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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

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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