Successful parenting is about the little choices and deceptively minor interactions. A child will likely not remember their preschool days as adults, but they will remember their mom or dad comforting them after they fell from their bicycle. It is the small things that make a big difference.
Many people do not realize that listening is a skill that can be developed and practiced. Listening is a necessary tool for effective communication, and it requires active participation. In the parent-child relationship, listening plays a crucial role in developing and maintaining a bond.
As a parent, it is easy to think your child needs you to resolve every problem. However, a significant part of parenting is helping your children develop self-reliance. In many situations, a child presenting a parent with a problem wants nothing more than empathy and to know they are heard.
Active listening is the process of hearing what your child is saying and what they are feeling. Sometimes, you might need to coax emotional descriptions out of them. However, never underestimate the power of an open ear and a quiet tongue.
While you might spend time with your children, is it quality time? You might drive them around, eat meals with them, and kiss them goodnight, but during these activities, does your child have your undivided attention?
Research suggests that children who spend more quality time with their families are less likely to participate in alcohol and drug use or other risky behaviors. The critical component of "quality" time is time spent focused on your child without distractions.
Quality time does not have to be overwhelming or excessively time-consuming. You can take fifteen minutes out of your day to play a game, watch a show, or talk to your little one. You should turn off your phone during this time and avoid any disruptions.
Words of Affirmation
Children idolize their parents; the opinions of their parents matter more than any other adult or peer. One of the greatest gifts a parent can give a child is praise and words of affirmation.
Words of affirmation are essentially words of approval. Some examples of affirmations include:
- I believe in you
- I am so proud of you
- You are so thoughtful
- It's Ok to make mistakes
- You have great ideas
Affirmations build confidence. A child who receives frequent positive affirmations knows they are loved and will likely display greater self-confidence.
Daily Encouragement & Support
Like affirmations, daily encouragement and support can help develop confidence in your child. You have likely already shown your child encouragement and support without realizing it. For example, did you ever compliment something they drew, built, or did on their own? Have you ever helped them learn a new skill, word, or activity?
As a parent, you are constantly helping your child grow and evolve. The support you give them daily ensures they can face future challenges. Never underestimate your value.
Serving as a Role Model
Living a healthy and balanced life does not come naturally; it is learned. As a parent, you are an active and ever-present role model for your children. They take their social cues from you. If you face challenges with extreme anxiety or frustration, they will likely mimic your approach.
Therefore, raising a child is about bettering yourself and putting your best foot forward. If you want your child to be healthy, teach them healthy habits.
Parenting is a mix of big and little decisions. However, the choices with the most impact typically occur on a smaller and more frequent scale.