Eight parenting principles for happier and healthier families
There’s no perfect way to parent. Having children means embracing the unpredictability of life. When you have principles to help guide the way you raise your kids and build your family, you’re better able to stay consistent throughout the ebbs and flows of life.
Your family will grow with each passing year. Just as your kids will experience growing pains as they grow taller, your family will go through growing pains as you learn new lessons together. With every endeavor comes missteps, wrong turns, and entirely wrong directions.
When your values are clarified, a strong foundation of guidance provides an anchor when everything feels up in the air. These values help clarify the expectations by which you and your family operate.
By acting according to values, you’ll raise children into adults who also have their own set of values. Clarity of values provides a canvas on which to build a life one can be proud of. The benefits of these values present themselves and foster a stronger ability to implement positive habits and think positively.
Set expectations that are both challenging and achievable
Based on your values, you can decide on the way you expect each member of your family to behave. Allow your children to be a part of this conversation and decide upon consequences that are related to the expectation.
Make the line between peer and parent very clear
Though it is tempting to be well-liked rather than respected, remember that you’re a parent and not a friend. This doesn’t mean you can’t get along with or have fun with your child. It does mean you need to have clear boundaries.
Boundaries help solidify expectations and they clarify the consequences of behavior. You may sometimes get a negative reaction from your child when they’re faced with frustration towards you. Part of your job is to teach stability in times of anger or disagreement. You can model this with your child by remaining calm and patient.
Prepare your child for the real world by teaching him about the natural consequences of behavior. Remain both consistent and considerate – firm, but fair.
When your child knows the importance of taking responsibility for his actions, he will be cognizant of his behavior.
Remind your child of the real-life consequences of his behavior by providing consequences to negative behavior that are related to the event. For example, if your child steals from someone, a corresponding consequence may including making verbal and financial amends.
Reward above-and-beyond behavior with positive praise and acknowledgement. Think of a specific success and outline the qualities that helped your child get that success.
Talk before you punish
When your child does not meet your expectations, consequences follow naturally. However, before implementing these consequences be sure to have a conversation about the issue. Your child may have a different view of the situation.
If you can communicate with your child about his consequences, he is better able to make informed decisions in the future.
Let your children take risks and find their own way through mistakes
You’re responsible for your child’s health and safety. You are not responsible for saving your child from every failure and hurdle they face. Encourage him to take responsibility for himself by looking at the mistake he has made and learning what he can from it.
Step in when your child is in danger or suffering. As your child gets older, you can put more responsibility on her to ask for help and find her way to her own solution. Look to your values to direct you in times of distress for your child.
Letting your child learn from failure does not mean giving up hope
Your child will be as prosperous and successful as you believe he can be. When you believe in the potential of your child, she will, too. When you act as though your child will be successful, he will feel encouraged to meet those expectations.
If you notice consistent missteps, it may be more difficult to maintain patience and hope. However, these are the times when your child needs you to believe in him the most.
Teach gratitude, live gratefully
Intentionally choosing 15 minutes per day being grateful has numerous benefits. It lowers stress levels and increases empathy. Gratitude helps improve sleep patterns and it nurtures self-compassion.
Expressing gratitude of your family helps strengthen the familial bonds between each member of the family. When we are grateful, we are more aware of the present moment and we enjoy the company of our loved ones on a deeper level.
Invest in memories, not TVs
Step away from screens and take an active role in your family and create happy memories with unique experiences. Learn something new, be of service, or just act silly and have fun by playing games. These precious bonding moments cannot be replaced.
Emotional intelligence is a key to a loving and supportive household
The ability to identify emotions and express them appropriately is a skill that is best taught by you. Your children will learn how to behave emotionally based on the way you regulate your own emotions. You can have honest conversations with your child about true emotions.
When difficult emotions present themselves, you can help them gather a collection of coping skills that they can use in future times of fear or confusion.
Choose your priorities, imagine your happy family, and take action. Raising healthy kids and building a happy home comes from your heart and permeates every member of your family. Enjoy the love and support of a healthy family while implementing new skills to help your family grow and move forward together.