Parents often come to FOCUS looking to fine-tune their parenting skills and adapt to new and unique situations. Below are 5 tips that can help you tweak your parenting strategy to master any challenge:
- Set parenting goals. Figure out what you hope to accomplish as a parent. In other words, ask yourself what characteristics you are trying to build in your children. Whatever they are, be sure to break them down into realistic and specific steps. Setting these goals will help you maintain flexible, yet consistent parenting strategies during deployment and other parental absences.
- Communicate openly.Maintain open and direct communication about rules and expectations. Explain the reasons behind rules to your children and encourage them to ask questions openly and honestly. Prompt them to communicate about their true feelings by asking open-ended questions, such as “Why do you think that we have that rule in our house?”
- Build consistent routines. Stick to a somewhat structured routine. Knowing what to expect helps kids feel secure and comforted. Routines give children a better understanding of their roles, the world they live in, and how they are expected to function in it. It also helps build their trust in you, knowing that you will help them through whatever is to come. If routine building is a tricky area for your family, check out this article, for some helpful tips.
- Provide logical consequences. Try to use clear and natural consequences. Reserve time-outs or groundings for more severe behavior if you can. Kids are curious, they often do things because they are exploring, not because they are willfully breaking a rule. Try redirecting the behavior first, but if that doesn’t work or if the behavior needs to be stopped immediately, give a clear command with a direct logical consequence. "You can write on paper, not on walls. I have to take the markers away because you wrote on the wall. We can try again later only if you use them on paper.”
- Model the behaviors you want to see. Your children look to you for clues about how they should behave. In other words, your behavior teaches kids about theirs. Make sure you are modeling behaviors that are consistent with your family values and household rules. When we are inconsistent we may accidentally teach children to use inappropriate or undesirable behavior to get what they want.