Being a parent is hard work, but it also can be the most enjoyable job you can ever have. Let’s face it; anyone can have a child, but parenting, well, that’s a whole other subject. I love children and they know it. They come to me and tell me about their pet turtle, how much they love yellow, and that they just poopied in the potty. It is a joy. In raising my own little munchkins, I have come up with a list of my top 10 parenting tips for newborns through teenagers.
Parenting Tip #1 for Newborns: Relax
Yes, it is that simple. I know that you have a new child that is depending on you for everything and that you don’t have a clue about anything, but get this: It doesn’t matter. You are this little child’s parent and if you guide each move with love and peace you can’t go wrong. You know what is right for your child, so listen to your instincts.
Parenting Tip #2 for Newborns: Comfort
This is the time to incorporate a lovey. My tip is to find something that is soft and not too cumbersome for your infant to bond with. If you hold the security blanket by your newborn while you are feeding or rocking him/her they will build a connection to it and find it comforting when you are not within their sight.
Parenting Tip #3 for Toddlers: Patience
When a child becomes mobile, things change…fast. This age also extends through about 3 and that means, for the most part, your child is able to talk. This is where the patience kicks in. It will help if you can remember that a child has no ability to be reasoned with until they are about four. Above all just remember to wait until you are in a peaceful place to try and resolve tantrums, fits, crying jags etc…
Parenting Tip #4 for Toddlers: Sleep
In the parenting world it is common knowledge that children act up, or as I say, put on their naughty pants, when they are tired. Some children are stinkers more often than others, but for the most part if your child becomes a discipline problem, he/she is probably tired.
Parenting Tip #4.5 for Toddlers: Read
The teacher in me cannot allow myself to omit that you should read to your child daily at this age. While I feel that sleep and patience are of the utmost importance for toddlers, reading will give you one-on-one time with your child and instill a lifelong love for books.
Parenting Tip #5 for Preschoolers/Elementary: Active
This is the time for your child to feel important and useful. They love learning practical life skills, so let them help with the household chores that set your eyeballs to the back of your head. Teach them how to sweep, use a handheld vacuum to clean up a small mess, fold towels, wash dishes, and introduce them to baking. They will thrive and you, even though it might not be up to par, will have a hand around the house.
Parenting Tip #6 for Preschoolers/Elementary: Schedule
Having a daily schedule that preschoolers can rely on lessens their anxiety. It doesn’t mean that you have to be rigid; there are certain occasions that call for flexibility, but for the most part a child between the ages of three and seven should have a daily schedule. It should consist of getting up at about the same time every day, having daily meals, snacks, and rest time daily, and then a nighttime regimen that is followed to help your child fall asleep.
Parenting Tip #7 for Tweens: Responsibilities
Responsibilities take practical life skills to a new level. My parenting tip is to make a chart with responsibilities that you know your tween can accomplish successfully on their own. By this time your child should be able to help with folding laundry, put their own clothes away, make their bed, feed and pick up after their pet, and help with meals including setting and clearing the table. These small successes will help feed their confidence and independent nature which will pay off in the future.
Parenting Tip #8 for Tweens: Consistency in Discipline
Tweens need to know where their boundaries are. This is the time to establish rules and the type of action that is taken if your child cannot follow them. I am a fan of positive reinforcement, which is complimenting your child when they are doing something right. Negative reinforcement works well too, which is basically taking something that they don’t like away when they do something good, so if my daughter swept the house before I came home, I might do the dishes for her if it is her turn.
Parenting Tip #9 for Teenagers: Room with a View
This is a very tricky parenting spot to be in. While teenagers need room to breathe and privacy, my tip is that they also need to know that you are there and still care about them. Often times, as I have seen in teaching at a high school level, parents back off and give too much freedom, claiming that, “Well, they should know by now…” but teenagers still need help. They just don’t know how to ask for it.
Parenting Tip #10 for Teenagers: Decision Making
Finally, teenagers, in the early years need to have the ability to make safe decisions so that they can practice. My parenting tip is to give them opportunities to do this as it will help them learn consequences, both good and bad, when they have made a decision. As your child gets older and the stakes get higher, such as with drugs, or sex, they will trust their guts and truly know what to do.