Parenting is a job for life which comes without a rulebook, says Dr. Tanya Byron, clinical psychologist and author of "The House of Tiny Tearaways." Good parenting comes from the heart. It is consistent, loving, tough but fair, and sets a good example. Good parenting involves accepting the uniqueness of your child, and helping children to develop the confidence to enjoy being themselves. She offers the following tips for creating a positive bond with your child.
Commit to Your Child
Enhance your parent-child relationship by focusing on the following essentials:
- Love your child and praise them frequently so that they feel valued and wanted.
- Set clear boundaries so that your child knows where they stand.
- Provide them with clear routines and structure so that they feel safe and know what to expect.
- Be consistent in your approach so that they learn the behavior well.
- Reward your child for being good, trying hard or doing well to build their self-esteem.
- Follow through with clear consequences if they misbehave, so that they learn from their mistakes.
- Give them cuddles and affection at every opportunity so that they know they are loved.
Increase Your Assertiveness
An assertive parent is a confident parent who has belief in their own abilities and will earn the respect of their child:
- Use an authoritative tone of voice to rein in your child's bad behavior.
- Use body language to emphasize praise.
- Use facial expressions to emphasize what you are feeling.
- Take steps to build your confidence if your self-esteem is low.
- Get help to manage your anger if you fear you could lose control.
- Distract yourself by counting or singing to yourself to take your mind off your annoyance.
- Put a barrier between yourself and what you are experiencing.
- If you feel you are going to blow, remove yourself from the room until you have regained control.
- Remember that if you start to shout and fill your child's head with negative thoughts, your words will reinforce the negative behavior.
- Look for support.
Learn to Relax
- Control your breathing by slowing it down and breathing from your diaphragm.
- Focus on relaxing your muscles; chances are that your brow is furrowed, your neck is hunched, your shoulders are high and taut and your fists may be clenched. You're in anxious mode.
- Think about the non-verbal message that you're giving to your child. If they can see you are anxious, they will become anxious too.
- Don't expect too much from yourself.
Monitor Your Own Behavior
- Are you being negative? Do you suffer from anxiety?
- Take action to get yourself into a different frame of mind.
- Choose to feel happy.
- Begin a behavior diary and monitor what kind of impact your approach is having on your child.
- Take positive steps to change your behavior.
Not In Front of the Children
- A parent who is able to self-manage their moods and behavior will be a more positive influence on their child than one who loses control easily. Children often believe themselves to be the cause of parental anguish.
- Try not to argue in front of young children - you will frighten them.
- If you do argue, let them see you make up.
- Avoid crying or losing control in front of young children - it will alarm them. Instead, remove yourself from the room with an excuse.
- Be calm and relaxed around food and make sure meals are eaten in a stress-free environment.
- Take a unified approach to parenting with your partner or family.
Draw Up a Parenting Contract
- List the positives: what you commit to.
- List the negatives: things that are banished.
- Ask your children what they want.
- Pin it up somewhere where everyone can see it.
- Take it seriously and commit to keeping the pledge.