10 From GEM:
10 Habits Of Highly Effective Parents
Good parenting is not for the faint-hearted. Although every parent will make mistakes, there are many things we can do to have strong, functional families. The goal isn’t to be perfect. (What is perfection, anyway?) The goal is to do the best we can to raise our kids to be happy, responsible adults and to learn what we don’t know to facilitate our kids’ growth. We’ve compiled some of the actions that are characteristics of quality parenting. Read on for 10 habits of highly effective parents.
1. KNOW WHERE YOU WANT TO GO
It’s easier to plan a trip knowing where you want to go. You figure out things like how to get there, how much money you’ll need, and what to take with you. Effective parenting is the same way. When you know where you want your family to be, whether it’s in the next 12 hours or the next 12 years, you can create a plan of action to get there. Your journey as a family will be much more fulfilling when you have a roadmap.
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2. COLLABORATE MORE
You need to be out of the house 10 minutes ago and your son is dragging his feet. You might yell, threaten, or cajole because it’s effective for the moment. There are times when parents will have to bend kids to their will. But later on, look for opportunities to collaborate instead of command. It’s more effective for you and your son to negotiate strategies to get out of the house faster. He will feel like he has control over his own life when he’s part of the conversation about it. In the end, you’ll save time and energy and you will be building a positive relationship with your son.
3. BE FLEXIBLE
There are far more shades of gray than black-and-white when it comes to effective parenting. Be wise enough to quickly throw out solutions that don’t have the same power they used to. Effective parents pay attention to the different stages their children are in and adjust family life accordingly. You have to do what works for your family.
4. BE TOGETHER
We’re always parenting, but there are times when it happens naturally and when we least expect it. This is why it’s so important for parents to make time for their kids. Sometimes it helps to schedule a special night to be together as a family or to be spend time with one child individually. Some families get together at meal times as schedules allow—maybe every day for breakfast or once a week for Saturday brunch or Sunday dinner. Other families take walks together. It really doesn’t matter what you do—sometimes having no plan at all is just fine. The point is that effective parents make an effort to spend time with their kids listening and learning more about them.
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5. DISCIPLINE YOUR CHILDREN
Simply put, discipline is training people to obey rules or codes of behavior. While that sounds harsh, discipline doesn’t have to be military-level in order to be worthwhile. Discipline is necessary in every household and for every child. Whatever methods you choose, they should be compassionate and consistent and give correction. Effective parents are slow to anger and they certainly don’t hold grudges against their children or remind them of “that time when you (insert bad behavior here).” Discipline is offering clear and reasonable guidelines and allowing children to make choices. They will make mistakes and effective parents are right there to patiently guide their moral and ethical development.
6. TELL THE TRUTH
Speaking the truth to children all the time is hard. Sometimes we feel little lies are necessary to protect our kids’ safety or innocence. Sometimes we lie because answering truthfully might lead to uncomfortable questions or to subject matter that kids are not mature enough to handle. We don’t intend to be deceptive, but that’s exactly the outcome. It’s better to say you don’t know if that’s the case or to keep your responses short. There are times when it works well to tell your children that you will give them a response after you take time to think about the best way to explain. Ultimately, being a person that your children know they can trust and come to with the truth themselves is a key to effective parenting.
7. TEACH RESPONSIBILITY
One of the biggest favors we can do for our children is to teach them to take responsibility for their actions. Because this lesson is never learned after a one-time conversation, this is probably one of the least easy tasks we have. But it’s vital to kids’ self-esteem and level of competence. We want our kids to eventually become responsible adults and that starts with taking responsibility early on.
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8. LOVE UNCONDITIONALLY
The most basic need for children is that they are loved without conditions. They should know that no matter what they do—how they mess up or disappoint us—they are loved at all times. Even when they’re not being very nice, they need to know that they don’t need to impress us with angelic behavior or perfect grades. This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t be happy when our children behave well or get good grades. It is to say that effective parents show their kids that devilish behavior or failing grades could never change their love.
9. KEEP YOUR COOL
Yes, this is much easier said than done when the kids are doing all the wrong things. Still, parents should be the first to exercise self-control. How will children learn to manage their behavior if they see their parents lose it all the time? If parents know what their triggers are, they can deal with them. Parenting will make our stress level rise, but there are ways to address that. Many negative interactions with children can be eliminated or reduced when parents know how to calm themselves and control their emotions despite what the kids are saying and doing.
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10. DO WHAT YOU THINK AND FEEL IS BEST
There is no one right way to parent. There isn’t even one right way to parent different children in the same family. All parents have fears and faults, but effective parents admit them. When a family is going through difficult times, effective parents make decisions based on what they think and feel is the right course of action. Even more so, effective parents constantly challenge themselves to make the best decisions regarding each individual child.
Do you do any of these? What other great parenting techniques do you have in your arsenal?
Share your thoughts below.
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Alexis Trass Walker lives in Gary, Indiana, with her husband and four children. She is managing editor of Good Enough Mother. Read more about Alexis on her blog www.lilliebelle.org or follow her on Twitter @LillieBelle5. You can email her at alexis [at] goodenoughmother [dot] com.