9 Steps to More Effective Parenting

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Raising kids is one of the toughest and most fulfilling jobs in the world — and the one for which you might feel the least prepared.

Here are nine child-rearing tips that can help you feeling more fulfilled as a parent.

  1. Boosting Your Child’s Self-Esteem

Kids start developing their sense of self as babies when they see themselves through their parents’ eyes. Your tone of voice, your body language, and your every expression are absorbed by your kids. Your words and actions as a parent affect their developing self-esteem more than anything else.

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Have you ever stopped to think about how many times you react negatively to your kids in a given day? You may find yourself criticizing far more often than complimenting. How would you feel about a boss who treated you with that much negative guidance, even if it was well intentioned?

  1. Set Limits and Be Consistent With Your Discipline

Discipline is necessary in every household. The goal of discipline is to help kids choose acceptable behaviors and learn self-control. They may test the limits you establish for them, but they need those limits to grow into responsible adults.

  1. 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.

The 10 Most Powerful Things You Can Say to Your Kids

  1. 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 aware that you’re constantly being watched by your kids. Studies have shown that children who hit usually have a role model for aggression at home.

  1. 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.

  1. Be Flexible and Willing to Adjust Your Parenting Style

If you often feel “let down” by your child’s behavior, perhaps you have unrealistic expectations. Parents who think in “should” (for example, “My kid should be potty-trained by now”) might find it helpful to read up on the matter or to talk to other parents or child development specialists.

  1. 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.

  1. Know 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.

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