How to Be a Better Parent

It takes a lot of work to be a great parent. Everything you say or do not only affects your child, but teaches them things that they will carry for a lifetime. It is sobering to realize that the way you raise your children will affect the way your grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and perhaps even further, are raised. So many of the suggestions currently being published as parenting techniques focus on behavior modification. This misses the mark for most parents. Success depends just as much on what your children see you doing as it does on what you actively teach them.

Work on Your Self-Esteem

If you have problems with your self-esteem and regularly self-deprecate, work on this. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t showing those feelings knowingly – your child will see it and interpret is as instruction that a person should not love oneself. Learn how to love yourself and take to heart that you are a worthy person and your child will learn through you.

Right alongside this goes a mistake that many parents make: criticism. Criticizing qualities in your child that you see in yourself forces the child to see him- or herself through what they believe to be your eyes, negatively and hypercritically. This can be damaging, and it stays with a child throughout their life.

Avoid Perpetrating Your Own Parents’ Negative Behaviors

All parents have that moment of horror when they hear something come out of their mouth that their parents said word-for-word. Think back to the things your parents did with the best of intentions that backfired spectacularly. Not all of their techniques were bad, but most of us can remember the things that made us miserable as a child.

Pay attention to what you’re doing and weed out the behaviors that bothered you most in your parents. Many new parents are compelled to replicate the things they saw their own parents doing because it may have been their only example. When you’re tempted to do this, take a deep breath and find a different path. Making yourself a better parent is about change for the better.

Dump the ‘Do as I Say, Not as I Do’ Philosophy

Parents are role models, whether they aim to be or not. Make sure that the things you’re showing your child are things you’ll be proud to see them do twenty years down the road. One of the most important ways you can be a role model for your child is in personal relationships. Make sure that your relationship with your spouse or partner is healthy. Display affection to your children and in front of them. Sharing a kiss with your spouse or snuggling together with your kids can be a huge positive influence. Be warm and loving toward your kids at all times. Even – no, especially when you’re angry. Make sure your children know that anger or disappointment does not mean a lack of love. Children look back on what they saw their parents doing when they begin learning about relationships themselves.

Children will attempt to imitate your mind and body, as well. If you never finished that degree you wanted, go back and get it through night school. Keep learning, even if you have your dream job, and inject different cultural experiences into your family life. Make your weekends opportunities for new experiences:

• Local theatre groups

• Libraries

• Museum trips – have a dinosaur trip one week, local artist trip the next, and so on

• Art classes

Teach your kids (and yourself) how to eat well and exercise. Get healthy together. It’s not necessary to create an absolutely perfect food environment – the occasional chicken nugget isn’t going to ruin an otherwise healthy diet – but showing your children a variety of foods that are good for the whole family will broaden the mind when it comes to trying new things.

About the Author

Michele Allen, in addition to being a mother, writes on various health topics. She’s almost done with her CNA Certification and is about to start looking for CNA Jobs to begin her health services career.

Dr. Richard Bromfield, the author of How to Unspoil Your Child Fast, has offered Tiny Green Mom readers some tips on parenting that will help to bring order back into your home in no time!

Quick Tips for Unspoiling

By Dr. Richard Bromfield

1 Commit to unspoil. The surer your lead is, the quicker your children will follow. They will see through tepid and weak gestures to unspoil. Unspoiling can go quickly, but requires fortitude.

2 State your case clearly. Tell your children what you expect in no uncertain terms, and follow through. Speak in specifics, as teachers do in the classroom.

3 Create a bribe-free home. Bribes work in the moment, but parents (and children) pay a high price for bribery in the long run. You may have to pay for every ounce of cooperation in the future.

4 Avoid deal-making. Negotiations have their place, especially in the courtroom, care dealership, and so on. Show your child firsthand that not every aspect of life and its demands is a deal to be fought and wrangled till midnight.

5 Be the boss. I don’t mean a cruel, tyrannical marine boot camp officer kind of boss. I mean a boss who understands and is comfortable with the leadership and authoritative role of a parent. Because I say so would not be an especially good mantra for all of parenting and home life, but it sure has its place at times.

6 Buy less for the kids. Obvious, but as true as it can be difficult. For one week tally how much you spend on the children, including toys, books, school supplies, clothing, snacks, treats, sports equipment, entertainment, learning enrichment, music lessons, and so forth. You may be surprised at what your spreadsheet reveals.

7 Buy less for you too. Some parents roll their eyes at their children’s indulgence, even as they the parents spend much of their days buying, shopping, and lamenting that they do not have bigger homes, better cars, and such. Your children notice if you are forever browsing the Internet for things. Children adore their parents and look to them as their ultimate role models.

8 Reward effort not product. The self-esteem movement was a bust. Children do not gain self-confidence by shallow flattery and trophies for doing little. True competence comes through learning real skills and lessons that teach the child that he or she can handle things and life.

9 Invest time in your children. Seek experiences and activities that, rather than cost money, involve time: bike riding, hiking, gardening, building a birdhouse, helping do projects around the home or for others, and so forth. Maybe spend less time at the mall and more in the woods or at the park.

10 Take pride in the new you. Your children are obliged to protest and throw wrenches in your unspoiling efforts. But you know better than to surrender to their easy tears and earth-shaking tantrums. Your parenting will grow more as you wish it to be, and will give your children a different kind of gift that last a lifetime.

*Cover image and tips provided by Dr. Richard Bromfield, the author of How to Unspoil Your Child Fast.*