Parenting is a marathon that spans a lifetime. From the moment your child is born, your journey of parenting begins, with the ultimate goal of producing a healthy, well-adjusted, happy adult. With commonsense principles, you can be an effective parent as you raise your children with loving and firm guidance.
The foundation of your relationship with your child needs to be rock-solid love, which leads to your desire to nurture and guide your child. When you love your child, you give your affection, your positive words, your praise and your loving discipline to train and support her, says Karen DeBord, Ph.D., a child development specialist for the North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension. This love is not about giving your child material possessions; instead, this is the love that gives of yourself as an investment in your child.
Discipline is not about punishment; instead, discipline is the process of teaching your child and protecting him from danger, advises the Children’s Physician Network. Effective discipline should not include any type of corporal punishment, because physical punishments generally encourage even more aggressive behavior in children. Focus on positive discipline that teaches your children respectful behavior by praising and gently guiding them. Dr. William Sears, pediatrician and author, recommends using timeouts for children from about 18 months onward to discourage undesired behavior. After misbehavior, place your child in a quiet spot for a timeout of one minute per year of age to help him learn what you consider to be unacceptable behavior.
Children thrive on consistency. It gives them security and standards that they can trust and accept, so they know what’s expected of them, what their routines are and what they can expect from their parents, states the University of Alabama Parenting Assistance Line. When you parent consistently, you create fair rules with clearly defined consequences attached. When your child follows the rules, you deliver praise and encouragement. When your child does not follow the rules, you exact the consequence in a fair and loving manner.
Communicating with children is more than delivering lectures and warnings. Effective communication involves listening, watching and sharing thoughts and feelings. To facilitate communication between you and your child, your child must trust and feel secure in your relationship. An effective way to build trust involves active listening, states Daniel F. Perkins and Kate Fogarty with the University of Florida Extension. Active listening includes listening without judging, asking pertinent questions, paraphrasing what you understand and empathizing with your child. By striving to understand and support, you build empathy, which will be the foundation of a strong connection between you and your child, counsels the University of Tennessee Cooperative Extension.
By investing one of your greatest commodities – your time – in your children, you demonstrate that you value them. Show an interest in the activities and hobbies that interest your children, learning about these details so you have something relevant to discuss, suggests Jennifer Kerpelman, extension specialist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. Devote time to playing and hanging out as well, to build a solid relationship with your children.
The bottom line of parenting goals is to build and foster independence in your children to make them strong enough to stand on their own when they become adults, states H. Wallace Goddard, former extension family and child development specialist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. One of the most effective ways of instilling independence in your children is by providing a safe and secure home and then slowly transferring decisions and responsibilities from you to your child. Optimally, this gradual broadening of responsibilities happens while your child is still under your protective guidance and support.