5 Tips for Effective Parenting
1. Be Consistent
a. Children thrive on consistency. Creating an environment where children know what to expect can teach them to have trust and respect for the authority of their parents. For example, Idle Threats have the potential to create a situation in which children will not take mention of punishment seriously. If you say that you are taking a privilege away for a week, hold to the full week.
2. Reinforce the Good
a. Research has shown time and time again that positive reinforcement is key to changing behavior. For this reason it is advisable to “catch your child being good,” and provide praise or some other form of reinforcement for the desirable behavior. While this can be seen as bribery, it is helpful to think of it as a method of increasing the likelihood of repetition of the good behavior. For example, give siblings who are playing well together ice cream as a reward for their cooperative play.
3. Ignore the Bad
a. Parents are often unaware of the influence of their attention. Children often behave in ways designed to bring about a reaction from an adult. Simply removing the reaction, will eventually lead to a decrease in the ignored behavior. In order to effectively use this strategy, you should refer back to Tip #1 as it is likely that the behavior will initially increase in a final attempt to elicit a reaction. For example, a child who whines will at first increase the intensity of whiny behavior upon being ignored by the parent, but will eventually learn that they must speak in a more appropriate voice in order to gain the desired outcome. At this point the parent should refer to Tip #2 and provide a positive response to the desired (i.e. less whiny) behavior.
4. Be Clear and Specific Regarding Expectations
a. When issuing requests or commands it is important for parents to clearly state what is expected of the child in order to avoid confusion which can result in a stressful situation for both child and parent. For example, do not tell a child to “Get ready for bed,” instead use clear and specific directives such as, “Brush your teeth, wash your face and put on your pajamas.” This leaves no “wiggle room” for what is expected of the child.
5. Play Like a Kid, With a Kid
a. The bond between a parent and child is often strengthened during play where both parent and child are fully engaged and focused on each other. This aspect of parenting unfortunately is often pushed to the side as a result of the demands of today’s busy and stressful world. Taking the time to interact with your child on their level shows your appreciation for their uniqueness and interests. Let go, get down on the floor and play Legos or Barbies, and you just might find yourself having just as much fun as your child, with the added bonus of strengthening your relationship.