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    10 Basic Principles Of Good Parenting

    Sometimes the frustrations of parenting can only be released through a deep sigh. If only there was a perfectly written manual for every parent to follow…

    Parenting isn’t always the sunny morning, crisp breeze on your face, walking in the park scenario that we are often shown in commercials or films. Even though there are also those eye-creasing, fuzzy, warm moments, we need a little help sometimes. And that help can come in the form of other parents, our own parents, or self-help books like Dr Laurence Steinberg’s The Ten Basic Principles of Good Parenting.

    The advice given in the book is based on what scientists have studied in various families over the years. What Steinberg has done is to ‘dumb-down’ those theories into a 10-piece nugget meal of parenting advice. But, as Registered Relationship and Family Counsellor, and Certified Parent Effectiveness (PET) Instructor Mimi Hewett explains: ‘I do think that every family adds their own personal flavour to it, so no family’s parenting style will look exactly like the next, but that’s what makes life so interesting.’ The book aims to be a universal guide to parenting, and there are certainly a few universal guidelines that parents can follow:

    1. What you do matters

    ‘Remember, kids do what we do, not what we say!’ says Mimi. How you treat your child, how you respond to them, how you treat others or how you respond to various external stimuli should all be thought-out. Think about what effect your decisions will have on your child.

    2. You cannot be too loving

    Loving and showing warmth genuinely does not mean you’re spoiling them. As Mimi says, ‘No child has ever been physically or emotionally damaged by too much love.’ The problem presents itself when you start taking things lightly in the name of love – being too lenient, lowering expectations or replacing love with material things. Let’s not forget that smothering can also be a negative form of lovingness.

    3. Be involved in your child’s life

    There’s no two ways about it: managing home life is tough. But it’s important to be involved in what your child does, who they’re friends with, what they like and dislike, how they’re doing emotionally and physically. It might mean sacrificing some priorities and rearranging schedules, but being present for the good and bad moments will transcend time.

    4. Adapt your parenting to fit your child

    Everyone needs character development, and children don’t want to be stifled when doing so. No child is the same, just as no parent is either – what might work for one child might not work for the next. Learn understanding and compromise when it comes to each child’s needs, and adapt accordingly. Imagine where humans would be if we hadn’t evolved!

    5. Establish and set rules

    Many of us want our children to see us as their friends, sometimes letting them off the hook for bad behaviour. But if behaviour isn’t managed when young, they will have a hard time managing themselves when they’re grown. Steinberg says to ask three questions: Where is my child? Who is with my child? What is my child doing? State and explain what is acceptable and unacceptable so that they learn from your rules.

    6. Foster your child’s independence

    It’s a tough pill to swallow, but children won’t always have us (or need us) to help solve their issues. Mimi says to use the skill of active listening; understanding them, their emotions, their needs to assist them in balancing their emotions and problem-solving. ‘Being able to solve small problems by themselves, they develop the confidence to do it again in the future.’

    7. Be consistent

    Parenting can never be a one-time thing. Actions need to be carried out consistently, and non-negotiables should be set out between you and your children. If you have a firm belief or value, stick to it, but it’s also okay to let children see that we are not perfect – just like they aren’t perfect, explains Mimi. The more you base your decisions on wisdom and not power, the less your child will want to challenge you.

    8. Avoid harsh discipline

    ‘A better way of resolving a conflict is to first calm down, talk about it, listen to each other and understand both sides and the underlying needs that are not being met,’ Mimi advises. While discipline is important, the method matters. Physical punishment could result in anger, bullying, and physical means of resolving conflicts. Opt for healthy ways of discipline.

    9. Explain your rules and decisions

    Explaining rules and decisions will help children understand why you’ve set a rule, what the outcome will be and what you expect from them. Children don’t have the same judgement, priorities and experience as you do. Saying ‘Because I said so!’ is not very convincing for children to accept, rules and decisions.

    10. Treat your child with respect

    Respect is a two-way street; if you want your child’s respect, give respect to them too. Speak politely, respect their opinion, pay attention to them, treat them with kindness. Children treat others the way their parents treat them – demanding respect won’t make anyone want to take you seriously. Again: children mimic their parents’ every move, as many of us know.

    Listen well, and try to understand your children’s feelings – you don’t have to agree, but be accepting of who they are as humans. There may not be a full-proof way of parenting, but as Mimi says: ‘If your children are happy, confident, independent and they trust you enough to talk to you about anything, I’d say you are doing a pretty good job!’ As your children grow, so will you.

    Text: Saadiqah Schroeder
    Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

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