Prior to having a first child, most of us have a mental picture of the perfect parent we will make. Fast forward a few years and many of those pictures have change and distorted dramatically with the realities of life.
Let’s face it, bringing up children is hard work and advertisements filled with laughing, happy families can contrast with the squabbling brood currently tearing up your home and furniture. We are constantly told that ‘love is everything’ when it comes to child rearing. Instead, we should perhaps change this to ‘everything we do should stem from a basis of love’.
Discipline, learning and respect are all more effective when they are motivated by a genuine interest in creating happier and healthier children and adults. The following parenting tips are simple and easy to integrate into daily life yet can dramatically improve the parenting experience.
Play and learn
From infancy, spend quality time by taking a stroll together, stopping at the local park and talking about what you see.
For those with multiple small children, modern twin prams can be found which grow with your family, providing a comfortable and affordable way to enhance the experience. Prams and strollers which can be adapted to face towards you, have children face towards each other or simply face the oncoming scenery, make the ideal vehicle to share and discover the world together.
Instilling boundaries and behaviour guidelines should begin early. Children need to understand the importance of listening to you for their own safety as well as to build self-discipline. Understanding they can’t have everything their way is an important life skill.
Read books from an early age and discuss what you read. This interaction is the perfect way to engage even the youngest child.
Building family rituals
Creating family traditions and rituals can forge strong bonds. They can be the glue binding your family’s culture, history and lifelong connection. Traditions give each family member a place in the world in which they feel they belong.
Building memories and forging relationships through shared experiences can be as simple as:
- Going on regular holidays to familiar destinations
- Celebrating milestones such as birthdays, Christmas or other occasions, with common rituals
- Watching the Grand Final together as an extended family
- Holding a family Easter Egg hunt
Walk the walk
The first and most important role models a child will have are their parents. They take their cues from you on how to interact with society. They will imitate your values, attitudes and prejudices - make sure you are sending the right messages to them.
Whatever difference you and your partner may have, never argue them in front of children. Attempt to support each others parenting and if opinions differ, discuss them out of the hearing of the kids.
Don’t accept disrespectful behaviour to yourself or others. Respect is shown in small ways.
- Politely acknowledging a visitor
- Showing appreciation, consideration and kindness toward others
- Cleaning up their own mess
- Listening to and respecting advice from elders
Keep disrespectful behaviour in check when children are small to avoid it becoming a big problem later on.
Remember the please and thank you’s. Build social skills and encourage children to care for others. Encourage them to spend time with the elderly, listening to them and seeing their value.
Instil an ethic of helping in children, whether out in the community or at home. Teach them the importance of their responsibilities towards the world and environment.
Get moving and exercise together. The old adage about the family who plays together, stays together, is still true today.
A huge issue with children today has become a lack of resilience and self reliance. Parents fearing judgment from others are coddling children and preventing them from growing from their own mistakes.
By beginning your parenting off on the right foot, you are ensuring that you are growing children who will be productive, valuable members of society, who you enjoy spending time with. It takes more than love, it takes input and time but is well worth the investment of both.