Basics Guide to Successful Parenting

Quick Guide to Being a Great Parent

 “Dad look at me,” the kids shout as they do something that to them is remarkable but to the parent it is a distraction from the football game, the chores they have to do, dinner to cook, clothes to fold, house to clean, work to do, etc and so on and so forth. Everyone who has kids thought they knew what they were getting into before hand, but it isn’t until after the little burrito arrives that most go, “What do you mean I can’t do [Insert Favorite Activity Here] anymore?!”

Being a parent is the single most important job in the universe. And judging by the fact that Attila the Hun, Stalin and Hitler had parents, it can also be one of the most dangerous jobs in the universe if not done well. That being said, this job of parenting requires us to make tremendous sacrifices, many we may not want to make. At first it’s just sacrificing sleep, then it becomes our free time and activities we love to do. It may be cleaning up our bad habits, bad language and bad attitude. The strain can be immense and no one really prepares you for it.

In this world you have to get a license to do many things. A license is required to drive a car, a boat, a plane, a truck, to plumb a sink, to run electricity, to fix appliances, to open a business, etc. There is no license to become a parent. There isn’t even a standardized class in how to do it very well. There are tons of books, but it seems like the ones who need to read those books never do, and the ones who read them don’t seem to need it.

I often hear remarks like this, “Well, my dad did this to us and I turned out just fine so I’m going to do it too.” I love my parents and I think they did a remarkable job with my brother and me, but I have to be honest, I don’t want to be “as good as” them, I want to be better. I don’t want my kids to be “as good as” me, I hope they do better. I suspect too, that we can do better today. Everyone longs for the “Good Old Days” but the reality is, we know more about psychology, child development, how kids learn and grow and how better to parent than any generation before us and this fact will only improve in all future generations. Ask yourself, do you want a doctor that practices medieval methods of medicine? Do you want a builder who still uses asbestos? Do you want a computer from the 1990’s? Everything except music and fashion gets better and we have to change and improve too.

There is one thing that every kid wants more than anything else in the world. They can’t express it very well although I know a few who do. But their subconscious will push them to get this thing more than anything else in the world. That thing is…, their parent’s attention. They really don’t care if it’s praise for doing good things or punishment for doing bad, their subconscious will take whatever it can get.

This is why these days, we learn from the child psychologists that we should do everything to not “feed into” behavior we want to stop and instead, redirect that behavior to something good. Once they finish with the good thing, we praise the living daylights out of them, giving them the much sought after parental attention. We should also look for any good behavior we can and praise it to get more of it. An example might be, you catch your child drawing on the wall. You can give them attention by punishing them, or redirect it quietly to drawing on paper, and then give them attention by praising them for drawing on the paper. If you punish them, you just gave them a lot of attention and you are likely to get more of that type of behavior. If instead you redirect quietly and then praise them for doing the right thing, you are very likely to get more of the right behavior. This is all subconscious. Your child doesn’t sit and calculate “I’m going to throw my food to get dad’s attention.” It is strictly an instinctive response to get that which they want most, YOU.

Now don’t misunderstand, there are times when your child will test your limits and you need to have some form of consequence for their actions. I recommend a quiet time out so we feed into the actions as little as possible, but any over reaction will empower their negative behavior and you can expect more negative behavior. The hard part for us as parents is to not over react. We have to control ourselves and not get angry and explode. That type of reaction is exactly what a misbehaving child’s subconscious feeds upon. That powerful reaction, even if it is punishment, is still empowering to whatever behavior brought it about.  

The real answer and sometimes the hardest thing to do, is to give your child the attention they need and deserve. Give them praise for the little things, and set them up for many successes. This will ensure they have the confidence and self esteem to become great people in their generation.

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