This Is What Effective Parenting Really Looks Like

Effective parenting is something that most people will struggle with. Regardless of how good you are with kids before you had them, when you actually do, it’s a whole different ballgame. It’s not as simple as just playing or entertaining them anymore. Now you need to teach them about boundaries, social skills, health, and a bunch of other stuff that you are responsible for as a parent. This is on top of your moral (and legal) obligation to provide your child or children with all the necessities of daily living.

That’s why effective parenting techniques are so important. We can all somehow manage (or do our best at least) to provide food, clothing, shelter, and education. The basic necessities are easy enough for any parent to grasp because we require them just as much as our children do.

It’s the intangibles that are a bit tricky. How do you love them just enough to not spoil them? Why is it wrong to spoil them in the first place? How do you get them to develop good principles or beliefs? Is it ok to scold them in a particular way? How much is too much?

In this article we hope to provide you with a couple of lighthouses you can navigate to and anchor on, in your voyage to becoming a more effective parent. They may not be the only guide posts you can use, but they are generally accepted as effective by the standards of most parents.

The ultimate goal is, of course, for you to develop an evolving parenting style that fits you and your children. These parenting techniques should get you started.

Positive Reinforcement Is Always Better

Positive Reinforcement

Photo courtesy of Fabiana Zonca via Flickr, Creative Commons

A lot of grown ups prefer being told what they did wrong because it’s easier for them to pinpoint what to change about themselves. However, for children, the opposite is normally better. When trying to develop a certain habit, mentality, or attitude, positive reinforcement is always better than negative.

It’s always better to tell a child what he did right if you want him to do it again, rather than telling him what he did wrong.

Positive reinforcement is ultimately more motivating for a child. We all want approval and despite it being such a common desire for most people, a lot of parents don’t recognize how effective this can be in a developing child.

Children want approval from their parents and the more they get if for good behavior, the less likely they’ll misbehave and risk losing that approval.

You Should Be Your Child’s Biggest Influence

Biggest Influence

Photo courtesy of Jeremy Hiebert via Flickr, Creative Commons

As a parent, you should be your child’s biggest influence. Children will always look for a role model and since parents are the adults that they’ll be spending time the most with, a lot of their acquired behavior will come from you.

So if you want your children to use the words “please” and “thank you” then they need to hear you use them. They need to see their parents interact with other people in a respectful manner for them to be able to emulate the same.

If you want them to become avid readers, then you need to cultivate a household that promotes literacy. Read to them, let them see you reading the newspaper, have a mini library in their room, bring them to the bookstore when you buy your latest read, etc. If your children see how much their parents value literacy then they’ll naturally come to like it as well.

Become the person that you want your children to be.

Become Flexible To All The Changes Your Child Will Go Through

Flexible To All The Changes

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As a child grows older, it’s normal for him to go through several phases of change. It’s these behavioral changes that parents need to anticipate and adapt to. Your child who used to be a loner could suddenly become very sociable when he enters grade school, or your angel young daughter could suddenly become a rebellious teen.

Children will change as they grow and mature and parents need to be flexible enough in their parenting to be able to adjust to these.

Being overly supportive to a growing teen might not be a good idea, for example, if he’s going through an independent stage. It might have worked when he was younger but now, he could be at a point in his life where he needs to feel like he can do things by himself. In this case cultivating self-reliance, responsibility, and semi-distant support might be a better parenting strategy.

Be sensitive to what your child is going through and adapt to it. Change your parenting strategy to match whatever phase your child is going through. It’s never going to be perfect no matter how hard you try so expect some friction. But that’s part of being a parent.

Talk To Your Children About The Difficult Things

Talk To Your Children

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As your children grow older, they’re going to be exposed to a lot of things around them that you may not always be comfortable talking to them about, but you will have to.

Things like sex, prejudice, homosexuality, and death are all very difficult things to explain to children, but they’re bound to be exposed to them at school, through the media, or through the internet.

If your child asks you about these subjects or if you find out that he’s learned about these things through one method or another, it’s best that you sit your child down and explain it to them as clearly and as simply as possible.

Don’t try to avoid the hard conversations, welcome them. View them as a chance to provide proper guidance. It’s so much better for children to learn about the “harsh” things in life from their parents and not from people who don’t care enough to explain these things to them the right way.

Play With Your Children When You Can

Play with your children

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Playing with your children is the simplest way you can spend quality time with them. Even if you’re not always able to be there for them because you need to work to put food on the table, you still can’t neglect quality time.

You can’t expect your children, especially the younger ones, to “understand” that you’re busy. You need to build an emotional connection and playing with them is the easiest way to do it.

It can be as simple as a trip to the playground on the weekends when you’re free. Or even just spending an hour with them before they go to sleep is enough. It doesn’t have to be anything major but it’s better if it’s consistent.

So even if you’re tired, even if you have to wake up early the next day, if your child is in the mood for it, play with him.

These tips aren’t the ultimate pointers for becoming a good parent. However, they should be enough to help you out especially if you’re a new.

Parenting styles will be different depending on the personality of both the parents and the children. So adapt yours to the particular circumstance that you are in.

As long as you remember that your job as a parent is to love and bring the best out of your children, you’ll be fine.

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