Monday, December 1, 2008

10 Positive Steps for Better Parenting

Good parents are made, not born that way. If you are lucky enough to have had good parents, you may be in the minority now. Here are some good ideas for you to try out so you can work to improve your relationship with your kids.

1. Be actively involved with your kids' activities. Donate your time to them. Be a coach or a leader for their sports or other activities. Attend their performances. Volunteer to be a driver. Cheer for them. Watch them play. Help with their homework. Read to them and with them. Play with them! You can do different things with kids at each age.

2. Appropriately compliment kids for their good effort or results. You don't have to only say nice things is they "win". Give them some positive support for their effort and encourage them to keep trying. Sure, it's fun to win, but it's also fun to play. Make sure the kids know that you are proud of them.

3. Appropriately compliment the other parent, to the other parent and around the kids. Don't lie about things or be fake, but there's always something nice you can say. If you can't think of something nice to say, do what your mom probably told you: don't say anything.

4. Focus on the good. It might be grades, an art project, effort in cleaning their rooms, riding a bike, playing appropriately, etc. At any age, you can find something a child is doing well and you can show some appreciation. If you want to see it again, reinforce good behavior by complimenting it. Don't just go on and on about what a child is doing wrong. Give the child something to remember and strive for.

5. Encourage kids to volunteer and serve others. They will probably need to record volunteer hours for school at some point, but making a spirit of volunteerism and helping part of the kids' upbringing, so that it seems a natural and normal part of life, is one of the best things you can do for kids. Everyone, at some time, will need help from others. It's a good idea to "pay it forward" --donate help in advance.

6. Talk about the best part of the day with your kids. It helps them (and you) focus on the good things that happen. You and your kids will feel better if you think about the good things, rather than just dwelling on what went wrong. Developing this habit can help elevate everyone's mood.

7. Remember that kids see what you do and hear what you say. They will really pay attention to what you do and you will probably see some of your actions in their behavior. You certainly want to see your kids doing good things, so you need to act appropriately. The same thing is true about what you say around them and how you say it. Children can imitate things right away after observing you, and can develop habits, similar to yours, over time. Try to be a good role model.

8. Learn to appreciate kids' music, books and games. That's not to say that everything they like is worthwhile (which could as well be true about the things you like), but it is too easy for parents to overlook or downplay kids' culture. Parents should look for the value in their kids' lives. If you show a genuine interest in your kids' activities and interests, you can be more of a factor in their lives. You will be able to speak their language and you can enjoy time with them.

9. Encourage friendships and sharing. That can be done in part by setting a good example, but you may have to explain things to kids periodically about sharing as they get older. Do what you can to make it possible for kids to do things with their peers so they can have friendships. Just as important, don't put up roadblocks to the kids being able to participate in activities and be with friends who are important to them. Transportation in particular can be time consuming, but it will be over before you know it, so you should enjoy the time you have with the kids.

10. Be a good host. When your kids want to have friends over, make it possible. You may need to have a supervisory role, which will vary according to the age of the children, but help your children out. Get to know their friends and welcome them to your home. It's always better to have them hanging out at your house rather than roaming the streets.

Please try these out and then send a comment about your experiences to this blog. YMMV.

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