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How You Can Be a Better Parent

How You Can Be a Better Parent

“My parents suffered from that ideal of a perfect nuclear family. They found that a difficult pressure, I think.”

—Tim Burton

Most parents worry far too much about being perfect, and they always blame themselves when kids get into trouble or end up with emotional issues. The main reason is that family, school, peer, and media pressure is relentless. So, let us look at practical ways you can be a better parent without tearing your hair out or having a nervous breakdown. Here are 13 ways you can be a better parent.

1. Spend more time with your kids.

No, you don’t want to get away from them; you want to give them some more prime time. In the UK, parents have to work the longest hours in Europe and try to make up for it by buying their kids the latest electronic devices. Not a good idea! Here are ways you can spend more time with your kids:

  • Try to make meal times an event when you can be together. No devices. Just talk and listen to your kids.
  • Organize collecting kids with other friends and neighbours so you have more time for yourself.
  • Get your groceries delivered, organize cleaning the house better by assigning chores to the kids and giving rewards.

2. Stop worrying so much about the kids’ diet.

Healthy eating is a great idea! The only problem is that it takes time to get organized, and then you have to revolutionize everybody’s diet. This can be far too stressful and often expensive too. Just introduce a few healthier eating habits so that you do not have to do all that planning.

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Make sure that junk food is never bought in large quantities. Encourage kids to get into smoothies by asking them to invent them or help you make them. Use nuts, fruit and chocolate as snacks. Banning certain foods in one fell swoop is never a good idea. Just introduce healthy eating on a gradual basis.

3. Forget yelling—there are quieter ways.

When kids are yelled at, screamed at, insulted, and threatened, it has a negative impact on their development—this is bad parenting and is just another form of child abuse. It is shocking to realize that 1 in 8 children are abused at some point before they reach the age of eighteen. That is the US average, and it’s quite scary. One Princeton psychiatrist has noted that the maltreatment of children is swept under the carpet far too often.

There are plenty of methods you can adopt to avoid getting into a yelling match. Here are my favorites:

  • Use time out yourself and walk away.
  • Use a pause button technique and tell the kid you will talk about it later.
  • Know that you don’t have to attend every fight you are invited to.
  • Agree with the child when they protest that something is unfair or far too difficult. Displaying empathy is always a good idea.
  • Establish clear rules on unacceptable insults and name calling.

4. Are your kids doing too much?

Maybe your kids are overscheduled. They are dashing (and you are the taxi driver) from sports, piano lessons and choir practice. If this is the case, you may want to restrict a few of the activities.  You can cut out anything that interferes with eating together, for example. Then you can have the music teacher come to your home instead of you dashing around and polluting the atmosphere with petrol fumes.

5. What example are you setting?

“Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.”

—Robert Fulghum

Time for some difficult questions. Are you likely to curse and swear at stupid drivers in front of your kids? Do you lie for convenience sake when you want to avoid an appointment? If we want our kids to be honest, to show respect for others, and to grow up as balanced, empathetic persons, then we have to make sure that the role we are setting is in line with what we preach.

6. Do fun things together.

Weekends should be dedicated to going out, doing sports and any form of physical exercise or anything which is fun. The great advantage of doing exercise is that you get the benefit of the released endorphins, which will put you in a great mood. In addition, kids are able to concentrate better after doing sports. This is great for getting homework done in record time.

7. Are you spoiling your kids?

Spoiling kids could mean simply that you are continuing to treat them like babies and you are being over-protective. One solution for not spoiling is to actually talk about behavior as they get older. Asking them about why they behave in a certain way can be an eye opener. Also explain that material possessions are far less important than being a caring, honest and tolerant person.

8. Don’t parent like your own parents.

Far too often, parents try to redress the wrongs they suffered during their own upbringing. If they were deprived of material possessions, they tend to lavish gifts on their offspring. At times, this can backfire and the child may see this as invasive and over the top. Other times, being showered with presents can make a child feel entitled to everything they want and is the worst possible lesson on how to approach work and relationships.

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9. Don’t worry too much about peer pressure.

