It’s often lamented that children don’t come with instruction manuals. Parenting is tough and we all try our absolute best. A reactive style of parenting, however, may actually be working against our best intentions. Even though there isn’t an official booklet to explain how to raise a healthy, happy, and well-adjusted child, these seven simple steps will help you become the master parent you always knew you could be.
Teach your children to respect limits and responsibilities with these three parenting tactics.
- Game theory is a problem-solving method that pits players against each other in a motivation-based race to success. Parents can use game theory to reduce arguments and increase voluntary cooperation almost instantly. Use a “chore auction” to solve dilemmas between competing siblings. Young ones who want to watch different shows at the same time, for example, can bid for the privilege by offering to do extra chores. The one who is willing to give the most effort receives the reward.
- Establish a list of family rules. Include corresponding consequences for breaching those standards. Post these lists together where everyone in the family can see them. An appropriate consequence for a child who refuses to do his chores would be the loss of his gaming system for a short period.
- Boundary issues are a huge driver of family disagreements. Help your child understand the importance of respecting others’ boundaries by emphasizing empathy. Talk to them about their own emotions and how their actions affect other people.
Communication Is Key
Help your young one express their complex emotions with these simple adjustments to your daily routine.
- Spend unstructured alone time with your child on a regular basis. Talk about what interests them, how they’re doing in school, and other topics they enjoy. The only agenda during this time is to make a real connection with your child. According to a recent study, it doesn’t matter how long your special time lasts. The important thing is that you remain focused on your child as an independent person.
- Hold periodic family meetings to discuss common issues like chore assignments, scheduling, and dinner plans. Give everyone a voice and a responsibility during these meetings. Younger children can gather up writing supplies while teens assist in recording vital meeting data.
- Even in extreme situations, listen to your child’s point of view. What we see as a foolish decision may actually be a brave attempt at something new. If you need to, walk away or take a few deep breathes to steady yourself before responding to a disobedient child.
The single most important tool any parent can have in their kit is consistency. Being consistent with rules, consequences, and expectations eliminate confusion and build a sense of stability and safety. Parents who stick to their word experience less obstinate or unwanted behaviors.
No one is perfect. However, as you grow and evolve with your child, these simple steps will reduce conflict in your family and make parenting easier and more enjoyable.