The birth of a child will change your life forever.
Becoming a parent brings with it many concerns and responsibilities with properly the most central concern being whether or not you are an effective parent.
While parenting comes naturally to most, today’s world – with social media and the pressure to be a perfect parent – has caused many parents to question their skills.
In simple terms, parenting means just loving your child and teaching him or her to be a well-rounded and caring individual. Children need understanding, love and guidance to help them make appropriate choices.
And that’s what we’re aiming for as parents, isn’t it? To prepare our children to succeed in the world without us?
I know this is what I think of when I hear the term “effective parenting”. Are your parenting skills resulting in your child learning how to be compassionate and independent?
If you’re not sure, here are the 9 keys to effective parenting:
1. Understand That Your Child is an Individual
While your child certainly is an extension of you in many ways, it’s important to understand that they are still an individual entity with the ability to think for themselves.
Despite the fact that you want what’s best for your child, you can’t effectively parent them if you are trying to mold them into what you imagine is the best version of them.
Every child has their own unique and inborn talents and they should be given the opportunity to discover their own identity and personality.
2. Create a Relationship of Trust and Safety With Your Child
Your children should know that at any time they can turn to you for advice and help. Communication with your child should always be based on understanding and never on judgment.
Think of it this way: How are you supposed to effectively parent your child and guide them when you have no idea what is going on in their lives and in their minds?
Children will make mistakes at any age and it’s your job to help them overcome their faux-pas but your child needs to feel safe and comfortable confiding them to you.
3. Instill in Your Child a Sense of Self-Confidence
By having a relationship of open communication, you can help your child discover themselves, their inner talents and their strengths.
Set them up for success whenever you can. Show them how to do something first and then guide them to try on their own.
Just be careful not to hover too much – your child needs to learn how to do things on their own.
But be sure to encourage them to keep trying even if they fail. This sense of grit and resilience is the foundation of good self-confidence.
Use mistakes as a learning opportunity and help them find the “next time I can” in their mistake.
4. Nurture Your Child’s Talents
As mentioned above, it’s important to nurture your child’s talents and give them space and opportunity to fly.
Never try and push your child into an activity, study course or profession that they are not comfortable with or have no interest in.
Let them follow their own interests and try new things.
Be sure to always praise their effort, not their result. Children are impatient and prone to giving up quickly if they don’t get the result they expect right away.
By cheering them on and building them up, you are helping them develop a strong sense of self-esteem.
5. Reassure Your Child of Your Unconditional Love and Support
A child’s feeling of being loved should never be contingent on their behavior, performance or achievements.
That’s not to say that you can never be disappointed with your child, but you should always reassure them that they have your unconditional love and support.
Part of this is not having a judgemental attitude toward their actions and choices. Another part is being empathetic to their feelings and emotional needs.
Showing unconditional love means working through hard times. You know in your heart that you love your child, even at your most frustrated, but it’s important that they know this even when times get tough.
6. Remember That Freedom Means Limits
Being understanding and lenient does not mean letting your children run wild.
Children need consistency and expectation. They need rules to work under in order to thrive.
That’s not to say you have to run a strict household, but your children should have basic rules and boundaries to teach them safety and respect.
It’s important to always communicate your expectations early and clearly. It wouldn’t be fair to discipline a child who didn’t know what was expected of them in the first place.
7. Discipline Instead of Punish
The old adage used to go: “Spare the rod and spoil the child.”
We know now that physical punishment is not necessary in the upbringing of a child. Abuse only instills fear and anger, it doesn’t solve the underlying cause of problem behaviors.
Instead, discipline can be used to teach a child what is acceptable and what is not acceptable.
Devise ways in which a child loses certain privileges when he or she behaves badly or oversteps limits.
Just make sure the consequences suit the behavior – don’t over-discipline for minor infractions.
On the opposite side of discipline, you can always promote good behavior by rewarding it. This doesn’t mean forking out money every time your child does something good – even warm and positive praise is enough to encourage them.
8. Create a Strong Bond
Create a bond with your child by being warm, sharing interests, spending time together, establishing routines and tuning into your child’s emotional state.
Keep lines of communication open. A child needs to be able to come and share their troubles and problems with you without hesitation.
Plus, the bond you create while they are young will last a lifetime, even as they age and make their own way in the world.
9. Be a Good Role Model
Children learn by watching so the best way to be an effective parent is to be the kind of person you want your child to be.
That doesn’t mean you have to be perfect (we all have our parenting faux-pas) but you should always be mindful of how you deal with stressful situations and how you treat other people.
Your child will pick up a lot of social and emotional cues by watching you.
The True Nature of Parenthood
Being a parent is not about providing stuff for your children or satisfying material needs.
It’s all about creating love, understanding and trust.
The bonds that are formed in the early years of life will create a lifetime of fond memories – both the good and the bad.
This is what effective parenting is all about! Creating that connection and setting your child up to be an independent and unique individual.