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Babies and Children - For Parents
- 11 Steps to Being a Better Parent

Parenthood is always harder than anyone thinks it will be. Children learn by trying and then trying again. So do parents. Believe that you can be a good parent to your children. When you like yourself, it is easier for you to teach your children to like and trust themselves.

To grow emotionally children need to feel … Safe.

They need to know that nothing will hurt them... Secure.

They need to know that when they need care or comfort, they will get it... Loved.

They need to be told and shown that they are loved and are important to someone.
When children feel safe, secure and loved, they can become happy, independent, loved people.


11 Steps to Being a Better Parent

  1. Be a good role model- Children do as you do. You can model respect, politeness, honesty, compassion, good choices, or any other behaviour or attitude that you want them to adopt.

  2. Be clear in what you want them to do. Make sure that you have their attention before telling them what you want to happen. Check that they understand, and if not, try explaining again but use different words to describe it.

  3. Try not to make too many rules. Explain the rules clearly and stick to them once they are made.

  4. Encourage and praise good behaviour every time you see it. Misbehaviour usually gets more of our attention than good behaviour. Take the time to notice and praise good behaviour to encourage more good behaviour.

  5. Separate the child from the behaviour. You love your children but you do not always love their behaviour. Focus on the behaviour rather than the qualities of the child. For example: instead of "you are a bad boy" try "I don't like this mess in the living room"

  6. When correcting a behaviour or making a request, explain the reason for it. When they know the reason for it they may comply quicker, or maybe not. But over time they learn that behaviour has effects and consequences. They also learn to see the point of view of other people.

  7. Keep emotion out of it. All parents get tired and frustrated sometimes. When children are misbehaving at the same time that is a bad combination. Before you react count to 10, take a deep breath, and think about what you are going to say. Keep your voice down; children ignore yelling if all they hear is yelling. Make requests in a normal tone of voice and use words, not volume, to get your point across. When yelling is used only for emergency situations, like chasing a ball into busy traffic, they will take notice.

  8. Give chances to choose but not wide-open choice. Setting up a choice between two options that are acceptable to you is more likely to get you what you want instead of a refusal.

  9. Expect what is reasonable. Set your expectations at a level that is consistent with the child's age and stage of development. Sometimes it looks like a child is misbehaving, when in reality she/he isn't able to meet our expectations. Children are impulsive, they cannot understand complex ideas because they have an inconsistent memory and attention span. They need your help to stay on track and work along side them so that they can learn. It can be very reassuring to spend a half a day now and then at your child's daycare or volunteer in the Cub group, and see other kids act the same way as yours does.

  10. Take some time with your children and get to know them. Children may act out to get your attention: if misbehaviour is the only thing that gets attention, expect misbehaviour to continue. Life is busy and we have many demands. So we sometimes need to set aside time to play, talk of just hang out.

  11. Take a break. Parenting is hard work and you need time for yourself. Make time to be with your friends, read a book or just relax

(adapted from Yes You Can! Positive Discipline Ideas For You and Your Child; Parenting for Life Series, Toronto, ON, 1999)




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