Parents always think that peer pressure is likely to lead to negative behavior. But have you considered how it can also positively affect motivation and a healthy competitive edge in academic and sports achievements? It may not necessarily always be a bad thing.

10. Get social media into perspective.

Yes, it is extremely irritating to see kids and teens texting all the time and being glued to their devices. There are a few simple practical things you can do to limit this. Banning such activity is out of the question.

The best way is to set a good example. When you arrive home, make sure that your own mobile is turned off and that you can give kids your full attention. Also, make sure that during mealtimes, all devices are switched off.

The good news is that teens who text all the time are also likely to be just as socially active in the real world. Australian research on 100,000 teens who were texting all the time found that 80% were following this up with real social interaction.

11. There are no perfect kids either.

Too often, we set our sights too high and we want our children to be well behaved, do well academically, and be great at sports too.  In addition, they have to be polite, kind, and clean! We should lower our standards and be prepared for normal kids who are going to spill things and lose their tempers just like we do at times.

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12. How can you improve?

Ask your kids! That is what the guy who runs Single Dad Laughing website did. He asked the kids how parents could do better. Some fascinating and really funny answers here!  They want to watch TV shows in their underpants, would like apple slices cut straighter and also want him to stop asking questions as the answers will all be posted on his Facebook page!

13. Guide your children

There is far too much emphasis on consequences and punishment and toeing the line. The best way is to guide rather than punish. Parents can spot triggers and avoid situations that are likely to lead to trouble. It is also useful to empathize with kids when they are mad, but point out that verbal communication is what it is all about.

Last but not least, promise yourself that you can easily be a better parent and do not be discouraged by the so-called perfect parents you see at your kids’ school every day. Commit yourself by starting to make small changes every day. Achieving mini goals is what it is all about. When you do, pat yourself on the back and tell yourself that you are going to be a great parent.

Have you set some goals for yourself in the parenting adventure? Tell us about them in the comments below.

Featured photo credit: Happy Family/David Amsler via flickr.com

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Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on June 26, 2019

I Hate My Life: 10 Things You Can Do Now to Stop Hating Life

I Hate My Life: 10 Things You Can Do Now to Stop Hating Life

Hating life is a bit of a misnomer it seems: in the media, in education, in every aspect of our lives, we’re shown visions of a perfect world, one where everyone is happy and life is a decades-long dream. Unfortunately, it isn’t.

Life can and is hard and tough and painful at times. I have first-hand experience of this: at this time years ago, I was a recent university graduate, unemployed and aimless. All of this was having a knock-on effect on my social and mental wellbeing—I wasn’t sleeping. I wasn’t seeing my friends as often. I was snappy to family members and I could barely drag myself out of bed in the morning…

That doesn’t mean it can’t change.

Life goes through ebbs and flows all the time and the key to getting through it all without cutting off your social circle and eating your local grocery store out of Ben & Jerry’s, is to cultivate some techniques and methods of going through life with some stability and grace. It’s not a guarantee against life’s hardships but, take the steps you want to use and you won’t hate life.

If you want to stop hating your life and start falling in love with it, take these steps:

1. Get Plenty of Sleep

Seriously, you’re obviously going to be grouchy and more inclined towards the more miserable side, if you’re not getting your recommended seven or more hours of sleep a night.

Start checking in how much you sleep and then start making steps to go to bed earlier and sleep for longer. It might cure every problem but at least you’ll be well-rested and less likely to nap throughout the day. If you having trouble getting to sleep, go and

2. Eat Healthily

I have had a real issue with eating healthily for years and it wasn’t until I was hospitalised a few years ago (for a condition unrelated to my eating for the sake of disclosure), that I really started to look at what I ate and how I viewed my body.

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I’m absolutely an advocate of body positivity and loving your body at any size and while I haven’t lost any huge amount of weight, eating a hell of a lot healthier improved my mood and made me feel better.

In short, it’s absolutely okay to have a pizza and a soda as a treat, but just have something healthier tomorrow.

3. Write It All Down

Sometimes the best thing you can do is let it all out. Keeping things that are making you hate life all bottled up is neither helpful to getting out of that cycle nor healthy for your overall wellbeing.

