Nine Steps to More Effective Parenting - Part 2
4. Make Time for Your Kids
It's often difficult for parents and kids to get together for a family meal, let alone spend quality time together. But there is probably nothing kids would like more. Get up 10 minutes earlier in the morning so you can eat breakfast with your child, or leave the dishes in the sink and take a walk after dinner. Kids who aren't getting the attention they want from their parents often act out or misbehave because they're sure to be noticed that way.
Many parents find it rewarding to schedule together time with their kids. Create a ‘special night’ each week to be together and let your kids help decide how to spend your time. Look for other ways to connect — put a note or something special in your kid's lunchbox.
Adolescents seem to need less undivided attention from their parents than younger children. Because there are fewer windows of opportunity for parents and teens to get together, parents should do their best to be available when their teen does express a desire to talk or participate in family activities. Attending games and other events with your teen communicates caring and lets you get to know more about your child and his or her friends in important ways.
Don't feel guilty if you're a working parent. It is the many little things you do — making popcorn, playing cards, window shopping — that kids will remember.
5. Be a Good Role Model
Young kids learn a lot about how to act by watching their parents. The younger they are, the more cues they take from you. Before you lash out or blow your top in front of your child, think about this: is that how you want your child to behave when angry? Be constantly aware that you're being observed by your kids. Studies have shown that children who hit usually have a role model for aggression at home.
Model the traits you wish to cultivate in your kids: respect, friendliness, honesty, kindness, tolerance. Exhibit unselfish behavior. Do things for other people without expecting a reward. Express thanks and offer compliments. Above all, treat your kids the way you expect other people to treat you.
6. Make Communication a Priority
You can't expect kids to do everything simply because you, as a parent, ‘say so.’ They want and deserve explanations as much as adults do. If we don't take time to explain, kids will begin to wonder about our values and motives and whether they have any basis. Parents who reason with their kids allow them to understand and learn in a nonjudgmental way.
Make your expectations clear. If there is a problem, describe it, express your feelings, and invite your child to work on a solution with you. Be sure to include consequences. Make suggestions and offer choices. Be open to your child's suggestions as well. Negotiate.
father and son
Kids who participate in decisions are more motivated to carry them out.
Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
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