Learning is a continuous process. You learn and unlearn every day, conscious and subconsciously. And just like any other practice, parenting too can be learnt gradually and with experience. In fact every time parents have a new child, they realize how different children have to be treated a bit differently.
To learn the basics of parenting read upon different articles and books on parenting. Also, watch out for people who you know are good parents and learn from them. And while doing so bear the points mentioned below. Remember, nothing can teach you better than experiences – of yours and others too.
You are the Role Model
Remember the debate on nature versus nurture you read about in university? Yes, there are some inborn characteristics in humans that inherit genetically. The rest of attributes develop as a person grows along watching others around. Researches state that by the age of 13 ’… (a) young person acquires self-certainty as opposed to self-doubt and experiments…’. Your job as a parent is to make extra effort to present yourself as a great role model for your children before they reach 13 years of age. Practically displays the attributes you want your child to adopt such as justice, honestly, generosity, ambitiousness, etc.
Spend Quality Time
This one might sound too much of a cliché but the value of this cannot be overstressed enough. Especially the turn of the millennium has exponentially increased the intrusion of technology in our lives. You can be talking to your child not knowing he/she is mentally away with some friend whom he/she is chatting with on SMS. In fact you yourself might be the one addicted to the idiot box, unable to spend quality time with your child(ren).
To make sure you do spend quality time with your child, set a time when you know will be feasible for both you and your child. It can be the time before going to bed, evenings in the garden or any other time when you and your child have the energy to intellectually engage.
Clarify and Communicate Ideas
Remember, there are some ideas which you may not have been able to practically demonstrate because of the lack of opportunity. Talk to your child about such ideas before an urgent situation arises. For example, you can start telling your child way before he/she reaches adolescence that it is not okay for youngsters to return home from a party after 7. The earlier you communicate ideas, the more easily and readily your child will be able to understand an adopt them.
Remember a rule is a rule, and neither the parent nor the child has the authority to break it. And to induce a little bit of flexibility to your rules, make rules for special situations. For example, a normal rule would be ‘You must complete your homework every day before 6’. A rule for special occasions would be something like, ‘in case you are sick or are in pain, I will let you complete your homework over the weekend instead of today’.
Remember, always keep the consequences of your child’s actions consistent. A positive action should be followed by a positive consequence and vice versa. Any inconsistency in the parent’s actions subsequent to a situation, will lead to confusion in the young kid’s mind.
Listen to your child
Encourage your child to share with you the day’s events. For young children, mundane events too have great significance. Watch out for hints that your child might unconsciously drop while talking. Try to dig in a bit if you sense something potentially important.
Also, show your child that you are listening. Be an active listener by making gestures such as nodding and adding ohs, hmms and really’s at the right places. Show your inquisitiveness by asking questions. Remember, your child will speak to you only if he/she trusts you both as a genuine listener and as a parent who will appropriately react to what is being told to him/her if the need be.
Mike is a father of two. When he got his first child, Mike had no idea what to do and spend a lot of time learning to be a parent. When he is not looking after his kids, Mike works for an educational toys distributor, where he specialises in baby toys.