesn’t help, what can we do?
There are a few simple rules to follow to achieve a higher quality time spent together, and it all begins with setting some boundaries. We are all addicted to technology, but this time try to unplug and pay attention only to the joined activities. Leave your phones, tablets and turn the TV off before everything else.
Undivided attention is what your children want, so this is a good start. Next, pick an activity you will all enjoy, but make it more appropriate for children, rather than yourself. You will have to be willing to take interest in the music they love, moves they want to see and topics they want to talk about.
Try to incorporate their interest in your activities. Ask them what they would like to do and work with this information. Different children prefer different things, but there is always a creative way to combine them all. For example, the youngest would like to play with playdoh and the older one would like to explore and learn about the universe. How about making some stars, planets, and rockets out of playdoh?
Quality time to children is you being there and paying attention to all the silly and small stuff they do. As simple as that. We often assume they need a ton of toys, entertainment, and TV when in reality all they need is a willing parent. Be prepared to play, run, dance, and perform for your kids. This may look funny at first, but this is bonding relationships and trust. Over time, these activities will be more complexed and develop a trust-based relationship that is the most important thing of all.
If you accept their silly habits while they are young, and participate in every tedious activity, they will be more open in the future. They will feel comfortable talking to you, knowing you have their back. That can sometimes be the biggest problem, the lack of trust and communication, and it’s all developed when children can’t even say a single word.
How do you teach gratefulness?
Children today own so many material things and parents continue to buy them for a few reasons. The parents are overcompensating for the time they are not able to spend with children and thus exaggerate with material things. This often leads to children who don’t appreciate or keep toys, or any material belonging for that matter. But that later transfers to every aspect of their life, so they don’t appreciate people, relationships, and life in general.
It’s important for the healthy development of personality and overall wellbeing, that we teach our children gratefulness in every aspect of life. They are not supposed to be thankful just for the material things, toys, and food, they should be taught from a young age to appreciate every convenience they have, no matter how small or insignificant it looks.
Most children still live in absolute poverty and it should be seen as a privilege to have a safe home, clean water, and food. Our children get excited about everything when they are little and we tend to overstimulate them and crowd their developing minds with so many things.
The feeling of gratitude is easily learned and any person needs to nurture those feelings because in return you will appreciate more and value everything differently. Children who are taught to think this way have more academic success and overall pleasant experiences simply because they have a positive outlook on life.
What can you do?
You should like always start with your behavior and implement words like “thank you” and “please” more often in your everyday language. These small gestures will go a long way in teaching your children that every day and action counts. This will also make them take more responsibility for their actions when they see how they can affect other people.
Try to go the extra mile and maybe volunteer, help someone less fortunate, give away things and ask your children to participate. This will be a great life and social lesson when they can learn how good it feels to help out and how lucky they are to have so much.
You can also include little rituals at the dinner table or before bedtime, where you share all those little things that you are grateful for in the previous day. This will be a bonding experience, but also an opportunity to learn and teach. You can see what your kid is considering valuable enough to be grateful for and set an example with your thoughts.
Why is consistency important for a child?
Consistency is important for every age, situation, or problem-solving. But it is crucial to toddlers and children to have consistency and here is why.
Children are overwhelmed by the amount of information they get every day. Their emotional regulation is still pretty weak and they need guidance. Since the outside world is often confusing and too much for them to understand, they feel better and safe when they know what to expect – and here the consistency helps.
Consistency comes in and makes it easier on one hand but harder on the other. It’s easier for children to know what to expect and act according to that. But, situations are not always black and white, and sometimes consistency is not doable. What then?
Consistency means you react the same way when the same things occur. This is a great way to teach your children that every action has consequences and that they are always the same. This will help them regulate their behavior and feel safe at the same time.
Rather than endless talking, children react better to action. Consistency is important but only achievable if you act on your words. This will mean that you follow through without negotiations and exceptions.
There are a few minor rules to follow, to make it easier to be consistent:
- Make simple routines – children love routines and they make them feel safe in an overcrowded world of information. Some parts of the day like meal-time or bed-time are especially hard to handle because basic needs like sleep or hunger are at stake. It is a wise tactic to implement simple yet efficient routines for these problematic situations. This way, your children would know what to expect and it will be easier for them to understand.
- Allow choices – the consistency should be paired with limited choices. Children often love to participate and feel like they are in control, so giving them a choice may make them more cooperative. They can choose between two shirts or two pairs of shoes, and with that small and monitored choice, they will feel like they matter and gain confidence.
- Limit the use of “No” – When this word is used more often it loses value and becomes a part of the everyday dictionary, not something they have to pay special attention to. So, use this little word only when it is necessary and thus children will be more prone to listen.
- Follow through – If you have a disciplinary action, like time out, be sure not to threaten your children with it often. If the situation is such that proper discipline measures are to be taken, be sure to take them. This should be black and white, with no gray arias. Consequences should be the same every time.
How do you teach children self-respect?
One of the most important life lessons is the ability to love yourself and appreciate you as you are. This comes naturally for babies, who love their chubby bodies, who are showing when they are angry and happy. Later, children tend for many reasons to become insecure and doubtful. It is your job as a parent to teach them that they should be taking care of themselves first.
