Parenting is a scary topic. Most parents want to do the right thing, but busy schedules and complex issues make it difficult to know what is the right response to their child’s inappropriate behavior. The general rule is to always anticipate negative behaviors and head them off before they occur. You also want to seek a relationship with your child that encourages your child wanting to please you. By interacting with your child in a supportive and ongoing fashion you will develop a relationship built on trust. Your child sees you are attentive, responsive, attuned and sensitive to his needs and this will encourage good behavior and discourage bad behavior. At the same time, however, always be aware of a negative behavior due to your child being tired, hungry or feeling alone. In these situations the best thing you can do is to respond to the basic needs of food, safety, warmth and security and allow the behavior issue to resolve itself.
If you are successful in these general rules your next step is to move up to the four C’s: competent, committed, consistent and confident parenting. In order to become a competent parent you should reach out to those you admire and ask for advice and suggestions about parenting tips and techniques. Read parenting books, blogs and articles or take a parenting course. Read about child development and always remember to look inside yourself to understand the choices and decisions you make. Learning how to manage your own emotions, deal with disappointment or frustration and examine your ability to have full and meaningful relationships with others. These are the initial steps to become a competent parent.
To become a committed and consistent parent you must evaluate your expectations about parenting and then determine your ability to follow through with your desires. What are your core parenting beliefs? What behaviors do you support? What actions are you willing to take? When are you willing to take them? How willing are you to pursue the actions and results you desire? Are you ready and able to follow through with your goals and objectives? Most parents have difficulty with limit setting even though they know the setting of age appropriate limits is associated with positive behavioral outcomes for children. Limit setting builds trust and a respect for consequences. Children raised by parents who are committed to consistent limits are better able to delay gratification and wait for something they want. They get along better with peers and are more confident in social situations.
To become a confident parent you must believe in yourself. You must become empowered by your knowledge and actions to believe you are the best parent you can be. This knowledge will allow you to project assertiveness to your child with your facial expression, gestures, tone and rate of speech and eye contact. Before you redirect your child go through a set routine to practice what you are about to do. This allows you to be prepared for what you are about to do and allows you to find a comfortable rhythm and mind set. Always consider enlisting the support of others concerning your actions. When doing something new or difficult it is helpful to have the support of someone you trust and love. Have a weekly parenting review with your spouse to support each other. Be available to receive a phone call or text message from a spouse who needs your immediate support. The simple act of hearing someone tell you they believe in you builds confidence. Another tip is to stop what you are doing and maintain eye contact with your child during a parenting interaction. Your body position and gaze will show him you are engaged and this interaction is important to you. Stop moving or fidgeting. When parents redirect children they often are uneasy with the interaction and their body movements show it. Talk in a smooth and controlled fashion. Avoid signs of excess emotion including talking too fast, too slow or too loud. Stand or sit upright with your shoulders back, head up and your arms uncrossed. You will look and feel more confident.
As a parent if you follow these general rules much of the fear of parenting will dissolve and be replaced with the confidence that consistent, committed and competent parents feel every day. So start now. You can turn these C’s into A’s.