As parents, we often think that we don’t need a parents guide, that we should instinctively know how to discipline our kids, end tantrums, etc. The reality is that the great majority of parents do need a parents guide because parenting has to be learned!
In this short but hopefully helpful parents guide, I’m going to give simple but essential dos and don’ts that any parent should know and apply. These guidelines will not only help you strengthen the bond with your child but will also help you teach respect and discipline in order for your child to obey the rules and understand them. The dos and don’ts of this parents guide are the basics of a good parenting style.
- Do talk in a quiet voice. Raising your voice is never effective and pushes your child to yell back. It also shows your child that you have no real control over the situation.
- Do tell your child you love him as often as possible, especially when you punish his bad behavior as children tend to think we love them less when we punish them. Make clear it’s his behavior that isn’t acceptable, not him. This is a very important point of this parents guide. Apply it!
- Do explain things very clearly. What’s obvious to you isn’t to your child. Tell him what he’s going to do today, repeat if necessary. Children can be upset by a sudden change of program!
- Do prevent a bad behavior from happening by telling your child how you expect him to behave prior to going somewhere with him for instance. Parents who don’t think they need a parents guide rarely apply this easy yet effective parenting advice!
- Do justify the rules. Children accept rules they understand. Just saying “no” isn’t enough. You need to explain why you forbid this or that and why your decision is fair and good.
- Do create routines. Routines are important as they reassure the child while helping him with things he might be reluctant to do (going to bed, coming to eat, going to the doctor,…). Routines are fun for kids!
- Do what you say. If you said to your child he would be punished if he draws on the wall, you HAVE to punish him if he does. It’s very important that your child understands that consequences to his bad actions are real, otherwise he won’t respect you.
- Do share things about you to your child. Showing your vulnerability is important. If your child sees you’re human and understands you were a child too, he’ll relate to you more and share his feelings more easily.
That’s it for the dos. Now let’s see the things you should NOT do.
- Don’t spank your child. Ever. It means it’s OK to hit, to express anger without words. If your child hits you, tell him it hurts and show him how to express his feelings with words. There’s some controversy about this but please trust our parents guide. Spanking is wrong and ineffective.
- Dont set expectations that are too high. Your child will be afraid to disappoint you if he fails and it might prevent him from building his self esteem.
- Don’t spend a day without listening to what your child has to say, even if he’s making up a story. It’s very important to make eye contact and showing interest in your child’s life.
- Don’t compare your child to his siblings or friends. Even in a positive way. Just celebrate your child’s uniqueness!
- Don’t do things for your child. Let him try first, allow him to fail and try again. It’s an important lesson. If parents guide children in every step, they still need to let children learn from experience.
- Don’t ask open questions to your child (under 4) like “what do you want to wear?”. Rather give him the choice between 2 things (“the red or green shirt”).
- Don’t interpret your child’s behavior in a too literal way. A child’s bad behavior is always the expression of a need that isn’t met, something that isn’t expressed. Try to look for the cause of a bad behavior before reacting impulsively.
I hope the advices of this parents guide help you see what you can improve in your parenting. The following paragraph might interest those of you who don’t feel this parents guide is enough.
What if this parents guide isn’t enough?
For parents of children that have a recurring bad behavior and bad habits that are anchored and almost impossible to manage, a parents guide with parenting advices isn’t enough as what your child needs right now is a different, consistent and coherent parenting method.
Some parents and therapists have created parenting methods that help parents applying parenting skills step by step. These programs are very detailed and complete parents guide (or parenting programs). They present effective parenting techniques that are made easy to apply and that are guaranteed to work even on very difficult children.