Any new or repeat parent knows that raising children is one of the most demanding, and yet one of the most fulfilling jobs in the world. First-time parents, especially, know the sinking dread of feeling ill-prepared for the job at hand. Child rearing seems like it should be the easiest thing in the world, but given the complexity and impressionability of the person on the other side of the equation, its easy to start feeling overwhelmed. Below, we’ve outlined some of the universal steps that can be followed to insure that your attempts at parenting are successful:
LEARN TO FOSTER YOUR CHILD’S SELF-ESTEEM
“Self” is a very complex psychological topic that could take up several books in its own right. Children start developing their sense of self as babies, when they see themselves through the eyes of their parents for the first time. Your body language, your tone of voice, and your expressions are all things that are hungrily soaked up by your child during these initial months. Thus, it’s crucial that you pay heed to how your words and actions are capable of affecting your child’s self-esteem more than anything else.
Learn to praise praiseworthy accomplishments of your children, reinforcing only those actions that will truly make them into better human beings. Avoid making negative offhand comments or statements, and never use words as weapons. Things like telling children off for the seeming “stupidity” of their actions or the “inferiority: of their efforts are surefire recipes for failure that should be avoided at all costs. Above all else, learn to be careful, compassionate, and emphatic. Teach your children that you accept them in spite of their mistakes, and that you are not above mistakes yourself.
LEARN TO CATCH YOUR CHILDREN OFF GUARD WHEN THEY’RE BEING GOOD
Instead of praising your child whenever they do something praiseworthy in front of you, while they know they’re being supervised, you should strive to praise your children for the good actions that they did behind your back. Cut back on criticism, and maximize compliments that are well deserved. Make a point of finding new and praiseworthy actions that your child did each day, and teach them the value of what they did. The idea is to raise a child that is autonomous, that carries out good deeds for the sake of the inherent goodness of the deeds themselves, instead of a child that only does good to get the appraiser reward that comes along with it.
BE CONSISTENT IN THE WAY YOU SET LIMITS AND ENFORCE THEM
Fairness and discipline are two often-misunderstood concepts in parenting. While discipline is absolutely necessary in every household, the point of discipline is not to raise you children like a drill sergeant in a boot camp. Instead, children simply need to learn what counts as acceptable behavior, and what doesn’t. They need to be imbued with the means to manage their emotions and control themselves on their own, and not just when there’s somebody watching them. If you can manage these two things, then you’ve succeeded at disciplining your children.