Kids want parents’ attention most of all


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Q: I love my children, but being a parent can be so hard. I find myself losing control and yelling at my children too often. What can I do?

A: Yes, parenting can be such a delight, but it is also the toughest job we are assigned in life. No parent is perfect, as we often have heard the saying, “parenting does not come with an instruction manual.” We try not to lose our temper, but sometimes it happens. If you think you are having trouble controlling your temper, get help so a pattern of abuse does not begin.

As parents, we do get frustrated at times as raising children takes time and energy. Couple this with your regular issues of life, such as jobs, money problems, relationships, and it sometimes becomes overwhelming. To be a great parent, you must take care of yourself first. If there are two parents in the home, take turns getting away. Take time to go visit friends or take a walk by yourself. If you are a single parent, ask friends or relatives to help you. By doing this one thing, this will help your state of mind and overall well-being.

There is no such thing as a perfect parent or a perfect child. There are guidelines to help children grow healthy and happy:

· Always make your child feel safe. Comfort your child when he is scared.
· Listening to your child is one of the most important things you can do to boost his self-esteem. This shows your child that you think he or she is important and that you are interested in what he has to say.
· Show your children love every day. Tell them you love them and give lots of hugs.
· Be consistent in your rules. Make sure rules are clear and that your child understands them. Make sure both parents agree on the same set of rules. Please make sure that the babysitter also has an outline of rules to follow. Consistency is important. This shows structure, and the child expects structure.
· Continually praise your child when learning something new or for good behavior. Take time to say how proud you are.
· Keep regular schedules of meals, naps and bedtimes. If you have to change the schedule, explain so in advance.
· Spend as much time as you can with your children. Make special time to read, walk, play or just be together. What children want and need most is your attention. Bad behavior is usually an attempt to get your attention.

Parenting can be challenging, yet very rewarding. Parents often fail to remember that children have feelings, too. Often times, they cannot express “I’m hurt” or “I feel sad,” so what we see are negative behaviors. Remember that there are no bad children, only bad behaviors, and the behaviors are what we want to change. Following these simple steps can be very helpful. However, if at any time, you feel overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to ask for help. There are many avenues to help you become a better parent, and thus a better family.

S. Denise Horton, M.S., is a therapist at Moses Cone Behavioral Health Center in Greensboro. Please submit your questions to “Is My Kid OK?” by e-mailing sherri.mcmillen@mosescone.com.

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