Therapists who specialize in child development, family relationships and parenting strategies are guided by extensive research that gives them insight into the most effective tips to share with clients.
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Although these professionals may differ in their individual counseling styles and may advocate certain parenting methods over others, most generally agree on a core group of techniques that can be applied to a broad range of families. If you are striving to be a good parent and are curious about what the experts advise when it comes to raising your children, the following 15 therapist-approved techniques are a must-read. Integrate these tips into your family dynamic no matter what your parenting philosophy, and help your kids to thrive and realize their potential.
1. Be Consistent In Your Interactions
Children respond well to clear boundaries and behaviors, and if they know what to expect from you as a parent, they are likely to feel secure and comfortable in your mutual interactions. Stick to the parenting style that works best for your family, and don’t confuse your kids by being inconsistent and unreliable.
2. Offer Your Children Choices In Decision-Making
Even though you and your partner do the heavy lifting in terms of decision-making, allow your children to develop their own skills in this area by offering them choices. Limit these options to two when possible so as not to overwhelm your kids. For example, let them decide between watching TV and using the computer after dinner.
3. Demonstrate Love And Care For Your Children
Everyone wants to be loved, wanted and cared for, and children are certainly no different in terms of their relationships with their parents. Show genuine affection for your kids on a regular basis, and ensure that they are aware of your level of care and concern for their well-being. Develop strong and lasting bonds.
4. Take Time To Explain Consequences For Negative Behavior
Kids have a difficult time accepting consequences for a negative action or behavior when they do not fully understand their parents’ reasoning for removing privileges. Avoid simply declaring what a consequence will be without explaining why their behavior was wrong and why it needs to be addressed now and prevented in the future.
5. Be Attentive And Participate In Your Children’s Lives
Refrain from damaging your children’s self-esteem, confidence and desire to share their lives with you as a result of being an emotionally and physically distant parent. Show interest in their hobbies and friendships, attend their sporting and school events, and show enthusiasm for their accomplishments. Ask your kids questions about their daily experiences, interactions and schedules.
6. Look Out For Your Kids’ Physical And Emotional Safety
Monitoring your children’s physical safety is an important part of being a parent, from keeping them away from busy streets and hot stoves to cautioning them not to ride with strangers. Make it a priority to protect your kids in an emotional sense as well by watching for signs of depression, anxiety and similar issues.
7. Set An Example In Regard To Being A Productive Adult
As a parent, you probably wish for your children to be successful adults with stable careers, relationships and friendships. Encourage this by living as a productive person yourself. Kids model many behaviors from their parents, so set the example of enjoying a happy, fulfilled existence that they can one day aspire to themselves.
8. Listen To Your Kids When They Seek You Out
If you want your children to confide in you as they get older, be sure to let them know from a young age that you are there to listen to their concerns and offer advice. Make time to listen to your little ones when they approach you, no matter how minor the problem may seem.
9. Tailor Your Parenting To Your Children’s Individual Ages And Stages
The manner in which you parent your four-year-old child is naturally going to differ in some ways to how you parent your 14-year-old child. Read up on child development stages, and tailor your interactions with your children so that they are always at an age-appropriate level. Never expect your kids to understand concepts beyond their years.
10. Set Guidelines But Encourage Independence Too
Kids thrive on structure and guidance, but as they grow, they also enjoy demonstrating their ability to complete independent tasks and express their creativity. Give your children the opportunity to be themselves within you family unit – let them wear colorful clothing, call their friends on the phone to plan outings or explore a unique hobby.
11. Avoid Being Overly Harsh In Discipline
With so many positive discipline strategies available for you to consider as a parent, there is no need for harsh punishment techniques that go beyond the scope of your children’s transgressions. Practicing cruelty, whether physically or emotionally, when correcting your kids is a sure-fire way to instill fear rather than respect on their parts.
12. Boost Your Children’s Self-Image
Every child, particularly during the awkward pre-teen and teen years, can benefit from having parents who understand the importance of a strong and secure self-image. Make your kids’ days a little brighter by offering heartfelt compliments on their appearance and personality traits as well as pride and admiration for their academic and social achievements.
13. Give Small Rewards For Positive Behavior
While spoiling your kids with gifts for no reason is never a good parenting strategy, offering them small but meaningful treats as a reward for good behavior can often be effective. Make a behavior chart for each of your children, and let them participate in choosing a prize when they meet weekly goals.
14. Respect Your Children As People
Although it’s common for parents to view their children as smaller extensions of themselves, always remember that each of your kids is an individual person who deserves the respect of being acknowledged as such. Recognize, encourage and appreciate the distinctive traits that make your children who they are, even if their personalities differ from yours.
15. Pick Your Battles
At the end of the day, does it really matter if your child wants to wear a pair of mismatched socks to the store or leaves a few carrots behind on a dinner plate? Pick your parenting battles wisely, and don’t give minor hurdles more importance than needed!
Remember that parenting experts are not only a resource for helpful child-rearing tips, but are also available to provide professional guidance in situations where outside support is needed. Child and family therapists are well-worth contacting if you, your partner and your children are experiencing communication issues that go beyond the scope of implementing parenting tips.
Contact a reputable expert in your area, and ask for a consultation so that you can be on your way to becoming the best parent possible sooner rather than later. Never be hesitant to ask for help; that’s what these professionals are there for!