If only parents can get a parenting manual that comes upon the birth of their child, raising kids would be a walk in the park. However, each child is different, and it is our duty as their parents to guide them and raise them well. And while there is no magic solution to raise a child so that he/she becomes a good person, parenting plays a significant role in how they will turn out in the future.
Guidance and discipline are two things that every parent must master. They are crucial in raising a child because it teaches them to behave appropriately and make thoughtful choices. In an ideal world, we want to effectively parent a child to the point where we spend less time correcting their misbehaviors. But we all know that it’s not going to be easy, although this doesn’t mean that it’s impossible.
Identify the Answers to Whys
The first skill that you should master is listening. To be an effective parent, you have to be open-minded enough to hear your child first before reacting and doing something. This will help you realize the underlying problem and why your child did something that needs correcting. Instead of immediately giving a consequence, talk to your child first to know his/her reasons.
It might seem cliche, but the most effective tool that you can use to find the balance between guidance and discipline is being attentive. And this is not only applicable to negative behaviors, but you also have to be aware and notice if your child is practicing good behaviors. Be that parent who is there to praise their child if he/she did well, so your child sees you more than just an authority.
Another mistake that we end up doing is that we fail to separate our personal issues with the problems at home. Perhaps you are already tired from work, so you ended up scolding your daughter out of something that is easily preventable using a calm demeanor.
Always be realistic with your expectations, especially if your child is unaware yet of what should be his/her proper reaction to a certain situation. If he/she does not know why his/her behavior is incorrect, help them understand why it’s wrong and what is appropriate. Often, your child didn’t do things on purpose.
Find Out What is Your Parenting Style
Ideally, we want to get the perfect balance between discipline and guidance. Too much of either is not going to be effective because you will either be too loose or too suffocating. Therefore, you have to know what is your parenting style and be aware of what are their possible outcomes. We can differentiate parenting into four styles, and they are authoritarian, authoritative, permissive, and neglectful. However, you may not fall into just one category.
An authoritarian parenting style, from the name itself, aims for the child to follow them immediately. If you are authoritarian, you aren’t really allowing your child to have other choices because you value obedience. While using this style leads to an orderly household, it can result in a child who is dependent on another figure before he/she can make a decision. At the same time, it can cause aggressiveness and even low self-esteem.
On the other hand, an authoritative parent is somehow similar because he/she is firm about following rules and guidelines. However, this style is more reasonable because you are also encouraging your child to communicate and reason with you.
This way, he/she is not as dependent on you, and the child has the ability to control his/her own impulses. If you want to balance guidance and discipline, this is the best parenting style because you are granting your child independence but is also setting limits fairly and firmly.
The last two parenting styles, which are permissive and neglectful are not as excellent as an authoritative parent. However, there are instances where parents ended up applying them. For example, a permissive parent does not have a specific structure. Therefore, there are no rules to follow, which can lead to children being irresponsible.
Lastly, a neglectful parent is the complete opposite of an authoritarian simply because they are in no way involved in their child’s life. As you can assume, this will lead to many challenges later in life, including trust and self-esteem issues.
Learn How to Set Consequences
This is probably one of the areas where parenting gets difficult. How are we able to know what’s the right way to set consequences? Gone are the days where parents need to punish their children. Nowadays, the right way to redirect your child towards good behaviors is by setting the appropriate discipline and guidance strategies.
According to the AAP, the best way to discipline a child is by using a positive approach. What this means is that always maintain a calm behavior when you’re teaching your child what is right and what is wrong. You have to explain why there will be consequences if your child won’t behave and be prepared with how you’re going to follow through with the consequence.
For example, you can choose from natural and logical consequences, and see which approach is more appropriate. A natural consequence would be something like hiding a toy away from your child. This is the consequence if he/she still doesn’t follow you when you say that he/she should always keep the toy properly after playing. What your child learns from this is that he/she has to find a way to replace the toy that is now gone.
A logical consequence, on the other hand, allows your child to see how a consequence is directly related to his/her behavior. It can be a structure of consequences such as not being allowed to go out on another time if he/she missed a curfew.
You can also try redirection and time out if both strategies seem to fail. Redirection is using another request in order for your child to follow you. If he/she isn’t doing a chore, you can introduce another activity masked as something else.
Time-outs are also useful, especially when a child is old enough to think and reflect on why his/her action is unacceptable. However, remember that one minute for each year of a child’s age is the appropriate time limit for a time-out.
Be Consistent With Your Rules
The last rule for effective parenting is actually being consistent with the rules themselves. For example, I found myself reading this guide about finding the best alarm clocks to wake children up. Waking children, especially early in the morning for school, is certainly not easy. But putting them in a consistent pattern including the time to sleep and wake up everyday programs them to follow through a rule.
This is also applicable to your parenting styles and how you set consequences. If you are always changing the way you discipline and guide your child, you will never get your desired behavioral change. Chances are your child will get confused because he/she feels like whatever he/she does is never going to be enough for mom or dad.
Parenting takes practice and time to get used to. There are days where we make mistakes, as well. However, don’t let that discourage you and think that you’ve failed as a parent. Recognize your shortcomings and be prepared next time.