As a parent, I am in constant search for parenting tips. In my parenting workshops, I have a goal of learning at least one great parenting tip from my audience and you know what? I always do and I am very happy and grateful for it.
At the beginning of my education career, I gave up one big desire: to re-invent the wheel. It was not easy, because some people thought it made me less creative, but I always gave the example of my mom as a chef – she uses the same ingredients as everybody else but combines them differently. Over time, I stopped asking her about cooking recipes and started asking more about cooking tips, because with the click of my mouse, I can find millions of recipes, but they all lack the experience.
One day, I asked my mom to teach me how to make her awesome, huge, fluffy doughnuts. I brought all the ingredients to her house and decided I would watch her make 4 batches, I would write everything down and then I would be an expert in making doughnuts (not to mention I would get to eat them fresh). She made the first batch and I made the rest. One of mine was too sticky. I looked at the recipe and had no idea what made the difference.
I asked my mom if I should add some flour, but she said, “No, you need to add a little bit of salt”. She added a teaspoon of salt to a big bowl of dough and, hey presto, it was all good. I did not understand how a teaspoon of a salt could make such a difference but it did. This was my profound moment in baking. I realized that when you bake, you need the tips, not just the recipe.
It is the same in parenting. It is even truer in parenting. Asking parents what works for them is a great way to accumulate enough information and make a good parenting style from it.
In a way, when I asked the Top Parenting Bloggers to share their parenting tips, I hoped to find some I can adopt too. I was very happy to discover many good tips and I hope you will too.
What are your top 5 tips for parents?
Susan Heim – Susan Heim on Parenting
You don’t need to give your kids everything (and you shouldn’t).
You’re the boss, not them.
Don’t lose your “self” when you become a parent. Have your own interests.
Being calm but firm is more effective than yelling.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. Pick and choose your battles wisely.
Annie Fox, M.Ed. – From the desk of Annie Fox
Be mindful of what you do and say. That’s the only way you can make choices that reflect the innate compassionate love you have for your children. Is it easy to remember to stay present even when your kids are pushing your buttons and driving you nuts? No! Not at all! But it is absolutely necessary for effective parenting and positive role modeling. With self-awareness work and regular re-centering ‘breaks’, it can become your ‘normal’ way of parenting.
Talk less and listen more. This is especially true for parents of tweens and teens. By the time your child is 10 or 11, he/she has probably heard all of your “lessons and warnings”. As they approach young adulthood, it’s important for you, as a parent, to shift gears and become a better listener. That reinforces the trust bond between you and your growing child. It also gives you many golden opportunities to understand your evolving child on deeper levels. They need to learn to think for themselves. Show them (through your attentive and respectful listening) that what they have to say is important to you.
Catch your child in the act of doing something right. Children never outgrow their need for parental approval. In fact, they thrive on it. And yet, too often, parents of tweens and teens spend most of the time pointing out their children’s mistakes, faults and weaknesses. When you praise and acknowledge your child’s caring, compassionate, mature, responsible acts (especially when they are acting without your direction) then you’re much more likely to see that positive behavior repeated.
Nurture your relationship with your partner, if you have one. Children learn about adult relationships by watching their parents interact. This includes the way you and your spouse work together as a team, talk with each other and show affection, and resolve conflicts. Giving your children a solid emotional foundation in the form of two parents who love and respect each other, is the most essential legacy you have to give.
Encourage and support your children to become independent, fully-functioning, young adults. When you over-parent (do for them things they ought to be learning to master on their own) you do them a disservice. On the one hand, you prevent them from learning age-appropriate life-skills. On the other hand, you imply that you have no confidence in their ability to do things for themselves. With each year of your child’s life, you should be stepping back a bit more and encouraging them to step up to the tasks at hand at home, at school, and among their peer group.
Maria Melo – Conversations with Moms
Don’t be so hard on yourself. You will make mistakes, but it is all part of being a parent.
Take some time with your kids no matter how busy you are. They grow up faster than we know.
Be active in your children‘s lives. This gets more important as they grow older. Know who your kids are.
Have a sense of humor.
Take some time for yourself. Although parenting is an important role, you need to take care of yourself as well. You won‘t do your children any good if you are overworked and tired.
Annie – PhD in Parenting
I put a lot of thought in my top 10 tips for parents that I have on my blog and frequently refer to. But if I had to choose just five of them, I guess it would be:
You cannot spoil a child with love.
You should be responsive to your child’s cries.
Discipline means teach.
You can breastfeed your child for as long as you and the child would like (the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for 2 years or beyond).
Children need to connect with nature.
Ria Sharon – My Mommy Manual
Breathe. “Breath is fuel, breath is life. And when you OWN your breath, nobody can steal your peace” – Scott Ginsburg
In terms of parenting, I’ve found that it is always a good idea to take a breath before engaging in a “teaching moment” with my children. If we can get in the habit of taking one deep breath before we tell our kids to do something or before we break up an argument between siblings, that moment can be inspired with a response that is truly divine! :)
Play. Create opportunities for unstructured play and for you to play with your kids. This is a big one for me. My kids will play together for hours… very elaborate, imaginative scenarios. Research has actually shown that extended periods of free-form play develops the frontal cortex of the brain and teaches kids self-control, which is an attribute that is linked to later academic and life success. Play with them too… because it creates connection and comfort with your kids. Our Yogi Parenting instructor, Michaela Turner, told me, “Aren’t you more able to freely express yourself around people you like and are comfortable around? It’s the same with your children”.
