Raising a family while keeping your life balanced is an art form. Here are ten tools that I have seen make life in the family lane a much nicer ride.
1. Identify your child’s strengths: You can use them to build your child’s self-esteem, helping to provide the confidence he or she needs to tackle whatever seems difficult. Children will be more willing to listen and understand how to correct adverse behaviors if their dignity is intact.
2. Punishing a child: is not as effective as using praise and rewards. Rather than focusing on weaknesses, find ways to assist your child in developing to his or her full potential. When encouraged, children will acquire talents to compensate for any deficiencies.
3. Avoid negative emotional reactions, such as anger, sarcasm, and ridicule. If your child has problems with control, negativity will only make him or her feel worse. Use short and mild suggestions to remind your child to focus, like “P.A.,” for “pay attention.
4. Don’t compare siblings: If a child thinks his or her brother or sister is favored, it can create a rivalry that may last the rest of their lives and cause problems in your family. Make sure your kids know that you love equally.
5. Get support if you need it: Life with children is a roller coaster ride. Understanding that there will be negative aspects to child rearing and getting some professional advice when necessary will help you maintain your sanity and enjoy the experience.
6. Children need positive attention: If they do not receive positive attention from family, they may choose to seek out negative attention. This is because negative attention is still attention, and any attention is better than being ignored. Remember to communicate with your child. Love and care are the greatest healers.
7. Monitor your child’s use of the Internet: The stuff kids can access in cyberspace can be dangerous. Get a program that will let you see the web sites they visit and monitor their chats.
8. Accept that life changes when you have a child: Lazy Saturday mornings in bed are replaced by soccer games and recitals. Remember, you still need to make time for each other – date nights and weekend getaways are important for your relationship.
9. Parent by example: Think of your kids as little bipedal copy machines who will mimic everything you do. If you behave badly, you are giving them permission to act in the same ways. Check in with yourself, and don’t lose it in front of the children.
10. Don’t give up on your child, ever!: All of your child’s problems can be worked through with humor, goodwill, and perseverance. With proper parental support, even the most troublesome teens can become amazing people.
The mystery of what your children will be and how you can affect that outcome is what family life is all about. Give all you can, keep your cool, and stay in the game. The results and your own joy will surprise and reward you.