“The child is the father of man.”
Wordsworth reminded us in his famous 1802 poem, “My Heart Leaps Up” that it’s essential in life for an adult to retain the pure joy of youth. When it comes to a change of roles when you become a parent, these words resonate with you for a long time.
As you transform yourself into a person responsible for your child’s development, you should be able to navigate the labyrinth that distinguishes an effective parenting style from an ineffective one. The good news is that there is no best parenting method; however, it doesn’t have to mean hit and trial every single time.
Here is a list of ways for you to become an effective parent. These are not commandments but pointers that will help you improve your parenting skills.
BE A GOOD ROLE MODEL YOURSELF.
When a child starts walking or attempts it, it’s mostly because they try to imitate the actions of the adults surrounding them. In their vigor towards becoming independent, infants learn things by mimicking the older lot.
To be an effective parent, you should preach and practice the ideals you are trying to teach your children. Being grateful for others’ help, helping others in need, constantly engaging in random acts of kindness, and acting from a place of forgiveness and consideration are all positive social cues for your children to observe and act upon.
Follow the “show, don’t tell” principle in your actions where applicable. Children finding consonance in your words and actions would respond more actively to your suggestions and instructions. Nothing is more valuable than being the good person that your child assumes you to be.
MAKE RULES AND BE CONSISTENT ABOUT THEM.
Children’s mental and physical activities start working at an amplified speed as they grow up. They tend to question things more fiercely. This change in their attitudes shouldn’t be taken as an act of rebelliousness. It should be treated as a child trying to evolve and become a person with multi-dimensional needs.
As an effective parent, you need to come up with changing rules with the changing age of your child to create an environment of new learning for them. They will make mistakes, and depending on the severity of their actions, consequences should be laid out well in front of them.
Don’t make it sharp and curt— this or that. Instead, lead with If…then statements. Make it clear to your child that their wrong actions will accompany felt consequences, like loss of earned privileges. Be consistent in your actions so they can follow a pattern with you vis-a-vis what kind of results their positive or negative actions can lead to.
Rules are essential for establishing do’s and don’ts for your child. Your child should be aware of what is well-balanced behavior. Directing them towards a place of calmness when they are full of rage helps them understand and reign in their emotions.
A child should learn not to react; as with any learning, it will take time and effort from both parties to understand and act on them. It’s a long-term process and often involves employing negotiating and bargaining skills.
Since this is a post-internet world, your child will come across things that are entirely new to you. Make it an inter-learning process and make the rules flexible where it’s due.
KEEP ALL YOUR COMMUNICATION CHANNELS OPEN.
Children do better when they are active participants in their learning process. If our adult relationships are any reference for how we should work around our kids, it tells us that we respond better to those keen to listen to our side of the story with empathy and non-judgmental air.
Nudging children into opening up to discuss their needs and expectations is an excellent way to forge a healthy relationship. Be careful to determine whether your child has the wavelength for a particular kind of conversation or not. Take it slow and expand the limits once they show signs of reciprocation and proactiveness in having such discussions.
Drop in a letter to your kid and keep the tone varied. Don’t always play with the vibe of good behavior and reasonable reward. Even when they might have done something wrong, drop in words of encouragement and understanding. Tell them that we all learn through mistakes and do better.
Engage in different communication mediums and let your child explore the world of storytelling and conflict resolution as they take an interest in them.
AVOID BEHAVING LIKE YOUR OWN PARENTS.
We unconsciously act like our own parents when dealing with our children. Don’t feel embarrassed about it if you realize it after reading it here. Humans tend to gauge our memory to understand and apply our past experiences to our current needs.
It serves us better if we don’t repeat the actions or words that adversely impacted us in our growing-up years. Our parents might have employed tactics that worked well in short durations. As a person with the knowledge and awareness of what shortcuts might do to your child’s psychology of making associations, you must constructively arrive at composite solutions.
SPEND BOTH QUALITY AND QUANTITY TIME WITH YOUR KIDS.
It’s not enough for you to drop off your kids at school, provide them with food and clothing, and ensure they have a roof under their heads. All these are basic needs that need to be backed up by spending time with them that is quality oriented.
Prepare a daily time block for your kids and do things that combine your child’s core interests and skills that you think your child needs to learn. Kids often act out because they want attention. If you shower your kids with enough time, it will most assuredly make you an effective parent.
READ OUT TO THEM.
We understand our world better when told through stories. There is a reason that animation, comic strips, stage performances, and more are magical and inspire their viewers to do better. Make it a ritual to read your child’s stories (either fiction or nonfiction) at bedtime or at a scheduled time.
This helps with your children’s imagination power, communication skills, basic grammar, and also understanding of the diversity of the world that we live in. Open-mindedness often comes from wholehearted acceptance of things seen unseen. Make your children enter a world full of possibilities and see them reaching for the stars.
Science also has enough evidence to prove that children who grow up in an environment of listening skills become more empathetic and write in a subtle manner in the future.
DON’T HIT THEM.
No matter what the range of their tantrums, don’t ever spank your child. Hitting your child will make them more aggressive with you and their peers, and they will likely become bullies to gain control over others.
Be extremely mindful of not using aggression both verbally and physically with your child. If they show aggression, hold them close to themselves or hug them out till they become gentle in their demeanor, and this will make them learn an important lesson when dealing with such aggression themselves.
It’s our responsibility to teach our children to always choose the path of peace over violence.
LOVE THEM UNCONDITIONALLY.
Don’t confuse love with materialism. There is nothing called ‘too much love’. Love can constantly be expanded in every relationship. You are loving your child unconditionally through little acts of kindness, being present, and letting them fight their own battles.
Unconditional love comes from the idea of wanting to see a person growing up in a nourishing space that comes from an expansive and not scarcity mindset. By loving your child well, you will teach them the values of love and care.
People who are loved thrive well. The point of loving someone is to see them growing up into persons of accountability and immersive love. Love them hard, and don’t make them feel they need to give you something back for all the love you shower on them.
Also, wear those god-damn matching t shirts for family when out on a picnic with your children. Flaunt your love, too at times.
PRACTICE SELF-LOVE AND CARE.
If you, as a parent, feel burned out, please take a break. Don’t guilt yourself into thinking you should be there for your child’s every living moment. Don’t forget you will be able to care for them only when you are mentally, emotionally, and physically capable.
Center your energies toward yourself. Seek help when needed— dial up your family, friends, or a child development specialist and seek guidance.
If you can afford it, hire a nanny for your kid, and go out on a date with your current or potential partner. Put on that glamorous outfit and get your flirting game on. When you are secure, you will also provide an environment of learning self-sufficiency for your kid.
BE THEIR SAFE SPACE.
Finally, be your child’s safe space. Your child shouldn’t think twice before reaching out to you, and they should be your emergency contact voluntarily. Build a relationship with your kid based on transparency, openness, good humor, and immeasurable love.
We all get lost and are misguided at times. And if that’s the case with adults, imagine the kind of journey that the little ones are undertaking in making meaning out of the world.
Hold their hands and let them go when needed.
And if a teenage child or a grown-up child is reading this please be grateful for the sacrifices made by your parents as well, and always learn to give back the love given by them.