Most people want to be good parents. They want to be special, loving, loved and effective. But what does that mean? What makes a good parent?
There are guidelines on what makes a good parent. Many of the attributes of a good parent are clear, but at times are easily forgotten.
Take a look at some of the basics of good parenting:
• Be loving towards your child. Let him hear that you love him. Spend time with him doing fun things that show your love for him. Read together. Talk together. Play together.
• Be reasonable in your expectations of him. Think about what you are asking him to do. Is it appropriate for his age? Make sure you expect something from him to help him learn to have responsibility. These expectations frequently begin with cleaning his room.
• Are you aware that parenting behavior is a model for a child’s behavior? Give some serious thought to this before you do the wrong thing to or with your child. You are his model.
• Set aside time on a regular basis to do something fun with your child. It is easy to get too busy to do this, yet it is essential.
• Instead of telling your child what not to do, teach and show him what he should do. This takes some extra time but it is worth it. It keeps the relationship on a positive basis.
• Let your child know when he does the right thing as well as the wrong thing. Too many parents only criticize and forget the praise side.
• Praise behavior that comes closer to the desired goal. Let your child know that you see when he makes progress. Even effort toward a goal is worth commenting on.
• Use a soft, confident tone of voice to correct your child when he is upset. Avoid yelling at him because that only teaches him to yell.
• Be firm. Don’t be angry.
• Parents who are able to work out their conflicts and disagreements through calm discussions rather than heated arguments become healthy role models. Demonstrate the traits you want to develop in your child such as kindness, compassion, honesty, respectfulness, tolerance, patience, honesty and love.
• Help your child learn to express how he feels. Comment to him: “You seem frustrated.” “Are you upset?” “You look like you are angry about that.” Then listen carefully and with understanding as he explains. Don’t rush him. That will teach him to just not tell you how he is feeling.
• Try to see a situation the way your child does. Listen carefully to him. Think about how this is impacting him.
• Be a good listener. Use good eye contact. Get down physically to the level of your child. Don’t interrupt him. Ask open-ended questions because you don’t want “yes” or “no” answers. Repeat back to him what you heard him say to make sure you are on the same page.
• Make sure he understands directions you give to him. Have him repeat them back to you.
• The old saying, “Patience really is a virtue,” is really right. It is quality parents need to develop. You need to be patient as your child learns what is important in life and what is important to you. Encourage your own quality of patience and that will help him learn to develop this quality in himself.
When parents are good parents, it helps the child develop qualities such as honesty, empathy, self-control, self-reliance, cooperation, cheerfulness and kindness, and instills in them the motivation to achieve. The role of a good parent is also to protect their child from developing psychological problems, such as depression, anxiety and anti-social behavior, which increases the risk of substance abuse and physical problems.
The skills you bring to parenting today will be evident in your child tomorrow. Take the time it needs to be a good parent. The payoff is really important for both of you.
Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and former executive director of Parenting Matters Foundation, which publishes newsletters for parents, caregivers and grandparents. Reach Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org.