As a teacher and mother of four, I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly in parenting
techniques. It is true children come with no owner manuals, but there are some guidelines that can give parents the results they untimately want- -children that have grown into healthy, happy, responsible adults.
1.) Children need the parent to be the authority figure
. Too many parents today are so afraid to be labeled “the bad guy” by their children that they don’t step up and assume the role they were designated as parents. It’s fine to be liked by your children, but a parent has to be willing to give up being liked at times, for being effective. Children don’t need a parent to be their friend. They need a parent to set the rules, boundaries, and limitations that will give them the secure environment they need to grow.
2.) Choose your battles, and then never lose.
No matter how consistant a parent may be in setting limits for their child, there are times those limits will be challenged. The most important thing to remember is that a rule is not a rule unless it is enforced. It is important to set rules only on those things that are important to the child’s development. When you have decided on the rules in your home, even if they are challenged, you must never lose the battle. Stand your ground.
3.) Parents need to set a united front.
Many parents today are raised in single parent homes. In some situations, this is a better environment than living in a home in turmoil from a bad marriage. If you are fortunate enough not to have to be the only parenting figure in your child’s life, it is imperative to remember to have all parenting disagreements away from the child’s eyes and ears. When you have agreed, then talk with your child. Stand together and let your child know you support each other’s decisions. Never let the child play one parent against the other.
4.) Let your child face the natural consequences of his or her actions.
In life, we all face the consequences of our decisions. If we break the law, we face a fine or imprisonment. If we don’t do our job, we get fired. But too many times in child-rearing, parents feel they have to protect their children from consequences of bad behavior. This is setting an unrealistic expectation for your child’s life. It is better to let the child experience the consequences of the choices they make. If a child misbehaves in school and is sent to detention, discuss it with the teacher if you are concerned, but allow the child to face his punishment. Remember the lesson isn’t over until the child has faced the results of their decisions.
5.) Teach responsibility.
Even young children can begin to learn to follow through on responsibilities. Very young children can be taught to put away toys. As the child becomes school-aged, other chores can be assigned. Make the assignments based on your child’s age, and don’t overload them. Give them the chance to feel pride in a job well-done. When my own children began high school, they began doing their own laundry, getting themselves up in the morning, and earning their own spending money (although I paid for the necessities.) Assign extra paying jobs in addition to regular chores offers them a chance to earn extra money around the house doing jobs you would have had to pay someone else to do.
6.) Set a good example.
Your child needs to respect you, but this respect is earned. Let your child see you meeting your own responsibilites, handling things in a calm, rational manner, and enjoying the results of your own labors. Don’t ask your child to do something you would not be willing to do yourself. Use your everyday life as a strong example of how you would like to child to live as an adult.
7.) Be willing to make mistakes.
No one is perfect, least of all parents. When you are wrong, admit it. Let your child know that you love them and want the best for them. By seeing how you correct your own mistakes and learn from them, your child will benefit.
8) Don’t buy them everything they want.
Much of the enjoyment we receive from our possessions comes from the effort it took to save for them. Children need to learn at an early age that all gratification is not instant, but be willing to save for what they want or wait for a special occasion.
By following these common sense guidelines, children will be happier, feel more security, and grow into responsible adults. Parents will also find that these few simple rules can make child-rearing more enjoyable and less stressful.