10 Tips for Parenting With Confidence
Q: Do you have some simple guidelines for parenting with confidence?
A: Parenting is tough. It is a full-time commitment requiring more patience, tenacity and flexibility than any other job on the planet. But as we increasingly focus on making sure our children attend the right schools or participate in the right activities, we often lose sight of what we desire most for them - to be happy and healthy.
Here are some basic tools to help you approach parenting with confidence:
1. Resolve conflicts ASAP. Families argue; it is inevitable. In dealing with conflicts it is best to fight fairly by using direct communication, active listening and maintaining ground rules such as focusing only on the issue at hand.
2. Establish clear roles. A child's role is to focus on growing and learning in a safe, stable environment. A parent can help create that environment by keeping their own issues in check and seeking support from peers or professionals rather than overburdening their child with adult problems. A parent's role is to raise the child, not the other way around.
3. Maintain boundaries. It is important to establish clear boundaries, especially as children approach puberty. Knocking on bedroom doors before entering, insisting on privacy for toileting and showering, and respecting a child's personal issues by not sharing them outside the family are ways that you can show your child that you respect them.
4. Build a family heritage. Help your child move into their future by teaching them about their past. Use examples from your family tree to illustrate character traits such as courage and honor.
5. Use words that build. Words are one of the most powerful tools we have to build a child up or to tear down a child. Choose your words carefully and refrain from comparing one sibling to another. Praise their efforts, even when the outcome is not to your standard.
6. Teach by example. If you want your child to become a community volunteer, become one yourself. If you want your child to learn to be a good friend, show them how by lending a helping hand when a friend or neighbor needs support. When our actions match our words it sends a powerful message to our children.
7. Demonstrate grace within limits. We all make mistakes, especially while we are learning skills. Children require patience and grace as they learn to tie shoes, mow the lawn or drive a car. Be slow to anger and quick to forgive when mistakes are made.
8. Value internal over external. Children brought up to believe that human worth is tied to good grades or soccer goals will be more likely to become adults who judge themselves and others on this same scale. Help children to understand they are designed to be uniquely gifted and innately valued.
9. Choose your friends carefully. Be mindful of those you invite into your home. Monitor your child's comfort level around those with whom you associate. Children should feel at ease in their own homes.
10. Take care of yourself. Children will be more inclined to establish a healthy balance of work and play, and learn to care for themselves if you model this for them. Eat well, maintain a good attitude and take some time for yourself. You are preparing for a marathon, not a sprint!
Susan Michels works with children and adolescents at Cone Health Behavioral Health Hospital. Send questions to Sherri McMillen at firstname.lastname@example.org.