Parenting Tips San DiegoParenting is a complex and challenging task.  Parents often feel unsure of themselves and wonder if they are parenting “the right way.”  There is no particular parenting manual that can tell you exactly how to be the best parent, as children are unique and warrant different responses and strategies from their parents.  However, research has helped us understand some general strategies that are useful with all types of children to help parents get their desired results.  Here are some of those parenting techniques that have proven to be effective.

  1. Above all else, maintain patience and consistency
    It takes time for children to learn the difference between right and wrong, or appropriate versus inappropriate behaviors.  It sometimes takes them many tries before they really start to understand that certain behaviors are going to elicit positive outcomes and other behaviors elicit negative outcomes.  Be patient with your child, as they are not always going to learn these concepts or change their behavior right away.  Keep in mind, too, that your children are constantly learning from you and modeling after your behavior.  If you lose your patience and get frustrated easily, they may internalize this frustration, which can lead them to develop poor self-esteem and cause them to act out more.Moreover, it is important to maintain consistency so your child learns what to expect when he or she makes certain choices.  Consistency means that the rules and expectations are the same from one instance to another, and it gives children a sense of security and predictability.  Children who experience consistent rules are less likely to test limits and boundaries because they know they will get the same outcome every single time.
  2. Help prevent undesired behaviors.
    Parents can try to prevent negative behaviors by planning ahead, anticipating potential problems, and teaching children strategies to regulate themselves and cope with problems when they arise.  For example, parents can help pay attention to whether their child is tired or hungry to help prevent meltdowns. Parents can also help anticipate major blowups from teens by staying emotionally connected to them and empathizing with what they might be going through.
  3. Follow through on what you say.
    In order for your children to listen to anything you say, you must have credibility with them.  They must believe that there are real consequences to certain negative behaviors; otherwise, there is nothing stopping them from exhibiting those behaviors in the future. Children become impervious to threats they know won’t be followed through on. Therefore, you must only state consequences that you are fully prepared to execute. Before you declare a consequence, ensure that the consequence is realistic to implement, reasonable for you and your schedule, and relevant to the negative behavior that was exhibited. Children are going to learn to consider the consequences of their actions if they believe the consequences are really going to happen.
  4. Make the consequences count.
    When giving a consequence, make sure it is appropriate to the negative behavior exhibited so the child associates the consequence directly with the undesired behavior.  For young children, consequences need to be immediate.  Brief and immediate time-outs have been shown to be most effective, particularly when parents are also modeling positive behaviors and praising the child’s good behavior.
  5. Focus on the positive.Parenting Tips San Diego
    Children tend to act in a manner consistent with what is expected of them. If parents perceive their child as difficult and focus on negative behaviors, the child is likely to display more negative behaviors because that is what is expected of them. Moreover, children tend to seek attention, and they are likely to exhibit the behaviors that get them attention, even if the attention comes in the form of punishments or reprimands. If a negative behavior is minor and not dangerous, ignore it.In order to encourage more desired behaviors, it is important to catch your child being good and focus on the positive things he or she is doing. Even the child with the most challenging temperament has moments when he or she is doing something positive, appropriate, or right.  It is recommended that parents give five positive comments for every negative one.  It is also recommended that parents offer specific praise and feedback, as opposed to indiscriminate or random praise. This will encourage the child to continue the positive behaviors that parents desire.
  6. Communicate your expectations clearly to set them up for success.
    Children are more likely to demonstrate positive behaviors when they know what is expected of them ahead of time. Make sure your sentences are short, clear, and concise.  Your child should be able to repeat back the expectations when asked.  For example, if your children like to grab at things at the grocery store, tell them before going into the store what you expect of their behavior, what they can earn if they complete this behavior, and what the consequences are if they don’t meet the expected behaviors.  If there is something you need your child to do, state it clearly.  Make sure you state it rather than ask it.  When you ask them to do something, you leave them the option of saying “no.”
  7. Spend quality time with your children.
    Parenting is such a full time job that sometimes parents forget to simply spend quality time with their children. It can often feel like you are spending time with your children when you are driving them from point A to point B or helping them with their homework, but these moments are actually joint tasks rather than quality moments.  Experts recommend that parents spend at least one hour of quality time with their child per week. Quality time includes just being with them, acting interested in them, and expressing positive thoughts and feelings with them.  Quality time with your child not only strengthens your relationship, but it also helps feed your child’s sense of self, helps to make them feel important, and empowers them.
  8. Take care of yourself too.
    According to a 2010 APA study, children are negatively affected by parental stress.  It can feel challenging to find time for yourself when you are faced with the demands of life, but it is essential that you find time for exercise, hobbies, spending time with your partner and friends, and other personal interests so you don’t wear yourself too thin.  Think of it this way, taking time for yourself is also taking time for your kids, because it will help you be the best parent possible.  If you are facing difficult personal issues, you may consider seeking out extra support or individual counseling.

Matta, C. (2012). 7 Simple Parenting Strategies That Work. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 26, 2015, from Psych Central.

PAL- Parenting Assistance Line. (2015). Parent Support: Effective Parenting Strategies. The University of Alabama. Retrieved on May 26, 2015, from Parenting Assistance Line.