Okay that’s probably a little overstated. But I don’t know about you, I am overwhelmed by all of the parenting advice that exists in the world today. I once heard that today’s parents have read as much information about parenting as pediatricians used to know back in the day. I’m a child psychologist and I’m overwhelmed by all of the Do’s and Don’ts. So I thought, why not, I can’t make it worse right? Here’s my list of what I consider to be the 10 most important things you should do in a day as a parent. To be followed by the top 10 things you should not do (in a future post).
1) Hug and kiss your kids.
In addition to this, squeeze their hands, pat their backs, tickle them, scratch their backs…you get the idea, touch them. It’s amazing all the research that’s been done to show how powerful touch is for a person’s mental, psychological, cognitive, social, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
2) This should be a no-brainer, but tell your kids you love them.
And not just at bedtime or in the carpool lane. But spontaneously when you’re playing with them, say, “You know, I really love you.” Look them in the eyes when you say this too, so many parents say it out of habit, and kids want to hear the real deal.
3) Spend a minimum of 20 minutes of one-on-one “quality time” every day.
This means the child picks the activity, the child leads the activity (they get to tell you what to do), and it is dedicated to having fun and enjoying each other’s company. Obviously, it doesn’t count if you’re helping him do his homework…the child picks the activity.
4) If you are married or living in the same house with your child’s other parent…
…show some affection and kind words to that person in front of your child. It’s amazing how secure that makes a child feel, and as a bonus, you’re showing your child how to treat a wife/husband/partner.
5) Have your kids do some kind of chore every day and start young.
Even a two year old can put toys back in a toy box. A five year old can feed the cat, make her bed, and put dirty clothes in a hamper. Children feel secure and reassured when they live in a tidy house and when there is order to their world. They also have a boost in self-confidence from being contributing members of the family.
6) Follow through, follow through, follow through with consequences.
If you threaten to put him in time out if he sasses you one more time, and he sasses you, put him in time out. If you tell the kids to quiet down or you’re turning off the t.v., and they continue screaming, turn off the t.v. You are establishing your power as a parent and teaching them to respect you because you mean what you say. I can’t emphasize this point enough.
7) Consistency is key.
If today your kids are allowed to eat in the living room because you’re exhausted and don’t feel like enforcing the rule, but tomorrow you are back to enforcing the “no eating in the living room” rule, guess what? Your kids will be less likely to follow any rules because they know they are negotiable or fickle.
8) Only create rules that really matter to you.
Related to rule seven–if you have hundreds of rules in your house, you certainly won’t remember them all and neither will your kids. Make sure you actually care about your rules. For example, lots of parents have the no jumping on the bed rule, but in my house, I don’t care. It’s never made sense to me. As long as you are supervising, it’s a blast for you and the kids. Now that’s just an example, the point is, only pick the rules that are the “biggies.”
9) Take care of yourself.
If you are eating poorly, sleeping poorly, and stressed out, you will not be the best parent. Many times we put ourselves last as parents. Make sure you give yourself the same attention you give your kids (i.e., eat your veggies, drink your water, get your exercise, turn off the t.v. and go to sleep.)
10) Laugh every day!
Laugh at your own silly parenting mistakes. Laugh at your silly kids. Laugh at your “to do list” and how it’s not humanly possible to get it done. Laugh at the ever growing hole in your sofa because the stuffing is coming out – but laugh because you know you can’t buy a new one because the silly cats keep peeing on it ….oh oops, I’m not sure where those examples came from. Laugh!
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