7 Tips to Win at Being A Modern Parent
Welcome to parenthood. While there are a zillion guides and books on how to parent properly, it seems that we humans haven’t quite gotten it down. Many parents report not knowing what to do when starting out. This is no surprise really, as the context and circumstances for each parent is different as our modern world evolves. In our current age, for example, touch screen technology is the norm for interacting with our devices. Just a short 20 years ago, that wasn’t the case at all – the children growing up then had to use the keyboard and mouse.
Practical Parents in Training wants you to know that you aren’t alone when looking for the best tips and guides for raising your children in the 21st century. Compiled below are some of the most important tips to becoming a modern parent. (We also wrote 7 tips for new dads as well – so check that out once you’re done).
Self esteem is proven to develop very early on as a baby, even though the baby may not remember the specifics of any details during this time period – the effects of their emotions will. As a modern parent, we must be as self aware as possible. A parents body language, facial expression, and tone of voice are all being subconsciously absorbed and reflected by your child. Your actions and words will play a huge part of the development of your child’s self esteem as a result.
This doesn’t mean that you should be praising every little thing your child does (although it’s worth noting that sometimes, what seems small to adults is HUGE for children). But, you should be very aware of the words coming out. Statements loaded with a negative tone should be avoided. Examples of such statements are “Damn it!” “I can’t believe you peed in your bed AGAIN!”.
Review and reflect on the tone of your voice as well as your word choice. It’s okay to mess up occasionally, but consistently having a negative tone will probably affect your child’s ability to have strong self-esteem.
Tip 2: Zero In On Good Behaviour
As a second step to being self aware – you’ll want to pay close attention to when your child does something good. The key component here is to know that what seems easy or simple to an adult is actually quite difficult for a child. This is when you should give both verbal and physical praise – a kind word and a hug will do.
The timing of your praise will matter. Behavioral science suggests that providing the “reward” stimulus sooner rather than later will more likely be effective. This makes sense, as a positive reaction coming immediately after a certain behavior creates an association with that behavior.
When you’re interacting with your child, make it a point to review what they’re doing and be prepared to provide both verbal and physical praise. This in turn should encourage mostly good behavior and prevent bad habits from forming.
We found that rewarding our children with some time on skill building workbooks (which are also fun) seems to yield good results. We even have a few preschool workbooks to recommend.
Tip 3: Dedicate Yourself to Being a Good Role Model
It’s a common belief that children imitate the people around them. This is especially prevalent the younger the children are. Once again, self awareness will help here. A question to ask yourself is: is my current behavior the type I want my child to imitate when they grow older? This question is especially important when dealing with tough times. When you’re angry, sad, or frustrated about something, your body language and tone will be absorbed by the child. What you are teaching them is the “proper” way to react when they’re also frustrated, sad, or mad.
Consider the behaviors you’d like your children to have such as: friendliness, generosity, kindness, honesty, and respect. Do you exhibit these behaviors on a daily, or even hourly basis? If the answer is no, then you might be teaching your children something else entirely – and not even know it.
Tip 4: Be Consistent and Fair with Discipline
It is widely accepted that some kind of discipline procedure will need to be established for most households. Children are not perfect beings and so will perform behaviors that are not conducive to a good environment. Remember that the main goal of discipline is for children to learn about what is acceptable and what is not. This will be tested repeatedly since they will not be 100% certain where the line is drawn.
It is important that you establish what is the line and try not to budge from it. Consistency will go a long way in ensuring that whatever discipline measures you have set will actually be effective. If your children know that the goal posts change for what is acceptable and what isn’t – then they’ll probably continue exhibiting the bad behavior more often.
When possible – consider the authoritative style of parenting when considering discipline.
Tip 5: Show and Tell Your Love
It isn’t just enough to say that you love your children, you need to show it. It will become important to connect the two together so that way your child can create the association. For example, you not only want to tell your children that you love them, but you’ll also want to combine it into a hug. This helps reinforce that hugs are for when you love something.
Another example of showing and telling your love is with your bedtime routine. Remember that creating a good routine is important in teaching your child to sleep. You can say “I love you” as you kiss them on the forehead.
Tip 6: Take Care Of Yourself
This is a very understated tip. It is important that you take care of yourself – both physically and emotionally. After all, how could you possibly be the best parent you can be if you aren’t doing that?
Don’t feel guilty if you need to get a babysitter so you can have a small night out to release some work stress. Or ask your partner if he/she can watch the kids for a few hours while you go to the gym.
There’s a reason that airline attendants tell you to put on your oxygen mask before you put it on your children. In the end, you are responsible for the well-being of your child, and you MUST take care of yourself in order to do that to the best of your ability.
Of course, “take care” of yourself in moderation, because too much of that will lead to neglecting your child.
Tip 7: Create Expectations Ahead of Time
It is important that you set up what behaviors you expect from your children before the opportunity for it to be broken occurs. Much as we expect our workplace to ensure that we are prepared in advance for our jobs, children benefit from being told what boundaries are not to be crossed ahead of time.
This will take some planning on your part – but if you cover the most obvious of the potential outcomes ahead of time, you and your children will be better off. Some examples of how this is put into practice is: Letting your children know that they are to treat other people nicely and not hit anyone while at daycare. Another example would be letting your children know that relatives are coming over for dinner, and so they will need to dress nicely later today. A final example would be to review their daily plan with them before actually deploying – this is integral if your plan is to home-school kids while you work remotely.
Setting up expectations ahead of time allows their brain to fully comprehend the next step, and it also helps guide their behavior during the event in question.