Parenting is a job that never ends. If you’ve taken on this job, you need to congratulate yourself. You are responsible for the well-being of another human being.
Parents have a tremendous impact on a child — at present and in the future. Remember Freud? It’s true the way we relate to our parents is how we learn to relate to the world as adults.
I find a lot of parents want to be perfect. If you feel this way, you are setting yourself up for failure.
Nobody is perfect. You set the example of the need for perfection for your child. This is unrealistic and can cause problems down the road.
I also find that children are way overbooked these days. Your child doesn’t have to do everything now. They have a whole lifetime to fulfill their dreams.
Here are 10 easy ways to be a fantastic parent (while staying mostly sane):
1. Don’t try to fix everything.
Give your child a chance to find their own solutions (depending on their age, of course). It’s alright to acknowledge that they’re frustrated, simply by saying “I see you are frustrated.”
This will help in the future. They will gain more confidence in themselves.
2. Play with your child.
Play is your child’s language. Gear the type of play based on their age. Toddlers love to be touched and jump around, so allow them the space to do so. Example? A wooden ice cream cart allows for creative expression and imaginative make-believe as they experiment with flavors, toppings, and more.
I know that almost all children love video games, which is alright if they are the non-violent type and they don’t play them for more than an hour a day. But, they don’t always allow a parent to play with them. Try some board games.
I have two nephews ages 4 and 6, who love to play Junior Monopoly. I love to hear them talk about the game and what they’re learning as they play. Play is one of the best ways to connect with a child.
3. Cheer the good stuff.
Let your child know when they are doing something helpful or nice. Cheer them on with enthusiasm.
When a child is young, they learn how to behave by the response of their parents. If they picked up their toys outside, let them know you are glad they did it. This will help reinforce good behavior.
4. Respect parenting differences.
It’s important to support your spouse’s parenting style, as long as it’s not out of line. We all come from different backgrounds and have different ideas about parenting.
If your spouse thinks it’s important they take on a few chores, then be supportive. When you argue or criticize one another in front of your child, you can actually do more harm than good.
5. Savor the moments.
I know parenting is the most exhausting job on the planet. Your house is a mess, the dishes are stacked up in the sink, and now your dog needs to go for a walk. When does it end?
But, your child just laughed and gave you the cutest smile. Enjoy that at the moment. This will help you think fondly of your child.
6. Get kids moving.
The latest research has shown that there’s a link between brain development and activity. Don’t let the T.V. be the babysitter. Children can sit and watch T.V. for hours if you let them.
Let your toddler walk, rather than you carrying them or being in the stroller. Make sure to create opportunities for your child to exercise as they get older. Let them play and run around outside.
Not only will they get exercise, but they will also get natural light. This is a great way to get Vitamin D, which we all need.
7. Don’t be afraid to take charge.
Children want and need limits. This actually lets them know that you love and care for them. This can also help them make sense of a confusing world.
Try to be consistent and let them know what the boundaries are. For example, what time do they need to be home after school? When do their chores need to be done?
8. Read books together every day.
It’s great to start this when you have a newborn. Babies love to hear your voice. They may not understand your words, but they pick up on tones and body language.
Cuddling up with your child and a great book is a great way to bond. Read them a story when you are getting ready to tuck them into bed. They love this.
Whenever I do this for my nephews, they don’t want me to stop. They always bring a few books.
9. Schedule daily special time.
I know you are busy. But, carve out 15-20 minutes a day to spend with your child. This is a great way to show your love. This can be when your child gets home from school.
Ask them how their day was? Ask lots of questions. This will let them know you are genuinely interested in their life. Make sure to wait for the answers.
10. Give yourself a break.
Ordering a pizza when you’re too tired to cook doesn’t make you a bad parent. You aren’t Superwoman and your kids don’t expect you to be. We all make mistakes.
I often tell parents that good parents make mistakes. What’s important is that you learn from your mistakes. This also teaches your child that it’s alright to make mistakes.
There you go. Simple, right?
I know parenting can change on a daily basis. I also know your parenting style changes and your child gets older. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or reach out.
All parents struggle at times. The more you talk about your struggles, the more you will see you aren’t alone.
Lianne Avila is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. She loves working with children and families. For more information, please go to Lessons for Love.
This article was originally published at Lessons for Love. Reprinted with permission from the author.