Parenting Matters: Random parenting hints

Parenting is tough. Few people think a lot about it before they have a child and almost no one reads books and takes classes before a baby is part of the family. Actually, the time most people turn to books and classes is when they have a problem. So here are some random hints you can use before you have a problem or even if the problem is already here.

• Slow down. Yes, there are many things that need your attention but give it right now to the one who needs that time. Even if you are changing diapers, take the time to talk with her, kiss her and explain what you are doing. She needs to hear your words and feel your love.

• Help your child express what he is feeling. It is this openness that helps get feelings out in the open.

• Kids feel better if they cry. Crying should be OK. So don’t get upset over tears.

• Give your child your undivided attention at least some times. Put the phone down, send the other children away and listen to the one who needs this important time.

• Try to be a good mother or father, not a supermom or superdad. Even just trying to be a better parent is a great goal.

• A happy mom means a happy baby. Don’t let guilt take away your positive feelings about your parenting. It’s OK to say you were wrong in something you did or said and it even sets a good example. Just don’t overdo the guilt on yourself.

• Pay attention to the effort your child makes. If you are proud of the effort, let him know you are proud. That sends the message to him that he can feel proud, too. Too many times we hope for perfection when we should hope for improvement.

• Encourage her individuality. She is not a copy of you even if that is what you hoped for. Encourage her to be herself.

• Let him be in charge. I don’t mean in charge of everything but things that he can control are great for him to practice on. Look around for the ways you can let the control go to him.

• Help her handle frustrations. She is guaranteed to contend with little frustrations in her life. When you see her dealing with them, acknowledge the frustration and help her move ahead. When she is building the tower of blocks and they fall, help her start again.

• Build trust with your child. This is one of the most important relationships you will ever have in life. Help your child to trust you. Trust means doing what you said you will do.

• Be consistent. Even that builds trust and it also helps your child feel safe and secure. Mean what you say. All of this decreases his anxiety and teaches him to believe what you say.

• Pick your battles. Lots of things are best ignored.

• Don’t tell her how to feel about life. Accept her feelings as they are because no matter what, in time those feelings will pass.

• Trust him to make decisions that are appropriate for his age.

• Watch out for fights. Disagreements are OK but fights aren’t. Help her learn the difference.

• Don’t make everything a crisis. Teach him to roll with the punches.

• Give her fair warning so she can be prepared. If the next time she hits her brother and you have said she will have to write about appropriate responses to disagreements, make sure you have her write about it. If you have said the next time she will not be allowed to have a friend over, then don’t let her have a friend over.

• Never forget the importance of hugs and kisses. You are teaching her to give them back to you and that is very important.



Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and director of Parenting Matters Foundation, which publishes newsletters for parents, caregivers and grandparents. Reach Martin at or at 681-2250.


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