Just like all parents, you also wish to give your child a good start in life — to nurture, guide, and protect them. Raising a child is not easy, but it can be gratifying. Parenting is not just about doing things instinctively for our children or following in our parents’ footsteps. It is also knowing and acting in tandem with what works best for our kids.
Whatever the style of parenting, the ultimate goal is to mold our kids into curious, motivated, and well-adjusted citizens, ready for whatever (or whoever) life throws their way. If you’re wondering what healthy parenting looks like, here are seven principles of good parenting that’ll help you nurture a conscious parenting style:
1. Model Good Behavior
It’s essential to watch our own words and actions before we preach tall virtues to our kids. This will ensure your kids hold you in high regard. Our kids pick up habits from us. So, ask yourself if you are acting responsibly and respecting those around you and, most importantly, yourself.
If you aren’t careful, hypocrisy will be counterproductive. When you treat others well, your children learn from you. How you behave makes a world of difference in the way your child grows up. Therefore, exercise some care in your behavior if you would like your child to showcase healthy habits.
2. Love Them, But Don’t Spoil Them
While there is no standard mechanical calculation to determine the perfect amount of love we should shower on our children, an excess of anything is harmful. We often excessively pamper our kids by giving them everything they need, for instance, being there at their beck and call, spoiling them with material objects, practicing leniency, or letting them have their way whenever they wish. It’s the perfect road to raising their expectations and making them feel entitled. Your child needs to be unconditionally loved, but swapping love for things and letting their selfish interests take over is unhealthy.
3. Be Present And Involved
No matter how busy your schedule looks, it’s your duty to be involved in your child’s life. Dedicate some quality time during the day like going for a walk together, having a conversation during lunch hours, or just before bedtime. It will allow you opportunities to speak to your kids about what’s happening in their life.
Being present has many rewards: it makes them feel special, creates enjoyable moments to develop a healthy bond with each other, keeps you aware and cautious of your child’s issues or setbacks. However, make sure you listen to them with empathy and control the urge to reprimand them immediately if they have not conformed to your rules or guidelines (1).
4. Build Their Confidence
To make your child feel confident is to make them secure and self-assured. As your child grows up to face the world, they’ll need to be equipped with the necessary confidence to face hurdles and even establish their presence amidst people. Yes, you’ll need to discipline them and draw boundaries. But also give them the ownership and autonomy to make some choices. It’s common to equate independence with being rebellious or disobedient, but as long as adequate rules have been established, they are unlikely to become unruly. So the next time your child takes the initiative to do something on their own, don’t intervene and just let them try it out. Even if they fail, the learning experience will help them in the long run.
5. Trust Your Child
It’s important to monitor kids to keep a check on them and ensure their safety. However, if your kids don’t feel trusted, they are more likely to be passive or actively aggressive. As your child passes through different stages of growth and development, they’ll be in the direct line of fire, both internally and externally. For instance, the same neural activity that makes them smart or intelligent is also responsible for making them argumentative at the dinner table. But when you trust them, control the temptation to micromanage, and stop intervening every single time, they’ll feel encouraged to be honest with you and reach out to you when needed.
6. Praise And Encourage Them
Praise the efforts that your child makes to instill in them a sense of self-belief. Showcase your happiness when your child engages in praiseworthy behavior but describe what aspect of the act impressed you. Yes, it’s essential to be careful of how you praise them and for what. When children know that a specific behavior earns praise and encouragement, they will repeat it more often. This is known as Positive Reinforcement. However, while rewards can and should follow good behavior, like getting a treat or a special privilege, avoid overusing them (2).
7. Avoid Harsh Discipline
Physical and verbal abuse is detrimental to your child’s wellbeing. Scolding, threatening, yelling, ridiculing, insulting, blaming, demeaning, or criticizing your child can create the risks of trauma and force them to become closed-off. It can injure critical brain pathways that play a vital role in their development, affecting their self-confidence and resulting in anxiety or depressive tendencies. Such children also have difficulty adjusting well in society since they are more likely to exhibit physically aggressive behavior, delinquency, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and even paranoia.
Your children will make mistakes, and you have to teach them how to get up and get going. So, instead of resorting to harsh punishments, establish clear rules to follow, treat them kindly, and encourage them to get it right the next time.
There’s always enough room to learn, improvise and build something new from a previous experience. Hence, feeling guilty or shaming yourself for not being a pro at parenting isn’t the best way forward: it keeps you demotivated and stifles your efforts at making progress. And just so you know, nobody gets it right the first time. You have to learn how to take unexpected challenges in your stride to become a good parent. What are your thoughts on this? Do share with us in the comments below!
- The Role of Empathy and Parenting Style in the Development of Antisocial Behaviors
- Positive Reinforcement Through Rewards