Parenting is tough. And if you feel like you’re not sure your efforts are making a difference, you’re not alone. However, your efforts do have an impact. Here are 12 ways you can make a real difference with your kids:
Show love. It sounds simple, but the more your children feel loved by you, the more they will listen to you and learn from you. Kids of all ages need reassurance that you love them, and younger children in particular need physical affection. Respect that teenagers might want to keep displays of affection private from their friends, but remember they still need to hear “I love you.”
Do your best. Your children look to you as a role model and it is your responsibility to be the best role model they see. The adage, “Do as I say, not as I do,” doesn’t work, especially with teenagers! Your children will do as you do, so make sure the things you “do” reflect the best version of yourself.
Talk with your children. As a parent, you will need to have difficult conversations with your children. Your natural response may be to slip into lecture mode, which is often ineffective. Talk with your children, not at them. Ask open-ended questions to gain their input, and show respect for their opinions.
Lighten up. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Pinterest fails happen and it’s okay to laugh at yourself when that DIY painting project looks more like a toddler’s finger paint project instead of a Cherry Blossom tree. In fact, hang it up in your garage to remind yourself to laugh when things don’t go as planned.
Spend time together. It may not feel like it now, but the eighteen years you get with your kids go by quickly. Be intentional about spending time with your children. Set weekly traditions such as Fast Food Fridays or Family Movie Night. Your children will remember these traditions well into adulthood.
Celebrate every success. Children thrive when praised so acknowledge the good things your child does. Academic and athletic success may seem obvious, but don’t forget to celebrate character moments such as when your child shares a toy or is kind to another person. Those moments matter just as much and should be celebrated.
Admit your mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. Don’t be embarrassed by your own mistakes; instead show your children what you learned from your mistake and how it will help you make better decisions in the future. When your child makes a mistake, initiate a conversation that allows your child to talk about what happened and what they could do next time that would result in a different outcome.
Keep your promises. It is better to say I will try instead of Yes to your children. Don’t make promises you can’t keep, but also realize that life happens. There will be times when you cannot fulfill a promise you made to your children. What is most important in those moments is to sincerely apologize without making excuses. Modelling a proper apology will teach your child a valuable life skill.
Ask before sharing on social. You have a camera on you at all times which allows you to digitally document much of your children’s life. As tempting as it may be to immediately share those moments to social media, ask permission of your child first. What might be a cute and funny moment to you may be really embarrassing to your child. Establishing social sharing boundaries teaches your child to pause before they post.
Respect your children. Your children are a reflection of you, but they are not you. They may have different opinions on matters or develop a different belief system. They may love pickles on their peanut butter sandwiches, and you may find that repulsive. Remember, just because something is different doesn’t make it wrong. When you respect your children, they will learn to respect others and gain confidence in themselves.
Discipline with love. It is important to build a positive connection with your children when disciplining. Instead of removing privileges, consider implementing positive actions for your child to complete. For example, if your child is dishonest, have your child write you and anyone else impacted by the dishonesty a letter of apology. By doing this, your child has to think about how his actions negatively affected others.
Think positive. The research is clear, the benefits of positive thinking is one of the greatest contributors to improved health and well-being. When you choose to have a positive attitude, you’ll naturally take an optimistic approach to life which is contagious to others. Find ways to incorporate positivity into your day, such as a daily affirmation or writing in a gratitude journal.
Director of External Relationsat Safe Sitter, Inc.
Amanda first discovered a desire for nonprofit marketing while in college. She has been with Safe Sitter® since 2013 and enjoys the broad range of responsibilities her position allows. Her blended family of six children and two dogs turns most ordinary tasks into an adventure.