As a parent, you’re responsible for the physical, mental and emotional development of your child. It’s a lot of pressure, and you’re likely to wonder whether you’re doing everything right. There are very few solid rules, an abundance of contradictory expert advice, and parents, being human, make mistakes. Additionally, as the Royal College of Psychiatrists points out, people naturally gravitate toward parenting methods they were raised with. There are, however, basic parenting skills to practice; applied consistently, they promote the well-being and healthy development of your child.
The most fundamental part of parenting is providing children with things they require and cannot get for themselves: food, clothes, shelter and medical care. Of course, these are the basics, and everything from diapers to college will be an issue. Time Magazine reports that, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Expenditures on Children by Families report, the average cost of raising a child born in 2007 to age 18 rose to more than $200,000. The ability to earn and manage enough money to raise a child is essential to his well-being, and even to the financial skills he learns growing up.
Clear, consistent communication is needed to teach children everything from educational material to your expectations to a sense of right and wrong. Communication is not just verbal, but entails body language, active listening, staying calm even when angry, demonstrating love and security, offering discipline and praise, involving and engaging children, and any other ways in which messages are conveyed. Consistent communication shapes your child’s development and affects his own abilities to communicate.
Discipline goes hand-in-hand with communicating expectations to your child. A child should be rewarded or praised for meeting or exceeding expectations and disciplined for unacceptable behavior. As All About Parenting points out, how to discipline a child is the most controversial parenting topic, and disciplinary measures must be reasonable in relation to a child’s age and understanding of right and wrong. Regardless of the methods of discipline you choose, the AllPsych Journal cautions that consistency in message and approach are the most important component of effective discipline.
Being a Role Model
Being a role model to children is little more than consistently reinforcing your messages to them with your own behavior. Children learn primarily from observing those around them, particularly their parents. If your own words and actions indirectly contradict the messages you directly send to your child, you’ll only confuse him, explains the AllPsych Journal. Behave as you wish your child to behave.