How to be a Good Parent

family, parents, children, good parents, parentingDuring the course of my work with children and teenagers many parents share with me how hard they find the task of parenting their children. They will often ask me for advice based on my experience working with children and young people.

Here are some suggestions to help you be a good parent:

 1) Look after yourself!

You may find this a weird one to start with but it is something so many parents forget to do. In an effort to do the best for their children they make themselves second best. It can be difficult to keep calm and talk those complex issues and questions through with the kids if you are feeling tense or stressed, anxious or depressed.

You must devote quality time to yourself as part of your weekly routine.

Find time each and every week to allow yourself to unwind and de-stress. When was the last time you and your spouse went out together, alone without the kids? Do you allow any time for enjoyment, and dare I say a little romance these days? Yes I know it’s tough balancing work and home life and giving your kids care and attention too, but if you don’t look after yourself you can’t look after others!

Can I perhaps mention here how good meditation can be to help you de-stress and unwind?

2) Have realistic expectations.

This applies to both yourself and the children. There is no such thing as a perfect parent so don’t try to be. Do try to be as good a parent as you can be, that’s an entirely different expectation and much more achievable. People often don’t recognise that the quest for perfection is a trap, or at least a dead end that takes you nowhere. Bear these facts in mind –

  • All children mess up from time to time.
  • All children misbehave from time to time.
  • All parents do the same things!

Don’t become a tyrant with your children and don’t make the rules too hard for you or them to succeed.

3) Set clear boundaries.

Children feel more secure if they know what the rules are so make them plain. I prefer the word boundary because that makes what you require of them more flexible and supportive. When you set a boundary for bed time stick to it.

If boundaries seem to be unclear or are nor being adhered to have a family meeting where everyone can contribute their ideas and opinions as to what is or isn’t working. Remember the most common complaint children have, especially teenagers is “You don’t listen to me!”

4) Praise, praise, praise!

The old fashioned way to bring up a child seemed to be to wait for them to fail and then rub their noses in it! A mistake is NOT failure, merely a discovery of something that doesn’t work. Mistakes can be a way to learn  and grow. In future why not try paying more attention to what your children do well and then praising them for it? I get to see so many children who suffer from low self-confidence and low self-esteem, partly because they have not been praised enough (the same goes for adults too).

5) Be generous with affection.

This may sound so obvious to some but it is surprising how often parents fail to show their children how much they love and care for them. Keeping them clothed and fed is not enough. A young person (just like the rest of us) needs to feel they are loved. They need to understand and feel they are loved, so make it your job to show them with lots of praise and positive reinforcement when they do well. Backed up with lots of physical affection such as hugs and cuddles, and if they aren’t too old for it hand holding and physical contact too.

If you have any comments or questions please let me know.