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7 Rules of Effective Parenting
Many parents these days, good ones excluded, are failing at raising and disciplining their children. There are a lot of evidence in our communities to back this statement. We cannot expect teachers at school to do a parent's job and we can definitely not put the blame on single-parenting or busy work schedules. To me it sounds like an easy way out. I am a single mom myself and I know it's not always easy raising young men and women, but we parents have to put in the effort and stick to it. Children must also know that there are rules and that they can't always get what they want. Family psychologist John Rosemond once wrote, "Children require a regular dose of what I call Vitamin N. Hint: it's the most character-building two-letter word in the English language." Below are a few tips on what parents should do to raise confident, responsible children:
1. Be your children's parent, not their pal. A child really needs a leader, not a friend. Some parents too often play 'the companion'. Admonishments from parents like "Say please and thank you" and "Eat your vegetables" become less frequent since friends do not lecture friends. I have read about one father's shock when he learned that his nine-year-old daughter who went to sleep over at a friend's house, ended up in a bar at midnight because the mother wanted to party and just took the girls along. It's unbelievable how irresponsible some parents can get! Mothers and fathers should stop thinking that they are supposed to be their child's friend. Good parenting involves setting limits and making rules, period.
2. Start disciplining early. When children are young parents are easily tempted to put off chores until their children are older, rather than going through the foot dragging and "I don't want to". If you wait too long, and suddenly out of the blue demand that they make their beds or take out the trash, you can be sure to meet resistance. Then, by the time children are ten or eleven they are perceived as spoiled brats. The problem is that for years these children didn't have responsibilities and no didn't really mean no. No meant "maybe", or if you bother me enough "yes".
Also, some parents are usually submissive, but when under stress or tired suddenly slip into domination. This confuses and frustrates the child. Therefore children need consistent authority.
Experts warn against negotiating, when a child says for example, "I'll clean my room if you do or give me what I want". This puts the child in control, rather than the parents.
3. Spend enough time with your children. Parents may love their children, but very often they're too busy with work or their own activities like playing golf, working out at the gym or being social with friends. When they are available they spend so called "quality time" with their kids. Many experts believe that quality time has been oversold. It is believed that children who spend more time with their parents do better. Teenagers, for instance, are likely to want to talk about a problem when they are thinking of it. They can't wait until late in the evening when parents return home from activities. Teens do appreciate quality time, although it cannot replace availability. My son is turning 12 this year. He loves the fact that I, a stay-at-home-mom, am able pick him up from school. He used to hate going to aftercare. I am also thankful that I can be there for him.
4. Supervise and limit the use of electronics. Unfortunately popular culture has superseded the family, school and religion in providing sex education to our children. The traditional values of adults are undermined. The television in many cases acts as a "baby-sitter" when parents are otherwise occupied and some parents encourage computer games as an alternative to television. Many computer games involve harming other characters in the game. Vicious circle? There is a solution, though. Parents need to get tough and not allow children, especially when they are small, to watch television or play video games for more than two hours a day. Too much of anything is bad for kids. Shows that they watch or video games that they play must be monitored by parents.
5. Know what your child is up to at all times. Now, I see this in our neighbourhood frequently. Kids from the age of ten and sometimes younger roam the streets especially over weekends doing who knows what. Empty houses serve as a space for druggies to hang out. Latchkey children are left to their own devices after school, while mom and dad are at work. Unsupervised kids at home are a big problem because they are more likely to engage in substance abuse and sexual indulgence. However, there are children of working parents who do quite well. Their secret is to get their children involved in constructive afterschool activities with the help of family, friends and neighbours.
6. Praise real achievements. Contrary to popular belief, building self-esteem is not the answer to all childhood problems. If young kids aren't good at something, they shouldn't be treated as champions (neither be made to feel worthless). Real self-esteem derives from achieving something challenging. Receiving awards, for participation only, might send the message that you do not actually have to put in the effort, ever. Some parents may not agree with me on this and that's okay. The point is that we need to praise genuine accomplishments. It's so important. If parents protect children too much, they will never develop the capacity to overcome challenges which is exactly what we as parents and /or caregivers don't want, right?
7. Work at your marriage and stay together. It is said that the most fundamental thing two parents can do to ensure their children grow up well-asjusted is for them to stay together and love eachother. Nothing comes close according to experts. Children need the example of a positive relationship modelled to them. They learn from what they see and experience. Now, I am a single mom and in the past, whenever I read this advice somewhere it used to stir panick inside of me. I used to think to myself, "Will my child turn out ill-adjusted due to the absence of a father in his life?" I don't worry about that anymore. Instead I focus on all the positive male rolemodels he does have in his life - at home (friends family and neighbours), church and school.
· John Dorschner
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