There is no fool proof guide to raising children, as every parent faces challenges unique to their circumstances. However, there are some basic guidelines that apply to everyone, and although they may not be a magic solution to all your problems, they will certainly make the ride a lot smoother!
Related article: Positive Parenting
One of the most important things to avoid in today’s consumer culture is spoiling your child. An easy and effective way to do this is to teach your child to earn their rewards. For example, if your child wants something in the shop, tell them you’ll buy it, but they can only have it once they have cleaned their room.
The key is in consistency
Your “yes” means yes, and your “no” means no! It’s important to enforce the rules in your home, so that your children learn to respect them. There are various forms of healthy discipline that will help your child to stay out of trouble with authority.
Don’t reward bad behaviour
If you give your children attention when they seek it through bad behaviour, you are teaching them that what they are doing is effective. This is called enabling, and it can hinder your child’s development.
Learn to listen
Listening to your child is also about teaching them to communicate. If you help and encourage them to give you their perspective – even when you are disciplining them – in a calm and reasonable manner, they will feel more understood. This will lead to an increased respect for the rules, and lessen the shouts of “it’s unfair!” around the house.
Don’t let yourself say “I don’t have time” – your family is a priority, and therefore you have to learn to make time to bond with them and invest in your children’s lives.
Find common ground
Make sure your child can relate to you by finding an activity you can do together, even if only once or twice a month.
Encourage other relationships
Don’t be jealous – your child needs a full support system, so encourage them to bond with extended family and friends, and do what you can to facilitate this.
Loosen the reins
You may feel that you need to check on your child’s progress with their homework, but it is important not to be a helicopter parent. Letting your child get on with it – or not – will teach them that their actions can have positive or negative consequences, and this is how independence and self-discipline develops.
Practise what you preach
Your child is watching you, and will copy your behaviour. Model the rules you expect them to follow, and they will respect both you and your boundaries.
Don’t forget your roots
Empathy is the most effective way to connect to another human being. Before a serious conversation with your child, remind yourself what it was like to be in their position.
Whatever surprises your unique children and life itself may throw at you, stick to these ten broad rules and you will help shape your child into a confident, competent and happy person.