There’s no such thing as a one size fits all parenting style, but there do exist some general rules that apply to most families. These rules are applicable regardless of the child’s age, personality, or lifestyle. Below, you will find the top five tips for becoming more effective and efficient as a parent.
1. Find time for them
Although your kids will always be your top priority, sometimes your everyday routine has a tendency to interfere. Instead of letting day to day life restrict the amount of time you get to spend with your child, combat it by reminding yourself of how important quality time with your child really is.
As tempting as it may be, don’t let other things get in the way. For example, consider ignoring the small messes after dinner and opting instead to spend quality time with your son or daughter. Although maintaining a clean home is important for setting an example about cleanliness, ask yourself, “Is it really imperative that the mess be cleaned up right away, every time?” It probably isn’t, which means you’ll be able to relax your standards a bit and find time to spend together with your child.
Also, try scheduling kid time just like you’d schedule meetings, chores, and grocery shopping. Think of time with your child as a priority, not an afterthought, and try planning special “dates” well in advance. Planning ahead gives you and your child both something to look forward to and makes it less likely that you’ll cancel plans and opt to take care of more pressing concerns (like laundry) instead.
2. Encourage confidence
Confidence is important because (among other things) it encourages children to be more independent. Independent and confident children are more likely to have good decision-making skills and social skills, both of which make your job as a parent much easier. Entire books have been written on raising confident children, but the general principle is the same: Let your child try new things.
Recent studies have proven that so-called “helicopter parents” are doing much more harm to their child than good. Children of overprotective parents often develop into worrisome and stressed preteens, teens, and adults as a direct result of their parents’ refusal to permit them the freedom necessary to develop independence. These children are also more likely to develop behavioral and emotional issues, as well as being more prone to “acting out” later in life when they inevitably overcompensate for the freedom they were never allowed.
Many parents believe that a confident child can be developed through encouragement alone; however, while encouragement is certainly helpful, it’s important to realize that confidence actually stems from competence, or from a child’s realization that he is capable of performing an act independently and successfully. This means that experience is an essential element of confidence, which means it’s necessary that you allow your child an appropriate level of freedom.
3. Choose activities for both of you
As a parent, you probably find it nearly impossible to be selfish. If your child wants to spend time with you, but you don’t enjoy doing the activity he’s suggested, wouldn’t it be unfair for you to deny them just because you don’t feel up to it? Actually, sometimes it really isn’t unfair at all. Remember that children are usually not very picky when it comes to sources of amusement, and, unless they have their heart absolutely set on a particularly special activity, you’ll usually make them just as happy if you participate with them in something different. And, if you’re able to find activities that you and your child both enjoy doing (as opposed to something that only your child enjoys), you’ll be happier, more energetic, and full of enthusiasm, meaning you’ll be a much better parent overall.
4. Tap into your child’s emotions
Many parents assume that because their child’s responsibilities are insignificant compared to their own that their son or daughter is impervious to stress. It’s important to realize, however, that children do have worries. Although it may be difficult for you to recognize the significance of some of your child’s problems, remember that these issues are, as far as your child is concerned, very weighty. These worries increase as children become older and begin to realize their role in the world around them, so part of being more effective as a parent is to start teaching your child how to deal with worries and stress early in life. If you discuss your child’s emotions with him, not only will it make them happier (as a result of your coaching and empathy), but it will probably make you happier as well because your child will be more in touch with his emotions and therefore more likely to respond to your parenting techniques.
5. Ditch the guilt
The public is quickly starting to realize the importance of this rule, yet many parents still haven’t caught on. Remember, while parenting will always be your first priority, you shouldn’t have to feel guilty about taking time for yourself. Your job as a parent is nearly as stressful as it is rewarding, so taking time to recharge is not only okay, but also quite necessary. The less stressed and more well-rested you are, the more prepared you feel to face the everyday demands of parenting. The simple fact is, frazzled parents are not able to give it their all. If you’re too stressed or tired to function properly, how could you expect to raise your child with the attention, love, and positive attitude he deserves? From hiring a babysitter for date nights to going to bed 30 minutes earlier, ditching the guilt and taking time to make yourself happy will ultimately make you a much better parent.
Becoming more effective and efficient as a parent will not only decrease stress within your family, but it will also help you to raise your child into a well-rounded and competent individual. Remember that if you sacrifice your own happiness for the sake of others, your family could eventually suffer as a result, so it is important to take care of yourself as well as your child. When spending time with your child, it would benefit you to choose activities that you enjoy, too, and when talking with your child, try addressing some of his worries and diffusing some of his stress factors. Finally, remember that being a helicopter parent, although seemingly in your child’s best interests, will not benefit either of you in the long run.