Grab yourself a notebook, a journal, a diary, a bit of paper, whatever, and just start writing down how you feel. As soon as you’ve done that, start thinking about what you could do in theory to stop this from happening or to stop you from feeling like this.

4. Get Some Fresh Air

It’s underrated and we all take it for granted, but really, getting out of your home and going for a walk can be really beneficial. It gets you outside in the (hopefully) sunshine and getting to see the whole of life as you walk around can be really grounding and calming.

Believe me, if you’re stuck inside mulling over on the bad things of your life, grab a pair of sneakers and go for a walk. Plus, it’s free. Can’t say better than that, can you?

5. Get Some Exercise

This is practically a Part II of the previous step, but as someone who used to look at the gym as something people did when they were feeling particularly masochistic, I can actually say I enjoy it now.

You don’t even have to subscribe to a fancy gym—go for a run around the block with your headphones in or lift some heavy boxes to build up muscle tone.

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Bonus: Doing all that heavy lifting of boxes or incorporating exercise into chores will make your house cleaner and look even more awesome, as well as making you look and feel better.

6. Treat Yourself

Hating your life can be exhausting, and I mean that literally. It drains the energy from you until all you want to do is lie in bed with a pint of ice cream and the last five seasons of a TV show on Netflix.

Therefore, a good thing to keep your spirits up can be to treat yourself.

Life is too short, after all, to deny yourself some treats. Go see that movie that looks awesome in the cinema, grab a gelato with a friend, paint your nails, whatever makes you happy, do it. You deserve it.

Here’re more ideas to inspire you: 30 Ways To Treat Yourself No Matter What

7. Cut out Those Negative Triggers

Chances are that if you hate life, something is setting off those triggers in your head. Until you’re able to deal with them without turning all misanthropic, the best thing might be just to get rid of all of those negative triggers.

If you’re suffering from what AllGroanUp refer to as “Obsessive Comparison Disorder” (i.e. obsessively checking out the lifestyles of all your “successful” friends), then stop using Facebook and Twitter as much.

Social media can be a fantastic way to connect, but it can be also be a toxic environment for neuroses and comparisons to breed.

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Trust me, I know. If it sets you off, cut it out.

8. Dance

Yes you can dance. No, really, you can. It doesn’t matter if you’re not some breakdancing dynamo or ballroom extraordinaire, everyone can dance. It’s programmed into the human race, the ultimate expression of emotion.

Dance like no one’s watching, dance like you don’t care. Tap your feet, sway your hips, go as mad or as wild as you want to to your favourite songs. Nothing quite shakes the cobwebs off than losing yourself in rhythm and dance to a song you love.

9. Get Organized

A great way to start moving forward and looking at what you can change in your life to make it better, is to get organized.

Spend a weekend going through your home and clearing the unnecessary stuff out of it. Get rid of the stuff you don’t need or don’t want anymore and start to give everything a space.

It doesn’t have to look like it’s stepped off the pages of Good Housekeeping, but clearing a lot of space and making sure that your home has a bit of harmony can do wonders for your mental wellbeing.

10. Pay It Forward

Life is a mystery and it can be a minefield to get through. Sometimes you stumble, sometimes you fall. The important part is to pick yourself back up and keep walking forward.

Paying it forward is simply helping others. Charity is something that is often thrown around as an accessory to human behavior—how many celebrities have you read about who have done something heinous, but are defended by the phrase “but [they] do charity work”?

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Go volunteer! If you think you’re at breaking point, go help other people.

People in the world out there will be going through the same things that you are going through; and while you might not run into someone who’s going through the exact same circumstances, you will be helping people who need help.

Helping out a soup kitchen, or at a church bake sale, or at a homeless shelter or wherever needs help, can make a huge difference to the lives of those individuals involved. And believe me, it’ll do a hell of a lot for your state of mind .

A great idol of mine, Audrey Hepburn, once stated that we have two hands: one for helping ourselves, and one for helping others. That’s a fantastic sentiment and one I think will help people who hate their live.

If you go and help other people, you’re having such a positive ripple effect on the world that some of it will come back to you one way or another, and it will get better.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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