This task often gets hard for parents, because we are trying to make our children into a decent and loving adult, and sometimes teaching them self-respect seems like teaching them to be selfish. But this is far from the truth. By teaching your children a healthy dose of self-respect, you will also implement respect to other humans.
If someone loves themselves, it becomes easier to accept and love others, without the need to judge or change the other person.
Empowering children while they grow up will ensure a better and brighter future for them. They will not only be more confidant, but they will also learn to listen to others, give everyone a chance and still be true to themselves.
- Teach your children to do things on their own – this will take more time and sometimes be very frustrating, but by letting your children do the tasks at hand by themselves you are promoting confidence and belief. Start when they are very young and allow them to feed themselves and put on clothes, then work from there to more complex assignments.
- Praise your children wisely – It’s a commonly used phrase to say something like “you are very smart” and while that is not a bad thing in its self, you should focus your praises on other aspects of the personality as well. You can say, for example, “I like the way you managed to get that done”. Praising children for something other than intelligence will produce higher self-respect. Praising should be 70% and criticism 30% of your communication.
- Don’t criticize harshly – We are all making mistakes and growing all the time. It is completely natural to make them and children shouldn’t be harshly judged when they do so. If the scolding is too much, children will develop an inner monolog that is just as unforgiving. This will lead to many problems in the future where they will be overly harsh on themselves and others. When mistakes are made, own them, apologize and move on.
What is the most effective form of parenting?
If there is such a thing as perfect parenting, maybe you should look into the authoritative model as a guide for a good strategy for raising children. Children with authoritative parents have the most success in academics, they are developed socially and emotionally, and excel in good behavior.
To be such a parent, you would have to expect a lot of your children but most importantly be ready to do and give your best, first. To be an authoritative parent, consider being:
- Demanding but responsive – Authoritative parents have big expectations from children, but they are at the same time responsive in a way that they are opened to instructions, comfort, and praise. Children know they are expected to behave and know the consequences of misbehaving.
- Controlling but not restricting – If you wish to be an authoritative parent, be prepared to make it a daily mission to spend time with your children. Controlling situations is not a bad thing, as long as it’s not restrictive. Allowing growing freedom is the key while keeping boundaries simple and clear.
- A big part of a child’s life – Authoritative parents take upon themselves the big part of the child’s life, as they are the responsible ones in the relationship. This will mean you should put more effort into quality time spent together like mentioned in the beginning.
- Supporting and encouraging – The goal is to show your children how to do something and then allow them to perfect that knowledge on their own. You should believe that your children are capable of doing things on their own and this will transfer on to them, building their confidence and self-worth.
- Trustworthy and accepting – The hardest thing about parenting is accepting the fact that we are not perfect parents, and they are not perfect children. We are all humans, developing and learning as we go. If we can manage to accept and trust our children, we will make it easier for them to do the same in the future and make better decisions and choices.
Authoritative parenting is essentially allowing your children to grow in their way while helping them develop into well-rounded and content people. As such parents are involved in the life of children, but not overbearingly so. They are the light that guides them while respecting their personality.
How do I fix bad parenting?
Acknowledging the fact that we are not perfect is a good first step towards the change to better parenting. Even though we don’t believe there is such a thing as bad parenting, there is always room for improvement. Here are some steps you can take:
- Accept mistakes – you are the adult one in the relationship with your children and it is up to you to be a good role model for them. This will mean that you have to own mistakes and show them that it is ok to be wrong as long as you are willing to improve.
- Express feelings – we sometimes tend to guard our children against “bad” emotions, but that only creates a quilt in children who feel them. All emotions are ok and should be accepted. Only then we can express them in a good and not self-destructive way. Saying simple things like “I got really angry” will help your children to understand and later express emotions better.
- Offer a solution – Only talking about a problem will not solve it. Offering a reasonable solution will not only promote thinking and problem-solving in your children, but it will also make it easier to move on while preventing similar situations in the future.
Fixing relationships and parenting is a process that takes time and patience. If you can tell that something is wrong, always take a step back and remind yourself that you are the grown-up one and a role model. Regulate your feelings and thought before implementing any idea onto your children.
Parenting should be built on trust, love, respect, and compassion, for every family member. Relationships are made stronger over time, and when you hit a rough patch it will be sorted out easily. Allow your children to be young and forgive them every mistake. By doing that, allow yourself the room to grow and don’t expect to know everything all the time. Always remember that you are the mirror for every behavior including the “bad” one, so start from yourself.
To recap, parenting is a full-time job. But when you are doing something you love, it becomes less of a burden. Look at it from a learning perspective and allow yourself to grow with your children. It is hard to pinpoint an exact moment of a good parenting strategy, thus it is safer to implement small changes every day that will result in a better future.
The best advice is to love, respect, and encourage your children while setting firm boundaries that are there for a reason. Be a role model for good behavior and play an active part in their lives.
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 Stone, Sandra J. “Teaching strategies: Empowering teachers, empowering children.” Childhood Education 71.5 (1995): 294-295.
 Zhao, Li, et al. “Praising young children for being smart promotes cheating.” Psychological science 28.12 (2017): 1868-1870.