Nine Steps to More Effective Parenting - Part 3
7. Be Flexible and Willing to Adjust Your Parenting Style
If you frequently feel ‘let down’ by your child's behavior, it may be because you have unrealistic expectations. Parents who think in ‘shoulds’ (for example, ‘My kid should be potty-trained by now’) may find it helpful to read up on the matter or to talk to other parents or child development specialists.
Kids' environments have an impact on their behavior, so you may be able to modify that behavior by changing the environment. If you find yourself constantly saying ‘no’ to your 2-year-old, look for ways to restructure your surroundings so that fewer things are off-limits. This will cause less frustration for both of you.
As your child changes, you'll gradually have to change your parenting style. Chances are, what works with your child now won't work as well in a year or two.
Teenagers tend to look less to their parents and more to their peers for role models. But continue to provide guidance, encouragement, and appropriate discipline while allowing your teen to earn more independence. And seize every available moment to make a connection!
8. Show That Your Love Is Unconditional
As a parent, you're responsible for correcting and guiding your kids. But how you express your corrective guidance makes all the difference in how a child receives it. When you have to confront your child, avoid blaming, criticizing, or fault-finding, which undermine self-esteem and can lead to resentment. Instead, strive to nurture and encourage, even when disciplining your kids. Make sure they know that although you want and expect better next time, your love is there no matter what.
9. Be Aware of Your Own Needs and Limitations as a Parent
Face it — you are an imperfect parent. You have strengths and weaknesses as a family leader. Recognize your abilities — ‘I am loving and dedicated.’ Vow to work on your weaknesses — ‘I need to be more consistent with discipline.’ Try to have realistic expectations for yourself, your spouse, and your kids. You don't have to have all the answers — be forgiving of yourself.
And try to make parenting a manageable job. Focus on the areas that need the most attention rather than trying to address everything all at once. Admit it when you're burned out. Take time out from parenting to do things that will make you happy as a person (or as a couple).
Focusing on your needs does not make you selfish. It simply means you care about your own well-being, which is another important value to model for your children.
Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
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