Set gentle boundaries. A child’s job is to continually test that boundary. There’s a common misconception that this testing is “misbehavior” and “disrespect”. It’s natural. It’s how they are learning how to define themselves in the world. As parents, we can help them do this by applying natural consequences to their behavior.
Control the environment, not the child. I don’t believe it’s our job to control our children. Our job is to teach them how to control themselves. Unfortunately, when we try to control them and overpower them, not only does it feel like crap to both of you but it’s a lose-lose situation. The long term effects are either they don’t learn self-control or they develop a need for control themselves and feel threatened when they cannot be in charge.
Find ways to give your children power. My friend and parenting coach, Anne Jordan, told me once our job as parents is to write ourselves out of a job.
Richard “RJ” Jaramillo – Single Dad
Have a sense of humor. Teaching our children the importance of laughter and having a sense of humor. I see too many parents being so serious around their children they are forgetting one of life’s simple pleasures is to laugh out loud!
Teach your children how to Cook. The family that shares in making the meal often eats better, healthier and has a family bond at the dinner table. I cook every meal with my children and they enjoy the variety and improvisation of cooking!
Have Emotional Balance. Teaching our children that it is “okay to feel sad or cry” is important in developing emotionally balanced children. I am not afraid to share all of my feelings with my children and they feel closer and more connected to me as their father. There is a wide spectrum of emotions, so it’s too bad that many children only learn a few from their parents.
Be a Better Listener. We were all given two ears and one mouth, which means we should all practice listening twice as much and speak half as much as we do… As a parent, I have learned far too often that if I took that extra step in listening more, I could have resolved many misunderstandings sooner and jumped to conclusions far too often.
Affirmations. Parents shape their children and I take it seriously. Fathers shape daughters in many ways. Their self confidence and the men they choose to date has a lot to do with their relationship with their father. I remind my daughters each and every day how much I love and respect them. I make sure I am present with them and let them know how grateful I am being their father and they give me so much love. I am also grateful for my son and I make sure I let him know that I am always proud of him as well. I think every parent needs to know how much our children listen to our words of encouragement and support.
Sue Scheff – Sue Scheff Blog
Knowing your child’s friends (both in school and online).
Keeping up with Internet Safety and Cell Phone Safety – always try to take the time to sit with your kids and find out what they are doing online.
Get involved with your children’s school. Know their teachers.
Get your kids involved in constructive activities – sports, music, dance, chess club, school paper, community service, etc.
Ronit Baras – Family Matters
Be Happy. Just like on a plane, you should put the oxygen mask on your own face before helping your kids. If you want to raise happy kids, you must take care of your happiness first. If you do not have oxygen, you are no good to your kids. Happy parents raise happy kids.
Do everything you can to stay together. A good relationship between partners is essential in every family. If the two parents are there, it is the best for kids, because their environment is stable.
Forget one-size-fits-all parenting tips. They never work. Read, listen, learn, and choose the tips that fit what you want to achieve and the kids you have. Your family is unique, so do not try to be someone else. Be yourself, design your own style of parenting and go for it.
Be healthy. Your emotional and physical health is the foundation of your parenting. Take care of them at all times, because lack of health, emotional or physical, will make you angry, frustrated, unhappy, tired, sad, controlling, demanding, hostile, unfair and depressed – exactly the opposite of what every kid needs.
Be a leader. Parents who see their job as a leadership position take the responsibility to lead the family with all the ramifications. Responsibility means keeping an eye on the target at all times without being distracted. It means making the decisions even when it is tough. It means not blaming others for what does not work but asking “What can I do to change it”. It means working in a team and supporting the individual development of each member of the team. Parents are the leaders of their family and they need to live up to it. Our profound parenting moments can tell a lot about who we are and contain the learnings we take with us to our parenting philosophy.
We would love you to share your own parenting tips with us. Please post them in the comment box below.
Join, Maria RJ, Sue, Ria Annie and, Susan, Annie Fox and myself for next week’s discussion on what the Top Parenting Bloggers think government policy makers should do in order to improve parenting and support for parents.
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This post is part of the series Top Parenting Bloggers Discuss:
- Top Parenting Bloggers Discuss (1): Introduction
- Top Parenting Bloggers Discuss (2): Parenting Challenges
- Top Parenting Bloggers Discuss (3): Best Parent Qualities
- Top Parenting Bloggers Discuss (4): Parenting Changes Life
- Top Parenting Bloggers Discuss (5): Ideal Child
- Top Parenting Bloggers Discuss (6): Education
- Top Parenting Bloggers Discuss (7): What drives you nuts?
- Top Parenting Bloggers Discuss (8): Discipline
- Top Parenting Bloggers Discuss (9): Profound Parenting Moment
- Top Parenting Bloggers Discuss (10): Parenting Tips
- Top Parenting Bloggers Discuss (11): Government Policy Suggestions
- Top Parenting Bloggers Discuss (12): Parenting Boys and Girls
- Top Parenting Bloggers Discuss (13): Parenting Teens
- Top Parenting Bloggers Discuss (14): How to Keep Your Kids Healthy