Bringing up children is a tough job — yet it is also one of the most fulfilling and rewarding jobs in the world.
As a parent, you want to make decisions that are in the best interests of your child. Sometimes, you strive for perfection, but no one is perfect, and you feel unprepared for parenting. However, keeping in mind that good parenting is not about perfection can help you overcome the feeling of being a lousy parent.
Being a better parent to your preschooler is more about leading by example, creating routines and rituals for your child, and dedicating time to play with them. The following tips can make this easier for you. While these tips may not be quick or easy, they’ll help you keep moving in the right direction.
Show your love through action
Don’t confuse material things, overprotection, leniency, or low expectations with love for your child. You may think that giving these things to your child is the true definition of loving them, but it’s not.
Instead, show love to your child by demonstrating empathy, hugging them, spending time with them, giving them mindful attention, and engaging in their play. Listen to their issues and everything they have to tell you. Dismissing them and not paying attention to them will give rise to feelings of rejection.
These small acts of love will trigger the release of feel-good hormones that create a deep sense of calm within your child. They’ll also experience emotional warmth and contentment, which will help them develop resilience and a closer relationship with you.
Lead by example
Children learn a lot more through imitation than they learn through hearing. Parental behavior has a stronger effect than words. As such, they will watch what you do and replicate it, which is why it’s crucial to be a good role model.
Showing them that good, respectful behavior is more effective than constantly telling them what to do — especially if you do the opposite.
- Apologize when you are wrong. This is the best way to teach your child when and how to say sorry.
- Always be truthful. This is important if you want your child to learn to tell the truth.
- Keep the environment clean. It’s best to teach your preschooler to take care of the environment by living a little greener. Avoid wasting food and practice reusing, recycling, and conservation. Spend some afternoons with your child picking trash around the neighborhood.
Stop using food for comfort and praise
Suppose that you habitually give your preschooler some apple juice or cookies for good behavior or after a fall. In that case, they’ll start equating food to comfort.
The most important reaction in such situations should be to give your child your attention and respond appropriately.
Young children, just like adults, are wired for social interactions.
Parental attention means everything to them and is about more than just getting enough. When you attach a reward to the deal, you alter their perception about your availability to them.
They might come to think that what you give them as treats and rewards is more comforting than your hug and smile.
Allow your child to make mistakes
Allowing your child to learn from mistakes is sometimes better than trying to prevent those mistakes in the first place. For example, assume your three-year-old is building a tower. They want to place an additional block on the top, but you can see that this will make it come crashing down. You’re anxious to avoid the crash and the tears that will follow. So you tell them not to add another block.
While you can prevent the "accident," you deny your child a chance to learn an essential lesson in cause and effect. Besides, it's sometimes emotionally healthy to let your child feel disappointed sometimes. Trying to shield them from negative emotion all the time isn’t an excellent way to bring them up.
Boost your child’s self-esteem
Your child's self-esteem starts developing when they are babies. It’s affected by how they see themselves through your eyes.
Your child quickly absorbs your body language, tone of voice, and other expressions, affecting their developing self-esteem more than anything else.
Praise their accomplishments, no matter how small. This will make them feel proud. Besides, create space for them to do things independently, which will make them feel strong and capable.
Avoid using belittling remarks and comparing them to other children. This will only make them feel worthless and unvalued.
Parenting can be challenging, but it’s worth all the time and effort. As you strive to become a better parent to your child, remember to be a role model, show your love to them through action, boost their self-esteem, and allow them to make mistakes. Also, do pay attention to your well-being and seek support from parenting groups within your community.
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The British Psychological Society: "The psychology of stuff and things."
Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association: "The Effects of Belittling."
Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research: "Influences on the Development of Children's Eating Behaviors: From Infancy to Adolescence."
The Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning: "Helping Young Children Control Anger and Handle Disappointment."
Early Childhood Education Journal: "How do Children and Teachers Demonstrate Love, Kindness, and Forgiveness? Findings from an Early Childhood Strength-Spotting Intervention."
Journal of Consumer Research: "Material Parenting: How the Use of Goods in Parenting Fosters Materialism in the Next Generation."
Journal of Early Childhood Research: "Development of social relationships, interactions, and behaviors in early education."
Journal of Family Studies: "When and Why Parents Prompt Their Children to Apologize: The Roles of Transgression Type and Parenting Style."
London Journal of Primary Care: "The importance of early bonding on the long-term mental health and resilience of children."
Maternal and Child Health Journal: "Parents as Role Models: Associations between Parent and Young Children's Weight, Dietary Intake, and Physical Activity in a Minority Sample."
The National Academies of Science Engineering Medicine: "Parenting Matters: Supporting Parents of Children Ages 0-8."
Personality and Individual Difference: "Parenting Perfectionism and Parental Adjustment."
Raising Children: "Self-esteem in children: 1-8 years."
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