Parenting for dummies is probably a bit condescending as a title, but the purpose of this article is to strip away the mystique of being a parent. In its purest form, parenting should be pretty straight forward, but the truth is that, in the heat of the battle with our kids, it becomes almost overwhelming!
Hence the term, “for dummies”. I want to strip away the smoke and mirrors and get back to the basics of how you can be a great parent, in a way that anyone, including a first time novice, should be able to apply.
So here is our not-so-dumb Top Ten of Parenting for Dummies (and also smart people like you!)
1. Set Limits
Parenting starts with setting sensible limits, and attaching sensible consequences to them. Boundaries should be put in place and this will be dependent on the age of the children. Pick your battles, and don’t put rules in place for things that are trivial, save it for the important ones. So have a rule in place for staying out beyond curfew, but avoid making a Federal Case of the child not brushing their teeth.
2. Set Consequences
Consequences need to make sense and be proportional. For example a perfect consequence for staying out late would be grounding the child. Don’t set a consequence that just frustrates the child, or that is perceived as unfair or inappropriate, such as spanking a child for hitting another child. Do not threaten consequences you will not or cannot keep to, so avoid saying things like, “If you do that again I will kill you!”
3. Follow Through
If you set a consequence, follow through every single time, or you will consider yourself a real dummy in the long run! Even if you don’t want to, even if it inconveniences you, follow through anyway because this teaches kids that the consequences to certain actions are a sure thing and they don’t change depending on the parent’s mood.
4. Provide Structure and Routine
Children love and need structure, so parenting for dummies insists on providing routine and structure, especially when the kids are young. Get into the habit of doing the same thing routinely, because there is great security in this for your children. Being chaotic in your household will see you struggle, so remember that one of the great premises of parenting for dummies is that routine and structure are your friend, not your enemy!
5. Teach Them Respect
Respect is important. Your children need to respect you and your authority as a parent, other adults especially those closest to them, and social authorities like teachers, pastors, the Police and Armed Forces. They must also be taught to respect those with disabilities, and to always be kind and honorable towards them.
6. Teach Them Self-Discipline
As they grow, children need to take responsibility for their actions, as do the parents. You should not be b laming others all the time for your misfortune, because this teaches the same to your kids. If you mess up, take responsibility, say you are sorry and move on. Also, teach your children that there are no valid excuses to not doing certain things like homework and the dishes, there are only certain consequences, most of which are unpleasant!
7. Always Speak Positive Words
Always say positive things to your child, no matter how frustrating they get. Never speak in anger and never lose your temper. If you are getting close, walk away and calm down before you talk to them. Make sure you never label them with their action, so your son would not be a naughty boy but a good boy who did something naughty.
8. Invest Time
Nothing says “I love you” more to your children than spending time with them. Play games, take them out somewhere they like, sit and read with them, and I would also advise that during dinner the TV is turned off and conversation replaces it!
9. Keep the Dreams Alive
Every child has dreams, and your job as a parent is to encourage and promote those dreams. However, make the child choose one or at most two dreams to pursue, because each one requires an investment in time and also money. So, they might want to play football, or surf, or dance, or do karate, or design computer games, but they cannot do all of them at once. Let them choose, then let them pursue their dreams.
10. Love Unconditionally
Kids need to know that they are loved, no matter what they might do. Unconditional love does not depend on your mood, or on how tired you are, or on what their actions have been. Tell them you love them whether they get an A or a F in Maths, and whether you have had a tough day or a great day.
Apply these Top Ten Tips and watch your family dynamic change and improve. If you have this list and do what it says, you won’t need to think about parenting for dummies, you’ll be teaching others the secret to your family success!